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Young Head will leave Staffs school in tip-top shape

Thirty-six-year-old Lee Thomas will leave Stafford Grammar in top shape after a team from the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) highlighted the exceptional quality of pupils’ development, academic accomplishment and additional achievements.

A Staffordshire school praised as ‘excellent’ in all aspects by inspectors, is bidding farewell to its young headteacher after three years of outstanding results and new building projects.
A Staffordshire school praised as ‘excellent’ in all aspects by inspectors, is bidding farewell to its young headteacher after three years of outstanding results and new building projects.

In recording the highest rating, the report states that pupils ‘demonstrate an excellent understanding of respect and tolerance of others’ and show ‘outstanding attitudes towards their learning’. It also flags up their noteworthy ‘contribution to the school and local community.’

“I’m so pleased the report captures a sense of the warmth and energy at the heart of Stafford Grammar. It comments on how the teachers ‘know their pupils extremely well’, which is central to our success,” said Lee, who became the youngest headmaster in England’s senior independent sector in 2019 when at the age of 33 he took the up the mantle at SGS.

“I’m delighted the inspectors attributed the school’s success to ‘the challenging nature of the teaching and learning focus in school,’ which is my absolute passion, but equally that pupils develop through the rich extra-curricular programme and that the spirit of active participation is so strong here.

“I feel very proud that our pupils’ contribution to the local community and their ‘notably strong sense of respect for diversity’ has been recognised. These values are at the core of our school,” he added.

Since taking charge Lee implemented a range of improvements including a dance studio, an artificial turf sports pitch, theatre renovation, the use of ICT across the curriculum and a new website. He also led the school through the pandemic with a full curriculum delivered live online. According to The Times, SGS is branded the highest performing school in Staffordshire, based on a three-year average of A-levels.

A fresh challenge now lies in store as he prepares to take the helm of a 940-pupil state high school in London. Lee will move to the capital in September to lead The Green School for Girls, an oversubscribed secondary school and sixth form with academy status, based in Isleworth.

“It’s been a huge honour to lead Stafford Grammar School, which is such a special community. We have amazing pupils and over the last 14 years, and the past three years as headteacher, I’ve seen them grow up into wonderful young people. I’m going to miss them greatly. I am also going to miss our staff, who are my friends as well as colleagues.

“The challenges of the pandemic have not held the school back and we’ve seen exciting developments and outstanding results. The school is in a very strong position and has a very bright future. I am looking forward to a new challenge but will always have my family links to Staffordshire and will never forget my Potteries roots!” he said.

He will hand over the reins to 48-year-old Nick Pietrek, the current headmaster at Buckinghamshire-based Thorpe House independent school for boys. Nick previously taught history and English in the south of England before taking up a deputy head post in 2012 at a high-ranking independent school in Sheffield.

SGS chair of governors, Julia Causer, paid tribute to Lee’s contribution. “I’ve seen Lee lead the school in such an exemplary manner and he’s committed himself completely to ensure the best learning environment for all the pupils. The ISI inspectors have clearly been able to see this. It’s been an absolute pleasure working with him and we wish him all the very best. I know he is going to work with the new Head over the coming weeks to ensure that there will be a seamless transition, ready for September.”

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