New head teacher takes over at Coldwaltham and Amberley primary schools

JPCT 290914 S14410148x St James CE Primary School, Church Lane, Coldwaltham Pulborough. New head teacher, Jon Gilbert -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140929-154419001
JPCT 290914 S14410148x St James CE Primary School, Church Lane, Coldwaltham Pulborough. New head teacher, Jon Gilbert -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140929-154419001

‘Hands on’ is how the new head teacher of primary schools in Coldwaltham and Amberley has promised he will be as a leader.

Jon Gilbert, a former teacher with decades of experience across the south east, has taken up the reigns at St James Church of England Primary School in Coldwaltham and Amberley Church of England First School.

Mr Gilbert assumed his first head teaching post last month, and said he is ‘very happy’.

He said: “The heads that have inspired me are the ones that I can see teach and do the job, and I want to be very much hands on.

“I have met every child in both schools, and I run a football club here and a rugby club at Amberley after school.

“I want the children and all the staff to know that I can do it. I am very happy here.”

Each week, Mr Gilbert spends three days at one school and two days at the other, meaning he spends five days at each over a ten-day period.

The two schools are linked and have shared resources - including a head teacher - for around a decade.

The move was made to secure the future of both schools, after Amberley School was threatened with closure after a disappointing Ofsted report.

Both schools have flourished since, and Mr Gilbert said he hopes to continue the progress.

He said: “Amberley School had a poor Ofsted about nine years ago and the schools decided they had to combine.

“The head from Coldwaltham was asked to take over at Amberley to bring that school up.

“She led it very successfully so they decided to keep the single head for two schools.

“The only way they could keep it open was to go down this road.”

Mr Gilbert added that he is relishing the challenge of stepping up from teacher to head teacher, describing his new role as a ‘terrific learning curve’.

He said: “It is very different to what I am used to but I am absolutely thrilled to be doing it.

“It is a terrific learning curve because I have just come out of a full time teaching role and this is near double the workload.”