A 'PASSIONATE' headteacher who leads one of Oxfordshire's top-rated schools has been appointed vice president of a national education body.

Rachael Warwick is set to take on the role in September at the Association of School and College Leaders, which represents more than 19,000 educators and helps to shape education policy.

She will serve the post until September 2019 and then step up for a year as president, before a further year as 'past president'.

Mrs Warwick has been head of Didcot Girls' School since 2010 and led improvements to transform the secondary school from an Ofsted grade of 'requires improvement' to 'outstanding'.

According to the government's school comparison website, it is one of only four state-funded mainstream secondary schools in the county to boast the rating.

The association (ASCL) described Mrs Warwick as a 'passionate advocate' of STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) with 'invaluable insight and expertise'.

Reacting to her appointment, she said: "I hope to be an optimistic voice, helping to form a positive narrative and encourage future leaders.

“While I bring a lot of experience to the post, having worked in eight very different schools, I am looking forward to learning a lot over the next three years.

“I am excited to be on the cutting edge of educational policy and development.

"During my time representing ASCL’s members, I really want to ensure that senior leadership teams have a voice, and that ASCL listens and projects their views in an effective way."

Mrs Warwick is also executive head of the Ridgeway Education Trust, the multi-academy trust that oversees Didcot Girls' School and neighbouring St Birinus School for boys.

She is also a trustee at The Smallpeice Trust, a charity that promotes engineering careers to youngsters aged 10-18.

Mrs Warwick said: "The work that The Smallpeice Trust does is of huge benefit, and something which I have first-hand experience of in my own school.

"In education, our responsibility is to ensure that our students understand the options and career paths available to them.”

“With STEM subjects, a myriad of career opportunities open up as a result, so it is essential that we continue to find ways to encourage students to engage with the field."

She said there is a growing need for more engineers, particularly women, adding: "Anything that we can do to help close the skills gap in the coming years is vital."

The Smallpeice Trust's chief executive Kevin Stenson said: "Rachael has been a fantastic addition to our board of trustees.

“In her new post she will be able to provide even greater insight from both senior school leaders across the country and government policy makers."