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Acland Burghley governors express ‘disapointment’ as headteacher quits days after appointment

From left to right: Cllr Angela Mason, Dr John Clarke, Pete Dudley and Martin Pratt discuss the future of Acland Burghley School. Picture: Polly Hancock. From left to right: Cllr Angela Mason, Dr John Clarke, Pete Dudley and Martin Pratt discuss the future of Acland Burghley School. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014
5:00 PM

The new headteacher of a secondary school slammed by Ofsted inspectors last year has stepped down from the top job just days after his appointment.

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Governors chose Paul Guenault to be Acland Burghley School’s new headteacher – but just one week after he accepted the offer, the newly appointed head walked away from the post following “discussions with his family”.

The former leader of Highgate Wood School in Crouch End was to replace Jo Armitage, who stepped down in January after Acland Burghley School was told to improve by Ofsted inspectors last October.

Sue Higgins, headteacher of all-girls Parliament Hill School in Highgate Road, was brought in to act as an executive headteacher at both schools in March.

Dr John Clark, chairman of governors at Acland Burghley, in Tufnell Park, said: “The governors were disappointed not to make an appointment but we are clear that it was better for the school that the decision was made at this stage.

“It would have been very disruptive if this had been the outcome at a later date when the person was in post.”

Mr Guenault, who was made the founding headteacher of Wapping High School academy in 2012, was due to start in his new job in September at the beginning of the next academic year.

The school, in Burghley Road, had been heavily criticised by Ofsted inspectors following a report last year for its “scruffy” staff members, bad behaviour among pupils, slow progress of students and high number of exclusions.

The school was also downgraded from “good” to “requires improvement” – one grade up from the lowest Ofsted rank.

Dr Clark reassured parents last week in the school bulletin that the governors are “confident that the school is now moving in the right direction with improving behaviour for learning and teaching for impact”.

Following Mr Guenault’s resignation, the governors will consider keeping Ms Higgins on as executive headteacher of both Parliament Hill and Acland Burghley.

Dr Clark said: “Governors are exploring a number of ways forward including the continuation of the successful partnership with Parliament Hill School.

“Governors hope to be able to say more to parents in the coming week.”

He added that he wished Mr Guenault the best for the future.

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