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Two new leadership appointments for St Benet’s Multi-Academy Trust

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Mr Cranmer was Headteacher at ASHS for 12 years and in November 2018 took up the role as part-time CEO of St Benet’s MAT, continuing as Executive Headteacher at the High School. With that role expanding as the Trust prepares to welcome more schools, Mr Cranmer has been appointed full-time from September this year. Mr Connelly has worked at ASHS for nine years and has been Head of School for the past two years.

The two leaders speak warmly of one another, with a professional relationship that goes back many years:

“For me personally, I am absolutely delighted that Rob will succeed me at our wonderful school,” says Richard Cranmer. “In my previous job at Notre Dame High School in Norwich I oversaw Newly Qualified Teachers. Back in September 2004 a young PE teacher, called Rob Connelly, arrived for his first teaching post. Even then I was struck by his joy at working with young people and his determination to be the best teacher he could be. It has been a privilege to watch him develop into an outstanding school leader and I have absolutely no doubt that he is the perfect fit to take over the helm from me.”

Rob Connelly responds: “Richard has an infectious enthusiasm and passion for serving others. He has encouraged and inspired me to seek out new challenges and opportunities. We have a relationship based on the foundation of trust and respect. We constantly challenge each other and this I believe has had a significant impact on the success of our school community and my own development as a husband, father, teacher and school leader.”

Mr Connelly was inspired to go into teaching having had a very positive local education himself at Dickleburgh Primary School and Diss High School. After an initial career in investment banking, he retrained as a PE teacher. He is looking forward to continuing and developing his leadership role. “I am thrilled to have been appointed as Headteacher of this incredible community. ASHS as a school offers such a unique learning experience where all aspects of school life are underpinned by Christian values that enable our staff, students and their families to thrive. It is a huge privilege to lead, alongside an incredibly committed and highly skilled group of individuals, a team that I know will continue to give so much to help support and shape the lives of so many.”

Mr Cranmer began his career in farm management, working on the Blenheim Estate, but eventually returned to Norfolk becoming head of science at Notre Dame High School. He is excited about this full-time role: “I love building and leading teams and this role gives me the opportunity to do just that with both those who support me in leading school improvement centrally and with the Headteachers of our schools. It is very likely that St. Benet’s MAT will grow considerably over the coming years as more schools join us, so getting firm foundations built on Christian values is going to provide the bedrock for that growth.

“The immediate challenge is, of course, our response to the COVID crisis. Working as part of the wider Diocesan family with DNEAT has been invaluable in helping to chart our way through the challenges that have faced our schools over the last three months. We are now preparing for the full return to schools in September and supporting our Headteachers as they explore the best ways to enable children to reconnect with their school.”

Both agree on the importance of the Christian faith in the MAT and at ASHS. Richard says: “I think it offers a framework of values upon which everything we do is based. It provides a clear sense of wider purpose and acknowledges that every member of the MAT community is different yet brings so much that collectively makes us stronger. It provides a point of reference for us to turn to when faced with new challenges and provides an opportunity for those of faith or none to experience something that I believe is missing in much of modern society today.”

Rob adds: “I have been blessed to have worked with incredible leaders at both Notre Dame and ASHS who have lead with love, compassion and humility where success is characterised beyond knowledge. The Church of England Vision for Education focuses on the following four areas: Educating for wisdom, knowledge and skills; Educating for hope and aspiration; Educating for community and living well together; Educating for dignity and respect and it is these four pillars that form the daily diet that we aim for our community to experience.