Next step is taken on academy status road
GOVERNORS at St Ives School will meet with a Department for Education "broker" today to take the next step in becoming an academy in partnership with Truro and Penwith College.
Head teacher Richard Schofield this week confirmed the college is still the front-runner to partner St Ives' only secondary school in becoming an academy.
The school has endured a tumultuous few months since Ofsted inspectors said it was failing pupils and was placed in special measures.
Cornwall Council replaced the newly-appointed head Jenny Veal with Mr Schofield; the Department for Education insisted the school had to become an academy; and the then chairman of the board of governors resigned.
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But Mr Schofield now insists the school is on the up after August saw a 16 per cent increase in GCSE results and Ofsted made its first "monitoring inspection" in September.
In a letter to Mr Schofield, Ofsted inspector Karl Sampson wrote: "It was clear from my discussions with you ... that there is a strong ambition for the school to move forward and be removed from special measures as soon as possible."
The inspector found that plans were in place to address failures and Mr Schofield was giving out the key message that "only good teaching is good enough".
The letter also details staff changes that have occurred at the school. These include:
Four teachers, including the head of English and the head of design and technology, have left the school.
Four teachers have been appointed and a deputy head teacher has taken on responsibility for leading the English department.
One assistant head teacher has relinquished his responsibilities to lead mathematics across the school.
Four members of the governing body have been replaced, and a new chairman and vice-chairman of the governing body have been elected.
In fact the recently appointed chairman of governors, Steve Burgess, has stepped down, although this stems from a conflict of interest around the school's potential new academy partner.
Mr Burgess holds a management position at Cornwall College and decided he could not continue as chairman as the school developed ever closer links with Truro College.
Richard Schofield said: "We understand completely but he's done a tremendous job in a short space of time."
The new chairman of governors is Caroline Webster, a longstanding parent governor. The new vice-chairman team are Sue Sprent, a longstanding community governor, and Jane Cashmore, director of operations at Truro and Penwith College.
The school says it will be an academy by Easter, and will have a clearer idea about the link with Truro College after today's meeting.
Mr Schofield said: "The school feels they will be an organisation that are not going to shirk their responsibilities if the going gets tough. Truro and Penwith have a track record of commitment to their partnerships. The feeling around the school is one of optimism."