THE new acting head teacher at Hermitage Academy says he's eager to tackle the challenge of leading Argyll and Bute's biggest school.

David Mitchell took over on a temporary basis this week after the retirement of Geoff Urie in June.

Mr Mitchell has been the head teacher at Dunoon Grammar School since 2013 – and though Hermitage, with its 1,300 pupils, is almost twice as large as Cowal's only secondary, he told the Advertiser this week that he's looking forward to his new role.

Speaking on Tuesday, the day before pupils returned to school after their summer break, Mr Mitchell said: “It's an honour to be asked to lead the largest secondary school in Argyll and Bute until a new head teacher is appointed.

“I'm really looking forward to the challenge and to getting to know all the staff, young people and parents.

“The transition from one school to another is always daunting, but the staff at Hermitage have made me feel very much at home and I want to thank them for their warm welcome.”

Mr Mitchell, who will be the acting head at Hermitage until the October school holidays, entered teaching in 1997.

Prior to taking over as Dunoon Grammar's head teacher he had three years as head of Castle Douglas High School in Dumfries and Galloway, and three years as a depute head teacher at Oban High School during a longer spell in which he was also a guidance teacher and principal teacher of design and technology.

He takes over at Hermitage after a critical report by Education Scotland in May which said the leadership of change at the school was “weak”.

The inspection report called for better strategic leadership "at all levels" and "increased collaboration across the school community".

And unsurprisingly the school's reaction to that inspection report is near the top of Mr Mitchell's list of priorities.

“There are a number of priorities over the next eight weeks that we need to look at,” he continued.

“We need to look at the actions arising from the recent Education Scotland inspection report and prioritise the action points from that.

“But my main aim is just to ensure that our young people experience high quality learning and teaching in a safe and happy environment, and to continue to work with everyone to ensure we build a good school community.”

And that 'working with everyone' philosophy doesn't begin and end at the school gates.

“I'm really looking forward to getting to know the community and our partners in Helensburgh,” he said.

“I'll be staying in the community a couple of nights a week throughout my time here to do that.

“It's a short period of time I'm in post, but I'll be giving all my effort and time to Hermitage Academy in that time to ensure we are driving the school forward with the support of the community, staff, pupils and parents.

“I'm sure there's lots of expertise out there that we as a school could be able to utilise. If anyone feels they have anything they can offer the school, please contact me.

“I operate an open door policy. That goes for staff, pupils and the community, and anyone who wants to have a conversation about how they can support Hermitage Academy can come and see me and I'll be happy to listen.

“I truly believe in partnership working. That's the only way we as a school can move forward.”

The post of permanent head at Hermitage Academy is being re-advertised this week, with a closing date in September; it's expected that the successful applicant will take over some time between October and Christmas.