Principal steps down after 21 years at Beal High School

Retiring Principal of Beal High School Terese Wilmot celebrating with colleagues.

Retiring Principal of Beal High School Terese Wilmot celebrating with colleagues. - Credit: Archant

The principal of a Redbridge secondary school – who has overseen its rise to the top of the borough’s rankings tables – is stepping down after 21 years of service.

Dozens of pupils and staff members gathered at Beal High School, in Woodford Bridge Road, last week to say goodbye to Terese Wilmot as she moves into “semi-retirement”.

“I haven’t finished with education yet,” she told the Recorder.

“And I am far too young to retire,” she joked.

Her colleagues put together a film to commemorate her 27 years of teaching in Redbridge, which was shown at the event on Thursday, April 4.

“I feel a bit emotional, I feel proud of what we achieved and excited for what will be achieved next,” she said.

She joined the school as the director of sixth form in 1998 when then school had only 125 students and “the worst results in the borough”.

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This was the same year that TV presenter and former pupil Simon Amstell was made charities prefect, she fondly recalled.

“That may not quite fit with his image now,” she laughed.

Beal High now has more than 800 pupils and is ranked among the top 20 percent of schools in the country for its Progress 8 and Attainment 8 scores, she said.

“Fundamentally Beal remains the same busy, noisy, creative chaos,” she said.

“We have top staff, incredible parents who are so supportive and the students are so hilarious.”

She spoke of how she had not initially planned to become a teacher, planning instead for a future in the media.

“But then I saw everybody going into education lectures and got a whiff of chalk,” she said.

“I was sent to the toughest school in inner city Leeds. You couldn’t leave them alone with a potato peeler.”

“Then I thought that I could change the world!”

Now entering semi-retirement, Terese says that she will continue do some work with the Beacon Academy Trust and a little teaching at Forest Academy, in Harbourer Road.

She is being replaced by executive principal Katheryn Burns and co-headteachers Yvonne Andress and Philip Bray.

“I know I am handing over to a good team, so I am happy and confident”, she said.