New principal of Walton Girls’ school in Grantham is aiming for ‘outstanding’

Caroline Saxelby surrounded by students at Walton Girls' High School and Sixth Form.
Caroline Saxelby surrounded by students at Walton Girls' High School and Sixth Form.
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The new principal of Walton Girls’ High School and Sixth Form has set her sights on an ‘outstanding’ OFSTED rating.

Officially taking up the post this week, Caroline Saxelby, 51, has already been working with the staff and governors on plans to achieve this aim.

“You can see that within a short space of time we will definitely be outstanding,” said Mrs Saxelby.

With a teaching career spanning 30 years, and a 13-year-old daughter, the new principal is confident that she has the right experience to lead the all girls’ school.

She takes over from Christine Horrocks, now head of The Elizabethan Academy, coincidentally where Mrs Saxelby used to teach English before moving to the outstanding Tuxford Academy and serving two terms as secondment as principal at Holgate Academy.

“I’m lucky that I’ve had experience as a principal and I know what an outstanding school looks like,” she said.

“Walton is on its way to becoming outstanding, being in a really positive position. It is a fantastic place, and the staff work incredibly hard and are committed to students on an individual basis.

“As I said to the staff, I was excited to come to work.”

Mrs Saxelby highlights that Walton is already in the top 20 per cent nationally for valued added progress between primary school and GCSE results, and within the top five in Lincolnshire, yet there is still room for improvement.

“I’m not coming into the school and thinking this is a good academy let’s all rest on our laurels. It’s a good academy with massive potential to become outstanding, and not just in OFSTED grade but in the provision for students.”

At a parents evening on April 29 she will present her vision for the school’s future and take questions, and is encouraging parents to meet her before then too. “I’m not the sort of principal who sits in her office. I like to be out and about,” she said.

Asked what changes she intends to make, Mrs Saxelby says she is considering alterations to the order of the school day, although not the start and end times, and also wants to introduce a rewards system that gives students more recognition for their achievements. Her confidence in their abilities is evident in her expectation of ‘impeccable behaviour’.

She also plans to work closely with other secondary and primary schools in the area, with Walton to become part of the Trent Valley Teaching Alliance. “This will provide excellent training and coaching for our staff, which will again impact on the achievement of students,” she explains.

It is all part of long-term plans, as she adds: “I’m not just here for a couple of years – I’m here for the duration to make sure that we get outstanding.”