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Four Norwich headteachers quit as schools return for the new academic year

PUBLISHED: 11:03 05 September 2014 | UPDATED: 11:03 05 September 2014

The former head of Sewell Park College, Gavin Bellamy. Picture: Denise Bradley

The former head of Sewell Park College, Gavin Bellamy. Picture: Denise Bradley

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Staff and pupils of two high-profile city schools are returning to the new school year to discover their headteachers quit over the summer holiday.

John Catton, left, chairman of the interim executive board at Sewell Park College, with Jeremy Rowe, who has been seconded from Sir John Leman High in Beccles to lead the college during autum term, 2014.John Catton, left, chairman of the interim executive board at Sewell Park College, with Jeremy Rowe, who has been seconded from Sir John Leman High in Beccles to lead the college during autum term, 2014.

Gavin Bellamy, of Sewell Park College, left at short-notice after GCSE results day on August 21, when it performed badly.

The new interim head yesterday wrote to parents outlining a strict policy on uniform, and pledged to make rapid improvements.

Meanwhile, Mark Evans, the founding principal of the flagship Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form free school, has left just a year after it opened.

And the county council revealed the heads of two Norwich primary schools in special measures also quit over the summer holiday.

Mark Evans, who has left his position as principal at the new Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form in Norwich. Photo: Bill SmithMark Evans, who has left his position as principal at the new Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith

Annette McMylor left her post as headteacher of Wensum Junior School at the end of August, as did Jan-Robert Tanner, of Lingwood Primary, who decided to retire.

Mr Bellamy had been principal of Sewell Park College since March 2011, but stood aside after 34pc of pupils gained the government’s gold standard of at least five GCSEs at A*-C, including English and maths - a one percentage point rise on 2013.

The county council took control of the college’s finances following last year’s poor results, and at the end of last term it replaced the college’s governors with an interim executive board (IEB), headed by former North Walsham High School headteacher John Catton.

The IEB has appointed Jeremy Rowe, headteacher of Sir John Leman High School in Beccles, to lead the college this term.

Free school principal leaves after a year

The founding principal of a flagship free school in a leading academy chain has resigned just 12 months after it opened.

Mark Evans told staff at the Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form, based at the former Bethel Street fire station in Norwich, on Monday that he was leaving his position.

The school, which is part of the Inspiration Trust, is due to host the government’s maths hub for the region, and incoming head teacher Mark Neild, previously vice principal of another Inspiration Trust school, Thetford Academy, tweeted: “My career has been leading to this moment”.

Dr Evans declined to comment, but in a tweet said: “No dramas - all is good. Was ace to design & create @6thFormFS - brill results in 1st year & a fab team to drive it forward”.

A member of staff present at Monday’s meeting said Dr Evans said that after a successful launch of the sixth form, and the opening of its partner Jane Austen College, other projects attracted him, and he intended to stay in teaching, and had been asked to pursue some academic writing.

The Inspiration Trust, which sponsors the school, said Dr Evans left of his own volition.

Dame Rachel de Souza, chief executive of the Inspiration Trust, said: “We are very grateful for Dr Evans’ work in setting up Britain’s first maths and science sixth form and taking the school through the first phase. We wish him well in the future.”

He said the local community should notice the change in the school immediately, thanks a tough stance on school uniform, a letter sent home to parents yesterday, and his message to pupils in assembly.

He said: “The focus is on improving results, teaching and learning, and behaviour. I also want to remind the wider community how good this school is, and how important it is. The over-arching aim for me this term is that this school is in the top five improving schools in the county this year.”

Peter Harwood, vice chairman of the old board of governors, said staff had not been happy, and threatened industrial action last year.

He said: “We were well aware, but we were frustrated by our inability to do anything about it, which is why we were happy for the local authority to come along.”

All Norfolk schools which have been governed by IEBs in recent history have either become, or are becoming, academies, apart from Lingwood Primary, whose future has not been decided.

Mr Catton said the IEB had yet to discuss academy conversion, and it was not a foregone conclusion.

He added: “For me, it’s completely unacceptable the young people in the community are doing less well than young people in other communities in the city and county. There’s no reason for that. That’s what we are going to put right. We are going to do it quickly.

“We need clearly defined responsibilities so we know who is doing what. We need staff to all sing from the same hymn sheet, not writing their own words and music.”

What do you think? Write (giving your full contact details) to: The Letters Editor, Norwich Evening News, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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