As the new school year starts, the trustees of Ampleforth College have announced that Deirdre Rowe will be taking up the position of Acting Head with immediate effect, making her the first female head of the College in over two hundred years.
The trustees of the leading co-educational Catholic boarding school have agreed that the leadership of the school should revert to a lay person. As the new term starts, existing Headmaster Fr Wulstan has decided to resign from his post in order to allow this transition to happen, with thanks to the staff, pupils and parents who supported him during his tenure and with trustees also recognising the work he has done at the school over the past two years, particularly with regard to safeguarding.
Deirdre will apply her considerable experience in Catholic education from the independent and state sectors to her new leadership role. Having been at Ampleforth for nearly five years and as Associate Head for the last two, she knows the school in every detail and will provide stability and continuity. The trustees have begun the process to appoint a permanent head and will announce an appointment as soon as it is made.
Deirdre’s priorities will, as ever, be shaped around balancing the academic demands on the students with the pastoral care they need to thrive. She will be building on the strength of this year’s A Level and GCSE results and ensuring that all students achieve their best possible outcomes. Deirdre will also be overseeing the introduction of BTECs and the construction of our new equestrian arena, as well as continuing the varied and busy life of learning, sport, music and activities our students expect.
Deirdre has spent her entire career in Catholic education and is determined that the Benedictine character of Ampleforth remains at the heart of the College. She will be working closely with the chaplaincy team to ensure that the unique Benedictine experience of Ampleforth College continues to grow, offering students the opportunity to deepen their faith.
Having been the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) for five years, Deirdre will continue to build on the robust policies and practice that have been put in place to ensure that student safeguarding and wellbeing is at the centre of College life. Her approach will not only focus on the excellent structures and processes she has established but also on educating and empowering students so that they know and understand how to safeguard themselves and that they deliver and expect the highest standards of behaviour from themselves and others.
Deirdre will be supported by two deputies. Dr Hannah Pomroy will continue as Director of Academic Studies, building on recent exam successes and shaping the curriculum to ensure students have the best possible learning environment. Mr Adrian Smerdon becomes Acting Deputy Pastoral with responsibility for boarders and day student care and will take over from Deirdre as Designated Safeguarding Lead.