'It's like winning a gold medal,' says Bradford head teacher rated the best in country

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Jayne Clarke, of Ryecroft Primary Academy, with her award for being the country's best head teacher Jayne Clarke, of Ryecroft Primary Academy, with her award for being the country's best head teacher

The head teacher of a Bradford primary school said being voted the best head in the country was like winning a gold medal.

Jayne Clarke has been credited with transforming the fortunes of Ryecroft Academy in Holme Wood.

She joining the school in 2008 - two years after education watchdog Ofsted branded it "inadequate" when it was in its tenth year of being in special measures.

Under Mrs Clarke's stewardship the school's performance has improved to such a degree that it was rated "outstanding" by Ofsted earlier this year.

She has now been voted Head Teacher of the Year and received the accolade at a glittering ceremony for the annual TES School Awards in London.

Ryecroft sits is in one of the poorest areas of Bradford and Ofsted reports highlighted the fact that pupils started school with “exceptionally low” skills and knowledge.

It converted to an academy in 2012, and the last Ofsted report, published in May this year, said: “The leadership and management of Ryecroft are outstanding.

"This is a happy and vibrant school. Pupils achieve extremely well.”

The inspectors also praised Mrs Clarke for her “relentless and courageous leadership”.

Reflecting on her win, Mrs Clarke said: "It was lovely because people were coming up to me at the awards saying they were pleased for me, they were pleased for Bradford and they were pleased for Yorkshire.

"There were people I didn't know coming up and congratulating me. It must be what it is like to win a gold medal. You try your hardest to do a good job so it is great to have that reflected back on you.

"It is not just me, all the staff at the school focus on what needs to be done, and getting it done.

"When I came to this school I just wanted to do right for the children. We just got an outstanding Ofsted, and it really moved me to hear what the children told inspectors."

Mrs Clarke said when she took over at the school she knew it would be a hard task to improve standards, adding: "It is not always comfortable to fight, and you don't always get congratulated for fighting to change things - people are more likely to try to knock you down.

"But the children only come this way once and its important we get things right for them. You set the pattern for their future - it is a massive responsibility.

"We have 309 children in our school and it is down to us to make sure their well-being, happiness and memories are all good.

"This is a difficult old school in a difficult old area."

Roger Alston, chief executive of the Northern Education Trust which is the school's academy sponsor, said: “We are absolutely thrilled that Jayne’s passion and determination have been duly noted.

"It is very well deserved and we wholeheartedly congratulate her on her achievement.”

Comments (3)

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2:04pm Tue 8 Jul 14

Tony Balony says...

Very well done to you, Mrs Clarke. I think you should have this Thursday off to celebrate.
Very well done to you, Mrs Clarke. I think you should have this Thursday off to celebrate. Tony Balony
  • Score: 2

3:06pm Tue 8 Jul 14

dontbedaft says...

best? really?
best? really? dontbedaft
  • Score: -4

8:17pm Wed 9 Jul 14

They only do damage! says...

The most important thing for the children of Bradford, a good education, great news.
The most important thing for the children of Bradford, a good education, great news. They only do damage!
  • Score: 1

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