THE principal of a York secondary school is bidding farewell to students, staff and parents at the end of this term.

Helen Dowds, principal of Vale of York Academy in Clifton - formerly Canon Lee School - is to take up a new role as executive lead for Scarborough within the Hope Learning Trust, York.

She has been at the York secondary school for three years, during which time it has moved out of special measures and seen rapid improvements, said a spokeswoman.

She will be succeeded at Vale of York Academy by experienced headteacher, Mr Toby Eastaugh, who has previously led schools in Kirklees and Barnsley, said a spokeswoman, adding: "He will take up his new role as Principal of Vale of York Academy on January 1, 2019."

Mrs Dowds said she was 'truly proud of the journey we have travelled at Vale of York.'

She said the rapid improvements had included transitioning to an academy, moving from special measures, changing name, brand and uniform, securing a full house of teaching experts, raising standards and engaging the community.

She said: "The fruits of our labours are really beginning to show. I have been heartened by our recently commissioned independent review which recognised how much of the school is now securely good, and the results in 2018 showed measurable improvements.

“I couldn’t have achieved any of this without the support of such a strong team of staff, our Governors, students and parents or without the warm, strong community that Vale of York Academy has become.

“I am very much looking forward to taking up my new role in Scarborough and am thrilled to be staying on as a senior leader within the Hope Learning Trust. I would like to wish Toby my very best for his future at Vale of Academy, I know he will be assured of a very warm welcome.”

The spokeswoman said Mrs Dowds’ new role will involve taking leadership of two secondary schools in Scarborough which are in the process of converting to academy status. "Graham and George Pindar Schools will join the multi-academy trust next year," she said.

Hope chief executive officer Brian Crosby said she was 'an outstanding leader' and had been a huge part of the growth and development of two very successful multi-academy trusts in the city.

"Helen previously worked with the Pathfinder MAT before joining us at Hope," he said. "I am certain that without Helen’s hard work, dedication and absolute commitment to the Vale of York Academy motto “Always giving the best,” the school would not be where it is now.

“Helen leaves the school in the very capable hands of Toby Eastaugh and I am looking forward to working with them both as we continue the Hope journey.”