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

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

Friday, September 5, 2014
11:03 AM

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.

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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

25 comments

  • ..."is like turkeys voting for Christmas."...well as long as the Turkeys are all singing from the same hymn sheet, and sponsored by Paxo Academies Ltd, I think this is a great time to take the bull by the horns and bite the biscuit. Parents should realise that if you bite the hand that feeds you, and put all your educational eggs in one basket, one of those eggs might turn out to be a bad apple and spoil the barrel.

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    Rhombus

    Monday, September 8, 2014

  • Coming to this discussion late but it seems people forget the way the world has changed for schools. At one time it was possible for a parent to send their child off the school aged 5 and know pretty well what they were going to be doing for the next 1011 years. It was also possible for schools to be assessed year on year because the curriculum and examinations were relatively stable. I feel sorry for anyone foolish enough to take a senior position in a school today. They are on a hiding to nothing unless they are prepared to do a lot of sacking and quickly move on before their ideas are found out to be untenable. That makes me even sorrier for parents and children at such schools. Perhaps now parents will realise that voting for academies is like turkeys voting for Christmas.

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    Desmond_22

    Saturday, September 6, 2014

  • If Daisy Roots has kids, I pity them.

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    mr mayhem

    Friday, September 5, 2014

  • Oh dear sadly you are doing exactly what the above head did when he joined the school . Judging children and limiting their options just because of where they live is the biggest mistake to make ! My daughter attended Sewell park collage and achieved 6 A* 5 A at gcse and 3 A s at A level she is now at UEA she wasn't alone in her year group as lots of young people did extremely well ! They were led to believe they could achieve their goals by a caring and supportive staff who dedicated their teaching lives to theses kids , but sadly a change of head saw an end to this with him straight away referring to difficult backgrounds and tough starts . Don't dismiss the school dismiss it's leader and now hopefully things can get better again , but don't you discount these kids because of where they live , they deserve better

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    karma

    Friday, September 5, 2014

  • Ah! A call for the return of the 11+, albeit slightly tongue in cheek. I am in my 50s and this had been abolished before I even started school. Is it worth going back to something that has not been around for nearly 50 years? There are SATs at 11 with setting and streaming from then on, meaning that you can cater for mixed abilities at your local school. How was the old way better?

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    JohnnyH

    Friday, September 5, 2014

  • To pick up Daisy's point, there is or at least was something called CVA which was used to measure how children progressed within a school. I would imagine this had weaknesses but at least it tried to make allowances for catchment issues. It is a bit harsh to call the new head a prattling fool but an interim appointment of just one term seems a bit of a concern as that must be little more than 3 months. To answer The Truth, it is a flagship because it will be used as an example of a particular type of school. I can live with Free Schools as we need to increase the provision of 16 to 18 education but we need a bit more of a plan than they seem to offer

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    JohnnyH

    Friday, September 5, 2014

  • Paul H -she has her eyes open and despairs. To what academic standard could you be confident of being educated? Would you admit to having limitations which would put a ceiling on your achievements? Would you prefer your education to be suited to your abilities and to improve your skills or to be flogged through a course of study which you might not really understand in order to scrape an exam pass to meet the demands of a league table which politicians could wave at the Daily Mail? And Responsible parent you may be correct about Rowe and he may be another professional who is a victim of the system, but I have grown tired of the academies and specialist schools which seem to make a big deal out of uniform and gloss and then lo and behold, turn out to be not so good on the education front-nor the pastoral care.

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    Daisy Roots

    Friday, September 5, 2014

  • Bring back the 11+

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    Voice of Reason

    Friday, September 5, 2014

  • Andy You misunderstand me-although I was under the impression that as the Blyth School the Sewell did not have an "easy" catchment area. I was not referring to the Sewell School specifically but to the current and former government's policy of beating schools with league tables.It is Gove and his predecessors I have a problem with, who opened the door to payment by results and tinkered with the exam results to get the political end they wanted-and the stick to beat the teachers and children . Successive ministers have fabricated a problem where there was none, have ignored the fundamental problem of how to teach for the best effect those who would have formerly attended secondary modern schools and devalued the GCSE into the bargain. When it was introduced Grade C GCSE was the equivalent of an O level at a basic pass. Forty or so years ago only 15-25 % of children took O levels, never mind passed all of them-now schools are berated if less than 50% of their pupils get 5 GCSEs at grade C. My point was that a school can be successful and not have a high % of passes and that success can only be judged against the basic capabilities of the pupils. I am not underqualified academically but you would take a very long time to get me through a physics A degree. Yes make demands on children and teachers but unless they are the right demands teachers with integrity will quit and we will be left with those prepared to sell out our children.

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    Daisy Roots

    Friday, September 5, 2014

  • Is Daisy Roots educated or just plain rude.

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    PaulH

    Friday, September 5, 2014

  • The hypocrisy of wittering about children in Norfolk ( and Suffolk come to that) doing less well than other regions when everyone knows full well they get less spent on them per head than most other children in the UK.And that our children who go into the sixth form or to FE etc have to pay to get to their studies. The solution does not lie with specialist colleges-especially at GCSE level- but with recruiting the right staff and giving them a chance to teach properly.

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    Daisy Roots

    Friday, September 5, 2014

  • These weren't the only heads not to return after the summer! Perhaps your reporters should look into the whereabouts of the Taverham high head. Hush hush at the moment but lots of whispers that will strike fear into hundreds of parents if true!

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    fatboyslimfast

    Friday, September 5, 2014

  • Daisy, you are letting your prejudices against the government run away with you. In the past, this school has had a good reputation and I don't think the catchment area has changed. The prejudice you do show is that children from that area have low IQs. That is a disgraceful comment and you should withdraw it and apologise!!!

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    andy

    Friday, September 5, 2014

  • Sadly to inform, and enlighten you Daisy Boots, I have worked alongside Jeremy Rowe and a harder working, more committed teacher you could wish to meet. He is certainly no prattling fool as you suggest ! I am sure he will do his damnedest to raise staff morale and excite the children to want to be better learners.

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    Responsible parent

    Friday, September 5, 2014

  • Daisy Roots, I can promise you there is bullying in schools, and unfortunately it very often comes from senior leaders who fear for their careers if targets aren't met. And don't even get me started on the way in which these 'targets' are set!!! The whole system is set up for show-ponies who pretend they can achieve wonderful results. The whole system is smoke and mirrors.

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    OldSchool

    Friday, September 5, 2014

  • And of course Gove was toxic- or we would not have these weasel academies or schools run by bursars or schools pretending to be specialist or five year olds being expected to understand the mathematical concept of fractions Everything since Baker has been about show and appearance and gimmickry imported from the USA and now China ( minus the physical punishments and bullying of the latter) The worst is that the staff who know what a proper education is like are all retiring and a replaced by those who have been trained in the tick box bureaucratic era which evolved to suit career managers in education and political campaigns rather than educating children.

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    Daisy Roots

    Friday, September 5, 2014

  • You can't polish a t"rd. And if a school has an intake of kids with lowish IQs it is unfair to expect a head and staff to be getting half or more of them through GCSEs at over grade C- and dishonest to fiddle the exams to make it look as if they had. Only a comparison between tested IQs and GCSE results is a fair assessment of the school's success. No wonder heads and teachers quit in disgust if they have been giving lower ability kids as good and education as they can to cope with life and work.And again we hear some fool prattling about strict school uniform worrying about appearance rather than what happens in class. Stressing low income parents into paying out over and over to look like someone's idea of a grammar school pupil is not the way to get them onside.

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    Daisy Roots

    Friday, September 5, 2014

  • Perhaps these Heads haven't 'quit' or 'walked out' as has been reported disclosed by LA's.

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    Voice of Reason

    Friday, September 5, 2014

  • This is further evidence of the malaise of low morale in the teaching profession caused by the fundamentalist zealotry of Michael Gove.Despite the fact Cameron kicked him out for being "toxic",Gove's inequitable system continues and it is,therefore, no wonder teacher leaders are voting with their feet.

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    Peter Watson

    Friday, September 5, 2014

  • Is it the management, or the senior management that is failing ? If they are failing, or just giving up? Or is it the System that makes a headship less than attractive - perhaps just a thankless task - government participation and changes, teachers on strike .. Why do four schools hit the headlines (a good story?) as heads pack up and leave?

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    Patrick

    Friday, September 5, 2014

  • Thanks Seagull. So all those maths and science schools when we had specialist schools were presumably not flagship? I could set up a school anywhere and call it flagship for any reason. Meaningless.

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    TheTruth

    Friday, September 5, 2014

  • "The Truth": Sir Isaac Newton is described as a flagship school because it's the first specialist maths and science sixth form college in Britain.

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    urban seagull

    Friday, September 5, 2014

  • Most state schools are hateful places. I am surprised they can get anybody to work in them.

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    Disgusted of Norwich South

    Friday, September 5, 2014

  • Why is the Isaac Newton a flagship school? Could it be their track record (no, because they dont have one). Could it be their record numbers of applications (no unless the record was for the lowest). Could it be for the most transparent and open recruitment strategy (er?). Could it be for the most unnecessary waste of space in the city and a case study into how to hoodwink an LEA? (Ding!)

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    TheTruth

    Friday, September 5, 2014

  • So RDS can comment on non stories but not on the far more important story of the year .....strange that! Says it all really.

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    Sportswagon

    Friday, September 5, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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