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After 16 years as Headmaster of Hereford Cathedral School, and having reached the age of 60, Mr Paul Smith has announced that he intends to stand down at the end of the current academic year.

Mr Smith said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at HCS, and will be sorry to be moving on, but now seems the right time for my wife and I to be planning our next adventure.”

Concerning the next appointment, Mr Smith said, “I know that my successor will have the privilege of taking on a school in very good shape. Our numbers in the Senior School are the highest in my time, and the recruitment for next year is already above where it was this time last year. Furthermore, the quality of teaching and support staff is probably the strongest it has been for many years, and the School enjoys the services of a very well-qualified and experienced Governing Body.

“I am particularly pleased that the international market and appetite for HCS has not diminished and that boarding now looks to be on an exciting upward trajectory.”

Since his appointment in 2005, Mr Smith has led the School through a number of transformational developments. In 2012, he was responsible for initiating the recruitment of overseas students, which led to the opening of a brand-new boarding house last year, now accommodating up to 29 students from across the globe.

In the earlier days of his headship, Mr Smith was responsible for developing the School’s sports and extra-curricular provision through new facilities and the appointment of Assistant Heads to oversee this important aspect of school life. He also led the transformation of the school’s Sixth Form provision, providing quiet study and recreation spaces and creating a strong community of senior pupils.

In more recent times, Mr Smith has led HCS through one of the most challenging periods for any school, introducing an outstanding remote learning programme in lockdown for which the School gained an excellent reputation.

But Mr Smith credits the success of the School to his “most important job” of appointing the right staff. Over his tenure, he has appointed exceptional Deputies who have gone on to Headship, as well as introducing brand-new appointments, including Assistant Heads, Development, Marketing and HR Offices and a Head of International Students.

Alongside his position at the helm of one of the country’s top independent schools, Mr Smith was elected Chair of the Choir Schools’ Association for their centenary year, has been Chair of HMC West (the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference) and sits on the Diocesan Board of Education. He was also interim Chair of the Local Organising Committee for the Herefordshire School Games, the national programme inspiring young people to take part in competitive school sport.

Chair of Governors, Rear Admiral Philip Wilcocks said: “While the Governors fully appreciate his reasons, we are saddened by the Headteacher’s decision to depart next year. Mr Smith’s leadership of the school over the past 16 years has been, quite simply, outstanding. His calm and measured style has been personified by his complete dedication to the school, our staff and, most importantly, to nearly 3 generations of students.

“Looking to the future, the Board is focussed now on selecting a worthy successor to Mr Smith. Early discussions with recruiting consultants give us absolute confidence that we will have a highly capable and talented field from which to choose the Headteacher’s successor.”