Stephen McKernan, Head of St Edward’s Preparatory School in Cheltenham, is to leave the school next August, at the end of the academic year.

Mr McKernan is to become Head of Castle Park School, a stand-alone independent prep school near Dublin – a new professional opportunity and a move that allows him to return home to his native Ireland.

A Head for more than 16 years in both the maintained and independent sector, father-of-three Mr McKernan has been at St Edward’s since 2011. He is also an inspector for the Independent Schools Inspectorate, and is national chair of the ISA Inspections Committee.

During his long tenure at St Edward’s he has overseen the extensive modernisation of its facilities, developed a range of specialist subjects, forged strong community links that led to thousands of pounds being raised for charity, and established a pioneering school farm that has delighted children with the hands-on experience of feeding and generally looking after animals such as Alpacas, Golden Guernsey Goats, Burford Brown chickens, Indian Runner Ducks and even New Zealand Kune Kune pigs.

Chair of Trustees, Dr Susan Honeywill said: “We are very sad to be saying goodbye to Stephen next year. His professional commitment and boundless enthusiasm have been absolutely crucial to our success, and his breadth of experience has been of enormous help during the unprecedented challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. He has been a real inspiration and we wish him well for the future.”

Mr McKernan said: “I have enjoyed my time at St Edward’s Prep School immensely.  It has been a source of great joy and privilege to work with our wonderful children, delightful parents and the most committed staff and Board of Trustees.  I will look back with fond memories of everything that the whole St Edward’s community has achieved. The future is bright!”

Matthew Burke, Head of St Edward’s Senior School said: “Although we have only worked together for a short time, it has been a privilege to work with Mr McKernan. He has helped me immerse myself in the life, culture and community of St Edward’s and his support has been invaluable in these challenging times. The children will miss his guitar-playing and his jokes and we will all miss his camaraderie and encouragement. His contribution to our school family has been outstanding and we wish him all the very best at his new school.”