Principal vows to up expectation levels as he takes over at the Harris Garrard Academy

PUBLISHED: 15:34 07 September 2017 | UPDATED: 08:57 08 September 2017

Chris Everitt, Harris Garrard Academy's new executive principal

Chris Everitt, Harris Garrard Academy's new executive principal

The first students at the refurbished school head back today (Thursday)

The new head at a struggling Thamesmead school says he intends to turn the schools fortunes around after his academy trust officially took over this week.

Under its new name of Harris Garrard Academy, which changed its name from the Business Academy Bexley in January, the school in Yarnton Way will have Chris Everitt at its helm as executive principal.

The school for children aged 4 to 18, which is now part of the Harris Federation, is currently under special measures after Ofsted inspectors branded it inadequate in May last year.

Inspectors wrote of the school: “Teachers do not have high enough expectations of what pupils can achieve,” describing aspects of its management at the time as “weak”.

No stranger to a challenge, Mr Everitt turned Westwood Girls College from the same state in 2013 into an Ofsted-rated ‘outstanding’ school, when inspectors visited it under the new name Harris Academy Upper Norwood in 2015.

Mr Everitt seemed unphased by the school’s background as he prepares to bring its performance up to scratch, but his week will be split in two, as he is already principal at another of the federation’s schools, Harris Boys’ Academy East Dulwich.

It is not unusual for an academy trust overseeing a number of schools to draft in a host of experts from its other schools to improve standards.

He said: “It’s not going to affect either school, I’ll be dividing my week to share equal time at each.

“With the school under the Harris Federation we can share resources and experience, the school in East Dulwich is already working with Garrard to share advice on improving.

“We’ll also bring in new safeguarding policies and assssments which will help us track our attainment, it’s all about raising expectations, then everything else will come into place.”

In 2013, just months after Mr Everitt was sent in to improve the the school, teachers at Westwood Girls College walked out, over claims of “excessive pressure” concerning how often their lessons were observed.

Mr Everitt said: “I don’t regret how we monitor our teachers. In any industry, staff are monitored and checked to make sure they are meeting the standards expected of them, teaching should not be any different.

“Learning changes lives and I want to give the best education to all students, it doesn’t matter about background, I’ll be monitoring lessons and walking around the school from the start of the new academic year.”

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