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Superhead who turned around the fortunes of academy says: 'I'm moving on'
3:30pm Monday 28th October 2013 in Echo News
THE woman at the helm of Basildon Lower Academy says she is planning to move on soon after turning around the fortunes of the once-failing school.
Ofsted has now said it is taking the school out of special measures, but executive principal Bev Bell said the announcement made no difference to her plans to leave, once her successor is found.
Mrs Bell was recruited in November 2012, charged with improving standards at upper and lower academies, both of which were branded failing by inspectors.
Since she started, the lower academy’s improving reputation has meant pupil numbers have grown, with 170 youngsters starting in September, as opposed to 130 the previous year.
She has also achieved her goal of bringing the school, in Timberlog Close, Basildon, out of special measures within a year.
Mrs Bell said interviews would take place next month to recruit her successor.
She said: “We have been trying to recruit a principal and hoped to have someone in place before the school year started, but we didn’t feel they were right at the time.
“Now we have shortlisted three very experienced headteachers and I will stay around as a consultant principal as long as I’m needed.”
Staff at the Lower Academy were told the school had come out of special measures on Wednesday, 19 months after Ofsted ruled it was failing.
The education watchdog now puts the school in the “requires improvement” category, rather than describing it as “inadequate”.
Within the four main inspection areas, the school was rated “good” for behaviour and safety of pupils, and leadership and management. Inspectors say it still requires improvement in the areas of achievement of pupils and quality of teaching.
The once-failing school had been threatened with direct intervention by Education Secretary Michael Gove. It was also criticised by its own staff for some of the tactics used to improve pupils’ behaviour and raise standards.
However, this week Ofsted confirmed the bold schemes were paying off.
Inspectors also said the school had “eradicated the most serious inadequacies” in teaching and pupils were making good progress in maths and English.
Mrs Bell said: “This has rubber- stamped what we have been doing.
“My aim was to get us out of special measures within a year of being at the school and I have done it in ten months.
“Ofsted identified the students as real ambassadors for the academy and said they had real pride at being here.
“Something which has changed is the pupils’ self-belief. They believe they can fly and do well.
“People were labelling Basildon Academies’ pupils as being low-achieving pupils, but they are not. They are as hardworking as at any other school.
They want to be here and they are so proud.”
Stephen Metcalfe, South Basildon and East Thurrock MP, who raised questions in Parliament about the school’s fortunes, added: “I am very pleased Bev Bell has managed to move the school forward. We need to build on this success and make sure they continue.”
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