New Head makes the journey from Ambleside to Amble
It’s all change in Amble schools these days, as we welcome another new Head, this time to Amble Links First School. The Ambler went along to meet Paul Heeley, who joined the school as their new Headteacher in September. He met up with us before taking the youngsters for football practice, which, despite the pouring rain, he still seemed keen to do. Enthusiasm, we learned, is one of Paul’s stronger characteristics.
Paul grew up in Staffordshire and trained in Ambleside before moving to the North East in 1996 where he has taught in several local schools, including St Michael’s in Alnwick. Following some time at Darras Hall First School he became Deputy Head at Windsor First School in Newbiggin where, he says “the playground was even closer to the sea than it is at Amble Links!” and then took another Deputy Headship at Newsham First School in Blyth where he has worked for the last six years.
Paul’s main areas of interest are in ICT and PE, although his role as Head means he has to concentrate more on leadership and management tasks than on teaching.
“I absolutely love it here, “ he says “It’s been a steep learning curve stepping up from Deputy Head to Headteacher; the buck now stops with me! I’m learning new things every day and have really appreciated the support of other local headteachers.”
Newsham First is a much larger school compared with Amble Links’ 112 youngsters, but Paul is happy: “It’s been fantastic to get to know everyone really quickly, including parents. I’ve had a really warm welcome from everyone. Staff and parents have been very supportive; many even gave up a Saturday morning recently to dig over an overgrown area to create an allotment where the children can grow their own food. Our school site is tremendous, we have extensive grounds including a quiet garden, an outdoor adventure play area and of course the new allotment which our Gardening Club will look after. Our field lends itself to providing a range of sports and we’ll hopefully build on recent sporting successes such as the sports partnership cross country competition which our pupils did particularly well in.”
“I’m really keen for our pupils to continue to be involved in community events and provide them with a wide range of experiences during their time with us. Our children have already benefited from a number of visits this year including trips to Beamish, Broxfield Farm and the Woodhorn Museum and we’re only in November. Our Year 4 children are also looking forward to a residential visit to the Robinwood Activity Centre in Alston in January; they’ll be participating in adventurous activities such as climbing, caving, canoeing and a zip wire!”
Paul is eager to extend a warm welcome to anyone who’d like to see the good work going on at Amble Links: “We’ve just started to welcome parents and friends to every Friday assembly so we can celebrate the achievements of our pupils together. It’s something I look forward to each week and really highlights the family feel of the school. The children and parents especially enjoy the ‘Staff Star of the Week Award’; Every member of staff works so hard to ensure every child has the best possible start to their school life and it’s a good way to show how appreciated they really are!”
In his spare time, Paul, who has two small children of his own, enjoys hill walking and mountain biking. He also tries to keep fit by cycling to work as often as possible. And football? “I’m an Aston Villa supporter” he laughs, “I’m hoping my school team is more successful!”