THE chief executive of a multi-million-pound flagship academy has announced he will quit his job at the end of the month.
Paul Prest, who has been charge of Pennywell’s Academy 360 for the past three years, said the stress of commuting from his home in York was the reason for his resignation.
He will officially leave on October 31.
The board of governors today paid tribute to his Mr Prest and his achievements, helping deliver “massively improved” test results, as well as explaining his decision to leave.
Chairman Peter Walls said: “In the three years since the academy’s incorporation, Mr Prest has helped deliver massively improved Key Stage 1 and 2 results and is on record as having achieved the best ever Key Stage 4 results for Pennywell.
“Despite this success, there remains a significant transformational challenge in taking the academy forward.
“Unfortunately, Mr Prest has been unable to relocate from his home in York and the daily commute is proving too stressful.
“Mr Prest feels that in these circumstances he has taken the academy as far as he can.”
The centre, which was created from the amalgamation of the former Quarry View Primary and Pennywell School, was launched in 2008.
Operating from the split site of the former Quarry View Primary and Pennywell Academy, it opened its new £25million flagship academy building, featuring advanced computer, theatre and sports facilities, the following year.
Academy 360, which is sponsored by housing group Gentoo, Sunderland City Council and former SAFC chairman Sir Bob Murray, was one of three city academies which were part of the first £120million phase of Sunderland’s Building Schools for the Future initiative.
The academy is the city’s only all-age school, with pupils aged from four to 16, and is divided into four smaller sections: reception to Year 2, Years 3-5, Years 6-8 and Years 9-11, with each having a different coloured uniform.
Mr Prest made national newspaper headlines after 40 students were suspended in the first two weeks of the academy’s operation.
He said he imposed the disciplinary crackdown so that “no student is left in any doubt as to what is expected of them”.
The students, suspended for a variety of behavioural reasons, had been given work packs to complete before returning to school, with threats of further suspension if they failed to do so.
Other measures introduced at the academy included an automatic exclusion for students caught smoking and a ban on leaving school grounds at break times and at lunch.
Earlier this year, staff and students celebrated their best set of results yet, putting them firmly on the road to success.
Since 2008, the number of students gaining five or more A* to C grades at GCSE including maths and English has more than doubled from 17 per cent to 35 per cent this year, along with the number of students gaining five or more A*C grades in any subject which rose from 32 per cent in 2008 to 74 per cent this year.
The academy also celebrated the achievements of its younger children.
In the Key Stage 2 Sats for 11-year-olds, 77 per cent of children gained a level four or above in English and 84 per cent, above the national average, got the top levels in maths.
Ninety-three per cent of children improved by two levels from Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 2.
The academy hopes to appoint Mr Prest’s successor as soon as possible.