New head named for leading north school

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Ripon Grammar School governors have announced that Jonathan Webb will succeed headteacher Martin Pearman, who is to retire next summer after 12 years.

Mr Webb, who lives near Ripon, is moving from his role as Deputy Headmaster (Academic) at Durham School.

A graduate in history from Christ’s College, Cambridge, and a former pupil of Batley Grammar School, near Leeds, his career has included spells at Pocklington School, The Manchester Grammar School and Giggleswick School.

Mr Webb will take over the leadership of Ripon Grammar School after it confirmed its status as the top state school in the north for the fourth consecutive year in The Sunday Times Parent Power survey, putting it into the top 75 state schools nationally out of more than 3,000 surveyed.

In this summer’s examinations, 76.2 per cent of A Level grades at Ripon Grammar School were graded A*-B, while 60.6 per cent of GCSEs were A* or A grades.

The school is also the top school in Yorkshire in a measure of the university destinations of its leavers.

One of fewer than 40 state boarding schools, Ripon Grammar has 920 pupils including 81 boarders.

Mr Webb said: “I am extremely honoured to have been chosen from such a strong field and am indeed very excited by the prospect of leading such a fabulous school as Ripon Grammar School.”

On the challenge of leading an already outstanding school, he said: “We should always cherish the things that work and preserve the processes which function smoothly. However, we can and should believe in school improvement, if only to prevent ‘status quoism’ from drifting into complacency.

“I believe that we can continue to improve pupil mastery of their subjects and their intellectual curiosity to do better. We have to believe in ensuring that a pupil’s life experience in, and crucially beyond, the classroom develops growth mind-set, inner confidence, a sense of spiritual worth and a deep and lasting care for others.

“In short, we have to believe that a school can continue to nurture decent human beings who want to make a positive difference.

“This is why the extra-curricular life of a school is so important and why personal self-development and confidence is as much the marker of human flourishing as academic results.”

Chair of Governors Dr Peter Mason, said: “We are very pleased to have appointed Jonathan Webb.”

“We have no doubt the school will continue to thrive and develop strongly under his leadership and we look forward to welcoming him next September.”

Mr Webb is married to Helen and has two sons. He is a keen cricketer and coaches for a local team and enjoys all forms of outdoor pursuits.

He has worked with the British Council in China helping to promote British boarding school education.

He will join at a time when grammar schools have been singled out as one method for improving education standards with the Prime Minister apparently keen on expanding the system.

Mr Webb said: “Selective grammar schools can deliver progress if, and only if, they maximise the talents of those successful in the entrance test. They have to deliver academic excellence through outstanding teaching and learning both in terms of raw results and crucially value-added measures.

“They also need to deliver a co-curricular programme which develops not just the intellectual but also the personal skills of their charges.

“However, that does not mean that the selection process itself cannot be refined further. To ensure that all pupils in the catchment area feel entitled and confident to apply is also important and depends on good outreach.”