The popular head teacher of a Brighton primary school announced his departure this afternoon (Wednesday 23 May).
Daniel Weiner is leaving his post at Whitehawk Primary School after the school received a poor inspection report and was placed in special measures.
It was graded inadequate – the lowest rating – after an inspection by Ofsted, the government’s independent watchdog, last September.
And a follow-up inspection in February found that while there were improvements, they were only satisfactory and not consistent throughout the school.
From September Mr Weiner will work as a consultant head teacher for Brighton and Hove City Council on a range of strategic projects in partnership with serving head teachers.
He said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at Whitehawk and would like to thank everyone connected with the school for the tremendous support they’ve given me.
“However, I’m excited at the prospect of making a positive difference city-wide on a number of key education issues and am looking forward to the challenge.”
The council is commissioning an experienced head from another local school to be Whitehawk Primary’s executive head teacher, starting in September. It hopes to make an announcement before the half-term holiday.
Executive head teachers are relatively new to Brighton and Hove but the council said that it was a system that was proving effective in other parts of the country.
The move will enable Whitehawk Primary to benefit from the executive head’s excellent track record in school improvement.
The current assistant head teachers, Jonathan Whitfield and Annie Noble, will run the school on a day-to-day basis.
The school will be arranging a meeting with parents after the half-term holiday at which they can meet the new executive head.
Councillor Sue Shanks, chairman of the council’s children and young people committee, said: “I would like to thank Daniel for his commitment and dedication to the young people and families of Whitehawk.
“He has worked tirelessly at the school and can take a lot of credit for a recent survey in which 99 per cent of parents expressed a positive view of the school.
“The expertise he will bring to his new role at the council will be a great asset for our schools team.”
Education Secretary Michael Gove has been keen for failing schools to be converted into academies as he believes that these improve pupils’ performance.
The change to academy status has often been accompanies by the departure of the existing school’s head teacher.
The Green administration, which runs the council, opposes the creation of academy schools. But it is unlikely to be given a choice so has been working behind the scenes to secure a suitable sponsor.
City College Brighton and Hove looks likely to be approved.
The further education college already has a presence in Whitehawk with its City College East campus in Wilson Avenue. The campus is on the site of the old Stanley Deason secondary school which was renamed – twice – before being closed.
One teacher said after the recent Ofsted follow-up report on Whitehawk Primary School: “It’s easy to point the finger at poorly performing schools but they are often in the poorest parts of town.
“Of course they should aim to perform as well as schools in more affluent areas and of course they should try to raise children’s aspirations.
“But they’re faced with a different home culture to those middle-class families which value education.
“Given the intake and the social and cultural constraints, it’s hardly surprising when a school like Whitehawk struggles.
“It’s something of a minor miracle that they do as well as they do – in terms of attracting well-motivated staff, nurturing good behaviour and enabling a reasonable level of attainment.”
If Whitehawk becomes an academy, it will be the first primary school in Brighton and Hove to have done so.
Two secondary schools – Falmer High School and Portslade Community College – have already become academies.
They are sponsored by the Aldridge Foundation which was set up by businessman Sir Rod Aldridge, who went to school in Portslade.