Third head in a year starts today at crisis hit Mandeville School

The Mandeville School has been criticised after an Ofsted monitoring visit
The Mandeville School has been criticised after an Ofsted monitoring visit
  • Richard Woods starts today and is expected to stay for two
  • Says that he wouldn’t take on the challenge if he didn’t think it was ‘dooable
  • Bucks County Council provides cash to kit out new facilities that had stood empty
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Today pupils at The Mandeville School will be introduced to their third headteacher in a year in the shape of Richard Woods, 47, a consultant headteacher who worked alongside the last head, Andrew Hencken, who left yesterday after just six months at the helm.

Mr Woods is expected to remain in post for two terms, and has previously been employed by Bucks Learning Trust to support other struggling schools.

A school in special measures is a school that needs to improve and I believe that we are improving

Richard Woods

The school was placed in special measures in 2013 and a monitoring report released by Ofsted last week said its progress had taken a step backwards.

Dr Louise Goll, chairman of the school’s interim executive board (IEB), said they are working hard to improve and that under new leadership will soon be out of special measures.

She said: “Andrew would like to thank the IEB and the whole school community for the opportunity he has been offered in the last few months.”

“Children do have good experiences, but this letter suggests that the consistency of that experience is not good enough, the consistency is not there yet.

“The Bucks Learning Trust is actively supporting the school to address the issues Ofsted raised during its monitoring visit in March; I am confident improvement will now be secured.”

These problems have led to Ofsted recommending that no newly-qualified teachers be appointed before their next visit. The report said that state-of-the-art new facilities, including PE and performing arts spaces, lay empty as no money could be found to furnish them.

But Dr Goll and Mr Woods said the spaces could now open as soon as next week, after funding from Bucks County Council was found for the fittings.

Ofsted added: “One assistant headteacher has been on sick leave since January and another has resigned with effect from the end of term to take up a promotion in another school. There are currently six teacher vacancies covered by supply staff.”

Mandeville, which has more than 1,000 pupils, has been granted ministerial approval to convert to an academy, but this has been delayed after EMLC, the organisation which was set to provide funding for the transition to academy status, pulled out.

This newspaper understands that EMLC, which also provides development for headteachers, was involved in Mr Hencken’s recruitment process and his decision to leave came after their decision to quit the school.

New headteacher Mr Woods said: “This is a two-year journey and no journey is a straight path. A school in special measures is a school that needs to improve and I believe that we are improving.

“I wouldn’t have taken the opportunity to do this job if I didn’t think it wasn’t doable.”

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