Edition 19: Andrew Cooper, Dr Rob Petrie and Stephanie Thomas

Edition 19: Andrew Cooper, Dr Rob Petrie and Stephanie Thomas

Andrew Cooper has been appointed the new chief executive for Barnfield academy trust as it
separates from the original sponsor, Barnfield College, and becomes a standalone multi-academy trust of
five schools.

Mr Cooper, 46, joined last month after leading Lutterworth College, a 14 to 18 school in Leicestershire and the Sir Frank Whittle Studio School, which opened in September last year.

“I left behind some cracking students and colleagues, but the opportunity to take this role on in a critical time for this academy trust was a too hard to resist,” he says.

“The key immediate issue is separating from the original sponsor and forging ahead as a standalone multi-academy trust. Then our priority will be a new name and a new identity.

“After the dust has settled I will focus on school improvement, ensuring that we have five great schools. It is the bread and butter stuff that makes the difference.”

Mr Cooper started his career as a history teacher 24 years ago.

Dr Rob Petrie has taken over as headteacher at Cockermouth School in Cumbria.He had been acting head.

“Since taking over it has been superb, I really am loving it.”

He says that he wants to define the vision for the school and move from good to outstanding over a five-year period.

“We’ve done a lot of work over the past two years to improve teaching
and learning and now we need to embed that.

“We are also very much a community-strong school and I really want to strengthen those links.

“The time is right to be an outstanding school. It’s going to be hard, but we have to go for it.”

Dr Petrie, who began working life as a physicist, has been in education for about 12 years.

He studied for a PhD in quantum physics and worked in industry in Cardiff for just under 10 years, but one day thought that he “wanted to make a difference”.

He moved into education and started at Cockermouth, which he joined as an NQT in 2004. He then worked at The Queen Katherine School in Kendal for five years, returning to Cockermouth as deputy head in 2012.

United Learning has appointed Stephanie Thomas as the founding principal of Walthamstow primary academy, which opens in September this year. She takes up her position on February 23.

“From now to September, I will focus on an education philosophy, developing a pedagogical statement that really drives the school, recruitment, getting out into the community.

“There is something special about building a school from scratch. It is a really exciting challenge I am looking forward to taking it on.”

She joins from the first primary free school in the country, Aldborough Primary School in Redbridge, east London, where she was deputy head.