Headteacher leaves role after two years at helm

Lynette Norris
Lynette Norris

The headteacher of a school at the centre of a controversial takeover last year has stepped down from her role.

Lynette Norris took over at Highfield Leadership Academy – then known as Highfield Humanities College –in September 2015, shortly before it was announced the Tauheedul Education Trust (TET) would be taking over following years of under-performing.

Ms Norris, who is taking another role at the trust, said: “It has been an honour and a privilege to lead Highfield over the last two years and throughout the conversion with Tauheedul Trust – it has most certainly been an interesting one as well.

“The process of change for any organisation is never easy. Furthermore, the scrutiny in which all schools and academies are place under has put Highfield very much in the news more than once or twice.

“Throughout all of this, our staff and pupils have remained resolute, resilient, and proud. Their energy, enthusiasm, and sense of humour when everything looks bleak will stay with me for a very long time.”

The TET takeover followed months of talks over how to improve the school’s performance, with Ms Norris tasked with driving improvement and raising aspirations.

But the school remained in special measures after Ofsted inspectors became so concerned about pupils’ behaviour they ordered senior teachers to write an action plan before their visit was over. Their tour of the school came after teachers called in police when up to 200 pupils were described as out of control, after a spat between two schoolboys led to a crowd of students chasing each other.

And last February, ‘significant water damage’ was inflicted on the school after an arson attack set off the sprinkler system.

Firefighters were called after a toilet roll dispenser in a second floor boy’s toilet was set alight. The blaze saw pupils sent home and the school closed for the day.

In a newsletter, Ms Norris said she welcomed former Salford City Academy head Helen Mackenzie to the school, where she will take on the role of executive principal.

Current vice-principal Chris Wardle will become associate principal, while Angela Robinson has been brought in to be the new vice principal.

Ms Norris added: “It has been a very demanding role as principal – one that I have enjoyed immensely – but now the headship team is being fully supported from September, Highfield will go from strength to strength.

“And for that I couldn’t be happier for all concerned.”

In a letter sent home to parents, the school said: “Helen will build on Lynette’s achievements to ensure Highfield goes forward to provide the best possible education for our children.”