A new principal has been unveiled at Bexhill High Academy.
The £38 million academy was placed in Special Measures last April and in July of the same year parted company with principal Mike Conn who introduced controversial changes which included scrapping homework, introducing classes of up to 90 pupils and extending the school day until 5pm.
Prospects Academies Trust, the education trust which runs the school, gave control of the academy to interim principal Andy Mortimer and head of school Darren Gelder, who last month announced Mr Conn’s unpopular innovations would be scrapped and set about a costly U-turn and restructure of the troubled school.
Parents have shown support for the current direction the academy is taking and on Friday (January 14) the Trust formally announced the appointment of a new permanent principal.
A statement from the Bromley-based education trust read: “Prospects Academies Trust, today (Friday), announces the appointment of a new permanent principal to lead Bexhill High from the start of the new academic year in September.
“After a rigorous, independent process which took into account the views of students, governors and staff, Prospects Academies Trust has appointed Ms Heidi Brown, who has accepted the role, as principal of Bexhill High.
“Heidi Brown has extensive education leadership experience and has lived in East Sussex for the past 28 years.
After a number of senior leadership positions in schools across East Sussex, Heidi was appointed as headteacher at King’s Manor Community College in Shoreham-by-Sea and has led the school for the past 11 years.
“Under Heidi’s leadership, the school has undergone a transformation including converting to academy status in 2009 with United Learning as Sponsors to become Shoreham Academy. The academy moved into new buildings in April 2012 and was graded ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted in May 2012.”
However the news will come as a disappointment to a large number of parents of pupils at the school who were disappointed head of school Darren Gelder was not shortlisted for the top job.
Mum Gaynor Fuller set up an online petition in support of him, with over 220 signatures, and said there was strong support for Mr Gelder.
She said: “He has turned the school around so much and yet he has not been shortlisted. There is a lot of respect for the children. I have two children here at the moment and he has done well with them. He and Andy Mortimer have worked together and brought the school up tremendously. It has just become a community school which it wasn’t before.”
Leslie Stephen, the chief executive of Prospects Academies Trust, explained why the Trust had chosen Ms Brown.
He said: “We were fortunate to have a number of strong candidates apply for the position of principal.
“Heidi stood out as an experienced headteacher, with a strong track record of leading challenging schools to become excellent.
“I’m delighted that Heidi has accepted the position at Bexhill High. She brings a wealth of experience which students and colleagues alike will benefit
from. I look forward to working with Heidi to bring about rapid further improvement at BexhillHigh.”
The new principal Heidi Brown said: “I am passionate about school improvement and believe that all students deserve the very best education. I am very much looking forward to taking on the role of principal of Bexhill High and I am confident that by working in partnership with staff, students, parents and the community we will achieve the goal of becoming an outstanding and highly regarded local hub of education.”