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Sun. May 26th, 2024

The Armidale School (TAS) has announced that their Principal, Dr Rachel Horton, will be leaving her post later this year.

In a written statement issued to TAS families yesterday, Monday 15 April, school Chairman Sebastian Hempel said Dr Horton has indicated her intention to resign from the role, completing her tenure on 30 September 2024.

Dr Horton took on the principalship at TAS in 2021 off the back of leadership, and teaching tenures at two other highly respected private schools, Brighton Grammar in Melbourne and Anglican Grammar School (Churchie) in East Brisbane.

With a background in scientific research, Dr Horton is well respected in both the schooling system, and higher education sector. Dr Horton is also heavily involved in the rugby union community, both as a player, and an international referee. She created history in 2014 by becoming the first female referee in QLD to referee a male Premier Rugby match. 

Dr Horton refereeing a rugby match

NSW Country Rugby announced yesterday on their Facebook page that Dr Horton has been appointed as a Television Match Official (TMO) referee for the Women’s Six Nations and Pacific Four Championships, which will be held in the next four weeks.

Dr Horton’s leadership at TAS is credited with guiding the school through the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing enrolment numbers and overseeing the new 64-bed boarding house, which is expected to be finalised before her departure.

“I have been privileged to lead this wonderful school through a period of recovery and renewal and I am incredibly proud of all that has been achieved over the past few years,” Dr Horton said.

“I am sad to be leaving this fantastic community, but it is the right time for me to move on and seek new challenges.”

“I will continue to work hard for the School over the next six months and will then be taking some time off with my husband before we turn our thoughts to new opportunities.”

There is no indication at this time as to whether Dr Horton will be pursuing a leadership or teaching role at another school, or if she will be diverting her attentions to her other passion of rugby refereeing.

The statement also indicates that no permanent replacement has been found at this stage.

“We are pleased to advise that Mr Ray Pearson, current Deputy Principal, has agreed to take the position of Acting Principal from 1 October 2024, until a new Principal is appointed,” Mr Hempel said.

Mr Pearson was appointed to the role of Deputy Principal by Dr Horton in August 2021 and commenced working in the role at the beginning of 2022.

Mr Pearson has had extensive experience with private boarding schools in his career thus far, with postings at St Peter’s College in Adelaide, as well as Toowoomba and Townsville Grammar schools prior to his acceptance of the role at TAS.

Mr Hempel said in his statement, “I am sure that I reflect the thoughts of those in our school community by expressing our sadness of the news.”

Dr Horton’s resignation is the latest in a string of changes in leadership for some of the region’s highest profile secondary schools, with Armidale Secondary College losing both their Principal and Deputy Principal in the last 12 months, and O’Connor Catholic College announcing a new Principal last November.


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