School to begin search for a new headteacher

King's Priory School at Tynemouth. REF 0909137382
King's Priory School at Tynemouth. REF 0909137382

An academy is seeking its third headteacher in two years after being hit by another departure.

Bosses at Kings Priory School, in Tynemouth, are looking for a new principal after Gill Hewlett announced she was stepping down later this year.

The school – sponsored by Woodard Academies Trust – opened in September 2013 amidst a cloud of controversy as it was the first merger between a fee-paying independent school and a state run primary school.

At the time, the majority of parents at King’s School and nearby Priory Primary School welcomed the move, although officials at North Tyneside Council tried to block the merger, claiming it would have a major impact on placements at nearby schools.

The academy – which caters for pupils aged four to 18 – was rocked last January when principal David Daws left in a ‘mutual agreement’ on the first day of the new spring term after just four months in the job over a ‘difference of personal opinion’.

Mrs Hewlett had been Head of Senior School at the academy before her promotion last February. She is expected to still be in her position at the start of the new school year in September.

The news comes after the school received a glowing report from inspectors.

Inspectors at Ofsted rated the school as ‘good’ following their first review, and said it was well on its way to being ‘outstanding’ with a number of top features.

Ofsted reported that “pupils’ behaviour on both sites is exemplary. They show high levels of respect for each other and adults.”

The report also outlines many strengths across key areas of teaching and learning; leadership and management; behaviour; the Early Years and Sixth Form provision.

Speaking of the report, Mrs Hewlett said: “We are absolutely delighted with our first Ofsted report.

“Thanks to the support of all of our staff, pupils, parents, as well as the local community, we have made incredible progress in a very short period of time.

“As the first school in the country to merge an independent school with a state primary school, we have deliberately taken the best of each predecessor school, underpinned by the vision of our sponsor, Woodard Academies Trust, and created a happy and successful school where pupils thrive both academically and socially.

“The governors and my staff team are very committed and already working hard on the areas that we need to develop further, in order to be rated as ‘outstanding’.”

Chairman of the Woodard Academies Trust, Jan Richardson, said: “Kings Priory School deserves to celebrate this splendid achievement.

“It has come about through the faith, unity and vision of a dedicated community of staff, councillors and parents.”

Geoff Ogle, chair of the governing body, added: “I’d like to thank my fellow governors for all their hard work, but in particular I thank all the staff for their extremely hard work over the last two years in helping realise the vision that brought the two schools together.

“We are very lucky to have such a committed group of teachers and staff.”