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Headteacher to hold two leading roles at different schools with new governing body appointment

Dr Simon Letman, headteacher at Holbrook Academy, will also be chairman of governors at Ipswich High School Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Dr Simon Letman, headteacher at Holbrook Academy, will also be chairman of governors at Ipswich High School Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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A headteacher is set to hold two leading roles at Suffolk schools at the same time when he takes over as chairman of governors at another school.

Dr Simon Letman, currently headteacher at Holbrook Academy, will take over from John Pickering as chairman of governors at Ipswich High School from January 2019.

It marks a return to the independent sector for Dr Letman, who was previously director of studies at the Royal Hospital School in Holbrook and headmaster at St Felix School in Southwold.

He hopes each role will complement the other, with insight from his role at Ipswich High helping with his day job and vice versa.

“I’ve been in the state sector for five years but my background has always been in independent schools,” he said.

“The head at Ipswich High was quite keen to have another local educational person on the governing body to offer a different perspective.”

Speaking more generally about the private school sector, Dr Letman said: “Independent schools don’t always focus on areas like pupil progress as state schools do.

“The survival of independent schools will depend on them embracing the real world more and more.

“The reason I’m really keen to be involved at Ipswich High School is that they’re very forward-thinking.”

In particular he praised how Ipswich High has taken on the “diamond” model of learning, where girls and boys are taught together up to the age of 11 before being in separate gender classes from 11 to 16 and returning to mixed groups at sixth form.

“Compelling research shows that if you teach in separate gender groups at a certain age, they do better and better,” Dr Letman said.

“The role of chairman of the governors is as a critical friend to the head and the rest of the senior leadership team.

“You ultimately need to hold the school to account.

“I’ve been in the education business for 30 years and I can bring a lot of experience to the table.”

In a statement on its website, the high school praised Mr Pickering as outgoing chairman for his “outstanding” work and said: “Although there are big shoes to fill, we are sure Dr Letman’s extensive experience in the education sector will hold him in good stead.

“Like the rest of us at the school, Dr Letman is very excited by the school’s direction.”

Mr Pickering will stay on for a few more governing body meetings to help with the transition.

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