A NEW headteacher has taken the reins at Mary Tavy and Brentor Primary School.

Barbara Earnshaw was appointed head of the community primary school and began her new role in September this year, after replacing outgoing headteacher of over 15 years Nicky Pratten.

Barbara, from Gunnislake, was previously head at Lydford Primary School where she worked for 20 years.

She began her teaching career in 1993 at Austin Farm Primary School in Plymouth.

Barbara, originally from Downderry, married Gavin in 1993 and together they have Tamsin, who was born in 2000 and is currently studying towards a BTEC in public services at Plymouth City College, and Mathew, 15, who is a Year 10 student at Callington College.

Barbara said: ‘When we married in 1993 I went straight into my new job at Austin Farm,’ she said. ‘Then we decided to move to the country and we moved to Gunnislake and I got the job in Lydford.

‘I realised I wanted to be a teacher when we had a careers fair while I was studying my A-levels. We had a man from the local primary school who was the one person who was still really inspired by what he did, and I realised that that was what I wanted to do!

‘When I started it was never to be a headteacher, it was to be in education and to be a teacher. It was only when I was 26 and my headteacher at the time had a hip operation, and I was then acting head, that I found I really enjoyed the challenge and over the years I found that I enjoyed the management and leadership role.’

A few of Barbara’s aims for the school — that she can mention — include developing and building on the Forest School, the beginning of a breakfast club and an early sports club, plus getting the school an Artsmark award, a scheme which is managed by Arts Council England and recognises settings with a high level provision in the arts.

Barbara added that she wanted to continue the strong links with the community: ‘As Mary Tavy and Brentor is a village primary school it’s about keeping links with the community strong so that the children feel they are part of the community and at the heart of the village.’

Although the decision to leave Lydford was difficult for Barbara she knew that becoming headteacher at Mary Tavy and Brentor Primary School was the right decision.

‘There was a lot of tears when I left Lydford,’ she said. ‘But it was about being able to take that next step and having a different type of responsibility — which is scary as it is now up to me but it’s also really nice as it’s up to me!’

The 76 pupils at the school, split into three classes, are looked after by four teachers and three teaching assistants, all of whom, Barbara said, have been very welcoming.

‘My staff are fantastic and have been very welcoming. This is a fantastic school and they have all been really supportive, from the cleaners to the teachers, the TAs (teaching assistants), parents and the pupils — all have been really fantastic and accepting of change and development for the school.