Vanetta Spence appointed to lead Montpelier High School 

Montpelier High School (MHS) has announced the appointment of Vanetta (Ben) Spence to the position of Headteacher with effect from 1st June 2023. The non-selective girls’ school for 925 students, including its co-educational sixth form V6, has been led by Interim Principal Brendan Hesketh since the previous leader stepped down in December 2022.

Ms Spence, who brings to the role more than 20 years’ teaching experience, was appointed following a rigorous interview process involving trustees, governors, staff, students and parents. She is currently the Principal of May Park Primary School in Eastville, part of the Excalibur Academies Trust, a position she took up in 2019 after the school had been placed in Special Measures by Ofsted. Under her leadership, the school was later described by an external consultant as unrecognisable from the Ofsted report. Previously, she was Vice Principal at Fairfield High School where she spent 16 years working in senior leadership roles.

A resident of Bristol for more than 25 years, Ms Spence first moved to the city to study at the University of the West of England. She currently spends her free time working towards a second honours degree, this time at the University of Bristol, where she is studying English Literature and Community Engagement with a specific focus on the diversification of curriculum through literacy. Ms Spence is also an Honorary Associate Researcher at the University of Bristol and a trustee of St Werburghs Community Centre.

Ms Spence said: “Montpelier High School has a long history in Bristol; however, it is the bright future of this school that I’m focused on. I am determined to lead MHS on a journey of rapid and sustainable improvement that will benefit all students, irrespective of their starting points.

“The school is a pillar of the community it serves and, alongside an engaging and relevant curriculum, we have a responsibility to broaden the horizons of students and support them in increasing their cultural capital. I will ensure that the school provides all the opportunities that education can offer, for every student at every level and, crucially, that the curriculum is enriched with additional activities that address the mental health of all our students.”

Venturers Trust, of which MHS is a part, received an overwhelming response to the advertised position, with an exceptionally strong field of candidates. CEO David Watson said: “MHS has evolved significantly over the past few years and the school community has embraced every opportunity to change and improve. With the strategic appointment of Ben Spence, specifically the expertise, tenacity and vision that she will bring to this leadership role, MHS will grow from strength to strength.”

Tracey Killen, Chair of Governors for MHS, said: “Everyone who has met Ben either through the interview process or around the school site, has a sense of excitement about the future. Ben’s drive and energy will inspire those around her to want to be the best version of themselves. She is a highly accomplished educationalist with a sharp vision; and she is ambitious for the future of our school. Critically, Ben shares our commitment to place the future of our students at the heart of everything we do.”