‘No meltdown’ at Ipswich Academy as 19 teachers depart the former Holywells High School

Ipswich Academy.

Ipswich Academy. - Credit: Gregg Brown

A total of 19 teachers are leaving Ipswich Academy this summer – but school bosses insist there is “no meltdown” in staff morale.

Ipswich Academy.

Ipswich Academy. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Around half a dozen non-teaching staff have also handed in their notice at the former Holywells High School. Around 100 staff are employed across the school.

The academy, which was placed into special measures in February, is in the middle of a major shake-up. From September, Paradigm Trust is set to take over the school from current academy sponsor, the Learning Schools Trust, after the Department for Education called for changes to be made.

A whistleblower teacher claimed children would “suffer” because of staff leaving. But Steve Bolingbroke, chief executive of Learning Schools Trust, said “first-class” new teachers were being appointed and the number leaving was part of a “normal turnover”.

“Nineteen teaching staff are leaving at the end of the term,” he said. “Of these 19 there is a variety of reasons: we have got two Canadian teachers going who are on short-term contracts, four people retiring and five people moving on to promoted positions at other schools, which is great for them and I am delighted for them.

“It’s not a huge exodus, we have recruited some really first-class people, it’s not that we are going to have lots of supply teachers.”

He was not able to say how many new teachers were being recruited although he did list new staff in English, science, maths and technology.

The whistleblower teacher, who wished to be anonymous, said: “Heads of department are leaving and going to supply positions, we are losing some excellent members of staff, some fantastic teachers who are going on to some fantastic jobs.”

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“So many people are leaving they are not having to make anyone redundant, some are going because their courses are being cut so they have to teach elsewhere.”

Last month it was revealed the school considered making staff redundant to meet “significant” savings needed as teachers’ pay and pension costs increase.

Mr Bolingbroke said the school, which also has a sixth form, would offer a “full and broad” curriculum to all children from September.

He said: “I think the staff and parents we have spoken to have been positive about the difference which has been made in the last year which was reflected in the HMI report.”

He was referring to last month’s follow-up Ofsted report which praised the school’s direction.

Graham White, secretary of Suffolk’s National Union of Teachers, said the number of teachers leaving was “very significant”. He said a normal turnover would be around 5-10% of all teaching staff. “I’ve had concerns about Ipswich Academy for some time because my members do not tell me very much. The new headteacher [Pamela Hutchison who started in September] has made a difference to staff morale, staff feel happier with her.”

Dan McCarthy, executive member for NASUWT in the county, said teachers were under “punishing” pressure to improve the school’s performance.

The school moved into a new £16million building, which was opened by the-then Education Secretary Michael Gove, in 2013.

If you have an education story, phone 01473 324802 or email matt.hunter@archant.co.uk.