A LEADING and often outspoken York head teacher is stepping down from his post at the end of the school year.

John Tomsett, has been Huntington School’s head since 2007 and said he is going to continue with his writing and speaking engagements, as well as develop his educational consultancy work.

Mr Tomsett said: “I have mixed feelings at leaving the job and school I love, but it is important to act when your intuition tells you it is the right time to go.

“I have worked with some tremendous students and colleagues and leave with wonderful memories of my time at Huntington. It really is a very special place to learn and work.

“I would like to thank the governing body for the unstinting support they have shown me during my Huntington career.

“I have been a teacher for 33 years and a head teacher for 18, and it is the moment to begin the next phase of my life. I want to spend more time helping my two sons find their way in the world and to support my wife who will continue her career in teaching. And I am looking forward to having some time for my writing and fishing.

“I am excited about the future and feel sure that Huntington will continue to thrive under new leadership.”

Mr Tomsett has held many different posts alongside his headship including being chairman of a group which represents all of the city’s schools, the York Schools and Academies Board.

In October 2018, a Teacher Regulation Agency (TRA)misconduct panel cleared Mr Tomsett of unacceptable professional conduct over an affair with a female A-level student at Eastbourne Sixth Form College in the 1990s and he returned to the school after a leave of absence in January 2019.

Huntington School's chair of governors, Joanne Olsen said: “Huntington School’s governing body would like to thank John for his hard work, commitment and dedication to the staff and students at our school. John has developed the school with the addition of the Research School and in November 2017 the school was rated as Outstanding by Ofsted.

“John has been highly successful in ensuring good outcomes for our students, but also growing great teachers and leaders during his time in post. We are sure that this has put the school in a great place to continue this work.

“John has led the school throughout the pandemic with a calm, efficient, focussed manner, supporting staff, students and parents to make the best of a challenging situation.

“We would also like to acknowledge the significant contribution John has made to education across the city in his leadership of the York Schools and Academies Board. “The governing body does not feel that recruiting a new headteacher during the current pandemic is a wise course of action. We are unlikely to attract the best possible field and it will be difficult to appoint someone remotely.

“Consequently, we have appointed Matt Smith, the current deputy head teacher, to step up as acting head teacher on a temporary basis, a role he has filled in the past. Mr Smith will assume that role from 1 September 2021 to 31 August 2022. This will allow time between now and the start of the next school year for an effective handover, and will provide the school with stability and continuity in this climate of uncertainty.

“Mr Bruce will step up as acting deputy head teacher to fill Mr Smith’s current position for the same time period.

“We hope that the worst of the pandemic will be over by this time next year and that in January 2022 we can advertise the headteacher post on a permanent basis, attracting a strong field from across the country. The governors have already formed a committee to plan for this process.

“We have great faith in Matt Smith and the current school leadership team. We feel confident the school will continue to thrive.

“We are genuinely sad to see John leave for fresh woods and pastures new, and we wish him all the very best. He has dedicated the core years of his working life to Huntington and for that we are hugely grateful.”

Maxine Squire, assistant director of education at City of York Council, said: “I’d like to thank John for his leadership of York Schools’ and Academies’ Board (YSAB) which has developed the strong collaborative working between the city’s maintained schools and academy trusts throughout the pandemic, and for his years of service as head teacher at Huntington School. We all wish him well.”