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Aylsham schools forge closer links

Just Regional
Nov 16, 2016 4 mins read

A new link between Aylsham schools has been announced – with John of Gaunt joining the existing partnership between Aylsham High and Bure Valley schools.

The infant and nursery will partner with the Aylsham Learning Federation (which was formed in July between AHS and BVS) from next April, with a view to future federation.

Senior teacher Clare Toplis will take on the head of school role at John of Gaunt from September 2017, with Duncan Spalding as executive headteacher. Mrs Toplis will replace current headteacher, Fiona Chant, who retires at the end of the current academic year.

Mrs Toplis, who will work closely alongside Mrs Chant over the next nine months to ensure a smooth transition, said: “I am delighted to have been appointed as head of school from September and look forward to this exciting role.

“As we move towards partnership with the Aylsham Learning Federation, I know that this will be a hugely valuable and supportive structure that will enable John of Gaunt to retain its individuality but also strengthen us and our ability to deliver the best education for our children.”

School leaders said the partnership will bring together the heads of school of John of Gaunt and Bure Valley (Jamie Olney) to further develop transition work and to share expertise and best practice.

The partnership also brings with it the support of the ALF business and community team.

Mike Downes, chair of governors at John of Gaunt, said: “When we were aware that Fiona Chant would be retiring, we knew it would be important to ensure the future success of our outstanding school.

“After a year of planning and research, the governors decided that partnership with ALF and the appointment of an excellent head of school was the best way forward.

“We are certain that Clare Toplis, who is a great teacher and who knows John of Gaunt School so well, will take the school forward and ensure that the children continue to receive an outstanding educational experience.”

Jenny Youngs, chair of governors of the ALF, said: “After the very successful formation of the ALF between Aylsham High and Bure Valley, the governors are delighted to be given the opportunity to form a partnership with John of Gaunt, and we are much looking forward to working together for the benefit of the young people of Aylsham.”

Mrs Youngs said the fortunes of the three schools had “long been inextricably intertwined” and their success was crucial to the long term success of education in the town and wider Aylsham cluster.

Mr Spalding said: “I am really excited to be part of the future leadership team of John of Gaunt. Clare Toplis is the perfect person to carry on the great work that Fiona Chant has done over the last 16 years, and I am really looking forward to the opportunity of supporting her in her work as head of school.

“I am confident that the future partnership will be a great development for education in the town and for The Aylsham Cluster Trust family of schools.”

John of Gaunt is a community school for girls and boys between the ages of three and seven
years.

The school is organised into four classes and there are approximately 120 children
in the main school, with the nursery accommodating a further 52 children part time.

The school had its most recent inspection in February 2014 and was awarded ‘outstanding’ in
all four areas.

A meeting for parents at all three schools will be held in the new year to provide more information.

Children at John of Gaunt celebrating their 'Outstanding' Ofsted report with head teacher Fiona Chant.

Children at John of Gaunt celebrating their ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted report in 2014.

Fiona Chant, headteacher at John of Gaunt who is retiring in 2017.

Fiona Chant, headteacher at John of Gaunt who is retiring in 2017.

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