James is youngest headteacher at 27

By Richard Wright

Sunday, January 19, 2014


James is youngest headteacher at 27

James Le Warn Kennedy, thought to be the youngest head teacher in Europe. Picture by Peter Boam.

AT AN age when many people are just entering the teaching profession, James Le Warn Kennedy is a school principal.

James, whose mother and stepfather live in Sandown, was appointed at the age of 27 and is thought to be the youngest headteacher in Europe.

He is head of the private Novashool Sunland International, in Cartama Estacion, outside Malaga, in Spain, which has 270 students aged between two-and-a-half and 18.

It is one of eight schools within the group and James is responsible for 50 staff.

James, who is celebrating the first anniversary of his appointment, was the youngest member of the teaching staff, when it was confirmed he would be head.

He said: "It was a huge surprise to me and to everyone. I had only been a teacher for four years. I must say, I did not enjoy the early months of the appointment at all.

"I really don’t know how I was able to summon up the courage to go into school on my first day.

"I received great support from administrative staff but there were people who felt unhappy they had been passed over."

James, a member of the Church of the Latterday Saints, drew on his faith and the ethos he took into the classroom of rewarding the positive.

He says there is now a real sense of teamwork at the school.

Married to Spanish teacher, Irene, the couple are expecting their first child in June and enjoyed the Christmas holiday back at the home of James’s mother and stepfather, Wendy and Carl Smith.

Born in Godshill, he attended Godshill Primary School, Nodehill Middle School and Medina High.

He graduated from Exeter University with a first-class degree with honours in French and Spanish, in 2009, and gained his masters degree online while teaching in Spain.

Just five months after he became principal, his school underwent its Cambridge University examinations inspection and passed with flying colours.

Would he be tempted to return to the UK to teach?

"I would find it difficult. It would have to be a very tempting offer to take me away from a life of Spanish sun, running a great school, back to this country," said James.

Reporter: richardw@iwcpmail.co.uk


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by T Rollingsworth

22nd January 2014, at 13:09:03

Mike, I wish him all the best and stated that he is obviously good at what he does. My point was more that Headteachers don't need qualifications these days which is a little odd - I think mandatory qualification was stopped in '11?

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by Stephen Elliott

20th January 2014, at 19:31:35

James I hope there paying you a good wage. Congrats and shame on these Brits who can't wait to shoot down a success through jealousy.

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by Mike Crowe

20th January 2014, at 16:56:50


One could also argue that he has left a lot of the subscribers of this forum behind.

And that they are envious of his success and future.


I will say it even if others don't, "Well done James and good luck in your future"


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by T Rollingsworth

20th January 2014, at 14:17:25

One could argue that he doesn't have enough experience under his belt to be a head teacher within most of (developed)Europe.

Obviously good at his job, but the maths would mean that he started teaching straight out of Uni at 23, Spain obviously don't have the concept of NQT training periods! (Plus in the UK I believe he would have had to do a PGCE as well as his degree wasn't in education?)

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by Terry Dalley

20th January 2014, at 07:28:50

I like the way you put your answer Mike Crow Very selubriuse.

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19th January 2014, at 21:29:07

James school may have flown through a inspection by Cambridge university five months after he started in is job. BUT the pass was now dote due on the back of his predecessor, will he be burnt OUT with all the pressure of being a head brings next time they visit lets hope not.
Good lucky you will need it because most other newly qualified teacher are burn out in five years with all the work dropped on them in the early years.

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by jenny cannell

19th January 2014, at 19:46:54

A brilliant achievement,.. this young man was lucky enough to finish his education before the debacle that is laughingly called re-organisation happened., Now the council have decimated the Islands education system to the extent that families now have to pay for their young adults to go to the mainland to secure a good 6th form education, it will probably be years before anything like this happens again on the Island.

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by Derek Nicoll

19th January 2014, at 15:35:21

A wonderful achievement for one so young. His parents must be very proud of him. Well done James!

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by Mike Crowe

19th January 2014, at 14:11:03

What were people saying about the Isle of Wight educashun sistem?

Any views or opinions presented in the comments above are solely those of the author and do not represent those of the Isle of Wight County Press.

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