Wigan’s education community has been rocked by the news that a popular headteacher has suddenly stepped down.
Debra Wood has left the top job at Rose Bridge Academy, the schools trust running the Ince establishment has announced.
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Ofsted inspectors were in the school last week and it’s believed their feedback was critical though no-one at the school would comment on this.
Ms Wood arrived at the Holt Street school in 2010 and steered Rose Bridge through the process of leaving local authority control in 2015, also helping it win a national award for its commitment to helping disadvantaged children. Suzanne Pountain, who previously worked at an academy in Bolton, is now in charge on an interim basis.
In its statement confirming the changes the Community First Academy Trust made no reference to Ms Wood’s departure but merely looked ahead to the future.
The Trust’s chair Jack Pugh said: “I am delighted to confirm Miss Pountain’s appointment to the academy. It represents a bright new start for the academy and its 682 students. The appointment will make a huge impact on the future of the academy and its academic performance.
“The trust will continue to work closely with the academy, as we do with all our schools, over the coming months.”
However, in an open letter to parents and carers sent to announce she had left the school last Friday Mr Pugh did speak about Ms Wood’s time in charge at Rose Bridge.
He said: “Community First Academy Trust wishes to thank Debra for her long and loyal service to Rose Bridge and wishes her well in her future career.”
The letter to pupils’ families also spoke of the Trust’s “relentless drive for rapid improvements in our academy’s performance” and said its “absolute priority still remains to improve the standards of education”.
Miss Pountain, who is working full time at Rose Bridge, was welcomed to the school as a leader with a track record of turning underperforming establishments around and working in institutions with challenging circumstances.
She said: “Rose Bridge is a marvellous academy with truly wonderful students. I truly believe in improving the quality of teaching and learning and supporting teachers to improve their pedagogical delivery is the most important aspect of school improvement.
“I am currently working with Rose Bridge Academy and its staff and students to enable all students, irrespective of age, ability or background, to achieve their full potential academically and socially.
“I am very excited to be working with the academy alongside whole-hearted support of the academy trust.’’
Ofsted was impressed with her work at Kearsley Academy in 2015, describing rapid improvements and a focus on high expectations and good pupil behaviour.
She took the school to a Good rating after years of problems.