CHEERIO:  Butterknowle Primary School head Tessa Fenoughty, right, is all smiles as Kirsty Henderson, Alex Peneycad, Margret Ostle, Monique Nichols, Emilia Peneycad, Bishop Paul Butler and Lori Cook say goodbye at her final Christmas lunch
CHEERIO: Butterknowle Primary School head Tessa Fenoughty, right, is all smiles as Kirsty Henderson, Alex Peneycad, Margret Ostle, Monique Nichols, Emilia Peneycad, Bishop Paul Butler and Lori Cook say goodbye at her final Christmas lunch

BUTTERKNOWLE Primary School has bid farewell to the headteacher who made significant improvements during her three-year tenure.

The school has witnessed a complete makeover, including new windows, roof and kitchen ventilation system, while pupil numbers have soared since former Middleton-in-Teesdale deputy headteacher Tessa Fenoughty took up the reins in 2014.

The school also retained its good rating during a short Ofsted inspection last year.

In a letter to the headteacher inspector Michael Reeves wrote: “You have provided ambitious, dedicated and sharply focused leadership to drive school improvement.

“As a result, the school’s learning environment has developed substantially.”

During her time at Butterknowle Ms Fenoughty was also outspoken in the need to retain small rural schools, which in many cases are at the core of their community.

During a public meeting in November 2017 she made an impassioned plea to Durham County Council’s finance chief Jeff Garfoot to make more cash available to small schools.

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She said: “We are the heartbeat of villages in rural Teesdale. Is there no way the council can help support the generation of new houses in places like Butterknowle, Woodland and Hamsterley to encourage people in?

“If I can fill my school I can support the infrastructure and stop these rural villages from dying.”

This year Mrs Fenoughty will be moving on to Marchbank Free School, a specialist school for children with social, emotional and mental health difficulties in Darlington, which she sees as a new challenge.

December proved to be an emotional time for the headteacher, staff and pupils as they prepared to say goodbye.

Speaking during her last Christmas lunch at the school, Mrs Fenoughty said: “I am holding it together. I am in a bit of denial at the moment.

“When I hand over the keys for the office, that is when it will really sink in.”

When the new term begins, the school will have a shared headteacher – Clair Carr who is currently head of Woodland and Frosterley primary schools. Mrs Fenoughty said: “Because Clair Carr knows the Gaunless Valley, if anyone should take over then she is the right person.”