THE new principal of Rydal Penrhos School in Colwyn Bay has said he wants to help it become a “richer part of the community” as he begins his first term in charge.

Tom Hutchinson, who has 20 years’ experience in education under his belt, enjoyed a “really successful” first day of the school’s 2023-24 term yesterday (September 5), and is “very excited” about taking it forward.

Now in his early 40s, Mr Hutchinson has been a senior member of teaching staff since he became assistant head at St Ambrose College, Altrincham at the age of 26.

He then went on to serve as principal of the University Church of England Academy in Ellesmere Port, and then at St Edwards Church of England Academy in Leek.


New principal appointed at school in Colwyn Bay

Rydal Penrhos in Colwyn Bay celebrates ‘exceptional’ GCSE results

Among his plans at Rydal Penrhos are to make its preparatory and secondary schools “very much one school”, and to “improve communication with our stakeholders”.

Mr Hutchinson joins Rydal Penrhos on the back of an incredibly successful summer of results; it attained a 100 per cent A-Level pass rate for the fourth consecutive year, while half of its GCSE students earned A* or A grades.

He said: “I’m really excited. I feel incredibly proud to be leading the school.

“One of my focuses is to make Rydal very much one school. We currently have the prep and the senior sections, but we’re really going to operate as one school entity; so much so, that we’re looking to bringing the prep school down on to this (senior school) site, hopefully.  

“I’ve got to be very visible. I like to roll my sleeves up and get my hands dirty. I like to know all of the pupils’ names, and their likes and dislikes, and I like to know how my staff are feeling, to have my finger on the pulse. You can’t sit behind the desk to do those things.”

The only Methodist school in the independent sector in Wales, Rydal Penrhos welcomes boys and girls between the ages of two and 18.

Mr Hutchinson is already “massively familiar” with Colwyn Bay and its surrounding areas, not least through his many childhood holidays spent crabbing in Rhos-on-Sea.

How the school is represented in the town and beyond, he said, is also of particular importance to him.

“As we move forward, we need to become a richer part of the community; not just the community of the school, but of Colwyn Bay and the surrounding area,” he added.

“A building is just a building; it’s about the people, the structures and the ethos within it.

“I’ve always felt equipped for being a leader. I suppose I’m still young as a head, but it’s not that I’ve just jumped into this as a new role.

“I feel immensely proud and very excited about taking the school forward.”

Mr Hutchinson, a father of three, is also an inspector of Anglican and Methodist Schools and serves as Bishop’s Advisor on the Discernment Panels for Vicar and Deacon selection.

He is also vice-chair of governors at the Co-op Academy in Stoke-on-Trent, and is a coach at Anselmians Rugby Football Club, as well as the club’s safeguarding and rugby safe lead.

Rydal Penrhos’ pupils will be “central to every decision” he makes as principal, while he also wants to place a greater onus on celebrating their and the school’s achievements.

Mr Hutchinson added: “Communication is the most important thing I’ve learned, even when the decisions are difficult. They (pupils) should benefit from every decision made.

“I think humility is important; you’re making decisions with people, rather than doing them to people. You’ve got to be humble, and say that you’re learning, too.

“We look to celebrate the individual at Rydal, which has been part of my style wherever I’ve been. We’ve got a team of staff here who are great at finding how to get the very best out of our pupils.

“We live in a world that’s very quick to criticise, and not so quick to celebrate. We need to help change that tide, so that our community as a whole is really elevated.”