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Academy trust creates new senior role to reduce ‘unrealistic’ demands on headteachers

PUBLISHED: 16:35 20 March 2019 | UPDATED: 16:35 20 March 2019

David Day, Penny Bignell and Liz Wood who are about to take up roles in the new leadership structure at Right for Success Trust at Sewell Park Academy and Sprowston Community Academy. Picture: Right for Success Trust

David Day, Penny Bignell and Liz Wood who are about to take up roles in the new leadership structure at Right for Success Trust at Sewell Park Academy and Sprowston Community Academy. Picture: Right for Success Trust

Right for Success Trust

An academy trust is implementing a new leadership model at two of its secondary schools to reduce “unrealistic” demands on its headteachers.

Sewell Park Academy became part of the Right for Success Trust in 2015. Picture: ARCHANTSewell Park Academy became part of the Right for Success Trust in 2015. Picture: ARCHANT

The Right for Success Trust undertook a review of senior staffing at Sprowston Community Academy and Sewell Park Academy in Norwich, both of which are recovering from drops in pupil numbers, after the former joined the trust last year.

Following the review, the trust is bringing in a new leadership model which aims to free up the academies’ headteachers from long-term planning to focus on the day-to-day running of their schools.

To enable this a new “executive headteacher” role has been created; it will be filled by Penny Bignell, current headteacher at Sewell Park Academy, and will focus on development and strategy across the academies.

David Day, current deputy head at Sewell Park, will take the top job at the academy and Liz Wood, acting head of Sprowston Community Academy, will have her role made permanent. Both will work closely with Ms Bignell in her new role.

Sewell Park Academy headteacher Penny Bignell, pictured outside the building before its academisation in 2015. Ms Bignell will be the new executive head of Sprowston Community Academy and Sewell Park Academy. 
Picture: ARCHANTSewell Park Academy headteacher Penny Bignell, pictured outside the building before its academisation in 2015. Ms Bignell will be the new executive head of Sprowston Community Academy and Sewell Park Academy. Picture: ARCHANT

Right for Success Trust chief executive Don Evans said the close proximity of the academies meant the trio already had a good working relationship.

“Formalising that relationship through this new structure will enable us to extract the maximum benefit from our collective skills and experience,” he said.

“It simply isn’t realistic to expect our secondary heads to be responsible for the significant day-to-day demands of running a growing academy as well as leading on things like strategy and new developments.

“As a not-for-profit organisation working in a challenging financial environment, we have to manage our costs carefully and the new structure brings together an experienced, dynamic team who will provide greater strength without the cost of additional posts.”

Students at Blyth Jex School, which has become Sewell Park Academy in Norwich, pictured in the mid 1970s. Picture: ARCHANTStudents at Blyth Jex School, which has become Sewell Park Academy in Norwich, pictured in the mid 1970s. Picture: ARCHANT

Sewell Park Academy has been through a number of incarnations in the past 35 years. In 1972 the merger of Jex Comprehensive and the Blyth School created the Blyth Jex School, which was renamed Sewell Park College in 2008 following a multi-million pound project to bring it onto one site on St Clements Hill.

It was put into special measures in 2014, but had its ranking raised to “requires improvement” in July last year after its first Ofsted inspection since joining Right for Success in 2015.

Sprowston Community High School in Cannerby Lane had been ranked as “requires improvement” for five years before joining Right for Success in February 2018.


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