New headteacher at Priory School aims to increase its community role

Interview with new headteacher at Priory School - Lawrence Chapman.
Interview with new headteacher at Priory School - Lawrence Chapman.
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The new headteacher of an ‘outstanding’ school for pupils with complex and moderate learning difficulties has pledged to increase its role within the community.

Lawrence Chapman has taken the lead role at Priory School, in Bury St Edmunds, at a time of expansion and celebration after it launched a sixth form and received top marks from Ofsted.

The 43-year-old, who was deputy headteacher at the ‘outstanding’ Ashley School, in Lowestoft, which caters for children with the same needs, now wants to build on Priory’s success.

He said: “The core is trying to make sure we prepare the youngsters the best we can for future life - work, volunteering and further education.

“We’re trying to increase the community role of the school and work with local businesses and partners.

“We’re looking to expand further. We’ve got the sixth form and looking to see other groups we could help such as younger children.

“We also want to further increase the links with the other schools particularly at secondary.”

Priory, which converted to academy status in 2011, has eight Year 12 students enrolled at its sixth form, which focuses on vocational/practical courses as well as English and maths.

Meanwhile, the school has been rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted in all areas including its residential provision following an inspection in July when Roger Mackenzie was headteacher.

Mr Chapman said: “It’s probably the first outstanding report of a converter special academy.

“It celebrates the work of Roger Mackenzie and the staff.

“I think the staff and teams have already learnt a lot from that process. We know that although we’ve got lots of ideas the core thing has got to be about teaching, learning and raising standards.”

Those attributes are at the heart of his 17 year career which started at the Ashley School.

What does he enjoy about his chosen teaching path?

“It’s hoping that you can make a difference.

“Although it’s incredibly challenging, it’s incredibly rewarding making that difference. No two days are the same. There’s very little routine, there are new challenges all of the time and thinking fast on your feet.”