Trouble-shooting head retires as term starts

Date published: 22 September 2008

THE trouble-shooter brought in to turn around Counthill School has retired just days into the new school year.

Margaret Ryan joined the Moorside school as interim head teacher in April, 2005, after it was classed as failing by Ofsted and placed in special measurers.

She had a record of turning around failing schools and had previously taken over the helm at St George’s School, Maida Vale, after headteacher Philip Lawrence was stabbed outside its gates in 1995.

Counthill was taken out of special measurers in December, 2006, and Councillor Kay Knox, cabinet member for children, young people and families, said Mrs Ryan had done an exceptional job.

“The headteacher had done the job that we asked her to do and that was to get Counthill out of special measurers. As a ward councillor I saw the amount of time she put in.

“Weekends, early mornings, late nights, you would go past and her car was there. She was totally committed to doing the job.

“I have nothing but praise for her.”

Counthill is one of five schools which are set to close and be replaced by three academies under Oldham’s £230 million Building Schools for the Future proposals.

Mrs Ryan (64) had intended to retire at Christmas, but a replacement could not be found.
She left on September 12, a day after she is understood to have told staff about her departure.

David Lack took over as interim headteacher a week ago and also has a reputation for turning around schools. He formerly held the same post at The City School, Sheffield.

Last year 27 per cent of Counthill pupils achieved five A* to C grades at GCSE including English and maths. The Government has set a target under its National Challenge initiative for every secondary school to reach 30 per cent by 2011.

Councillor Knox added: “It’s fair to say Counthill, along with four other of our schools, we have concerns about, because they haven’t hit the targets.

“Margaret had done a sterling job but we now need to ratchet it up another degree.”