A BURY headteacher who achieved her ambitious vision of establishing the first science and arts school in the country, has been appointed as the leader of one of Manchester’s innovative academies.

Alyson Byrne will leave Derby High School for her new role as principal designate for the Co-operative Academy of Manchester in Higher Blackley.

She will take up her appointment in January next year although the Manchester school is not scheduled to open its doors until more than a year later.

Mrs Byrne’s first teaching post was at Park High School in Wigan as an English teacher. She then spent two years in Kuwait as head of English at the Gulf English School before returning to England to take up teaching posts at a number of Wigan schools.

In 1993 she was appointed assistant headteacher at Smithills School in Bolton.

In 2000, while deputy headteacher at Turton High School in Bolton, she established the first Media Arts College in the North. She successfully secured £4 million of funding and oversaw the completion of a brand new sixth form and media arts centre.

In 2002, Mrs Byrne joined the Derby High School in Bury and one year later developed it into England’s first Science and Arts College. Under her leadership, the best ever results were achieved with a 14 per cent improvement over five years with almost 60 per cent of pupils achieving five A* - C grades.

Of her appointment, she commented: “As a Manchester person I’m really excited about the prospect of being involved in the academies programme.

“Our academies are benefiting from the best buildings, the best staff and the best curriculum offering a first-class vocational and academic education.”

The Co-operative Academy will specialise in finance and business and will open in September, 2010. It will replace the current Plant Hill Arts College and will provide 900 places for 11-16-year-olds and post-16 provision. It is sponsored by the Co-operative Group with co-sponsorship from Manchester City Council and The Manchester College.

Hannah Spiers, project manager at The Co-operative Group said: “The appointment of a principal is a major step towards the setting up of the Co-operative Academy of Manchester. We believe our involvement is a long term investment in the young people of Manchester because it will help to arm them with the skills and knowledge to work in the important financial and business sector in general and The Co-operative Financial Services in particular.”

Mrs Byrne added: “I am particularly inspired by the Co-operative’s vision and values as they struck a chord with me and I want the academy to mirror these ideals.

“The Academy will differ from existing schools in that sponsors will work alongside teachers to design learning and assessment materials.

“All students will have personal mentors as well as round-the-clock access to materials and support to encourage “anytime, anywhere learning.”