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Mystery surrounds departure of Hackney University Technical College head

PUBLISHED: 14:42 03 June 2014

Hackney UTC

Hackney UTC

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Mystery surrounds the departure of a new technical college's headteacher following an Ofsted report which said the facility needed to improve in every possible area.

The University Technical College (UTC) in Kingsland Road, Shoreditch, did not deny that founding principal Annie Blackmore had been suspended or signed a gagging order.

The vocational school was the first UTC to open in London in 2012, and offers over-14s from across north east and south east London the chance to specialise in health or digital technologies alongside a GCSE curriculum.

But at its first inspection in January, Ofsted school inspectors said pupils’ achievement, behaviour and safety, as well as the quality of teaching, leadership and management all “required improvement”, awarding it the third lowest rating out of four.

Within a month Ms Blackmore had gone.

Chairman of governors Anthony Painter issued a statement about her departure, thanking her for the “tremendous work” she had done in getting the school off the ground, and for “laying solid foundations to build on for our future success”.

“In years to come, her work will be seen as critical in creating a new type of school in Hackney and London,” he said, adding that she had “decided to leave the UTC in order to pursue other professional interests”.

However Ms Blackmore describes herself as a “long-time school leader taking some time out to think about future directions” on her Twitter page.

She agreed on the social networking site that one of the most distressing outcomes of an “inadequate” Ofsted judgement is that it can disrupt an existing improvement plan, and said this applied to the “requires improvement” (RI) judgement too.

“RI is not a category of concern but is increasingly treated as such,” she added.

The category “requires improvement” was previously referred to as “satisfactory”.

Ofsted inspectors declared the school was not “good” because teaching did not enable all students to make good progress, work set by some teachers did not always engage students’ interest or provide enough challenge, and that achievement in some subjects, such as mathematics and history, was not as high as it should be.

They added that a minority of students did not show positive attitudes in lessons and misbehaved, and some teachers dealt with their poor behaviour in an inconsistent way, adding that principal Ms Blackmore and senior leaders had not tackled weaknesses in teaching quickly enough across subjects.

Decisive

It continued: “The principal models high expectations for the school community. She has taken some decisive action to eliminate weak teaching, but there is still more work to do in this respect.”

But they recognised recent action to improve behaviour and increase attendance had been successful, and acknowledged the school intake comprised a high number of pupils previously excluded from other schools.

Ms Blackmore denied she was suspended. The school declined to comment further.

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