The Sally Sumpner Interview

Interview with Sally Sumpner, Executive Headteacher of Windmill and Low Road Music Federation.

By volunteer community reporter Kenneth Ingram, of South Leeds Life.


Sally what qualifications did you receive when leaving School, College or University?

When I left school, I left with A levels then went to Beckett Park City of Leeds and Carnegie College as it was known in those days, and spent three years there and never went back, got married and stayed here.

Could you please tell me a little about what subjects you taught in the early years of your career?

Yes. In primary school you teach all the subjects, but I did a lot of music teaching. I was very lucky when I was a girl , my mother actually paid for me to have piano lessons, which wasn’t normal. I was very lucky and fortunately used that in my career and still do, and that’s been absolutely fantastic.

So I did teach a lot of music and In fact when I first came to Windmill I was teaching every class music, which was quite a challenge. I came to Windmill in 1997.

DSCF1643What have you loved most about being head of such a fantastic school?

Oh the job is so wide and varied, and there is so much going on, not only in this school but in the community, absolutely lovely things. Also some challenging things, every day is different and I guess I get involved in so many things it’s not like you go to an office everyday it’s far, far more interesting than that.

What do think your biggest achievements have been since being head at this school?

We have managed to stay right on the top of the standards agenda which is imposed by government. Rightly or wrongly you have to go with it. We have managed to do that, and all our children achieve exceedingly well.

For me personally, two huge events, one was in 2007 taking over Low Road Primary and becoming a federation which was very new at the time, and certainly hasn’t been done in Leeds before. We found our own way through that and brought about very positive changes for both schools, but actually for Low Road in particular.

The other which was the highlight, which is when we started the music programme, called In Harmony which was three years ago and we changed our School name to Music Federation. The the whole place is just full of music and lovely things going on because of that, I’m very proud of both those things.

DSCF1640What’s your favourite food and drink?

Oh my favourite food and drink, anything with chips is really good and erm drink, I don’t really drink cocktails and things like that, but a nice glass of wine is always welcome.

If you could have a holiday anywhere in the world, which you’ve not already been, where would it be and why?

Well I’ve always wanted to go to Canada, and I’ve been fortunate to go to America, New York and the East Coast.  My daughter was married to an American, so we did visit there. I would love to go to Canada, I’m very fond of gardening and anything to do with natural history so I think would be a great place to visit especially in Autumn. So that’s maybe on the agenda when I retire. I don’t think the weather’s too bad, but certainly the Autumn colours are really spectacular and how they change across Canada. Sounds like a really good holiday to me…

DSCF1639What are you going to do with yourself once you retire, have you any interest or hobbies to catch up on?

I plan to do a lot more music because I have the time. I used to be an Art Teacher as well, I have not done any of my own art work for a long time. So that’s something I would like to go back to.

I have five grandchildren all aged 5 and under, so I’m going to busy with them. I already see them a lot, but will be looking after them for several days a week so I don’t think I’ve a lot of time to do extra things, that will keep me busy.

Thank you Sally for allowing me to interview you today. Is there anything you would like to say to conclude this interview today?

I think really I would like to say that working in a school like Windmill and Low Road it isn’t just a job, it’s not like coming to work doing the job and going home because you’re so involved with children, families and their lives.  You are just so much part of everything that’s going on you almost kind of live it with people and we’ve had some lovely moments and sad moment as well. But this community, this very strong community that works very well with the school and it’s that strength that’s been so helpful to me.

DSCF1641People make it very clear that they support the school and the things that I’ve done over the last 18 years. So that’s lovely, a job well done.

Finally, thank you Sally for allowing me to interview you today.

Towards the back end of the audio interview there is road drilling going on outside Sally’s study, so sorry about that.

“I have met Sally a couple of times, and always thought what a sincere Lady, and a lovely lady to interview.  Good luck Sally in your retirement.”