Sunday, 07 August 2022

I’ve got hard act to follow, says new headteacher

THE new headteacher of Crazies Hill Primary School says her predecessor will be “hard to follow”.

THE new headteacher of Crazies Hill Primary School says her predecessor will be “hard to follow”.

Philippa Chan replaced Eileen Holmes, who retired in the summer after 11 years at the school.

Mrs Chan, 46, used to be headteacher at Willow Bank Infant School in Woodley and has worked in education for 16 years. She previously taught at Hillside, Beechwood and Alfred Sutton primary schools in Reading.

She lives in Woodley with her partner Phil Healy, 50, a website designer, daughter Megan, 20, and Mr Healy’s son James, 15.

Mrs Chan said: “I knew Eileen as I had been to a few headship events, which she also attended. We had a really good chat about the school and I knew it would be a good fit.

“It’s quite hard to follow somebody so respected in the community. The challenge for me is to keep the good work she has done going.

“I’ve worked in a variety of different schools and always chosen schools that will add something to my experience. Crazies Hill is my first church school. I never thought I wanted to be a headteacher. I loved teaching so much and still did it as a deputy head but when the headteacher at Willow Bank retired and I was asked to step up I found out I loved it. It felt so natural and I was impacting more on the children in that role.”

Mrs Chan is looking forward to working with her staff.

She said: “They have been very welcoming. I know from my last job that it’s very difficult to follow someone that’s retiring.

“Staff can be anxious when a new head comes in and want to know they are still valued. I’ve been asking a lot of questions as I get used to the school.”

Mrs Chan is already learning the names of her pupils.

She said: “The kids have been great. On the second day I even got a hug in the playground! Some children have shaken my hand and introduced themselves — they are so polite and articulate.

“I’m out every morning picking up the names of parents and everyone is so positive and welcoming.”

She plans to get involved with the community — the school uses facilities such as the village hall and parents often stop by the Horns pub for coffee after dropping their children off.

Mrs Chan said: “It’s a totally new feel for me. Woodley has events but this is different.

“I’ve already had a chat with [Wargrave vicar] John Cook and will have my first visit to the Horns for the school’s annual meeting.”

Mrs Holmes stepped down on the final day of last term. She had been a teacher for 30 years, specialising in music, and was a PE subject leader before joining Crazies Hill.

She presented pupils with a “rainbow bench” for the playground on her last week and received a bicycle as a leaving present from staff.

David Wyatt, chairman of governors, said Mrs Holmes would be missed but she had left the school in “great shape”.

The school was rated “good” by Ofsted after an inspection in March.

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