Grammar school head to leave Penrith stage after 11 years in charge

Date: Friday 5th December 2014
Chris Kirkup.
Chris Kirkup.

THE headmaster of Penrith Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Chris Kirkup, this week informed staff, governors, pupils and parents that he will be retiring next summer.

THE headmaster of Penrith Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Chris Kirkup, this week informed staff, governors, pupils and parents that he will be retiring next summer.

In his resignation letter he says: “It has been an immense privilege to be able to contribute to the leadership and management of the school over the last 11 years.

“I feel it is time for a new face with fresh ideas and energy to continue maintaining and furthering the success of the school. I would like to thank the many staff, governors and parents who have given unstinting support to me over the years.

“Above all, I thank the students whose cheerfulness, spirit, hard work and enthusiasm have impressed and inspired me in equal measure every day and made so much of my job so enjoyable and so worthwhile.”

By the end of this academic year, Mr. Kirkup will have completed 34 years in teaching. He joined the Penrith school in September, 2004, after six years as deputy head at Devonport High School for Girls, Plymouth. Before that he was senior teacher at Bourne Grammar School, Lincolnshire.

Mr. Kirkup started his career as a history teacher at Torpoint School, Cornwall, in 1981. He moved to Bourne eight years later to take up the post of head of history and drama. He was made head of year nine after a few years and then promoted to head of humanities, and later was acting deputy head for two terms.

At QEGS Mr. Kirkup has overseen many changes, including four years as a specialist school in mathematics and computing; conversion to academy status in 2011; huge investment in computers and computing facilities; the building of four new classrooms and the refurbishment of the sports hall and many classrooms and office spaces; as well as the recruitment of more than half of the present teaching and support staff.

After history, Mr. Kirkup’s main interest is drama and at both Bourne and Devonport he introduced A-level theatre studies which had not previously been on their curriculum.

In all four schools at which he has taught he has always been involved in the annual school stage production. Over the years he has directed many musicals and most recently a triumphant production of Les Misérables at QEGS. He has also adapted and written many productions, including versions of Romeo and Juliet and Nicholas Nickleby, as well as original shows of his own, including a musical based on the events surrounding the Great Plague and Fire of London and one set in the ruins of bombed Beirut in the 1980s.

Mr. Kirkup plans to move back to the south west to enjoy his retirement by the sea and be closer to his family.

He said: “I hope that over the years in the schools I have worked that I have made pupils’ time a little more exciting by providing stimulating history lessons and the opportunity to participate in plays and musicals.

“As head at QEGS I hope I have contributed a little to the ongoing success of the school, helped enhance the quality of teaching and learning, improved and developed the accommodation and facilities as well as helping appoint high calibre staff who will take the school on to even greater things.”