Comet Community Awards 2019: Nominations flood in for departing Stevenage headteacher

Barclay School headteacher Mark Allchorn. Picture: DANNY LOO

Barclay School headteacher Mark Allchorn. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

A well-respected headteacher who is leaving his job at Easter has been nominated dozens of times in the Teacher of the Year category of the Comet Community Awards.

Our sponsors for this year's Comet Community Awards. Picture: Archant

Our sponsors for this year's Comet Community Awards. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

Mark Allchorn, headteacher of The Barclay Academy in Stevenage, was appointed after the school was rated inadequate by Ofsted and placed in special measures in 2016.

He has overseen significant improvement at the Walkern Road school, with Ofsted’s latest inspection rating it as ‘requires improvement’ with elements of good.

But last month Barclay was taken over by Future Academies – a forced takeover that was fiercely opposed by campaign group Hands Off Barclay – and, shortly after, Mr Allchorn tendered his resignation.

The annual Comet Community Awards offer readers the chance to thank members of our community who go out of their way to help others, and nominations have been flooding in for Mr Allchorn.

The Comet Community Awards is in its 15th year. Picture: Archant

The Comet Community Awards is in its 15th year. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

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Alison Hodgkinson said: “He has led Barclay through a really tough few years and completely changed the ethos of a failing school to a happy, positive place, striving for the best in all its pupils.”

Michelle Upchurch said: “He is so passionate about the children and their education. He is a wonderful human being.”

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Sarah Dobbs said: “Spectacular dedication to improving a failing school and always putting the pupils and his team first.”

Dave Benson said: “Mark is an amazing person who has touched the hearts of everyone he has met.

“Mark has also raised thousands of pounds for local good causes and the school through bike rides.

“This award would represent a huge thank you and appreciation for his whole-hearted commitment over the last few years.”

Mr Allchorn said he is humbled to be nominated and that support continues to be incredible.

He said: “Barclay will always have a special place in my heart. I could never have predicted how much the Barclay community would come to mean to me in such a short space of time. My career spans over three decades and, having worked in some other incredible schools, leading Barclay has easily been the most exciting and rewarding.

“I’m delighted Barclay now provides an environment in which students and teachers can truly flourish and fulfil their potential. I’ve personally been able to develop so much in the last two years and I believe that’s helped the school community to grow so rapidly and positively.

“This is a nomination that recognises the hard work of the whole Barclay community: students, teachers, governors, parents and carers, past and present. That is Team Barclay. I’ve never seen such support for a school and I’m pleased Barclay is proving so resilient.

“I’m saying farewell at a time when Barclay is strong. Knowing when to finish was never going to be easy. However, my experience of cycling tells me that there’s only so long one person can lead from the front and, for me, my journey here is done. Others in Team Barclay will now take over.

“I look forward to seeing the school continue to make rapid progress and to meet the needs of young people in Stevenage.”

To nominate someone for one of our 12 categories before the April 12 deadline visit

Finalists will be invited to an awards ceremony at the Hotel Cromwell in Stevenage’s Old Town on May 16.

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