Published: 12:12, 29 July 2021
| Updated: 09:11, 02 August 2021
The popular head teacher of one of country's top schools has ended his 15 year tenure.
Paul Danielsen bade farewell to the staff and students of Ashford's Highworth Grammar School at the end of this school year as he begins his retirement.
Deputy head and German teacher Duncan Beer will take over as interim head teacher, having been at the school since 2008.
He said: "Paul Danielsen has been an incredible head teacher and made Highworth the outstanding institution it is today.
"He has been an ambitious, innovative and compassionate leader and leaves behind a school community that I feel honoured to be leading into the next stages of its development.”
During his time at the helm, he has championed a number of changes at the school.
He introduced a vertical tutoring system of students from every year group in each mentor group, fostering community spirit and providing younger students with older students' support.
To accommodate a growing number of students, his spell as head saw an extension to the Kingsdown Building, an extension to Gower House to link to the main school Reception, a performing arts space and an extension to the Hub canteen.
Furthermore, a mezzanine floor was constructed above the library and a state-of-the-art sports hall was built called The Vink Centre in 2019.
Highworth achieved two outstanding Ofsted reports during his time in charge, and academic performance has improved year on year.
Continuing to teach maths throughout his time as head, Mr Danielsen has come to be well-respected not just in the Ashford area but also in the teaching field.
He established the Ashford Teaching Alliance, which saw the borough's primary schools work with secondaries in partnership.
The 37-year veteran of teaching also chaired the Kent and Medway Teaching Schools Network, was the director of Leadership Learning South East and was on the executive board of the Kent Association of Heads.
Amer Khalil, chair of governors, posted on the school's website: "Over the years that I have been associated with Highworth Grammar School, both as a parent and as a chair of governors, I have witnessed so many high points and achievements that have characterised the school’s continued and sustained success.
"We are fortunate in having amazing students and incredible teaching and support staff.
"However, I genuinely believe that much of our success is attributable to the stewardship and dedication demonstrated by our retiring head teacher, Paul Danielsen.
"He has underpinned everything that we strive to do, and he has done this consistently, and with the challenges since March 2020, these qualities have been critical in ensuring we continued to meet the needs of students as best we can."
Saying the outgoing head's presence will be "enormously" missed, the chair continues: "From my perspective, Paul has above all and in every sense committed all his energy and time to the welfare of Highworth students.
"With regard to our fabulous school buildings, Paul had the vision to project manage and ensure delivery on time and budget of our amazing sports hall facility.
"On behalf of the Highworth Governing Board, I would like to bid Paul a very fond farewell and every happiness in a peaceful retirement not accentuated by the heartbeat of those regular lesson changeover pips!”
In a final letter to the school's parent, pupils and staff, Mr Danielsen thanked all those who had made his time at the school so special and successful.
He wrote: "This is my sixteenth and final year at Highworth. I have been really proud to lead such a fantastic school and see every day what young people can achieve. The students here are amazing.
"They are supportive, diligent and committed to working with the staff to find the best possible outcomes, both academically, and in terms of social development.
"To be considered as one of the top performing schools in the country is a great legacy for the next generation of school leaders, who I am sure will take the school forward to even greater things.
"I will certainly miss this job and particularly the teaching which I have been fortunate enough to do for the last 37 years.
"Teaching is an immensely satisfying career and I would not have wanted to do anything else.
"Many thanks for all of your support over the years and for choosing Highworth.
"I genuinely hope that all Highworth students make the most of the wonderful opportunities available to them."