Headteacher of Whitworth Community High School retires after 20 years in leadership

After 11 years at the helm of Whitworth Community High School, Headteacher Gill Middlemas is retiring. She has spent nearly 20 years in school leadership in Lancashire and, under her direction, Whitworth has grown from around 400 students to more than 660 and is now always over-subscribed.

The school’s Ofsted rating has risen from ‘requires improvement’ to strongly ‘good’ and the GCSE results are now excellent, with grades in 2023 placing the school in the top 20 in the whole of Lancashire. Latterly, Mrs Middlemas and business manager Gaynor Mellor have focused on the development of a new school within the site off Hall Fold. Whitworth was part of the pilot for the Department for Education Rebuilding Schools programme which has seen the 1960s building replaced with a modern, light-filled environment.

The exterior reflects the industrial heritage of the Rossendale Valley and celebrates the beautiful landscape which surrounds it. Mrs Middlemas said: “I have loved the time I have spent at Whitworth Community High School and I am immensely proud of everything we have achieved, not just for our young people and their futures, but for their families, for staff and governors and for the wider local community.

“The area now has a highly successful, academically rigorous and completely comprehensive high school, of which everyone can be proud.”

The school’s new headteacher, Andrew Oliver, has worked alongside Mrs Middlemas for the past 11 years, most recently as acting associate head while the rebuild was carried out. Mr Oliver has already begun the process of change by reviewing the roles of his senior team.

He is, however, adamant that the consistent, insistent and persistent approach for which the school has become so well known locally will continue, as will the focus on respectful behaviour with a continued zero tolerance stance to any forms of discrimination.

Mr Oliver said: “I feel humbled and immensely proud to have been appointed to the role of headteacher at Whitworth Community High School and I am looking forward to beginning my new role in September.”

Mrs Middlemas added: “There is nobody better placed than Andrew to lead the school as it continues its Climbing Higher journey and the school is very fortunate to have him as its next headteacher.”