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York High Head to step down after 15 years

The headteacher at a York secondary school will step down at the end of the school year after almost three decades in education.

Rod Sims, Headteacher at York High School in Acomb, says he is leaving with a ‘heavy heart’ after a period of illness last year has made him re-evaluate his priorities.

Mr Sims, who is 56, had a cancer diagnosis last year, underwent chemotherapy and surgery and has now had the all-clear, but says after a difficult 2023, it is time to move on.

He has been at York High for fifteen years, six years as headteacher and nine years as deputy head. Prior to that he worked at Tadcaster Grammar School as assistant head and Archbishop Holgate’s School as head of year.

In November 2022 York High was rated ‘good’ in all areas by Ofsted following a concerted campaign by the school to be reinspected. The school was previously judged ‘inadequate’ in January 2017 and Mr Sims and the team had been fighting hard to get a long-awaited fresh inspection.

Mr Sims, who himself went to school at Westfield Primary and Nunthorpe School as a boy, said “When I look back on my career, one of the highlights is being able to lead the school on a journey from ‘inadequate’ to ‘good.’ This success was not because of me but because of the talented staff, the great pupils and the support of the York High community. We have achieved these improvements together. Throughout the process, we put people first and never lost sight of the fact that we wanted a school where students could learn and teachers could teach.”

“York High has flourished, thanks in no small part to the brilliant level of support we get from South Bank Multi Academy Trust’s CEO, Mark Hassack and the central team. I particularly want to thank Clair Kitchen, SBMAT’s School Improvement Lead, who played a huge part in the remarkable improvements made at York High.”

“It may surprise you to know, but I never really wanted to be a headteacher. I only did it because I was not going to stand by and let the school, the staff and the students be badged as ‘inadequate.’

“Having said that, I’m so glad I took the opportunity. I love this school and when I look back on my life, I will look back with joy at the 15 years I have spent at YHS. I would not have been a headteacher anywhere else!”

“It’s with a lot of regret that I am leaving, but I just can’t do the 65 hours a week anymore, the working on a weekend and the huge amounts of patience you need to do the job. You make a lot of sacrifices doing a job like this and I could not have done it all without the support of my wife Clare. It’s time we spent more time together.”

“I have always asked the same of myself as I have of the students and staff – “did you try your best?” I can walk away knowing that I gave it my best. We did it right at York High, but more than anything we did it with a smile.”

Mark Hassack, CEO of South Bank Multi Academy Trust said “Rod will be hugely missed by colleagues, students and the York High community. His determination, dedication and absolute passion for the school are evident to all who know Rod and it has been wonderful to see the school thrive under his leadership. We all wish him well for the future when he leaves us at the end of the summer term.”

Recruitment for an Executive Headteacher to take over from Mr Sims is underway.

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