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Troubled school goes in to special measures
3:00pm Thursday 20th September 2012 in News
A STRUGGLING school will be plunged into special measures, nine months after suspending its headteacher, the Echo can reveal.
Ofsted will tomorrow publish a damning report of the Priory School, in Burr Hill Chase, Southend, in which it brands the school’s leadership “inadequate”.
Elizabeth Baines, who took charge of the school in 2010, was credited with triggering a 400 per cent improvement in pupils’ exam results.
However, she was suspended in January amid allegations of bullying and financial mismanagement.
Her husband, David Baines, 52, called for “the truth” to come out.
He said: “There has been a gross injustice here.
“The school has clearly suffered since Elizabeth was suspended, and we still have no idea what is going to happen.
“It is a mess and the truth needs to be revealed.”
The Priory caters for youngsters who have failed to fit in at mainstream schools.
Before Ms Baines arrived in January 2010, after spending 13 years teaching in Cornwall, pupils’ attendance levels were poor and many struggled to gain decent qualifications.
In 2007, the average pupil at the school scored 29.8 points in the vocational Asdan exams – the equivalent of one E-grade at GCSE level.
By the summer of 2010, just a few months after Ms Baines arrived, the average mark had increased to 166.8 points, the same as four B-grades.
The school was also in the middle of plans to renovate an empty warehouse, giving its pupils a place to undergo practical training in joinery, engineering and running a business, when Ms Baines was suspended.
It is standard practice for teachers to be suspended as soon as any serious allegations about their conduct are made, regardless of the amount of evidence, to ensure pupils are protected and an investigation can be conducted fairly.
James Courtenay, the Tory councillor responsible for education at Southend Council, said: “The priority is now the current academic year.
“I am happy with the action plan put in place by the school, in conjunction with the local authority.
“It is not just one person who is responsible for a school.”