Head quits in Harris School shake-up

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A headteacher of an underperforming secondary school in Rugby has suddenly left his position as part of a huge shake-up in leadership.

Harris School will also be converted into a academy to help raise educational standards after a large decline in GCSE pass rates in 2012 under the leadership of headteacher Steve Dobson.

Mr Dobson left his position as headteacher at the school with immediate effect at the end of term before Easter.

Harris, which is a Church of England Sports College, was inspected by Ofsted in March during which pupils achievement and progress were judged to be too low.

As a result, a plan of action - initiated by Warwickshire County Council and an interim governing body - has now been launched which aims to ensure rapid improvement.

In a letter sent out to parents last week, Mr Dobson thanked everyone for their support over the last four years.

He added: “Harris will remain in my prayers. I would like to wish everyone connected with the school every success for the future.”

A new interim associate headteacher, Dr Vicky Lundberg, and executive headteacher, Dr Julie Roberts, have now been appointed as part of the improvement plans.

Dr Vicky and Dr Roberts said: “We are proud to take on the roles of executive head and associate headteacher at this strongly Christian Church of England school and we are excited about the future development of Harris School, as we ensure we help all our pupils achieve their potential.

“The new leadership team here is striving for excellence at Harris School and we will be working extremely hard to get the best out of students and become an outstanding centre for learning within the community.

“The school is buzzing with the commitment and determination of the staff to move the school forward and we are relishing the task of building on the existing strengths to make this school successful.”

Ofsted inspected Harris in March 2011 when the school was given an overall score of ‘satisfactory’.

Inspectors returned on March 7 and 8 this year but the latest report had not yet been published when the Advertiser went to press.

Sarah Callaghan, the county council’s head of learning and achievement, said: “Ofsted has highlighted the need to strengthen the leadership and educational standards at Harris School. We are implementing an action plan to help the school make the necessary improvements as swiftly as possible. Our planning will ensure the school’s capacity to improve will progress, and that it will be sustainable in the longer term. We have taken steps which will bring about tangible improvement, leading to higher standards in classrooms, and sustained stronger achievements by the end of each key stage.

“Parents can be assured that these urgent changes are necessary to improve the performance of the school and provide a better education for their children.”

The school has seen its GCSE pass rate drop from 58 per cent in 2011 to 37 per cent in 2012.

One Rugby teacher, who did not want to be named, said: “Mr Dobson was popular and well thought of at Harris School and it’s a shame his time at Harris has come to such an abrupt end. However, it was clear to many that staff and student moral had dropped. Staff turnover was high and behaviour at the school was getting out of hand. It’s a shame because it is a nice school - a lot of people hold it in high regard and will want it to get back on track.”

Regular review meetings will assess the school’s progress over the next three terms and the bid for academy status with the Coventry Diocese as a sponsor is expected to be completed before October.

A meeting will be held at the school on May 1 where parents can meet the new leadership team.