A first-time headteacher is aiming for excellence after taking over at a primary school.

Vanessa Thomas joined Shelley Primary School in Ongar on Monday with the intention of raising standards and achieving an ‘outstanding’ rating from Ofsted.

The 40-year-old was previously deputy headteacher at Woodham Ley Primary School in Benfleet and has been in the profession for 18 years, three of which were spent in Spain.

She said: “I am delighted to be here. I already fell part of the community and the parents and children have been superb.”

Children have already been introduced to one of their new headteacher’s key principles, the Three Rights: the right to safety, the right to learn and the right to respect.

Mrs Thomas added: “I want to prepare the children for secondary school and hope to set them up so they can expect to achieve A to C grades at GCSEs.”

“I also want to get them involved in community events and initiatives as well as enterprise projects helping them learn about budgets and profits and giving them a practical application of maths and other subjects.”

Mrs Thomas replaces Lesley Lewis, who spent four years at the school and has now joined Theydon Bois Primary School.

Mrs Lewis, who has been a teaching for 28 years, said: “I loved my time at Shelley and I am now excited about a new challenge at Theydon Bois.

“People are making me feel very welcome”

Her new school has 313 children, compared to the 88 currently attending Shelley.

Mrs Thomas said: “It is a lot bigger but still retains the feel of a village community school which I like.

Talking of her plans she added: “I am not one for changing things just for the sake of it. I will get to know the school and see how I feel we can progress.”

Mrs Lewis replaces Elspeth Bonds who retired after 16 years at the school.