Leeds academy boss sets '˜outstanding' target for all its schools
Andrew Whitaker has started as the new executive principal of White Rose Academies Trust.
He told The Yorkshire Post his aim was for all three of its schools: Leeds West, Leeds East and Leeds City to be rated as outstanding by Ofsted.
To help it to achieve this, White Rose Academies has announced that it is working in partnership with another growing academy chain in the city, Gorse Academies Trust whose executive principal, Sir John Townsley, is the professional mentor of Mr Whitaker.
Gorse runs eight schools, across Leeds including Morley and Farnley Academies, which are both rated as outstanding.
It has also set up two new free schools in the city Elliott Hudson College, a sixth form and The Ruth Gorse Academy, which has just moved into new premises in the south of the city centre.
Under the partnership, maths, English and science teachers from White Rose Academies will work with staff at Gorse and middle leaders will also go on placements at Gorse.
Mr Whitaker said there were no plans to merge the academy chains. He said the partnership was aimed at helping White Rose Academies Trust to learn from Gorse on schools improvement.
However, he said there would be an equal focus on academic and the vocational education at White Rose schools.
He said there should be a recognition that a career in a trade would be as much value as a student going to university, depending on the needs of each pupil.
White Rose Academies was formed and took on its schools after national sponsor E-Act withdrew from both Leeds West and Leeds East in early 2014. E-Act gave up ten of its schools nationally amid concerns over its overall capacity to improve them.
At the time Leeds West was a good school but Leeds East was rated as inadequate.
Under the leadership of the previous executive principal Annette Hall and White Rose Academies, the school has since moved up an Ofsted category and is now rated as requiring improvement. Inspectors have praised the rapid improvement in recent years.
Leeds West is currently rated as a good school while Leeds City is also rated as requiring improvement but has seen GCSE results improve in recent years.
Mr Whitaker joined White Rose Academies from Todmorden High School which went from requiring improvement in 2013 to good in 2015.
“I am a Leeds lad. I was born here and the opportunity to transform lives in some of the most challenging areas of the city is something which attracted me to this role.”
He said he was impressed with the way the White Rose Academies had improved life chances for pupils.
But now he has set the target of the three academies becoming as outstanding.
He said: “By using this language its changing the expectation on our schools.”
Chris Stokes, senior vice principal of Leeds East Academy, said: “The arrival of the new executive principal has released an infectious wave of enthusiasm across our academies.
“We are confident that with the experience and drive that Mr Whitaker has brought, we will reach our goal of being an outstanding Trust of schools.”