Head leaving struggling school after a year

John McGuinness, the Executive Principal of Academy 360 in Pennywell, with pupils.
John McGuinness, the Executive Principal of Academy 360 in Pennywell, with pupils.
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The executive principal of struggling Academy 360 is leaving the school after just a year.

John McGuinness was only seconded to the Wearside all-age school last year to turn around its fortunes.

It has been a year of transformational change

John McGuinness

This week, following the latest Ofsted report, which gave the Pennywell school a rating for inadequate, Mr McGuinnes said the leadership team was at the start of a long journey.

Now he has confirmed he will be leaving the school this year, but says he is confident the leadership team can deliver the required improvements.

Ofsted inspectors said that Mr McGuiness and the leadership team, which have been in place since September 2015, are ‘tackling weaknesses in the secondary phase with great determination’ and this is bringing noticeable improvements.

However, despite the early years being good, the education watchdogs said management, quality of teaching and personal development all require improvement and the outcomes for students are inadequate.

They said: “Pupils’ progress across Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 is too slow, particularly in English, mathematics and science. As a result, by the end of Year 11, pupils’ attainment is significantly below national averages and pupils underachieve.

“The school’s current pupils’ progress information is showing early signs of an improving picture as teaching starts to improve. However, it will take time for these improvements to

close gaps in learning. Consequently, secondary pupils’ outcomes remain too far adrift of national averages for both attainment and progress.”

Mr McGuinness said: “I was seconded to the post of Executive Principal to halt the decline at Academy 360 and manage the installation of a new leadership team to take the school forward in the future.

“It was envisaged that my secondment would last between 12 to 24 months and I was delighted to confirm in May that the school had made the necessary good progress, as recently identified by Ofsted, in just one year and that I would be returning to my permanent post in Jersey.

“It has been a year of transformational change and this was in no small part due to the dedication and commitment of the exceptionally strong new leadership team, which I am 100% confident will continue to deliver the required improvements in teaching and outcomes for pupils, particularly at secondary.”

Mr McGuiness said he acknowledged that GCSE outcomes weren’t good enough in the past, but the new leadership team had taken huge strides forward in a very short and promise a better education for all students in the future.