Former rugby league star to become headteacher of new school in Wigan

A former rugby league player will be leading a specialist education school that will open in Wigan later this month.

Stuart Howarth, 32, will be the headteacher of the Edstart Specialist Education school that is due to open at the former Marsh Green clinic, which has undergone a major facelift, on November 14, which focuses on 11 to 16-year-olds with a variety of social, emotional and mental health needs.

The former rugby player has left his role at St Peter’s Catholic High School as a science teacher to work alongside James Lowe – the original proprietor of the educational specialist.

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The pair will be working closely with the local authorities to find students across Wigan who could benefit from a secure and structured environment that is tailored to their needs, allowing them to develop as confident and independent learners.

Left to right: Neil Parkinson, Stuart Howarth and Tommy Roe
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Stuart, who played professionally for Wakefield, Salford and St Helens, said: “It is our mission to allow all young people who come to our school the opportunity to have the same aspirations and outcomes as their mainstream peers.

“We want them to leave us as confident and independent learners with a positive destination post 16 and ready to contribute positively to society.”

Each class will consist of around 30 students who may have experienced difficulties and obstacles when it comes to learning, the aim of Edstart is to support or facilitate the successful reintergration of pupils back into structured education.

Stuart Howarth in his playing days for Wakefield

The charity, Rugby League Cares has played a massive part in the 32-year-old’s career since hanging up his boots, helping him to transition from a life of sport to teaching.

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He says it recognises the difficulties that players face upon retirement in adjusting to a more normal way of life, by offering a range of grants and awards to encourage players to gain academic or vocational qualifications.

Additionally he says they can provide access to professional caeers advice for the whole community, as well as signposting former players to support services once their career is up and running.

Stuart said: “I’ve been able to transfer a number of skills from my playing days to my new career in education.

Stuart when he taught at St Peter's high school, Orrell.
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“Discipline, how to have difficult conversations, how to lead a group of people and how to show empathy for both staff and students.”