A WELL respected head teacher, who has covered the education spectrum from early years to undergraduates, has taken up her latest challenge.

Tessa Fenoughty will said farewell to Butterknowle Primary School at the end of the year to take up her new position as principal of Marchbank Free School, Darlington.

A part of the Education Village Academies Trust, the school specialises in helping primary children with a range of emotional, social and mental health conditions, ranging from emotional and attachment issues to attention deficit hyperactivity difficulties and autism.

Marchbank, which opened in 2013 in Mowden Hall, caters for children aged five to 11 and draws pupils from Darlington, County Durham, Teesside and North Yorkshire.

“Throughout my career I have taught within every sector of education, from pre-school to university degree level, but this is the first time I have been a part of a special educational needs school,” said Ms Fenoughty.

“I am hoping the role will continue to stretch, challenge and engage me every day to come up with solutions to meet the needs of pupils, staff, parents and carers.”

Birmingham-born, Ms Fenoughty, 55, graduated from University College Wales – Aberystwyth with a Bsc degree in physical geography before taking a role within the Ministry of Defence as a map research officer, producing escape and evacuation material for ex-patriots in Tripoli during the 1980s Libyan crisis.

Breaking the monotony of a deskbound role, Ms Fenoughty left to travel around North America for a year before returning to her home city of Birmingham where, realising that her passion lay with geography, she returned to education to train as a teacher.

Passing her PGCE exams at Keele University, Staffordshire, Ms Fenoughty took up her first secondary school teaching position at Alsager School, Cheshire, where she rose to the position of head of department.

Her wide-ranging career continued at Warwick University as a lecturer in science education before a chance meeting with a fellow lecturer, during a field trip to Kirkby Stephen, led to marriage, a move to Glasgow and the birth of her two daughters.

“I got a job at Croftamie Nursery, Sterling, we lived in a beautiful home near Loch Lomond and life was idyllic. So when my husband was offered a job at Durham University I agreed to move only if we could live in an equally beautiful part of the country. We packed up and relocated to Teesdale to a tumbledown farmhouse which we then spent three years renovating.”

An early years position at Middleton-in-Teesdale Primary School saw her rise to the role of deputy head before leaving to take up her first headship at Butterknowle Primary School in 2014.