Departing Chippenham head makes his mark

This Is Wiltshire: Headteacher Gerard MacMahon with pupil Matt Almond holding his GCSE resul Headteacher Gerard MacMahon with pupil Matt Almond holding his GCSE resul

Sheldon headteacher Gerard MacMahon is bidding farewell to Chippen-ham after eight years of service at the school.

Mr MacMahon, who has helped turn Sheldon into one of the best schools in the county, left days after the school celebrated its best-ever GCSE results.

He will take on a new role as headteacher of Al Khor International School, Qatar, in September.

He said: “I’m so pleased to be leaving on such a high.

“I’m absolutely delighted for the children – they have done so well in achieving these results.

“I’m in a bit of a mood for looking back at the moment, and it is a great way to top off a wonderful eight years.”

Eighty-five per cent of pupils achieved five or more A* to C grades in their GCSEs, with 70 per cent achieving the national benchmark of five A* to C grades including English and maths.

Mr MacMahon said more than 225 students will be staying on to do their A-levels at the school.

He said: “When I arrived, I said the sixth form was too small and the students here needed to have an expectation to stay on and do their A-levels here.

“This has happened in the last few years, and it’s had a really positive impact on the GCSEs because students have a real focus on what they want to achieve. They can see how good the sixth form is and that they could end up studying there.”

Mr MacMahon, whose wife Stephanie is headteacher of a secondary school in Somerset, will be replaced by Neil Spurdell, previously head of John O’Gaunt School in Hungerford.

“Neil is going to be an outstanding headteacher for the school,” said Mr MacMahon, who flew to Qatar on Monday.

“I have come to the end of my time here, but I wanted to make sure I was here to see the students get their results. “We knew they were going to be good. It’s wonderful to see the students doing so well and being a part of that.”

He said he was ready to leave and take on a new role.

“Schools and people benefit from change,” he said.

“I wanted to leave before people think things have stopped moving forward.”

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