The incoming headteacher at St Laurence School has promised to continue recognising pupils’ individual talents and provide high standards of both teaching and learning.

Fergus Stewart, 50, who was deputy headteacher at Nova Hreod School in Swindon, started at the Bradford on Avon school on Monday.

He took over from James Colquhoun, who was headteacher at St Laurence for nine years.

Mr Stewart said: “We have had a smooth changeover. This is a thriving school, with great heritage, and progress has been made. I want to work with staff to build on this sound foundation.

“I am committed to working with colleagues to provide the very best education for all our young people, so they can achieve the best qualifications.

“I want to give them the opportunity to explore and discover their talents and make sure they develop as confident, happy individuals who can make a significant contribution to their community.

“Each of these people have talents they may not know about and it will be exciting to discover what they are. That is what makes my job really special. It is a tremendous honour and privilege and I am really excited about being here.”

Mr Stewart is keen to create a balance between academic needs and the personal needs of the students and to target care in a precise way. He said: “We want to make sure we are looking after the whole person. To be effective in learning, students have to be happy and healthy.

“Our responsibility as professionals is to care for them. It is about well-being and we have a strong, experienced team who can provide high standards of care.”

The new headteacher met all the staff during a training day on Monday, before being introduced to the students, within their houses – Ashley, Budbury, Westfield, Conigre and Huntingdon – when they started back on Tuesday.

He said he was keen to continue the house system, with tutor groups made up of pupils from all the school years, as they retained the community feel in a large school.

“St Laurence will continue to be in the heart of the community,” said Mr Stewart. “Students have links to charities, residents and groups, all of which develop community support. This gives the school vibrancy and changes the way students think about their school.”