Abbeygate Sixth Form College in Bury St Edmunds appoints principal

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The Abbeygate Sixth Form College, in Bury St Edmunds, has appointed David Gartland as its new principal.

And he will step down from a similar role at the Lowestoft Sixth Form College to take over his new position in September this year.

Mr Gartland, who comes from Durham, leaves the north Suffolk college as the highest performing sixth form in the country according to the Department for Education.

He puts the success down to dedicated teaching and support staff.

He said: “Everyone knew what their role was and what they were to do. So that’s having subject specialists to teach their subjects and to teach them well and having a support framework in place so the students can focus on their studies. A culture and a model I plan to emulate in Abbeygate.”


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Abbeygate Sixth Form College is the collective vision of Suffolk Academies Trust and a partnership of local schools and will be the Trust’s second academy alongside the One Sixth Form College, in Ipswich.

Abbeygate will be located in the grounds of King Edward VI School and is West Suffolk’s first, and only, purpose built sixth form college.

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“I’m absolutely thrilled to be taking on the role of principal at Abbeygate. There is a real drive in the area for it to be a success. It is a partnership project in the true sense of the word, with a range of educational professionals working together to provide a new sixth form college to serve the community. That is a great environment to start from and work in.”

Mr Gartland, who is married and has two teenage children, went to University in London, studying Sport Science and Teaching. He did a number of teaching placements however, after 15 years living in the capital, he and his family relocated to Framlingham.

And he is proud to be leaving his current college in a rock solid position. The sixth form has an impressive 100% A Level pass rate and 100% BTEC pass rate and he admits it was a difficult decision to leave.

“The opportunity to set up a new college (Abbeygate) from scratch, was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. I’ve been lucky to have already had that experience with Lowestoft, so I know the positives as well as the challenges and I hope to bring all I’ve learnt with me.“

The college will offer over 30 A Levels in state-of-the-art facilities and at full capacity will have 1,00 pupils.

Dr Nikos Savvas, West Suffolk College principal and Suffolk Academies Trust chief executive officer, said: “We are delighted that David will be taking up this role. He comes with a wealth of experience and an impressive track record in inspiring exceptional academic success. I know Abbeygate Sixth Form College will be outstanding under his leadership and vision.”

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