Interview with the Principal
28th March 2018
Meet Jenny Wheeldon, Principal Designate
Poplar Farm School
We found some time early on this week to grab Jenny and ask her a few questions about plans for Poplar Farm, here’s what she had to say…
Hi Jenny. Thank you for giving us some time. Tell us a little bit about your background.
I have been in education for over 35 years. I grew up in Lincolnshire and went to school there. I trained in Derbyshire. I then started my career in the Bahamas, teaching in an International Methodist School. I eventually settled back in Lincolnshire with my 2 children, both of whom have now grown up and moved away.
So what makes you so passionate about educating young children?
I absolutely believe in educating the whole child. Of course you want children to read and write and love numbers, understand what a healthy lifestyle is, but I want children to be confident, inquisitive individuals with a zest for learning.
I want them to be explorers and adventurers who understand that failure is an opportunity to learn. I want the children to foster kindness and tolerance towards everyone, more than anything I want children to be happy whilst they are at Poplar Farm.
You sound like you know exactly what you’re talking about.
I worked for over 14 years in a Lincolnshire Primary School achieving two Outstanding OFSTEDs. More recently, I have worked as an Executive Headteacher in another Outstanding Academy. I have a proven track record, and the ability to sustain this over time has given me a greater understanding of the importance of an education system that has something for everyone.
The lovely thing about being a mature Headteacher is that I now meet ex pupils who were once four years old in my school and are now pursuing careers such as doctors, pilots, car designers, lawyers, architects and yes, even rocket builders! I remember those children and the struggles they went through and see how they have succeeded.
What made you want to get involved with this project at C.I.T?
This is such a wonderful opportunity to work together for the good of Grantham’s children.
C.I.T. has grown a reputation not only across Lincolnshire but in our neighbouring counties, as a Trust that really is inclusive. It has a mixture of sponsored academies and schools that the DfE has asked the Trust to support. It is one of the larger Trusts in Lincolnshire with 10 schools across the county. I particularly like that they have both special schools and mainstream primaries.
This is the first new build that C.I.T. have been involved in. I was asked to join the team because of my extensive experience in primary practice and leading outstanding schools.
The expertise and experience across the Trust is fantastic and we can draw down on this as and when needed to ensure that every child flourishes at Poplar Farm.
What do you think are the biggest barriers that you will have to overcome in opening Poplar Farm?
I appreciate that for parents it is a leap of faith when the school is not yet completed and staff are not yet in place. Parents can’t see or feel what their school will be like. For some this is exciting but for others it’s a worry of the unknown.
Some parents have had concerns that their child will always be the oldest in the school but I want to reassure anybody who is considering sending their child to Poplar Farm that this is an exciting, really first rate opportunity to shape the future and to be involved from the very beginning.
The school build is on schedule and really taking shape, we are beginning to recruit staff and plan for National Offer Day on April 16th.
We have a number of really exciting meet and greets planned. Once the school is completed we will be having some great events such as a Teddy Bears Picnic, Meet Your Teacher, and some sessions on ‘What it’s like to be a new parent of a child going to Poplar Farm’.
I am so excited about being part of C.I.T’s new school and being a part of these children’s futures.
It was great to hear from Jenny and now you can hear from her past Parents and Pupils:
“Mrs Wheeldon’s love of the children, her interest in them as little people, her warmth and kindness always shines through.”
“Mrs Wheeldon is one-of-a-kind! She had the experience of life and a sense of perspective about what school life should be like for our children. She was firm but fair. She had high standards – manners and politeness mattered.
She had a great sense of humour and loved dressing up for World Book Day and entertained the children in assemblies. She knew every child really well, recognising every child’s talents, from sport to drama to being a good citizen. She was amazing.”
“Mrs Wheeldon could make us laugh in assemblies but you always knew she would expect you to make the right choices and quickly settle down to listen. She had presence. No one was ever rude to Mrs Wheeldon.”
Ex pupil, Lincolnshire.