Proud To Lead School Forward

18th June 2012


David Smart has described it as “an honour” to serve as the first executive head/principal of the Chatham and Clarendon federation and to steer it through the early years of its development.

His comments came as he announced his retirement after more than three years in the role and 35 years in education at eight schools. Serving the last 13 years as head teacher, he said: “I feel the time is right to (semi) retire and take a short break from headship before perhaps seeking a new direction in education.

His decision was announced to parents and governors on Wednesday (June 13), after governors the previous day had appointed Debra Liddicoat, Vice Principal and head of the upper school at the Clarendon Gardens site, as Acting Principal from September for 2012-2014.

Mr Smart said: “I will be working closely with Debra for the next two months to ensure that the transition is as seamless as possible, and I wish her and CCGS every success.”

His proudest legacy is presiding over the development of the area’s biggest sixth form which numbers more than 450 students, with record numbers of applicants for the sixth form received this year

He said: “They have an excellent base at the Cavendish Street centre which really does have the ‘wow factor’. It offers a hugely varied range of courses at A Level and really does give our young men and women the best possible choices.”

Exam results and progression to university/college have improved and the federation has “increased opportunities for students within, across and beyond the curriculum.”

During his time he has also seen the school restructured and the “measured approach of gradually moving towards full merger by incremental stages will continue.”

He is also keen for the school to embrace teaching GCSE courses over three years – Yr 9, 10 and 11 – rather than just over Yr 10 and 11. He said: “This will begin in September 2014 and I believe the extra year at Key Stage 4 will give our students wider opportunities to really enjoy and explore their GCSE subjects.”

A believer in driving the school forward wherever possible, he oversaw the development of the recently opened state of the art food technology suite; and he is optimistic that Government funding for a new Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths centre at the Chatham Street site will be forthcoming.

He praised the dedicated and strong governing body, and the highly professional, enthusiastic, innovative and committed staff.

Mr Smart spoke of his frustration at the cancellation of the Building Schools for the Future wave 4 project which would have united the schools on the Chatham House site, and of recent cuts to core education budgets.

But he stressed: “There are now secure foundations from which to achieve the vision of a single school. The first stage of integrating the boys and girls in a shared learning environment with a single identity has been accomplished.

“Inevitably it is going to take time for all to adjust to such a major transformational change.”

Perhaps Mr Smart’s most telling overview of his career is this: “I have never seen Chatham and Clarendon as just a ‘cramming factory’ – exam results are important but they are not the only thing.

“Our job is also to help young people develop as responsible citizens who will contribute to society. Schools are about values as well as grades.”



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