Concerns mount after resignation of Stevenage Barclay Academy’s headteacher

PUBLISHED: 07:01 15 March 2019

Barclay Academy headteacher Mark Allchorn is leaving at Easter. Picture: DANNY LOO

Barclay Academy headteacher Mark Allchorn is leaving at Easter. Picture: DANNY LOO

©2019 Archant

Concerns surrounding the future of Stevenage’s Barclay Academy following a forced takeover are mounting in the wake of the headteacher’s resignation.

The secondary school was taken over by Future Academies Trust on February 1 after it was rated inadequate and put in special measures by Ofsted in 2016.

Mark Allchorn’s arrival in September 2016 had led to a significant improvement in the school, noted by Ofsted, but he announced his resignation as head in a letter to parents two weeks ago.

Charles Hawkins, a member of the Hands Off Barclay campaign group, said: “He was tirelessly dedicated to improving the school. Now we have uncertainty and instability and all the good work that was underway is being undermined.”

One parent said: “My son is really worried. He has ASD and the changes have already had an impact on him. He cried when he knew Mr Allchorn was leaving.”

In the same letter to parents, Future Academies confirmed a new principal – Dr Matthew Laban – had already been appointed to take over after the Easter break in April.

A former Barclay teacher said: “How curious his replacement should be announced simultaneously and happens to be a headteacher already employed in a Future Academies school. Was the post advertised to find the best candidate for the job? Where is the provision for equal opportunities?”

Dr Laban, who is deputy chairman of the Hertford and Stortford Conservative Association, has been headteacher of six London schools in just seven years – with all but one academies.

Councillor Sharon Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council, is calling for a public inquiry into the academisation process.

She said: “With no process to go through for the selection of the trust that takes that school on, it is entirely flawed.

“If we tried to let a contract like that we would have the auditors down on us like a tonne of bricks.

“It’s totally inconsistent with all the principles of transparency and democracy.

“The wishes of the staff, parents, students and community were ignored and decisions taken away from any local accountability.”

Martyn Henson, headteacher of Stevenage’s Nobel School, said of Mr Allchorn: “The town has lost a real champion; a man with great skill, integrity and charisma.”

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