MEET the new boss at one of York’s most popular secondary schools.

Matt Smith took over the helm as acting head at Huntington School in York at the start of last month after John Tomsett retired, reprising a role he has held previously.

He’s been teaching for 18 years, having taught at Millthorpe and Tadcaster Grammar Schools locally before coming to Huntington as head of maths in 2014 and becoming deputy head in 2017.

York now has only three state secondaries - Joseph Rowntree and All Saints RC being the other two - that are not academies, remaining under local authority control, and Mr Smith says there's no rush to academise.

“We’re not in any rush to academise, we have a really healthy budget and we’re a very successful school. We’ll see how the political landscape changes, and I trust the governors completely to make the right decisions for the school,” said Mr Smith.

“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to John Tomsett, he leaves a strong legacy, but our aim now is to build on that work and we need a fresh energy to drive the school forward.

“The pandemic has had a big impact on education and it’s now about going back to basics and inspiring learners, promoting positive messages to our young people, we need to celebrate their achievements wherever possible.”

With 1,500 pupils, Huntington is one of the largest secondary schools in the city and is oversubscribed. Mr Smith said he is looking forward to welcoming prospective parents to the schools up-coming open evening.

“Parents in York are extremely lucky, we have got so many brilliant schools and I’d encourage all Year 6 parents to visit as many schools as possible,” he said.

Mr Smith is in post as acting head until the end of August next year. Looking at the schools long-term future he said: “I am really grateful that the governors have put their faith in me to lead the school this year. I have a fantastic set of colleagues who care deeply about the school. We have an excellent governing body who are fully committed to secure the long-term success of the school. I would like to thank the parents for their support.”