Leadership Developments at The Halley Academy

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You’ll recall that I wrote to you in early-September about support being provided by Leigh Academies Trust (LAT) for King Henry School (KHS) in Bexley at the request of the Department for Education (DfE), Bexley Borough Council and The Odyssey Trust for Education. At that time, I promised to keep you updated as the situation unfolded.

Over the course of module 1, The Halley Academy (THA) has continued its journey from strength to strength. It is now officially the most improved secondary school in Greenwich and one of only two in the Borough to be awarded outstanding grades by Ofsted under its new more demanding inspection framework. Building on all of its success so far, it has been the most positive start to any academic year that the academy has enjoyed since joining LAT. As you know, Mr Dixon has continued as Principal as well as spearheading support for KHS as that academy begins its rapid improvement journey just as THA did following membership of LAT from 2018 onwards. Whilst there is a very great deal to do at KHS, considerable progress has been made and the academy is getting better all the time, which is exactly what its pupils deserve.

Mr Dixon will continue in the same capacity leading both schools during module 2, ably supported by his leadership teams in both locations. I would like to pay particular tribute to the leadership team and wider staff body at THA who have together ensured the academy has moved forward from the successes it enjoyed last academic year. This has meant that THA has experienced the highest number of applications for year 7 places for many years to begin next September. This much increased popularity is welcome news indeed as it will allow us to continue investing in the future of the academy and its pupils.

However, whilst Mr Dixon has done a remarkable job to manage a very considerable workload leading two large academies since September, this position is not sustainable as we enter 2023. That is why from January Mr Ben Russell (currently Head of Franklin School at THA) has been appointed Interim Principal at THA. This will enable Mr Dixon to devote his energies full-time to KHS from the same point. Mr Russell’s current position will be filled from January by Mr Jonathan Kamya, a very experienced senior leader, who joins us from Hendon School in North West London. All other positions on the senior team remain unchanged.

Commenting on his appointment, Mr Russell said:

“I am delighted to have been appointed Interim Principal at The Halley Academy and am committed to leading a learning community of excellence for all. The Academy is at an exciting moment in its history. Over the last four years, under the leadership of Mr Dixon, the Academy has experienced transformative improvement. I am looking forward to building upon our community’s success to date in the next stage of our development to provide an outstanding education for all young people in our care. I am excited to lead an aspirational, disciplined and inclusive academy whose values embody my own: where human-scale education, a dynamic curriculum, and excellent teaching and pastoral care, maximises the achievement of all students.

As Interim Principal I will be driven by the same values that have defined my own work and that of all staff at the academy over the last few years. We believe that education can transform students’ lives. We are ambitious for the students and families of the school. Our work will continue to put the learning and experiences of students first. I am looking forward to working with all members of our learning community – students, parents, carers and staff – in our shared commitment to excellence.”

The process for KHS to become a full member of LAT is continuing as expected. We anticipate a final decision about this to be made by the end of November. From that stage, LAT will begin further negotiations with the DfE about the manner of this transfer to enable the best starting position for staff and pupils at KHS. Until such time that the transfer process for KHS is completed, which we anticipate will be early-2023, Mr Dixon will remain the substantive Principal of THA. Should the transfer not take place as planned, Mr Dixon will return full-time to THA and Mr Russell’s interim post will come to an end. If, as we expect, the transfer is completed in due course, it is likely that Mr Dixon will become the substantive Principal at KHS and vacate his position at THA altogether. At such a point, we will determine how and by whom the substantive Principal position at THA will be filled.

I hope very much that the detail contained in this letter leaves you fully informed about the situation in respect of KHS and the impact this is having on the leadership of THA. We are planning very carefully indeed to minimise any disruption and will simply not allow any of these wider developments to impact negatively in any way upon THA. The hardwon gains at THA are too considerable and too precious for us to do otherwise. Meanwhile, we remain hugely grateful for all of your support and as we return to the academy for module 2 – as I said to you in my last letter – everything remains very much “business as usual”.

Yours faithfully,

Simon Beamish | Chief Executive