Hewett academy conversion “absolutely the right decision” despite fall in results

Sir Steve Lancashire, chief executive of Reach2.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Sir Steve Lancashire, chief executive of Reach2.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

One of the people who approved plans for the Hewett School to become an academy has defended the decision, after its GCSE results dropped in the year since it converted.

Sir Steve Lancashire, the chief executive of the Reach2 academy trust, sits on the Headteacher Board for the East of England and North-East London, which advises regional school commissioner Tim Coulson, who oversees and makes key decisions about academies.

The board's most controversial act since it came into existence in 2014 was last summer's decision that the Hewett School in Norwich should become an academy, sponsored by the Inspiration Trust.

A year after the Inspiration Trust took over, the proportion of pupils getting an A*-C in English and maths fell by six percentage points, and its score on the government's new Progress 8 measure was among the very worst in Norfolk.

Does Sir Steve stand by the decision?

'I do, yes', he said. 'Being part of a trust that has so many schools that are under-performing, that have some significant challenges, we use the analogy of turning a tanker in the sea, and it takes time.

'I'm always of the view that if a school is very difficult it takes at least two years to make a significant difference, and by the third year you should really see that the school is on solid foundations.

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'I absolutely think it is the right decision, and I think in a year's time we will be seeing the impact of everything the Inspiration Trust is doing.'