Ipswich: Former head handed press regulator role

A much-loved former head teacher has today scooped a place on the board of an in-the-spotlight national regulator.

Neil Watts, who spent 18 years at the helm of Ipswich’s award-winning Northgate High School, has joined the board of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC).

Mr Watts took over as head of Northgate in 1991 from Brian Ingham and oversaw many major developments during his tenure, including transforming the school’s grounds into a modern, vibrant campus.

The popular teacher, who went on to become a former deputy chairman of the Advertising Standards Authority, joins the PCC at a crucial time.

The Press regulator is undergoing what new head Lord Hunt called a “wholesale regeneration and renewal” following the phone-hacking scandal.

Mr Watts, who retired as head of Northgate in 2009, said: “I am delighted to become a public member of the Press Complaints Commission.

“This is clearly an important time for the PCC and self-regulation of the press. Under a new chairman it has the chance to reinvigorate itself, and do ever more to maintain standards in the press.

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“I am excited about the challenge, and want to build on the past successes of the PCC, as well as help to guide its onward improvement.

“The PCC has a vital role to play in maintaining a balance between freedom of expression and protection of the individual, and I am looking forward to playing my part in its future.”

Lord Hunt said: “We are extremely pleased to welcome Neil Watts onto the commission.

“He joins at an interesting time, as we all work hard to bring about the regeneration and renewal of the PCC.

“It is vital that the commission has strong and varied public representation, and I am sure Neil’s experience and expertise, including serving on a similar self-regulatory body, will make him a significant addition to the board.”

Mr Watts enjoyed stints at Hedingham School in Essex and Stowupland High School before becoming deputy head of Northgate in 1985, aged just 33. He had his first headship at Sudbury Upper School before returning to become head of Northgate in 1991.

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