She told parents “I believe in never giving up” but after a just a year, Lauren Phillips has quit as principal of the troubled Littleport and East Cambs Academy (LECA).
On the day a new term started, the Active Learning Trust – who themselves are giving up running the school later this year – announced Ms Phillips has left “with immediate effect”.
Lynsey Holzer, chief executive of the trust, said her departure followed “recent discussions” and Ms Phillips revealed the decision to quit “has not been an easy decision to make”.
Ms Holzer, a former Ofsted inspector, was herself only appointed CEO of the trust last October.
She also revealed that the Active Learning Trust would transfer to the Eastern Learning Alliance at the end of the academic year.
The new trust looks after 10 schools including Impington College, Chesterton Community College and Witchford Village College.
Lauren Phillips had been full of hope and promise when she moved from being vice principal at Milton Keynes Academy to take the lead at LECA.
“There have been some recent challenges and instability the school has had to deal with, particularly through the pandemic,” she said at the time.
“I, with the support of a new and energised leadership team, are dedicated to embedding a new direction.”
She took over months before publication of an Ofsted report that pulled no punches, describing LECA as ‘inadequate’ in three of the four main categories.
And in the fourth it simply stated, ‘requires improvement’.
Active Learning Trust who has run the five-year-old academy since it opened promised a “robust improvement plan” to turn it round.
More than 80 parents gave their views to Ofsted, with only a third able to say they would recommend the school to others.
Although Ms Philips was not allowed to release her own statement of why she has gone so suddenly, the Active Learning Trust released an agreed statement by her outlining her reasons.
“As the academy’s future becomes more certain, now feels the right time for me to step aside to allow for a new leader,” she said.
A new leader, she said, “who fully understands the visions and opportunities the Eastern Learning Alliance will provide.
“I am sure that you will appreciate that this has not been an easy decision to make but one which I hope will ensure the smoothest transition possible for all.”
Such is the crisis at LECA, that Ms Holzer revealed that senior staff from the Eastern Alliance Academy “will be present every day from the start of this term”.
A new head is to be announced “in due course”.
LECA parents have reacted to the news by setting up to Facebook group to share common experiences of what they see as a failure by the academy to tackle key issues.
Catherine Adams has helped set up the group and told me today: “I feel so let down by the school.
“I have a 14-year-old son who has been catastrophically let down and my only interest is to get him through his education and to help him have the best start in life.
“Sadly, the ethos of the school is just awful right now, and children’s mental health and morale is at an all-time low.”
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