Burnt Yates headteacher to leave school after 15 years

NAPB 1412021AM1 Judi Popplewel leaving. Judi Popplewell who is leaving Burnt Yates School with youngsters Lucy Walmsley (9), Charlie Parker (11), Jake Smith (5) and Lottie Kitzing(4)  (1412021AM1)
NAPB 1412021AM1 Judi Popplewel leaving. Judi Popplewell who is leaving Burnt Yates School with youngsters Lucy Walmsley (9), Charlie Parker (11), Jake Smith (5) and Lottie Kitzing(4) (1412021AM1)

The headteacher of Burnt Yates Primary School is leaving her post after 15 years of teaching at the school.

Judi Popplewell, 56, has been teaching at Burnt Yates since 1999, but her first contact with the school was when her daughter started in 1995.

A teacher for 32 years, Ms Popplewell has been a parent, chair of the friends, and a parent governor at the school where she has been head for the past five and a half years.

Though she said she has loved her time at the school, Ms Popplewell told the Nidderdale Herald that, as a teaching head, she knows something about every child and that this personal quality is no longer prioritised in the government’s education policy.

“I have always put children at the heart of what I do in my teaching career and I don’t like the way children are now statistics,” she said.

“I have always believed in the education of the whole child. They leave after their time here with us as well-rounded, confident children ready to move on.

“There is more to education than on the day of one SAT paper at the end of year six and for the children at Burnt Yates over the time I have been here we have striven to give so much more than that and I hope we have.”

With a passion for creativity, Ms Popplewell said that, while she is not sure exactly what she will do after leaving, she hopes to venture into something expressive.

Painting as a hobby, she has an ambition to be a florist - something she has never had the opportunity to do.

She will, however, miss her pupils and the school’s atmosphere, despite having extra time to herself.

She said: “Teaching these days is all-consuming and if you want to do the job you put the time in, but unfortunately that doesn’t leave time for doing the things you like to do.

“At our last inspection Ofsted said the children here are inspired by wonder. That is the nicest thing anyone has said about the school under my leadership.

“I want to leave while I still love it. I will miss it. They are very special children here, and parents and governors. It is a unique school.

“The school is very special because it is a very small village school, similar to the one I went to, and it is a family.”

Ms Popplewell is part of the school’s history as the 15th headteacher in 250 years.

One of her predecessors, James Cooper, started in 1899 and finished in 1922 - 23 years - and William Cockett was head for 46 years from 1810 to 1856.

This record, she said, is something she sadly cannot now beat.

Past pupils are invited to a tea party for Ms Popplewell organised by the Burnt Yates Friends at the school on December 11 from 5.30pm to 7pm.