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Cambourne Village College principal Lynn Mayes on her first term in charge and vision for the school

By Judy Czylok

Cambourne Village College’s new principal, Lynn Mayes, had no intention of becoming a headteacher.

Lynn Mayes, the new principal at Cambourne Village College. Picture: Keith Heppell
Lynn Mayes, the new principal at Cambourne Village College. Picture: Keith Heppell

But as she talks about her first term in charge of the ever-expanding school, it’s clear she is really happy in the role.

Her enthusiasm for not only educating, but being in the company of, children is infectious and working at Cambourne, which is part of The Cam Academy Trust (CAT), appears to be her dream job.

“I first met Stephen Munday (the trust CEO) many years ago when he was helping the school I worked at in Lowestoft which was in special measures,” said Lynn, who had always thought she would be a PE teacher for life.

“I then spent a day a week at Comberton Village College while I was doing my NPQH (head’s qualification) and it was he who convinced me to take a job at The Voyager.”

The Voyager is a school in Peterborough that at the time was part of the trust.

“I was deputy principal there for five years and then, after it was rebranded as Queen Katharine Academy and moved into another trust, spent five years as principal.

“I invited Stephen back to visit in January of this year and I’m very proud of what we achieved there, going from a school in special measures to the local school of choice, with all year groups full.

Lynn Mayes, the new principal at Cambourne Village College. Picture: Keith Heppell
Lynn Mayes, the new principal at Cambourne Village College. Picture: Keith Heppell

“But I always wanted to work for The Cam Academy Trust - when I moved to Peterborough, we bought a house on the south of the city just in case there was a chance of working in the CAT Trust, so when the job at Cambourne came up, I knew I had to go for it.

“It was the hardest interview I have ever done. On day one alone there were eight panels, and I was interviewed by a total of 30 people!

“I got the job in March, and I’m thrilled to be here.”

Lynn replaced Claire Coates as principal.

“Claire has been extremely generous with her time during the handover, and I worked with heads of department and SLG over the summer to introduce a set of values which underpin everything we do, alongside the six principles of the trust.”

Her vision for Cambourne is a simple one: to enable children to be able to take the next steps and be aspirational about what those are.

That is why the opening of a new sixth form at the school in September 2024 is so important to her — and why the partnership with Comberton Sixth Form, which was set up in 2011, and the lessons learned there, are crucial.

“It’s not necessarily about going to university; it’s about enabling young people to change not only their own lives but other people’s as well,” she said. “That could be in their own community or worldwide and leaving sixth form marks a really important stage.

“We want children to have the chance to succeed and education is a great way to enable them to take those steps. Even if you are disadvantaged, you can still succeed with a solid education in a nurturing environment.

“We want our students to feel safe, to feel challenged and to thrive.”

Those sentiments underpin the new values at Cambourne — Respect Yourself, Respect Your Community and Respect the Environment.

Lynn accepts there is work to be done, not only getting all the students on board but also their families and the wider community - but she is undaunted.

“I absolutely love it,” she said. “And there probably aren’t many heads who would say that. I love being with the children, getting to know them and showing them I care.

“I’m 50 now but I feel like I’m only just getting started. There’s so much I want to achieve.

“I never thought of myself as ambitious, but I realised that if other people around me could do it, then so could I. I do have imposter syndrome, but it’s my superpower.

“It’s what drives me to make things as good as they can possibly be.”

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