Head steps down as Gateacre moves to join academy trust

The headteacher of a Liverpool secondary school has stepped down as it prepares to join an academy trust.

In May last year, it was recommended that Gateacre School leave local authority management and become part of the Northern Schools Trust. It is expected this will be completed by the summer term this year.

Ahead of the move, the trust and school have confirmed Gareth Jones has relinquished his role as headteacher with immediate effect.

In a letter to parents, Phil Lloyd, executive principle at the trust, said Mr Jones’s decision to step aside would enable Northern Schools to continue the conversion process of bringing Gateacre in line with its existing portfolio. Currently, Northern Schools Trust operates North Liverpool Academy, Liverpool Life Sciences UTC, and The Studio School.

Mr Jones joined Gateacre in 2019, taking over from the previous head, Jason Roberts. His departure comes on the back of an Ofsted inspection in December that deemed it to require improvement.

Writing to families, Mr Lloyd said, “In my role as Executive Principal for Northern Schools Trust I’ve been recently working at the school alongside the Headteacher to support academisation and school improvement. I will oversee the transition process and day to day leadership of the school over the coming weeks prior to the appointment of a new Headteacher.

“I will be working with the governing body, staff team, pupil and parents at Gateacre to ensure that the young people in our care receive the very best educational opportunities and pastoral support. Northern Schools Trust has developed some of the most successful schools in Liverpool.

“We look forward to Gateacre being a part of the trust and ensuring the highest standards in everything we do including student attainment and progress, destinations, attendance and punctuality.”

The Ofsted findings, published in January, said pupils were not achieving “as well as they should” owing to “weaknesses in the design and delivery of the curriculum in some subjects.” The report added, “In addition, the sixth form programme of study is not broad or ambitious enough. Students do not develop a deep and secure body of knowledge securely over time.

“This limits their success in their next stage of education, employment or training.”

Last year it was revealed Gateacre School was hit hardest by a massive error by Liverpool Council over its energy contract. Schools across the city were left with an additional bill of £2.3m when leaders were not informed that the electricity provider it was dealing with had withdrawn from the commercial market in 2022, leading to the council – and other city institutions including schools and the fire service – being placed on a far more expensive contract.

As a result, Gateacre was left with a bill of more than £250,000.


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