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Pizza Friday and smoothies at lunchtime? Grace, 7, becomes New North Academy’s headteacher for the day

PUBLISHED: 14:00 16 May 2016

Grace Olayemi took over Nicola Percy as headteacher of New North Academy for the day on May 13 (Picture: Sandra Rowse)

Grace Olayemi took over Nicola Percy as headteacher of New North Academy for the day on May 13 (Picture: Sandra Rowse)

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A seven-year-old schoolgirl became headteacher on Friday after being democratically elected by her classmates.

'Headteacher' Grace Olayemi and 'deputy head' Richard Watts took over from senior leaders at New North Academy for the day on May 13 (Picture: Sandra Rowse)'Headteacher' Grace Olayemi and 'deputy head' Richard Watts took over from senior leaders at New North Academy for the day on May 13 (Picture: Sandra Rowse)

Year 2 Grace Olayemi won the election after a campaign in which she pledged flexible lunch hours and the option of no homework.

It was part of New North Academy’s democracy day, tied in with the London Mayoral elections.

Pupils held ballots to choose a representative from each class, with the winners putting their policies forward for the rest of the school to vote on.

“My ideas were to make it pizza Friday, have frozen smoothies at lunch and have an extra break,” Grace, speaking from behind the headteacher’s desk, told the Gazette.

Meeting the students: 'Headteacher' Grace Olayemi and 'deputy head' Richard Watts took over from senior leaders at New North Academy for the day on May 13 (Picture: Sandra Rowse)Meeting the students: 'Headteacher' Grace Olayemi and 'deputy head' Richard Watts took over from senior leaders at New North Academy for the day on May 13 (Picture: Sandra Rowse)

Following her win with 43 votes, Grace’s first action was to appoint Year 4 student Richard Watts her deputy. Richard, of course, shares his name with another of Islington’s top elected figures – the council leader.

“I thought I might not be able to spell some words, and that Richard might be able to, so I felt I should choose him,” Grace said.

It was a role Richard took to immediately, borrowing teacher Mr Hall’s tie for the day to make sure he looked the part.

“Somebody came and told me ‘Ms Percy [the real headteacher] needs you’, and I was a bit worried, but when I came in I found out it was about deputy, so I was very happy with that,” he said, clipboard in hand.

Duties for the two on the day included discussing the best and worst parts of class with fellow students and conducting “learning walks” to observe classes in session. They then met with the chair of governors to report back their findings, before preparing an assembly and writing the week’s newsletter for the website.

“Children and adults across the school really bought in to the day and both children were offered the respect and support of their peers,” head Nicola Percy told the Gazette.

“The day did prove a learning one for them too,” she continued. “I found Richard slightly slumped in my office chair during the afternoon, really feeling the pressure of deadlines. He told me: ‘A day as a deputy has had me feeling pooped! It’s quite a pressured job’.”


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