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New head pledges to make Cansfield ‘a great school’

Dr Geoff Baker
Dr Geoff Baker

The new headteacher at a borough school says he hopes to turn it into a “beacon of excellence”.

Dr Geoff Baker has taken the helm at Cansfield High School in Ashton after the retirement of Mike Southworth, who spent 23 years in the top job.

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It is his third post as a headteacher and he joins after three-and-a-half years leading Cromer Academy in Norfolk.

During his time in charge, the school was rated as “good” with “outstanding” features by Ofsted and was the highest performing in north Norfolk.

But the 37-year-old felt it was time for a change and applied for the move to Cansfield.

He said: “There’s something about the school, about the community in the school and the way it serves the local community and the way the children and staff all feel part of something special that stood out to me.

“I came on the interview day and spoke to the governors and saw that was clearly the case.

“This is a school that serves the community it has and does things right and has a really good curriculum and a fantastic pastoral system.”

Dr Baker had never even been to Wigan before, but he is now settling into his new role after an “incredible” first few weeks.

He said: “I have met with every member of staff, I have seen them in action and this is an incredibly high calibre team of really fantastic teachers at every single level and fantastic support staff who are really excited about moving the school forward.”

Dr Baker, who now lives in Cheshire with his wife and three children, is an experienced headteacher and a national leader in education.

He said: “My plans for the school are to build on what we have been given.

“It’s got this fantastic ethos and I want to keep that and advance that as well as put in more academic rigour and ensure every single pupil makes a lot of progress. What I firmly believe is that students who are happy, cared for and loved perform well.”

Ofsted inspectors found Cansfield “requires improvement” in their latest visit, but that “effective action” was being taken to turn it around.

Dr Baker said he will be focusing on making it “a great school” rather than its Ofsted rating, but he hoped it would improve as a result.

He said: “I’m absolutely convinced that we are going to improve this school and it’s going to be a beacon of excellence in Wigan and the surrounding area.”

While his new job will certainly keep him busy, Dr Baker still hopes to find time for his interests away from the classroom.

He said: “I’m a historian and I have written seven books on history and education. I love travelling - I am going to Kazakhstan and Thailand this year and last year I went to

Vietnam.”