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Scowcroft: United Learning will turn round failing Morton academy

The businessman who helped set up Carlisle’s two academies admits he was taken aback by Ofsted’s findings following Morton’s recent inspection.

Brian Scowcroft photo
Brian Scowcroft

Related: Carlisle's Morton Academy school put into special measures

Brian Scowcroft, one of the original academy sponsors who remains vice-chairman of the school improvement board, said: “I haven’t felt the school was failing. It was a surprise to me.

“The academies project has been the toughest that I’ve ever done. We delivered two fantastic schools, in terms of buildings and facilities, but they failed from an academic perspective.

“I’m confident that United Learning will rectify that. If I didn’t think they would rectify it, I wouldn’t have asked them in.”

Meanwhile, the man charged with leading the latest turnaround needed at the two schools has told Morton pupil’s parents that he is ‘confident’ early signs of improvement seen by inspectors will continue and ‘accelerate’.

In a letter yesterday to parents of Morton’s 720 pupils executive principal Derek Davies reads:

“We agree with the findings of the report which clearly sets out the challenge ahead for us all; staff, governors and pupils alike. What is very encouraging in the report, however, is the recognition of the initiatives that we began in September with new leadership at the academy and the resilient and robust approach that the new governance structure is delivering.”

Mr Davies adds: “United Learning has been clear since we began working with the Richard Rose academies that we are not going to shy away from introducing the changes and improvements that are needed to provide your children with the education they deserve.

“The transition to joining United Learning will be completed very shortly and, with the appointment of Des Bird as headteacher, we have confidence that the improvements noted by Ofsted will be maintained and accelerated over the coming terms.

“As we begin a new year, we know that there is a great deal to be done to get the academy to where it needs to be. However, what is clear from this report is that we are now taking the right decisions, putting the correct processes in place and initiating the appropriate levels of support to drive the school forward.”

United Learning, a chain of academies, is in the process of taking over the running of the two schools from the Richard Rose Federation. This includes the appointments of new leaders and governors, a new governance structure, and in-school changes.

The lengthy legal transition – the transfer of sponsorship – was expected to be completed on January 1 but delays now look likely to push it back to April.

Have your say

Unfortunately Lou, it didn't cost just £2 million to build the Academies - various figures have been mentioned - starting at £30 million up to £80 million! And then there's the six figure salaries the leadership were being paid - and had to be paid even when they'd been removed from their job.
Public money completely wasted, the educational opportunities of hundreds of children, the frustration of their families, the careers of dozens of staff torpedoed and the mental health of numerous staff seriously impaired. What a travesty. It could all have been so different but the chief executive and principals of the two academies and the 6th form were willing to sacrifice all on the altar of 'we know best' when in fact they knew nothing - and have left not only the academies but in most cases, the county.
The other schools are now left to try to accommodate the pupils.

Posted by Anon teacher affected by this mess on 19 January 2014 at 20:05

Little too late for me. I took performing arts at my options which I loved only to be told at parents evening with my mam and dad that the course work had not been completed in year 10 because the performing arts teacher was on long term sickness and lessons were covered by various other teachers, therefore our class were unable to be put forward to sit our performing arts GCSE this year as it was a 2 year course.Performing arts is still on our time table for this year and my parents where told that these lessons would be used to revise for other subjects, but these subjects are being covered by various teachers.My mam and dad have serious reservations in sending my younger sister to this school in 3 years time unless major improvements take place!!!

Posted by Emily on 19 January 2014 at 14:02

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