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Cornish head in the city

While most people were taking down Christmas decorations, headteacher Keith Howdle was putting up furniture in his new flat after moving to London to turn around a failing school in Hackney, east London.

Mr Howdle, 53, began work at Sebright primary two weeks ago. He was previously head at Brunel school, Cornwall, where Ofsted praised his "clear vision".

He said: "I was looking for an exciting challenge. The Learning Trust seemed like an exciting way forward and I have a great deal of respect for its chairman Mike Tomlinson."

Mr Howdle and his wife Sue, a nurse, moved to east London, where they are renting a flat, on December 30.

Sebright moved from serious weaknesses into special measures in September 2003, a change which Mr Howdle said has made it even harder to attract staff.

He said: "We want people to think about the school's positive points. The children are a delight - they are eager to learn and well behaved. The school has already received a letter from education minister David Miliband congratulating us on being one of the 100 most improved schools in the country, so things are already getting better."

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