Sue Freestone retires at the end of August as Principal and Chief Executive of King’s Ely after fifteen years at the helm.
Sue became Head of King’s Ely in 2004 having previously led Sibford School, Oxfordshire from 1997. She made her mark as soon as she arrived in Ely by reversing the decision to drop Rugby at King’s Ely, bringing it back to the school in the nick of time.
During Sue’s time at King’s Ely, pupil numbers have grown by over a third and are now set to reach a record 1,100 for the new academic year in September 2019, when the new Principal, John Attwater, takes over.
Chairman of Governors at King’s Ely, Jeff Hayes, said: “In the fifteen years that Sue has led King’s Ely, she has overseen several significant and material improvements to the school. She has worked hard to raise the school’s profile, and King’s Ely’s reputation locally, nationally and internationally has improved to the point where I believe the school is now seen as a ‘go to’ school in Cambridgeshire. Sue has been a transformative Principal.”
Many structural changes have taken place during Sue’s tenure with the purchase and renovation of the Old Palace and the building of a new first-class Arts Centre, with extended Drama and Dance facilities and Theatre, and many significant improvements in some of the more neglected areas of the school.
Sue has worked on building a strong relationship with the local and wider community. She has overseen the development of the choristers, instigating the establishment of the Ely Cathedral Girls’ Choir in 2006, and has worked hard to instigate and develop partnerships with maintained schools in the area, culminating in the launch of the county-wide Cambridgeshire Educational Partnership in 2019.
In a personal letter to Sue upon her retirement, one parent wrote: “You have always been so very welcoming and we have greatly appreciated that personal touch when you must have so many people to consider and engage with. It is clear to us that you have steered a very thoughtful, inclusive, challenging and ultimately joyful course for the ship that is King’s Ely and, furthermore, have ensured that you have a team who are ‘on board’ to carry on that direction.”
Sue was presented with a stunning bronze horse’s head, created by former King’s Ely student (Old Elean) Eddie Waites, in front of hundreds of students, staff, families and friends of the school at what was an emotional End of Year Service at Ely Cathedral.
As she leaves the school, Sue says: “It has been a huge privilege to lead this school. I have been so fortunate to have had a team of dedicated professionals around me who are as passionate about the school as I am myself. It is they who are the secret of the success of King’s Ely in recent years. The greatest joy of my job is that I have responsibility for the whole school which means that I see our young people grow and develop; in some cases from the age of three to eighteen; from little children finding their way into the fine young adults who launch themselves onto the next stage, comfortable in their own skins and bursting with confidence and ambition. I wish them and King’s Ely a happy and successful future.”
Press release from King’s Ely