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A secondary school headteacher is joining the Church in Wales to direct its engagement with schools and colleges.

Elizabeth Thomas, who has been the headteacher of Bassaleg School, Newport, for the past nine years, has been appointed as Director of Education Policy. She will shape and develop all aspects of the Church’s work in education nationally and will lead on its relationships with the Welsh Government and other key organisations.

The Church in Wales has 152 schools, including four secondary schools, responsible for more than 26,000 pupils. It also has chaplains working in further and higher education across Wales. Mrs Thomas will advise the Bishops on education policy and support the team of diocesan directors of education in their work with local authorities. She will represent the Church at the Welsh Government, so that its voice is heard on legislative and funding matters.

Mrs Thomas will also work in collaboration with the National Society and education agencies in Wales, including ESTYN, the Catholic Education Service and the WJEC, to monitor the effectiveness of Church schools and ensure they provide an exemplary education for all.

Originally from Cardiff, Mrs Thomas read History at the University of London and after an initial career in accountancy, she trained as a teacher. She taught at Cathays High School, Cardiff, for 15 years, where she was also Head of the Sixth Form. She was appointed Assistant Head at Bassaleg School in 2004 and Head in 2009.

Announcing her appointment, Provincial Secretary Simon Lloyd said, “The Church in Wales is responsible for the education of more than 26,000 pupils so finding a new Director of Education Policy with the right mix of educational leadership experience and strategic insight was a crucial task. In Elizabeth Thomas we have an excellent new colleague and I look forward to welcoming her to the team.”

Mrs Thomas said, “I am looking forward to the challenge of shaping and developing this new role. This is a period of systemic change within education in Wales and it is essential that the very special characteristics and needs of Church in Wales schools are not lost but rather celebrated as new policies, practices and ideals are implemented at national level.

“The opportunity to meet and work with new colleagues and partner organisations is particularly exciting and I hope that together we can meet new challenges in such a way as to secure the best possible outcomes for the young people in our care.”

Mrs Thomas will take up her new role in September.