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Andy is new director of education in East Anglia

Former Catholic secondary school headteacher, Dr Andy Stone, started on September 1 in the role of Director of Education for the Diocese of East Anglia, following Julie O’Connor’s retirement after 19 years in the job.

Andy moves to the diocese after 29 years as a teacher and 14 years as headteacher of Holy Family Catholic School in Walthamstow, where he was also chair of the secondary heads group in Brentwood Diocese.

He said: “I am delighted to be here and looking forward to a different role within Catholic education. I enjoy meeting people and I’m looking forward to working with everyone in Catholic education in the diocese, talking with and listening to them and visiting our schools. 

“Fundamentally I am here to support the work of leaders in our diocesan schools. Because I have been a head teacher for 14 years I understand the pressures and challenges of that role. We are blessed to have a really effective community of schools leaders. I see my role as doing what I can to support them in their work.

“I am also Bishop Alan’s representative as far as education is concerned in all the diocesan schools which operate under his direction. It is my job to ensure that all is well in his schools standards are high and that everything is as it should be,” he said.

“I expect to be visiting schools a lot and want to get to know everyone in the community. I aim to get out of the office and support heads and governors, meet staff and pupils and be very much part of the educational fabric of East Anglia.”

Despite being a headteacher, Andy continued teaching American Politics, one of his great interests.

He said: “I feel we have a duty in Catholic schools to focus on the common good and offer that support to others. I tried to make my school outwards focused and have always believed in partnership working, including with non-Catholic schools.”

Brought up in an atheistic family, Andy was introduced to the faith as a teacher at a Catholic school in his twenties, becoming more and more interested. 

Andy married his wife Maura, who came from a traditional Irish Catholic family, in 2000 and the marriage Mass at the Church of the Holy Redeemer and St Thomas More, Chelsea. It was concelebrated by Andy’s future brother-in-law, a priest in Brentwood Diocese and by Bishop Alan Hopes, who was at the time parish priest in Chelsea in Westminster Diocese. Andy had previously attended RCIA classes at Holy Redeemer, where Bishop Alan had described him as “a reluctant convert” as Andy waited until the last minute to decide to actually join the church!

“It is like coming back full circle to meet Bishop Alan again in East Anglia,” said Andy.

Andy sadly lost his wife In February 2020 after a long struggle with breast cancer and their only son has just travelled 4,000 miles away to take up a soccer scholarship in America at the University of Mobile.

Talking about his priorities for his new role, Andy said: “Bishop Alan’s vision is that all our schools will be part of one of the two multi-academy trusts and so I will be working with headteachers and governors to progress that to completion over the next two or three years.

I will also be supporting schools with the new Section 48 inspection framework and helping them to navigate the challenges and pressures of being faith communities in an increasingly secular world. I also hope to be working with school leaders in their own formation as Catholics,” said Andy.

A final hope is to encourage more people to come forward to serve as school governors. School governors perform a vital role in our schools – if you are interested you can contact Andy directly, his team, or your local school or parish priest.

“Our Catholic schools are precious and a wonderful resource and something we should be really proud of. They need our continued support, prayer and encouragement,” said Andy.

Pictured above is Dr Andy Stone, the new Director of Education for the Diocese of East Anglia.