The Headteacher of a CET primary school wants to build stronger relationships with the community after a Covid-interrupted start to life in her new role.

Gemma Brierley took over at Yewdale Primary School shortly before Christmas but didn’t even have chance to meet all her staff before the country was plunged into a third lockdown.

Now after leading most of her team remotely during restrictions, the new Headteacher is getting on with the job of building on the school’s achievements.

Mrs Brierley said: “The school is in a really good place, but it can be even better. I am passionate about building relationships with families.

“A school is the heart of a community and I want us to be more closely involved with parents and building links with the community such as churches, community centres and other groups so that we all work together.

“I also want to extend our offer outside the curriculum and see what opportunities we are going to provide. We want the children to make memories and remember this as a happy part of their lives.”

Mrs Brierley said it had been an unusual experience to take on a new role at the other end of the country during the pandemic – and she praised the way staff had risen to the challenge of providing remote learning and running a hub for key worker children during lockdown.

She said: “The staff are fantastic, they got their heads down and got on with what needed to be done and worked tirelessly through the lockdown. We’ve had some lovely feedback from parents about the support they have had and that means a lot.

“Now that we’re all back in school I am getting to know staff and pupils, putting names to faces and making plans for the future.”

After completing a BA (Hons) in Primary Education in Newcastle, Mrs Brierley began her teaching career at a large primary school in South East London. Over the next 20 years she taught across three other schools in Kent, including serving as a Headteacher for the last five years in a school that was transformed under her leadership.

Yewdale converted to an academy and became part of CET in 2015 and has been on a journey of improvement, confirmed by Ofsted rating it a Good school in 2018. It has 315 children on its roll from Nursery to Year 6.

CET’s Director of Primary Education Chris Wilkins said: “Yewdale is a wonderful asset to its community and Gemma and the team are determined to continue to add to what is already on offer for children.

“Gemma’s experience both in the classroom and as a school leader will be invaluable in further developing Yewdale and helping the trust move forward.”