A former TV presenter from Dartmouth Park has been made the new head of a Highgate school, having worked herself all the way up from assistant teacher.

Fran Sorapure, who spent her first day as head of St Michael’s Primary School on September 1, said her priority is to “pull the community back together”.

Around 18 years ago the head moved on from a successful career as an actor and television presenter to retrain as a teacher at St Michael’s, where her two sons went to school.

Having initially worked as an assistant for children with special educational needs, Fran climbed the ladder as a teacher, assistant head and deputy head – including some lunch supervision along the way.

The 60-year-old mother-of-two told the Ham&High: “It feels really good now I’m here [as head] because I feel I have the credibility.

%image(15152983, type="article-full", alt="Fran Sorapure with St Michael's pupils")

"Due to Covid we've had to work really hard, and my role now is to pull us back together.

“We're a really good school and we have really good outcomes for all our children. But the children's and teachers’ mental health mean a lot to me.

“When a child comes to a primary school it's not just about the children, it’s about the families all meeting each other and learning how to be a parent. Lots of those things we've missed.”

Before teaching, Fran forged an impressive career in TV, theatre and acting.

She was presenter of the BBC and ITV’s Saturday morning programmes, interviewing the likes of Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan for millions of viewers.

%image(15152988, type="article-full", alt="Fran Sorapure said Covid-19 "bubbles" had damaged the school's inclusive environment")

The head’s theatrical talent now runs through her teaching, she says.

Not one to shy away from the stage, which she said helped build her “bravery”, the former actor has played a host of characters in school plays and pantomimes including Dick Whittington, and Beauty and the Beast.

Fran ran St Michael’s choir last year, and she says she tries to encourage all her students – 540 of them in North Road – to make the most of their creativity.

As for her own style of teaching, she said: “My leadership is very inclusive and friendly.

“I want to be someone that anyone can come and talk to with an open-door policy, so that parents and pupils can feel very comfortable with me.”

Following in Fran’s footsteps, one of her sons is now a science teacher for Hampstead School.

Geraldine Gallagher is St Michael's executive headteacher, while Fran is head of school.

%image(15152992, type="article-full", alt="Fran Sorapure said the school would look to slowly build back its community events")