Departing principal of Ipswich Academy sad to go as school is said to be improving

Pamela Hutchison, executive principal of Ipswich Academy.

Pamela Hutchison, executive principal of Ipswich Academy. - Credit: Su Anderson

The outgoing boss of a school in special measures would “absolutely” like to stay after a new Ofsted report praised the school’s direction.

Ipswich Academy was hit with an “inadequate” inspection in February which placed the former Holywells High School into special measures.

But a follow-up mini report has welcomed changes made by the academy’s leadership and management as they “galvanised” staff to make improvements.

Executive principal Pamela Hutchison, who will leave at the end of the year, said the changes began when she came onboard in September but were too late to have an impact on the critical Ofsted report.

She works for the Learning Schools Trust (LST) which has run the school since 2011. From September, new academy sponsor Paradigm Trust will take over after the Department for Education stepped in.

When asked if she would like to stay, Mrs Hutchison said: “Absolutely, I would like to stay, we have invested time and energy so we handover to the new sponsor in the best possible shape. We are absolutely doing that simply by driving forward as a school to get the plans in place so it’s a smooth handover.

“We knew we could not let Ofsted and the result (of the main report) and the publicity put us off course. I have huge admiration for staff, students and parents who have gone through difficult times this year.”

The follow-up Ofsted report states there are “robust plans” in place to drive up improvement.

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Inspector John Mitcheson said: “Current data shows that in Key Stage 3, students are making improved progress in English and, to a lesser extent, in mathematics. Progress in science appears to be improving rapidly but this data is not robust.”

He admitted more time was needed before all the changes made a “significant difference” to students’ achievement.

The report states improvement is still needed in areas including attendance; ‘significant’ gaps in progress between disabled, disadvantaged and students with additional needs and their peers; and Year 11s progress in maths and science.

Mrs Hutchison admitted more work was needed to get the academy to rise up the Ofsted rankings.

“Not for one minute do we think we have got to where we need to, that would be very naive, but we are doing better than was expected,” she said.

It was revealed earlier this month that up to 10 jobs, including teaching roles, could go at the school to save “significant” amounts of money. Steve Bolingbroke, chief executive of LST, said he was delighted with the new report and thanked parents for their support.

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