New face at helm as Lancaster secondary school head moves on

Liz Nicholls.
Liz Nicholls.

A new face will be at the helm of Lancaster’s largest secondary school next term.

Martin Wood has been announced as Ripley St Thomas CE Academy’s new principal, replacing Liz Nicholls, who is moving on after 11 years to become the CEO of The Bay Learning Trust, a multi-academy trust set up by Ripley in 2016.

New Ripley principal Martin Wood.

New Ripley principal Martin Wood.

Appointed to Ripley in April 2006, Mrs Nicholls has led the school through a major phase of development, meaning it is now the largest school in Lancashire and is acknowledged locally and nationally as an outstanding educational provider.

During her 11 years of leadership the school was judged by Ofsted to be ‘Outstanding’ in 2008, and was again judged to be ‘Outstanding’ overall and in all categories in 2011.

As an ‘Outstanding’ school, Ripley was able to convert to Academy status in May 2011.

Mrs Nicholls became a National Leader of Education, designated as such by the Department for Education. In this role, her commitment to ensuring the best education possible for all pupils led her to be seconded to two failing schools in other local authorities to ensure that educational standards were turned around and improved.

Ripley has frequently been in the top 10 per cent of all equivalent schools nationally, and in the top 100 schools in the country.

Mrs Nicholls said: “It has been an honour to be entrusted with the leadership of this great school over these last 11 years. Seeing so many pupils develop into mature and confident adults and so many staff grow into excellent teachers and leaders has been a real privilege.

“I remain convinced that educating children in body, mind and spirit with an emphasis on serving others is the route to a successful life.”

Mr Wood joined Ripley in 2007 as assistant principal, with responsibility for teaching and learning, from Ormskirk School, where he was head of sixth form.

An economics graduate, he has taught a range of subjects during his career, most recently economics and history.

Mr Wood has held a number of roles at Ripley and is currently the senior vice-principal. He has worked closely with the current principal over the last few years and has been able to gain experience of all aspects of the work of the academy.