Non-teacher head quits after just five months

30th January 2009 at 00:00
Federation chief and deputy to go following damning Ofsted report and spate of operational problems

The first person to be put in charge of running a state school despite having no classroom experience has left his job.

Peter Noble, chief executive of the Richard Rose Federation, which runs two academies in Carlisle, has agreed to leave the school less than five months after it opened. One of his No 2s, Mark Yearsly, principal of the Richard Rose Central Academy, which has been experiencing serious problems, has also quit.

The academy has been overwhelmed with disputes since it opened in September. The problems culminated this week in the publication of damning Ofsted report that has put the school into special measures.

Inspectors carried out an emergency inspection in December, the first of its kind in an academy, after many complaints. Their report said the leadership team had not appreciated the scale of the challenge facing them in merging two schools. They had also failed to win the confidence of pupils and parents.

"Many pupils resent what has happened and some display their resentment in inappropriate attitudes to learning and unruly behaviour," the report said.

Inspectors criticised the quality of teaching. Action to improve it had been too slow, they said. They also reported serious concerns from parents about the school's ability to ensure pupil safety and wellbeing.

As revealed in The TES last week, Mr Noble's leadership had already been called into serious doubt by staff who did not believe he had the right experience. Teachers were furious about changes he proposed, including an overhaul of the curriculum and pay scales. It could have resulted in some senior teachers taking a pay cut of Pounds 10,000.

The school was forced to close last Friday because of protests from pupils and parents.

Mr Noble, a former health service manager, said that his job was to implement strategy. He left the day-to-day running of the school to educationists. He said his job had been made more difficult by the academy opening a year earlier than had been planned, a point acknowledged by Ofsted.

He will be replaced by Mike Gibbons, until recently chief executive of the Government's Innovation Unit and a former head of four schools.

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said the situation was proof that headships should be for qualified teachers. "This is a failed experiment that should never have been attempted," she said.

Brian Scowcroft, a property developer and one of the academy's sponsors, said he fully accepted Ofsted's findings, but said the aim remained to put the federation's schools into the top 25 per cent in the country.

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