Shrewsbury Academy 'has bright future' says temporary boss as ex-governor demands answers

Leadership and discipline have improved at the troubled Shrewsbury Academy, the man leading its revival has insisted.

Shrewsbury Academy was taken over by an interim board last year and is now set to join the Marches Academy Trust, based in north Shropshire
Shrewsbury Academy was taken over by an interim board last year and is now set to join the Marches Academy Trust, based in north Shropshire

The secondary school, formerly called The Grange, was taken over by an interim board just over a year ago after the academy trust that was running it found itself £2 million in the red and with disappointing exam results.

Now Lowell Williams, the chairman of the interim trust board in charge, says the future is looking bright for the school, which is set to be taken over by a multi-academy trust based in the north of the county.

Mr Williams spoke out after a former governor of the academy called for an investigation to be carried out into its management during the tenure of the Shrewsbury Academies Trust.

Lowell Williams, from Dudley College, has been overseeing the temporary trust at Shrewsbury Academy

Kevin Pardy, a Shropshire Council member for Sundorne and a former governor at the academy, says there are questions that remain unanswered over the management of the school since before it became an academy.

“Poor management has seen difficulties for hard working staff, some who have resigned over the years, difficulties for pupils and anxiety for parents," Mr Pardy said.

All but one of the former trustees and the chief executive of the academy trust resigned last year.

'Stepped in to help'

Mr Williams, the chief executive of Dudley College of Technology, said he and others stepped in to help Shrewsbury Academy after being asked by The Regional Schools Commission in the wake of the resignations.

Over the past year an interim chief executive, David Brown, and an interim finance director have been appointed along with permanent headteacher Jon Arnold.

The commission has now agreed in principle for Shrewsbury Academy, Grange Primary School and Longlands Community Primary School all to join the Marches Academy Trust based in north Shropshire.

The trust already runs the Marches School in Oswestry, Sir John Talbot's in Whitchurch and the Grove School in Market Drayton.

Mr Williams said: “A performance improvement programme began across the trust, but particularly at Shrewsbury Academy.”

'Leadership and discipline have improved'

He said standards in the trust’s two primary schools, The Grange and Longlands were good, adding: “There is further work to be done to improve standards at Shrewsbury Academy, although it is clear that leadership and discipline have improved and that better outcomes for learners will follow in due course.”

Consultation meetings are being held this week on the proposal for the schools to join the Marches Academy Trust.

Mr Williams said: “This is excellent news for all the students and staff at the Shrewsbury Academy Trust, marks the end of a difficult period and the beginning of a bright future for the schools.

"The proposal has the full support of the interim board. If it does go ahead after the consultation period the Shrewsbury Academy Trust as a legal entity will be wound up."

"It is not the interim board’s position to speculate on past events which it was not party to. That said, given the trust’s weak financial position in May 2018 and the standards at Shrewsbury Academy, it is self-evident that leadership of the trust was not as effective as it should have been.”

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