Retiring Horsham headteacher praises ‘great staff’ and ‘amazing’ parents for school’s success which saw visits from Seb Coe and Dame Vera Lynn

The headteacher of a Horsham school has thanked the community for its support ahead of his retirement.

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 3:51 pm

Jules White has been at the helm of Tanbridge House School for more than a decade after first taking up the post in 2008 in a bid to unlock the school’s potential.

He said: “[Tanbridge] didn’t have a really high profile. It perhaps didn’t have the strongest reputation. I saw the job and I was just wowed by the sense of potential.

“It was just the right place and the right time.”

Jules White is retiring from his role as headteacher of Tanbridge House School

Jules, who is set to retire on December 31 this year, said the school needed ‘some confidence and some really important direct communication’.

The school has gone from strength to strength under Jules’ leadership despite some ‘very difficult events’ at the start of his tenure and it was rated outstanding by Ofsted in 2012. Jules paid tribute to ‘great staff – teaching and support staff’ and said the school’s success was down to a massive team effort.

But he said the school was about more than Ofsted ratings as he drove Tanbridge to become more aspirational.

The school, which has 180 staff and 1,550 children, has hosted high profile visits from forces’ sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn and Olympic gold medal winner Seb Coe

Jules White first joined Tanbridge in 2008

More recently Jules, 53, has led the school through the coronavirus crisis with lessons forced to move online in March last year.

The school reopened after several months before soaring case numbers and yet another national lockdown forced Tanbridge to shut again.

Jules said: “The direction from the Department for Education – it wasn’t ideal. Responding to every change – at Christmas being set up to do the testing. That was a pretty low moment. That was difficult.”

But Jules said people in and around the school rallied to work as a community to overcome the challenges of lockdown. He added: “That sense of working together really helped. Largely we did a really good job and sometimes that’s lost. Parents saw that first hand.

“We did a lot of good stuff and I think actually schools are really trusted by parents.”

As well as being headteacher at Tanbridge Jules has called for better funding for schools through the WorthLess? campaign.

Launched in 2015 the campaign aimed to make sure schools had the cash they needed to support their students and Jules – along with hundreds of his fellow heads marching on Downing Street in 2018 to demand change. He said: “At times at Tanbridge and at other places we were really struggling to have enough money for the basics.

“WorthLess? was about making sure we could fund not just the basics – specialist support – intensive work for vulnerable children. I don’t think we have enough resource – it’s improved but I still don’t think it’s enough.”

Jules praised the parents for their ‘amazing’ support of the campaign and added: “Nobody gave me any flack whatsoever.”

Jules said one of the reasons he is retiring is the ‘accountability and responsibility’ which places a heavy burden on headteachers. But he praised the staff around him for their ‘tremendous support’.

In the future Jules said he wants to spend more time with his family but he will continue to campaign for WorthLess? and will work with schools.