TRIBUTES have been paid to a nationally respected headteacher, who has died following an illness.

A colleague said the absence of Joan Sjovoll, headteacher of Framwellgate School Durham, in Durham City, would be greatly felt in the education world and her legacy would continue across the region and beyond.

Mrs Sjovoll joined Framwellgate in 2001, having previously been headteacher at Deerness Comprehensive School, in Ushaw Moor.

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She helped secure the North-East’s Science Learning Centre on the Framwellgate campus, served in a number of national advisory roles and was closely involved with Newcastle Science City.

Her hopes that Framwellgate would become home to a £60m world-class science village were dashed when the project was scrapped under Government cutbacks in summer 2010.

However, in 2011 she guided the school to academy status.

Alisdair Nicholas, Framwellgate’s acting headteacher, said Mrs Sjovoll had led the school on a journey of innovation and success, demonstrating a singular drive for continuous improvement which brought out the best in students, teachers and the wider school community.

He said: “She had an extraordinary focus which was firmly trained on securing the best possible education for her students and this commitment, together with her professionalism and knowledge of the wider world of education were not only recognised locally but nationally.

“Joan’s legacy will continue across the region and beyond and her absence will be greatly felt within the world of education.”

Mrs Sjovoll’s daughter, Kirsten, said: “Words will never be sufficient to capture how incredible she was.

“She was young to be taken from us and still had so much to contribute professionally and personally. My hope is that her legacy might continue to inspire people to do more than they thought they could and to do it well.”