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Wellington Academy: questions raised over head's departure after impressive A level results

Questions have been raised around the departure of the headteacher at the heart of a partnership between Wellington Academy and the £33,000-a-year Wellington College.

On Friday last week, a statement was issued stating Andy Schofield was leaving his role as principal at the state boarding school following a set of disappointing GCSE results this summer.

But TES understands that certain members of the governing body at the school are unhappy that the head is no longer in his post, especially after the academy secured impressive A level results this summer.

The sponsorship of the academy by one of the country’s leading independents has been singled out by education secretary Michael Gove as a shining example of the private sector working to improve state schools. 

Before this year’s slump in GCSE results, Wellington Academy had gone from being the worst school in Wiltshire to the most improved in the county. But results at the school fell from 47 per cent of students achieving five A* to C grades including English and maths last year to just 37 per cent this summer, despite its partnership with Wellington College. 

However, while the disappointing GCSE results have been focused on, there is no record of the academy's successful A level results on the school's website. Thirty per cent of grades were a B or higher this year.

On the back of the school’s A-levels, a press release was issued where the chair of governors, David Cowley, said: “The progress of students and the numbers heading to university is truly astonishing.”  

Just two weeks later, Mr Schofield was out of a job. “We’ve taken action because these [GCSE] results are unacceptable,” Anthony Seldon, master of Wellington College, said on Friday.

In an interview with local radio on Monday, Mr Cowley denied the headteacher had been sacked, stressing that the decision for Mr Schofield’s departure was down to a number of different factors.

“It wasn’t just a reaction to one event. In the very first year we had an Ofsted inspection, as they do with new schools, and we got outstanding progress,” Mr Cowley told BBC Radio Wiltshire. “Then a year later we had another inspection and we got a category 3 [satisfactory], and we weren’t happy with that. 

“We then asked an academy chain to give an unofficial inspection and that raised some issues as well. So we’ve had a category 3 Ofsted, followed by an internal review, followed by these results and that is why the governing body decided they needed to make a change."

The decision was described as “football manager syndrome” on Twitter by headteacher and TES columnist Geoff Barton.

Mr Schofield was unable to comment on the subject, and a post on his blog says the matter is “now in the hands of ASCL (heads’ union the Association of School and College Leaders)”. 

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