A HEADTEACHER credited with leading the charge on rapid improvements at his school has been shortlisted for a national award to recognise his hard work and dedication.

Desi McKeown has been headteacher at The Deanes School, in Daws Heath Road, Thundersley for almost ten years – joining shortly after it was recommended the school close due to “falling pupil numbers”.

However, the last decade has seen significant improvements and now “more parents than ever want to send their children to the school”.

Mr McKeown has now been shortlisted for the Secondary Headteacher of the Year award at the Pearson National Teaching Awards.

The award celebrates standout secondary headteachers that “know and care for their students and, as inspiring leaders and managers, create an environment where success is expected and supported”.

Andrew Cooper, chief executive officer of the South East Essex Academy Trust, which The Deanes joined in 2021, praised Mr McKeown.

He said: “Desi’s nomination is well deserved.

“He leads with a great deal of integrity and is deeply committed to The Deanes.

“He has succeeded in raising the reputation of the school.

“We have more parents wanting to send their children to the school than ever before. He has created a welcoming and inclusive environment.”

After years of struggling and repeatedly being rated “requires improvement”, the school was rated “good” in November 2023.

Over the last few years, the school has gone from strength to strength with the pupils now “thriving in a happy and inclusive environment”.

A spokesman for the Pearson National Teaching Awards said: “We are delighted that Desi McKeown has been shortlisted as a finalist in the Secondary Headteacher of the Year category in The Pearson National Teaching Awards 2024.

“We will be proudly celebrating Desi and all our colleagues on National Thank a Teacher Day, June 19, 2024, when all the results will be announced.

“We wish Desi the best of luck for judging.”