With big shoes to fill, we catch up with Bury & Whitefield Jewish Primary School’s new Head Teacher Melanie Kobak.
After 12 years at the school, Bury & Whitefield Jewish Primary School’s (BWJPS) long-time Head Teacher Claire Simon recently retired, Melanie Kobak stands ready to take up the role. The school couldn’t be in a better state for her to take over, as Melanie explained: “Our recent Ofsted evaluation in May has put us in a really great position for the start of this year, and we’ve just had some really wonderful SATS results as well.”
Often with changes in school leadership, both parents and pupils can feel a lot of trepidation at the change. Thankfully, Melanie’s long tenure at BWJPS has helped to sooth any concerns over the change: “I started at the school in 2003, so everyone knows me already, and before taking over this role I was already the Deputy Head as well as a Year 6 teacher.”
Claire has left Melanie well-prepared for taking over the Head Teacher role and even had some sage words of wisdom to impart before she left: “She gave me three bits of really important advice,” Melanie told us. “Firstly: don’t try to do everything at once. Secondly, put the kids first, which we always do. And thirdly, to look after myself as well.”
As a school that students love to attend, Melanie plans to stay the course that Claire followed throughout her time in the position: “At our school, it’s all about the kids. They’re at the heart of what we do, and we put them at the forefront of everything.”
Melanie believes that part of what makes her perfect for this position is that she is able to empathise with the parents of the students attending the school: “I have a seven-year-old and an 11 year old myself, and while they don’t attend BWJPS because we live too far away, I can really empathise with the parents and talk to them as a mum, not just as a teacher. My eldest is starting high school this year, so I was able to talk to our Year 6 parents about how they felt about their kids starting high school, which was really nice.”
BWJPS has some exciting things planned for the coming school year, not least bringing in computer and robotics experts to teach the children about their field: “We had a massive fundraiser back in April, and this is what we’re doing with part of the money. The idea is to teach the kids about this field that is really going to expand in the future, to help them be ready for jobs that don’t even exist yet!”