New principal of The Grammar School at Leeds returns to her Yorkshire roots

The new principal of The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL) will be returning to her home county when she takes up her new post during the next academic year.

Mrs Sue Woodroofe is currently principal of The British School of Brussels (BSB), and is one of a small number of female heads of an HMC school. HMC (The Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference) is the professional association for heads of the world’s leading independent schools, to which both GSAL and BSB belong.

Brought up in Yorkshire and completing her secondary education at York College for Girls, Mrs Woodroofe trained at Durham University as a teacher of English and history. She has worked in a wide range of schools in the UK, both single sex and co-educational, selective and comprehensive.

After a family move took her to Belgium, Mrs Woodroofe was appointed secondary school deputy head at BSB in 2004. She achieved promotion two years later to head of secondary school (ages 11-18), and after five years in that post was appointed principal in 2011.

Mr David Gravells, GSAL’s chairman of governors, said: “We are delighted that Sue Woodroofe is going to be our new principal.  She will bring vision, passion and considerable experience to the role having been a successful leader in a number of state and independent schools in the UK and Europe. Sue offers a unique perspective to GSAL as we develop our young people for the future.”

Mrs Woodroofe said: “I’ve long admired The Grammar School at Leeds and I’m very excited at the prospect of becoming its new principal.  I’ve been privileged to hold leadership positions in schools across the education sector both in the UK and more recently in Europe.  I’m passionate about helping young people achieve their potential and I’m looking forward to returning to my Yorkshire roots.”

The appointment of Mrs Woodroofe comes after a rigorous international search and selection process, following the announcement of the retirement of GSAL principal Mr Mike Gibbons.


Notes to editors

The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL) is a leading independent school for boys and girls aged three to 18. The school, in its various transformations, has a long history going back to 1552.  It has 2,200 students spread across two locations. The Nursery and Pre-Prep School, Rose Court, is situated in Headingley. Junior School, Senior School and Sixth Form are all located on a spacious greenbelt site at Alwoodley Gates in north Leeds.

GSAL is a member of the HMC group of leading independent schools. HMC schools share the same commitment to quality, innovation and excellence in education and are regularly inspected and accredited to ensure that they continue to meet the strict eligibility criteria to earn the HMC kitemark.

The Independent School Awards have recognised GSAL two years in a row. In 2013 retired deputy head Barry Brindley received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his charitable work in Malawi. In 2012 GSAL won in the category ‘Outstanding Governing Body of the Year’, in recognition of the leadership shown by its board of governors through the relocation of Leeds Grammar School in 1997, the merger with Leeds Girls’ High School in 2008 and an excellent inspection in 2011.

Pupils aged 11 to 16 are taught in single sex classrooms, whilst experiencing the social benefits of joint extra-curricular activities. GSAL has a strong academic record; in 2014 examinations students achieved a 99.3 per cent A-level pass rate (grades A* to E), with 81 per cent achieving passes at grades A* to B, and a 97 per cent GCSE pass rate (grades A* to C) with 64% of all passes at A* and A.

GSAL is also one of the city’s leading institutions employing around 450 people and has a turnover of £22 million. It invests nearly £1m a year in bursaries to support pupils from a wide range of backgrounds.