HE may be one of the youngest head teachers at the age of 36, but for students at Penketh High there is no-one more suited to the leadership role than John Carlin.

It has now been 100 days since Mr Carlin took the helm and his passion for the Heath Road school and its pupils shines through.

Talking to the Warrington Guardian about his first few months as principal, he said: “There is something about Penketh that gets under your skin.

“There is a unique atmosphere and for me, it is about the pupils and staff understanding their responsibility and working together to achieve really good outcomes.”

Having spent 14 years at Penketh, first joining as an NQT, Mr Carlin believes he has a strong understanding of how best to steer the school towards greater academic achievement.

And it is evident from speaking to pupils that they appreciate the effort being put in to make sure they are pushed to the best of their ability.

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Head boy Connor Hawker said: “Mr Carlin has earned more respect from pupils for being in the school a long time.

“He knows it inside out and pupils trust him because of that.

“He cares and wants to see that you are enjoying your learning and that there are no distractions.”

Appointed in May last year before taking up his position officially in September, Mr Carlin had time to consider his approach to changing elements of school life.

He said: “It has never been a bad school but our academic outcomes were not where we wanted them to be and I felt we needed to drive the pupils further on that.

“I drew up guidelines to produce a climate of consistency, academic rigour and high standards across the school.”

The shift in focus towards academic consistency has been praised by pupils, with new ‘learning scores’ creating a motive to work hard.

Year 11 pupil Ethan Turton said: “There has been a crack down on behaviour and the introduction of learning scores, under Mr Carlin, monitor pupils’ behaviour in class which helps us know if we need to work harder or if we are on track.”

Staff have all been regulated on the same score system, with lessons becoming more consistent.

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Being a younger head teacher, students say they feel this is an advantage with the new GCSE structure, explaining how Mr Carlin has been able to adapt more easily to the changes which has helped the school immensely and given him the respect of pupils.

Connor said: “The determination of the teachers has improved so much because each one is striving to help you get the grades and they are providing after school classes to provide additional help.”

Year 11 student Isabel Griffiths added: “He cares about us individually.

“No-one gets lost under the radar and everyone gets the same amount of attention.”

Fellow pupil Nicola Speakman added: “He is very down to earth, he won’t talk down to us but he won’t expect us to be academic machines either.

“He really balances strictness and approachability.

“Because we respect him we don’t want to disappoint him.

“We work hard and want to make him proud and he recognises this.”

It is clear Penketh wants to be recognised as a school where individuals count, ensuring students’ life chances aren’t determined by the area they may have grown up in, but are improved both academically and socially, so they feel prepared for the world beyond high school.

“The vision has always been to create a climate for high expectation and standards,” explained Mr Carlin.

“The sky is the limit for our pupils, they are brilliant and can achieve whatever they want.

“The school has just got to make sure we can provide an environment and education for them to excel and not be limited.

“We are keen as a school to build in a culture of aspiration.”

Mr Carlin also praised staff for their ‘exceptional’ efforts in helping to alter the learning culture.

“You will never meet a more dedicated body of people who are so committed to the pupils in the school and I think that has made my job so much easier,” he added.