Mr Roberts joins Upton Heath as Principal

Upton Heath C of E Primary School is delighted to welcome its new principal this January, Mr Stuart Roberts.

Mr Roberts, who was previously principal at Ellesmere Primary School and assistant principal at St Martin’s Academy in Chester, has a background in developmental psychology which he plans to put to good use at our school, saying:

“My aim as a principal is helping each child to reach their full potential. At a fundamental level, I believe that children need to feel safe and happy at school to learn. When these needs are met, children are ready to learn. Our goal is ensuring learning is engaging and interesting because we know that children learn and retain more when they enjoy what they are doing.

“I’ve been talking to pupils about what they’ve enjoyed about their learning at Upton Heath, and activities like a recent chemistry workshop, led by a scientist and giving our pupils a real interactive science experience, are the exciting moments that they remember. This is where we can build on these exciting or ‘wow’ moments that children enjoy, utilising the fantastic facilities at Upton Heath, including a science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) room and performing arts studio, to help our children to engage with the curriculum in a more meaningful way.

“Upton Heath is already in a strong position with polite and well behaved children, experienced staff and supportive parents/carers We have good data that we can develop, particularly in areas such as phonics. One focus will be further enhancing our curriculum.”

It was the desire to make a difference that was the catalyst for Mr Roberts to move into teaching in his 30s following a successful career in IT project management.

“When I was younger, my parents instilled in me that I could achieve anything I set out to achieve, if I worked hard enough for it,” adds Mr Roberts. “As a result of that support, I had an amazing school experience. I undertook work experience at a school with very positive feedback but ended up studying cognitive science, then moving into project management. In 2001, I experienced a health scare; it all turned out to be completely fine but it changed my perspective on life and my thoughts returned to teaching.

“What’s interesting is that when I was considering teaching, I remembered the comments I’d had during my work experience. Even today, I’m a huge advocate of positive feedback and the power and influence it can have over a person’s life. People often underestimate what they can achieve. Having someone in their corner that believes in them makes all the difference.

“Once I had my teaching qualification, I taught in Nepal and Switzerland before coming back to the UK and teaching in Brighton for around seven years. In 2015, I moved to St. Martin’s Academy in Chester, part of North West Academies Trust, as assistant headteacher and in 2018 I took on the role of headteacher at Ellesmere Primary School in Shropshire. Ellesmere Primary School is a similar size to Upton Heath, a two form entry school, and I was fortunate to spend five amazing and successful years there as headteacher, building a fantastic team. My knowledge of working within a Trust will also be useful at Upton Heath.

“The most important thing we can do is to communicate our interest and passion for a subject to the children we teach in a way that engages them. We learn more in the first year of our lives than we learn at any other time, and we learn more in the first five years than in any other five years of our lives. With my developmental psychology background, primary teaching felt like the natural choice. If we can get the foundations right in the early years, it eases the pathway to learning in later life.

“I’ve already been made to feel very welcome by our families at Upton Heath. As principal, I’m looking forward to building on the successes of Upton Heath to make it the very best it can be, working alongside our parents, children, staff and community, and as part of the wider Trust.”