A RECORD-BREAKING international athlete is to take the helm of a North-East independent school.

John Moreland, who holds the Northern Irish record for discus, is to become head of Polam Hall School, in Darlington, in September. He will take over from Marie Green, who is retiring at the end of term.

Oxford-educated Mr Moreland, is headmaster at Bury Lawn School, Milton Keynes, an independent co-educational day school, catering for pupils aged three to 18.

He previously taught at Rugby School, where he rose through the ranks from head of history, to housemaster to assistant head.

Until 2003, he threw discus for Northern Ireland and still holds the Northern Irish record which he set in 1995 with a throw of 51.76 metres.

He represents Great Britain in Masters Athletics, most recently coming fifth in his age group in the European Championships in 2010. He has also coached rugby, netball, fitness, basketball and athletics.

At school, he was a successful rugby and basketball player and threw the discus for the England Schools’ Team.

At Oxford, he won two athletics Blues and played rugby and basketball for the university second teams.

Sally Pelham, who chairs Polam Hall’s board of governors, said: “Mr Moreland is an outstanding leader with the vision, ability and experience to build on Polam Hall’s many strengths and to guide it through the next exciting phase as it continues to develop its educational pedigree.

“His outlook epitomises Polam Hall’s commitment to ‘excellence for all’ as he passionately believes in unlocking each child’s potential academically, socially and vocationally.”

Polam Hall, which was previously girl-only at the senior school level now has 65 boys on its rolls.

It now operates a diamond structure where the sexes have separate classes in senior school before rejoining for sixth form.

Mr Moreland said: “Polam Hall is at a fantastic stage in its development, and I am really looking forward to working with the governors, staff and students to take it to the next level.

“I am a strong believer in identifying the individual talents of each child.

“The diamond structure fosters an environment which, together with the school’s excellent pastoral support, enables pupils to reach their full potential.”

Mr Moreland is married to Alison, who is also a teacher, and has a grown-up son.

Aside from athletics, he enjoys reading, cinema, theatre and music and is a keen walker, having completed the 166km Tour of Mont Blanc last summer.