A FAMILIAR face has taken the helm of New Siblands School in Thornbury.

Andrew Buckton, the former deputy head teacher at Culverhill School in Yate, has replaced Paul Casson as leader of both the primary and secondary sites.

Unlike his fellow head teachers Mary Mainwaring and Andrew Toogood, who have taken over at St Mary's Primary and Crossways Junior School respectively, he was not exactly thrown into unknown territory on his first day.

Mr Buckton is no stranger to New Siblands and he has a long history of collaborating with its staff and 78 pupils.

He said: "I already knew the school. We did a lot of joined work when I was at Culverhill over the last few years. These children are amazing. They have a lot to give to us and I count it a privilege to work with them.

"The staff were very welcoming. They have been amazing towards me at the beginning of my headship. I can’t imagine working with a more positive and forward-thinking staff team."

The father-of-two from Bath took a slight detour before embarking on a career in education.

After a stint as a care worker for children with severe learning difficulties, he retrained as a teacher 20 years ago.

His first post was at a mainstream primary school in London. He then moved on to an establishment for children suffering from autism and with complex learning difficulties.

He was appointed deputy head teacher at Culverhill five years ago.

"I’ve been teaching about 20 years, 18 of which have been in special ed," he added. "It has been a true vocation."

Mr Buckton told the Gazette he had big plans in store for pupils and staff and was keen to implement his vision for the school as soon as possible.

"I have arrived with a strong sense of vision and direction for the school," he said. "I can sum it up in three words: ABC, achievement, belonging and celebration.

"It will form the basis of what we prioritise, what we maintain, what we improve and what we change.

"This year will be focused on teaching and learning since it's the year we will have an Ofsted inspection."

New Siblands is a school for children with special educational needs. It is divided up into two buildings, the primary school right next to Gillingstool and the secondary site on Easton Hill Road.