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St Mary’s Catholic School headteacher Tom Johnston in surprise resignation

The head of St Mary’s Catholic School in Bishop’s Stortford has left with immediate effect after just two-and-a-half years in the role.

Tom Johnston took over as headteacher in September 2021 when his predecessor, Andrew Celano, was appointed chief executive officer of the St Francis of Assisi Catholic Academy Trust, a family of eight Catholic schools in the Roman Catholic deanery of the Lea Valley.

In a letter to parents dated March 26, two days before the end of spring term, St Mary’s chair of governors Paul Carroll wrote: “I am writing to inform you that Mr Johnston has decided to leave his post as Headteacher of St Mary’s. I have discussed the circumstances with Tom, and I have accepted his resignation. We have agreed that he will leave us at Easter.

St Mary's Catholic School
St Mary's Catholic School

“His decision to leave is for personal reasons and to enable him to explore new challenges in his career. We would like to thank Tom for the contribution he has made to St Mary’s and wish him well in the future.”

Deputy head Deirdre McHugh, who has been at the Windhill secondary for 13 years, will take over as interim headteacher until the school has completed its search and selection process for a new, permanent headteacher, which it does not expect to finish until the next academic year.

Mr O’Carroll told parents: “The governors, trust board, CEO and diocese are agreed that Deirdre is an ideal appointment as interim. She will be well known to many of you because she joined the senior team at St Mary’s in 2011, and her most recent portfolio (held until July 2023) was pastoral deputy head, securing the highest standards of pupil conduct, Catholic life (including the Outstanding 2018 inspection) and pastoral excellence in all areas. We have great confidence in Deirdre.”

Andrew Celano with now interim headteacher Deirdre McHugh. Pic: Vikki Lince
Andrew Celano with now interim headteacher Deirdre McHugh. Pic: Vikki Lince

Mr Johnston is the third Bishop’s Stortford secondary school head to resign in four months, following Kathy Crewe Read at Bishop’s Stortford College in December and David Woods at Hockerill Anglo-European College in March.

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