In this issue we talk to Rachel Quesnel the new Head at St. Anne’s R.C. High School in Heaton Chapel. Rachel has been in post just since 1st May this year, but this is her third headship – her most recent was at Sharples School in Bolton, an oversubscribed, good school with outstanding features, where she was in post for nearly 5 years. Rachel told MOOR: “I am very proud to be the new, permanent Headteacher at St. Anne’s and have already been made to feel very welcome here by all the staff and our 650 pupils.
St. Anne’s is a Specialist Arts Media college and excels in the expressive and performing arts where some of the highest grades are achieved. Pupils also do extremely well in the sciences and embrace the many extra-curricular opportunities on offer from STEM club to choir and acting as learning mentors to other students.
What do you love most about your school?
St. Anne’s is a small, friendly school and everyone gets to know each other really quickly because of that. Our pupils are full of life, hope, compassion and a desire to succeed. Our talented teachers work extremely hard to ensure that pupils enjoy learning and achieve what they are capable of. St. Anne’s has a caring Catholic ethos and we strive to make everyone feel valued and safe within our school community.
As a head teacher do you miss actually teaching?
I think it’s important that Heads teach if possible. I taught right up to when I started at St Anne’s. What’s great about teaching as a head is that you get to see learning from the pupil’s perspective. You also get to know them better as individuals as they tend to open up more about how they feel about the school as a whole and other things which matter to them, all of which helps inform some of the strategies I develop to improve their school experience and overall achievement.
If you hadn’t gone into education what would you have done for a living?
I would like to have had my own business in something creative. I like the idea of providing something unique with a USP that no one else has thought of yet.
What’s your favourite thing about The Heatons? – (you can’t say your own school!)
That it is ever evolving. So many new cafes, restaurants and shops have emerged in recent years that there is no need to look any further. As a conservation area, it’s also a very beautiful place to live. Mostly, it is the sense of community that I like. I’ve seen neighbours grow up, leave home and come back to have families of their own in the time I have lived here.
What would you like to see improved or more of in The Heatons?
More resources where young people can meet and get involved in activities which interest them and which support their community. And an art gallery please!
What ambitions do you have for the future of your school?
I want it to be an outstanding over-subscribed school where children have high aspirations and achieve well. I intend to build strong partnerships with primaries in the Heatons, parents and carers and to put St. Anne’s firmly on the map as a first choice local secondary school, and certainly the Catholic secondary school of choice.
And what are your personal (non education) ambitions?
I would like to see my own children succeed and be happy and fulfilled in their work and personal lives. Beyond that, I would love to do some voluntary work with disadvantaged children overseas, and write about my experiences as a teacher here and abroad.