Mystery over headmaster’s sudden departure

Richard Laithwaite
Richard Laithwaite
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Mystery surrounds the sudden departure of the headmaster of one of Lancashire’s top schools.

Richard Laithwaite left Kirkham Grammar School during the summer break after only two years in the post.

His deputy, Deborah Parkinson, has taken over as acting head while the school’s governing body look for a permanent replacement.

The news, which has come as a shock to staff, parents and pupils, was announced in a brief statement from chair of governors Rosemary Cartwright on the school’s website prior to the new term starting this week.

“Richard Laithwaite is leaving us at the end of the summer holiday,” it said. “In the two years as our head, Kirkham Grammar School has moved forward significantly and we are grateful for all he has done for us.

“We wish Richard all the best with his future ventures.

“The governors are pleased that Deborah Parkinson, the deputy head, has agreed to step up to be acting head whilst the governors pursue the rigorous process of appointing a new head in due course.”

Mrs Cartwright declined to comment further, apart from to say if parents had questions they should “contact the school.”

Mr Laithwaite took over the headship of the £19,700-a-year independent school in 2013, succeeding previous head Douglas Walker who had been in charge for 11 years.

The former soldier was brought up in the North West, attending Liverpool College and Lancaster University. He previously taught at Merchant Taylor’s in Northwood and St Albans School.