I won’t try to turn Hove Park into an academy, says new head

Posted On 15 Sep 2015 at 7:39 pm

The new head of Hove Park School has no plans to turn the secondary into an academy.

Rob Reed takes up the top job at the school less than a year after a proposal to create a multi-academy trust was dropped after opposition from parents and local campaigners.

Mr Reed, 46, said: “The question has been dealt with. There has been a very robust debate.

“I have my own views which can be inferred from the fact that I’ve always worked in local authority maintained schools.

The Spearhead

“It’s no coincidence that I’ve chosen to work again in a local authority maintained school. It’s a model that works.

“There is a national context in that Mr Cameron (Prime Minister David Cameron) has said that he wants every school to become an academy. Schools in Brighton and Hove may have no choice.”

Rob Reed

Rob Reed

But unless the change was foisted on the school, he said that he would be happy working in a school that engaged with its local community and was accountable to its community.

“People have moved on,” he said. “I’ve been very impressed with the focus in this place on the job in hand.”

Mr Reed, who took over from Derek Trimmer, also said that he had been struck by the welcome from other heads since he was appointed.

He praised the collegiality in Brighton and Hove and, in the same spirit, said that he looked forward to continuing the relationship with West Blatchington Primary School.

“There are mutual benefits,” Mr Reed said. “We’ve got an enormous amount we can work on together. We’ve got an enormous amount we can learn

“I would very much like the relationship to continue. It’s a two-way relationship.”

He played down the traditional rivalry with Blatchington Mill, which shares a catchment area.

Mr Reed said that he and Ashley Harrold, who has just taken over as head from Janet Felkin, would meet and work together in the best interests of their students.

Ashley Harrold

Ashley Harrold

He said: “We’re trying to do the same thing which is to give young people the very finest education.

“Education is a moral imperative so children are equipped and have the choices they need and deserve. Heads have a moral duty.”

He is keen for Hove Park to play to some of its strengths – in languages and technology – but he said: “The message is very simple about what we’ll do. We’re going to get even better at teaching.

“Being a parent of teenage children gives me a good perspective. I want them to get the best grades possible but I also want them to have a moral grounding.”

Mr Reed has a 20-year-old daughter and a 16-year-old son. And, given that his wife is Polish, it’s little surprise that he values language learning.

He spoke about the school’s success in teaching Mandarin Chinese and the trip to China that some students went on in the summer.

And he said: “We’re one of the few Confucius schools. Giving our youngsters these modern languages is fabulous in this modern world.”

Bilingual Primary School children, staff and supporters at Hove Park site 20150327-1

Bilingual Primary School children, staff and supporters at the site on the edge of Hove Park earlier this year

But it wasn’t just the ability to speak and understand another language that was important in itself, he said. There were also immense cultural benefits.

Hove Park is host to a Polish school on Saturdays. And in the coming year, the Bilingual Primary School, which teaches in English and Spanish, is due to move into its new premises on the edge of Hove Park.

The iPad culture at Hove Park looks unlikely to change. Mr Reed may have started his career as a history teacher but he subsequently switched and became an IT specialist.

He said: “It’s just part and parcel of navigating your way around life. Employers expect it.

“I walk around the classes and I see the iPads being used seamlessly.

“I saw a lesson where Google Earth was being used. What better way to learn geography!”

He said that in socioeconomic terms Hove Park represented the spectrum across Brighton and Hove and he added: “Just as uniforms are a great leveller so is an iPad for every child.

“It’s fabulous. It’s key. It’s the 21st century for goodness’ sake.

Derek Trimmer

Derek Trimmer

“We’re giving our students a head start – and we’re giving them the head start that comes through speaking other languages.

“But in the end it is about making sure that every lesson is top notch.

“There’s some superb teaching and all of the teaching I’ve seen is good. I’d be happy with my children being in those classrooms.

“But to be great, all the lessons need to be like those superb ones.”

Mr Reed said that he wanted Hove Park to offer the wider education and the rich opportunities that languages, technology and great teaching provide.

“That’s what Eton offers its children,” he said, “and that’s what we’re going to give to our children. There’s no compromise with standards.”

He pointed out that 34 per cent already achieved the government’s eBacc measure – way above the national average – and said that he wanted that to improve.

He is proud of having raised standards and improved the reputation of his previous school, Chessington Community College.

“It was a failing school that we turned around. My colleagues, parents, students and governors worked very hard and turned it around.”

Nicky Morgan

Nicky Morgan

Ofsted and the Education Secretary Nicky Morgan described his leadership as inspirational.

Mr Reed takes some of his inspiration from the world of rugby union and admits to being an obsessive Leicester Tigers fan.

He travels back to his home city to see the Tigers play and it’s hard to believe that he won’t be making some time to watch the Rugby World Cup.

Two of the matches are being played at the Amex Community Stadium in Falmer – not far from his new home in Rottingdean.

He is more than sporting when it comes to his predecessor. Mr Reed praised Derek Trimmer and said: “Derek’s done a great job. The school is a different school from the one he took over.

“It’s a robust school. People are quite willing to say we don’t do this or that well enough.

“But they have transformed this place. They’re confident – and it’s a good school.”

His mission now is to try to help it become an outstanding one.

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