Nick Giles, who previously served on HMS Exeter, HMS Gloucester and HMS York as a Chief Petty Officer directing the missile systems, will now be directing Mitoncross Academy with a ‘fresh vision and new school values’.
The former sailor served the Royal Navy for 17 years after leaving school with underwhelming qualifications - a driving force in his later career and something he believes can inspire children at the school.
‘I left school at 16 with pretty weak qualifications but knew I was better than the certificates suggested,’ he said. ‘So while in the navy I studied and gained a first class degree in English language and literature.
‘It was this proof that left me feeling that education in the 1980s had let me down and so I am determined that any school that I lead will never do that to any child.’
Nick, 51, has already left his imprint in the education sector, though, with him lauded by Ofsted for ‘transforming the culture’ at Chamberlayne College for the Arts in Southampton where he was headteacher for the last five years.
Before that he was a senior leader at Havant Academy in Leigh Park.
Despite having never taught in Portsmouth, Nick said it is a ‘place close to my heart’ after coming to the city in 1987 to join the navy from a small town near Birmingham.
‘I joined the navy at 16 and came to Portsmouth serving on destroyers predominantly, so I have a real soft spot for the place,’ he said.
‘My final job was instructing leadership and management in the navy.’
Speaking of his ambition for Miltoncross after joining at the start of the month, the headteacher said: ‘My key focus for my first few years is to ensure all children are academically very successful through hard work, dedication and self discipline.
‘We intend no classroom time is wasted with all distractions to learning minimal if not zero. We do have high expectations of children's conduct, presentation and work ethic because we know that they will serve them well in their adult lives.
‘Our key message is that hard work will help them secure the very best college and university places which will in turn open doors to wonderfully rewarding careers.
‘We are also ensuring that we help students progress rapidly by insisting that everybody reads widely. Students read daily with their tutors for 20 minutes and those that struggle will be given extra support and that will continue until they can read well.
‘We have an ambition that all children leave Miltoncross able to read at their chronological age unless there is a cognitive impairment and even then we won't stop trying.’
Nick said the school curriculum is ‘wide’ with him believing in ‘enriching children's lives by opening up their world through lessons, trips, after-school clubs and many experiences beyond just the classroom’.
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Despite his whirlwind introduction to life at Miltoncross, Nick added: ‘I have only been here two weeks and I am loving it. The students are superb and parents are really supportive, despite us raising our expectations around uniform and presentation.
‘The school has really dedicated and strong staff so the future here for any child is really very positive.’