THE principal and chair of governors at a £33million academy have both resigned after the school was engulfed by crisis following its most recent Ofsted visit.
The Star revealed last week that there were mounting concerns about standards at the secondary school, which was formed by the merger of Newton High and St Aelreds.
Sources have told the Star that after its most recent visit by Ofsted, Hope chiefs were told the academy would be placed in special measures.
An emergency meeting of governors took place last week and it is understood the chair, Bart McGettrick, has since stepped down.
As the Star went to press on Wednesday, it was confirmed John Gannon, the school’s principal, had resigned. A statement by Hope’s governing body and sponsors cited “personal health reasons”.
The plight of Hope will again throw the spotlight on academies, which are run outside the control of local education authorities.
An inspection by Ofsted last April ruled the academy “required improvement” and subsequent monitoring visit have found progress to be too slow. It is understood the watchdog had serious concerns following its most recent visit last month, though a report will not be made public until April.
A statement was issued by the governing body and sponsors of Hope Academy, Liverpool Hope University and the Catholic and Church of England Archdioceses of Liverpool.
It read: “We will be advertising shortly for a new principal to start in September and are finalising arrangements to support the leadership of the Academy in the interim period. We expect to be able to announce these arrangements very shortly.
“We wish to assure parents and the local community that we are working closely with our local authority partners to address issues that have been raised and improve standards.”
The situation has caused deep concern at St Helens Council, where driving up standards of secondary education across the borough is a priority. As concerns grew this week council leader Barrie Grunewald spoke out.
He said: “Last year I announced my commitment to drive up school standards. We formed an Education Task Group ‘Every Child Matters’ to ensure that attainment levels across the borough would improve and that action would be taken where improvement is weak. I warned that schools that have coasted in the past would no longer have that option. I pledged that we would intervene in under-performing schools and other providers, including the use of formal powers available to the local authority. I am deeply concerned that the standards expected of the Hope Academy – which is independent of full council control - are not being achieved.
“There can be no tolerance of failure therefore along with the other organisations involved with the school – including Hope University and the Archdiocese - we will be taking swift and appropriate action to get the academy back on track as quickly as possible.”
The Reverend Joan Matthew has been installed as interim chair of governors.