Jo Petch joined LIFT Partnership this week and says pupils with special needs are ‘inspirations’ to everyone who works with them.
She joins from the Solent Academies Trust, on the south coast, and brings a wealth of experience in both teaching and leading SEND schools. She was at her previous trust for eight years and was latterly the head of the Mary Rose Academy, Southsea.
LIFT includes West Hill School in Leatherhead and Linden Bridge in Worcester Park. A third school, Fox Grove, is planned for a site adjacent to West Hill.
Mrs Petch is keen to meet and work with the whole LIFT team, but the current situation means the traditional face-to-face meetings with staff, families and pupils will have to wait until the Coronavirus restrictions are lifted.
“I am delighted to be joining LIFT, even at this unusual time and I look forward to working with everyone in the Trust,” she said.
Married with three grown-up children, Mrs Petch is a keen runner and vegetarian cook who was classically trained in woodwind instruments including the clarinet, flute and saxophone. She also plays the piano and guitar and is looking forward to sharing her love of music with her new pupils.
Teaching is becoming a family affair for Mrs Petch as her daughter is also a teacher in a special school and her brother is the headteacher of a primary school on the south coast.
“There are never two days the same in special education. The pupils are the best people you will ever meet, they are such inspirations to us all as they overcome the barriers to their communication and learning with joy and determination,” she said. “The staff who work in special schools are a ‘fantastic bunch of the most committed, dedicated and creative educators who go above and beyond for the children and their families.’
Once we are out of lockdown, Mrs Petch is keen to encourage any teachers with an interest in supporting pupils with SEND, to visit West Hill or Linden Bridge ‘to find out more about how we devise the most fantastic curriculum for our children to ensure they achieve their best.’
She joined her former trust in 2012 and worked in a school which was on a rapid and successful journey of improvement just as that trust was forming.
“Our schools have become extremely good at sharing their specialist knowledge and expertise to help teachers in mainstream meet the demands of the ever-more complex cohort of children that are in school,” said Mrs Petch. “I know that if we are effective in nurturing the skills and knowledge of our pupils, they will grow into young people who, when they leave, can have a positive impact on our local community.”
Mrs Petch thanked staff who are continuing to work and open schools for the children who need to be there, along with the families who are also working hard at home and said she was looking forward to meeting everyone.
She has recorded a video introduction which can be seen here: https://www.liftpartnership.org/News/Jo-Petch-begins-role-as-Chief-Executive-Officer/
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