Meet Suffolk’s newest headteacher – and find out why he’ll have a Buzz Lightyear toy in his office
On the face of it, a Buzz Lightyear toy might seem an odd choice of office furniture for the newly appointed headteacher of a leading Suffolk school.
However to Tom Maltby, the Disney figurine is an important reminder of not just the man he is replacing but the “spirit which he brought to our community”.
Mr Maltby was named earlier this year as the person who will succeed the renowned Dr Simon Letman as headteacher of Holbrook Academy.
Dr Letman left a lasting impression on the school before his shock death from a heart attack in April 2019, motivating children with the inspiring words: “I’m going to take you to infinity and beyond.”
The words became a motto for the school – and while Mr Maltby says his job is “not to replace Dr Letman – no-one can”, the new head’s goal is to “continue his work”.
As he prepares to start the job in September, Mr Maltby said: “I never had the pleasure of meeting Simon but if you can judge a man by his legacy, which I believe you can, then it is clear that Dr Letman was a great man and a great leader.
“Dr Letman inspired our school motto ‘to infinity and beyond’ and I will have a Buzz Lightyear in the head’s office to remind me not just of the man but of the spirit which he bought to our community.
“My commitment is to build on his achievements and to serve that community.”
Mr Maltby has been headteacher of a large state secondary school in south-west London for three years.
He was chosen for the role after two days of intensive interviews, presentations, tasks and activities, where the interview panel said: “Mr Maltby impressed us all with his experience and ideas, his excellent communication skills and his ambitions for the school.”
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He got to know Suffolk after travelling to the county from London every weekend to see his partner, deciding that now was the right time to relocate.
He believes a “good headteacher doesn’t just lead a school, they lead a community”, adding: “I believe a school should be at the very heart of the local community and should strive to bring people together.”
He said he was “attracted to Holbrook’s inclusive ethos and want to ensure that every student receives the personalised guidance and support they need to achieve their very best”.
Mr Maltby added: “Holbrook appealed to me immediately.
“I love that it is a small but popular school which means that every student really is known as an individual.
“The students are vibrant and have a real pride in their school alongside a strong sense of belonging.”
Despite the challenges of losing Dr Letman and, more recently, the coronavirus crisis, Mr Maltby said: “Our school community remains solid and stronger than ever, and I pay tribute to our current leadership team who have done such great job in navigating the school through these very difficult times.
“They should rightly feel proud of what they have achieved.
“I have recently taken the time to speak online to every member of staff who works at Holbrook individually and they all speak of the friendly, family feel which prevails in our school and this is something we need to treasure and maintain.”
Having previously worked as a deputy headteacher for inclusion, leading special educational needs provision, Mr Maltby said he is “motivated by removing all barriers to learning and ensuring that all students, regardless of ability or background, have the very best start to life”.
He added: “Everyone knows what makes a great a school - passionate teachers delivering lessons which support, challenge and inspire.
“We have many fantastic teachers at Holbrook who are working so hard at the moment to engage with students, despite the situation we all find ourselves in.
“My priority is to support and empower our teachers so that they can deliver great lessons.
“I want to ensure Holbrook Academy is a learning-centred school which puts the power and importance of learning at the very core of everything that we do.”
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