A new headteacher has been appointed at a west Suffolk independent school after a "thorough and competitive selection process".

In a letter sent to parents of students at Culford School near Bury St Edmunds on Tuesday, Claire Bentley was announced as the newly appointed headteacher and will take charge with immediate effect.

Mrs Bentley will be the first female head in the school's 142-year history, and the ninth leader since 1881. 

She joined Culford School in 2014, first as deputy head of the prep school and since 2019 as head of the prep and pre-prep schools.

This follows the sacking of former head Julian Johnson-Munday after an investigation found him guilty of gross misconduct.

The letter from the school's governors congratulates Mrs Bentley on her new appointment.

It read: "With 40 applicants from a range of top schools, the Board of Governors was unanimous in their decision that Claire was the exceptional candidate.

"In her new leadership role she will continue to be a pivotal part of the school’s strategy to enable our children and our people to achieve their full potential.

"Following a rigorous selection process, the Governors and I are confident that Claire has the vision, values and passion to take the school forward."

Mrs Bentley also commented on her new job: "I am delighted to have been appointed as the Head of Culford School.

"Culford has a well-earned reputation for excellence in and out of the classroom and I am excited to be leading the school as it continues its mission to unlock the potential in every child.

"We are resolutely ambitious for each and every one of our pupils and will continue to support them in becoming academically successful, globally-minded and compassionate young people."

Mrs Bentley will be taking charge of 860 pupils across four schools on the Culford site: Nursery (1-3), Pre-Prep (aged 4-7), Prep (7-13) and Senior School (13-18). 

Culford School is one of ten schools within the Methodist Independent Schools Trust, that aim to reflect a Methodist ethos and contribute to diversity in education.