Former Corby school principal retires after 40 years in education

Sir Peter Simpson
Sir Peter Simpson

Sir Peter Simpson, figurehead of the Brooke Weston Trust since its formation in 2007, is retiring after a 40-year career in education.

The trust, which runs Brooke Weston Academy and Corby Business Academy, Kettering Science Academy, Corby Technical School and Thomas Clarkson Academy in Wisbech, will be headed by Dr Andrew Campbell who takes over as chief executive officer when Sir Peter steps down in the summer.

Sir Peter’s career started in 1971 when he took up the position of science teacher at an all boys’ school in Leytonstone.

He said: “I think the biggest change in education from my early days is the degree of care that we extend to individual students. When I started out, it was very much a question of teaching a class: now it’s a question of trying to teach an individual. Children are treated much more like people than they were 40 years ago, when we still had the cane.”

Sir Peter also taught in Bedfordshire and Wales and was a local authority inspector before he decided on a return to working in schools. He was appointed as vice-principal at Brooke Weston Academy, Corby, before taking on the role of principal in 1999. His contribution to education was recognised with an OBE and five years later in 2011, a knighthood.

His personal highlights from the last 40 years range from the realisation in the early days that teaching was something he could do well, to the day Corby Business Academy opened its doors for the first time.

He said: “First and foremost, what I’m most proud of is the achievement of Brooke Weston Academy. It’s an outstanding school in the town and it’s a tremendous achievement for everyone who has contributed. It got off to a very good start with the first principal, Gareth Newman, who was quite radical.

“My proudest achievement as an individual is Corby Business Academy. It’s a good school that has replaced a difficult and troubled school. The opening day was a culmination of a five-year project. I’m also pleased that I managed to bring £66m of capital investment to this little corner of Northamptonshire and the development of any new school is something to be proud of.

“But what I’m most pleased with is that what we have done as a trust has given opportunities to students. Corby in particular is a good example of different people and different organisations working together to make the town a better place to live in.”

Sir Peter paid tribute to the people he has worked alongside.

He said: “The key factor of my life at work is that I have never not wanted to go into work. I have been extraordinarily fortunate with the people I have worked with, both as a senior leader and in my junior days.

“Andrew Campbell will be a highly effective leader for the trust and the schools within the trust will get better and better. Students should have high aspirations for themselves and teachers should have high expectations and aspirations for their students.”