The new man at the helm of a leading North East independent school says education can ‘transform’ the lives of underprivileged youngsters across the region.
Born and raised in a deprived area of Liverpool, Durham School’s new headmaster Kieran McLaughlin threw himself into his studies, securing a sought-after place at Cambridge University, while countless others on his street were playing truant.
Much like the North East, long-term youth unemployment has been on the rise in Liverpool, with a 94% increase in the city since the beginning of the recession.
Mr McLaughlin, who studied physics at university before becoming a teacher, says education; private or state, should never be seen as a commodity to young people.
He said: “I grew up close to Liverpool’s football ground and generations of kids just haven’t had the aspirations to achieve more.
“Truancy levels were high and there was no sense of ever wanting to get up and get out.
“When I was at school I gave myself high aspirations. I haven’t been in the North East very long but in some areas, I see comparisons to Liverpool.
“It’s important to broaden young people’s horizons, because the North East is a long way from the rest of the country. There’s a lot of countryside between Durham and Leeds.
“Education is something that is transformative. Private or state-funded, youngsters have the power to change their lives and it’s our job to raise their aspirations and guide them along the way.”
Mr McLaughlin won an assisted place to study at St Edward’s College, a boys’ school in Liverpool.
Following his A-levels, he took up a place at Jesus College, Cambridge, eventually specialising in physics and theoretical physics.
Following his teacher training, he taught in London at a number of schools before becoming head of physics at City of London Girls’ School.
Before taking up his role as head of Durham School, Mr McLaughlin spent five years as deputy head at Rugby School.
During his career he has been involved with a number of national curriculum initiatives.
This week, Durham School celebrated its second highest ever GCSE results in the history of the 600-year-old school.
More than 42% of pupils achieved all A*-A grades, which is double the national average.
Nearly 90% of pupils scored A*-C grades, up 6.4% on 2013.
Mr McLaughlin added: “To achieve the second best results in the school’s history against a backdrop of national turbulence is a fantastic achievement and these results will be a solid bedrock for further study.
“I’m looking forward to starting my post at Durham School in September, working alongside such a talented group of students and staff.”