New headteacher aims to ‘promote good mental and physical health’
William Ellis head seeks to help students "be vulnerable"
17 September, 2020 — By Helen Chapman
THE new headteacher at a boys’ secondary school says she will bring a focus of mental health to the curriculum in order to equip students in adulthood.
Izzy Jones has just taken over the top role at William Ellis in Parliament Hill, replacing the outgoing Sam White, who had been at the helm for a decade. Previously, she was head of history and politics at the nearby Parliament Hill School before joining the staff at William Ellis in 2015.
“There are some families who I’ve known across both schools and I have worked with their sisters and brothers over quite a long period,” said Ms Jones. “It does give me a real sense of attachment to education in the local area.”
She added: “We strive to be a centre of excellence in boys’ education. It is really quite a special thing to be a non-selective, nondenominational school.”
The new headteacher said she aimed to “promote good mental and physical health”, adding: “We want to equip our students to go on to live healthy, happy and successful lives as adults and at work but also, as they are the fathers of 2030 and 2040, ensuring that they’re able to make a contribution to the people that they care about and to society more widely.”
Ms Jones said: “It’s about having relationships with them that are robust, but also caring and allow them to be vulnerable.”
Amid the coronavirus outbreak headteachers have been left with the task of guiding pupils, parents and teachers through a new climate of learning from home.
William Ellis has around 300 pupils on Free School Meals and was assigned 34 laptops from the government to help students without wifi or computer access at home to carry on learning.
Ministers had promised laptops to all students who needed them by June but parents and governors took up a campaign raising over £30,000 to provide pupils with equipment.
The campaign called on previous alumni to help with donations. Ms Jones said the school served an area which included substantial numbers of deprived young people and issues of racial and social equality were part of its remit. The school’s aim was to provide all pupils with the best opportunities it could provide so that they could succeed.
She added: “Education is a key vehicle for creating a more equal society in the future. That’s why the staff who work at this school work here – because they want to do that.”
Ms Jones said the school had 95 per cent attendance in the first week of term in but the numbers are “notably below” in recent weeks because students have reported symptoms of Covid-19 and so are at home as a precaution.
The school had one confirmed coronavirus case this week. She added: “This is a new chapter for me in the school but actually it’s not me on my own – it’s part of a really good team.”