‘Super head’ plan to improve school

Colin Simkins has been brought in to take on the headship of Blackpool Aspire Academy when Bispham and Collegiate high schools merge
Colin Simkins has been brought in to take on the headship of Blackpool Aspire Academy when Bispham and Collegiate high schools merge
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An “expert” headteacher has been drafted in to turn around the fortunes of an ailing Blackpool secondary school.

Bispham High School has been slammed by Ofsted inspectors in the last year, placing it in special measures after witnessing pupils’ “unacceptable” behaviour and “too much mediocre” teaching.

While the school has been continually monitored by inspectors it has also been at the centre of a controversial merger plan with Collegiate High School, which has led to upheaval and staff leaving.

Now Colin Simkins has been appointed to be principal of Blackpool Aspire Academy, the new name to be adopted school once Bispham and Collegiate schools come together in a new £10m school development next year.

It comes just a day after The Gazette reported how Ofsted criticised Bispham High, saying pupil behaviour had deteriorated in recent weeks.

Mr Simkins (right) is described as an “expert” leader with a proven track record and even has royal approval after being awarded an OBE for his services to education.

As headteacher of Hodgson Academy, on Moorland Road, Poulton, Mr Simkins saw the school achieve an outstanding Ofsted rating, in 2005, and was later awarded the OBE in 2007.

A spokesman for the governors of Bispham and Collegiate high schools said: “Mr Simkins is an extremely experienced school leader who has a track record of success.

“He has very high standards and will work tirelessly to drive forward school improvement.

“We are all delighted with his appointment and feel very optimistic about the future of Blackpool Aspire Academy under his expert leadership.”

And the appointment has been praised by parents.

Denise Higgs, whose daughters Shannon, 14, and Leanne, 11, are at the schools, said: “He has got a brilliant track record behind him. He seems a really good teacher.

“I personally think if they can keep things going until then, once they get him in things will improve. Things aren’t good enough at the moment but hopefully things will start improving soon. I think they will get there.”

And parent Helen McDonald said: “We’re going to see if it settles down with the new head in September.”

But others have said they are not willing to wait for change when they feel their children’s education is at stake.

Bispham mother Lisa Fenton said: “I am in the process of getting my daughter out of Bispham as I don’t feel the school will be able to improve quick enough with her starting her GCSEs next year.

“Hopefully once the merger is fully complete, they can turn it back around, but I can’t chance it at the moment.”