Warm welcome for new head who was attracted by school’s potential

Richard Roberts, head of Arunside School, with some of his pupils
Richard Roberts, head of Arunside School, with some of his pupils

The new headteacher at Arunside Primary School has received a warm welcome from staff, parents and children.

Richard Roberts took the helm at the beginning of term, replacing Carol Slight, who had been part of the Arunside family for 24 years.

When asked about his first three weeks at the school, Mr Roberts, 44, said it had been “busy – but good busy. I’m never bored!” He added: “I’ve been made to feel very welcome. I think we’ve got a great group of people here. There is a great dynamic.”

For the past few years, Mr Roberts served as an interim headteacher at a number of schools, but felt the time had come to throw himself into the life of one school.

When asked what had attracted him to Arunside, his answer was simple – potential.

He said: “The building shows it’s a growing school in terms of pupil numbers. I think, from my perspective, that was very attractive because it was an opportunity to say I can come into this school, a fresh set of eyes, and take over from a very well-established and well-liked headteacher, to bring something different.

“At the same time, as we are a growing school, it was an opportunity to grow and do something different. So the potential I thought was huge.”

That potential showed in the school’s last Ofsted report at the end of 2013, when its rating was raised to ‘good’. The call for the next inspection could come any day – or it could be two years away.

Either way, Mr Roberts said it would show a lack of ambition if he didn’t want to see the rating rise again to ‘outstanding’.

He added: “I want us to be a school of choice for many people who are currently in Horsham and who will be coming to Horsham over the next few years.

"There is a multitude of housing developments taking place and these children will need to go somewhere and I would like them to come to Arunside where we are at least ‘good’ if not ‘outstanding’.”

In the meantime, he and his team have to prepare their pupils for life in a world that is getting smaller and smaller and much more international.

He said: “Children come from a wonderful variety of backgrounds and I think it’s quite a skill to get them to mix in a really cohesive, supportive way. That’s a clear strength of the school already.

“The dynamic between the children irrespective of their background, is wonderful and I would, with great pride, show anybody around this school.”

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