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Headteacher resigns: ‘William Ellis needs someone who has the energy I had ten years ago’

The outgoing head says he will remain "deeply committed" to school despite resignation

06 March, 2020 — By Helen Chapman

Sam White at an event with Camden Council leader Georgia Gould last year

THE HEADTEACHER at one of north London’s best-known secondary schools left parents stunned after announcing his resignation this week.

Sam White of William Ellis School in Parliament Hill said in a letter home to parents that he will be stepping down as head “but not from education.”

Fiona Millar, the school’s chair of governors, told the New Journal: “Ten years is a long time to be a head. It is a generous thing for him to do for the school to get ready for the next decade.

“It’s an exhausting job and people underestimate how much it takes it out of you.”

The timing has left the school constructing an interim arrangement with deputy head Izzy Jones to take the reins on acting basis for the start of the next academic. Sue Higgins, a former headteacher at Parliament Hill School, will work with her as a consultant.

Mr White said in his resignation letter: “Nine years of running a wonderful challenging school is demanding and I feel William Ellis needs someone who has the sort of energy I had ten years ago for the next decade.

“Being a headteacher is one of the most rewarding and stimulating jobs there is, but it is one which requires huge commitment and drive.

“I shall be very sad to leave and remain deeply committed to all that William Ellis stands for.”

Ms Millar, an education journalist and former Downing Street aide during Labour’s time in power, wrote home to families this week saying: “He has been a powerful role model for staff and students, always leading with humanity and dignity, which in the current highly competitive and at times challenging world of state education isn’t always easy.”

“I know that some of you will feel disappointment, possibly concern, about the change of leadership at the school, especially at a time when we know schools across the country are facing huge challenges. But I want to reassure everyone that the success and well-being of the school community remains our top priority.”

She added that governors “fully understand the reasons why he feels it is time to step down.”

Hampstead Secondary School in Westbere Road, West Hampstead, is also looking for a new headteacher after Jacques Szemalikowski – the longest serving secondary headteacher currently in post – announced plans to retire.

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