NORTH Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson has hailed the departure of Isambard Community School headteacher Rachael Mattey as a fresh start for the school.

The 54-year-old, who took over at the Redhouse school eight years ago, took a swipe at the coalition Government’s education reforms, spearheaded by Michael Gove MP, as she announced her retirement.

Responding to her claims they would send the school system ‘back to the 1970s’, the Tory MP hit back claiming the changes were greatly needed.

He said: “Education reform is absolutely essential to equip all young people with the relevant life skills to have a successful career.

“A number of local parents have repeatedly raised concerns about the direction of Isambard School and I think they will welcome a fresh start for a school that is so crucial to North Swindon,” he said.

Among Mr Gove’s education overhaul is a revised National Curriculum based on research on international systems such as Hong Kong, Massachusetts, Singapore and Finland, a new approach to qualifications for secondary school students and a stringent Ofsted inspection regime.

In Thursday’s Adver Mrs Mattey, who was invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday for her services to education, said: “I fundamentally disagree with the changes being made by the Government, I don’t want to be part of it.

“I disagree with Ofsted’s one-size-fits-all model for inspections and looking at the National Curriculum changes it’s similar to what I was doing in the 1970s.

“I cannot see how it can prepare anybody for 21st century life. It’s going backwards.”

School governor Kevin Gray said Mrs Mattey, who told staff of her decision on Monday, had taken the school as far as she could. It was time for a change.

He said: “She certainly was not pushed.

“For some time she has been thinking what her next move might be.

“She started the school and brought it through its first phase. For any headteacher naturally there is an end to the process and Rachael is someone that goes out and inspires – she grows things but she is not a maintainer. I think a lot of educationalists do not like the way the Conservatives are running the education system.

“They say they are not cutting funding per pupil but they have cut other sources of funding including capital and ICT. Schools are struggling financially.

“There is a fixed process of recruiting a headteacher and it is a decision for the whole governing body. We are looking to meet before the end of the school year and will announce the date as soons as we can.

“We will be as open and transparent as we are allowed to be. Isambard has been criticised, not unfairly, in the past, for an inabiltiy to communicate and we want to change that.”

Mrs Mattey will continue to run the day-to-day operations of the school until the summer break while the senior leadership team, her assistant and deputy heads, will be responsible for strategic direction.