School leaders united in driving forward success

Campbeltown Grammar School's senior depute headteacher Kim Fletcher and headteacher David Mitchell.
Campbeltown Grammar School's senior depute headteacher Kim Fletcher and headteacher David Mitchell.

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Campbeltown Grammar School’s new interim headteacher has told the Courier he is committed to working with the school’s senior management, as well as pupils, parents and the community, to drive forward its success.

David Mitchell has taken on the temporary role alongside his position as headteacher at Dunoon Grammar School and aims to split his time equally, as far as possible, between the schools.

He took over from acting headteacher Sam Stewart, who has now returned to her role as depute headteacher at Dunoon after nearly eight months in Campbeltown.

Miss Stewart took on the position following a challenging period for the school, during which it received two ‘unacceptable’ Education Scotland reports and placed poorly in a league table of Scottish secondary schools.

In a report published in February, however, after a follow-up visit in December 2021, inspectors said the school showed signs of improvement under Miss Stewart’s leadership.

It is this success that Mr Mitchell is keen to build upon.

Speaking to the Courier this week, he talked about his first couple of weeks as interim joint headteacher of both schools.

‘I couldn’t have asked for a better welcome in Campbeltown,’ he said. ‘The pupils have been really warm and the staff have been friendly and welcoming too.

‘Sam did a really good job with the ethos of the school. I’m also an associate assessor with Education Scotland, so I go out and do inspections in schools, and there is a feeling here in Campbeltown now that is positive.’

Although Mr Mitchell’s role in Campbeltown is temporary, he intends to remain at the school until a permanent headteacher is appointed.

‘I am working very closely with the school and its senior leadership team to look at our priorities,’ he said, ‘and I think it’s very important to meet the parent council and find out what its priorities are and we also want the young people to have a say.

‘The report that was issued by Education Scotland following its re-visit gave two main priorities – making sure attainment improves and the learning and teaching is consistent – so these have to be my priorities but it’s important that we all share the same vision and we all share the same drive.’

Mr Mitchell, 47, is an experienced headteacher, having been in charge at Dunoon since 2013.

He was born and brought up in the Cowal town, and is a former student of its secondary school.

After graduating, he attended university to become a design and technology teacher.

Once qualified, he spent 13 ‘happy years’ at Oban High School, where he became a guidance teacher, principal teacher of design and technology and then depute headteacher.

He took on his first headship role in 2010, at Castle Douglas High School in Dumfries in Galloway, before returning to his hometown in 2013.

Asked what attracted him to the position in Campbeltown, Mr Mitchell said: ‘I’ve come to a time in my career where I’m really looking for a challenge.

‘As a former pupil of Dunoon Grammar School, the headteacher role was one I was really keen to get and I’ve been there for nearly 10 years.

‘But sometimes you become comfortable, so this has come at a really nice time for a challenge; something different.’

He added that he is keen for the two schools to collaborate, sharing expertise and online resources, helping to increase the curricular offerings at both.

This is not Mr Mitchell’s first time in Campbeltown; he is a keen football fan and used to referee matches for Campbeltown Pupils and Campbeltown Boys.

He is also a golf fan, and hopes to get a few rounds in at some of Kintyre’s renowned courses during his downtime.

Most importantly, however, he is keen to spend time here with his family – wife Laura, daughters Katie and Eilidh, and son Iain – to get to know the community.

Mr Mitchell is a fan of honesty and transparency, and will issue weekly parental updates, with plans to hold drop-in events.

He added: ‘If parents have an issue, they need to come to the school – email us, pick up the phone or come in person. We’ll make time to see them.

‘Our priority is the young people in this school and we need to make sure that we’re meeting everybody’s needs, that they are safe and they are achieving.’

Mr Mitchell is being supported in his role by the school’s senior leadership team, including senior depute headteacher Kim Fletcher, who will be in charge of the school’s day-to-day running while Mr Mitchell is in Dunoon.

Mrs Fletcher said: ‘It has been fantastic to be part of this journey with Campbeltown Grammar School and the community, and I look forward to continuing within my new role.

‘We would also like to welcome David to the team and indeed to Campbeltown.’