Fond farewells as founding Midhurst Rother College head bows out

Picture by Janet Gibbs
Picture by Janet Gibbs

Popular founding head of Midhurst Rother College Dr Joe Vitagliano has bowed out on a high note with a bumper crop of GCSE and A level results.

His last task was to congratulate 2016 GCSE pupils who had raised the bar yet again: “I am not only proud to say we have improved our examination results again but we have helped almost every student in the class of 2016 to go on to high quality further education or training,” he said.

He can be credited with taking the school from zero to hero. The former grammar school had been placed in ‘special measures’ by Ofsted in 2006. It was cleared in September 2007 following a series of inspections. But it then went through a rocky two years while the future of the school was debated. Dr Joe became principal of the brand new academy in 2009 and in May 2013 it was judged ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.

The founding principal has been praised for changing the perception of schooling in Midhurst.

Paying tribute to his leadership of MRC Dr Nick Mitchell, chairman of the Gilbert Hannam Education Foundation and member of the local governing body said: “Over the last seven and a half years Joe Vitagliano has achieved more than the trustees had dared hope for. He has had many huge tasks in managing and bringing together two schools on separate sites, he achieved these very successfully even before the new college buildings were completed.

“However, to my mind his greatest success has been moving the perception of secondary education in Midhurst from a very negative place to one where the buzz that now exists can almost be felt at times. I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to Joe, on behalf of the Foundation trustees, for all that he has achieved and wish him well in his new position.”

Colin Hughes was chairman of Midhurst Town Council through the planning process. Working with the youth service he also remembered Dr Joe as a pupil at the former grammar school.

“Joe has guided the school through its transition into a purpose built educational establishment. A process which involved moving over 800 students, while at the same time not only maintaining their education but improving and enhancing the process.”

He said education achievement had prospered under Dr Joe and he had also given pupils the chance to taste exciting and challenging opportunities outside the school curriculum.

The chairman of Midhurst Youth Trust added: “The school is lucky one of its sons returned when a capable man with a vision was needed to inspire and to lay foundations for a prosperous future - a nice man , a good team leader and an excellent principal.” Colin added: “He has always been immensely supportive and helped to involve the youth club into his vision of an enriched education.”

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