Banbury Academy principal in shock resignation

Emily Gent who announced her resignation from Banbury Academy today
Emily Gent who announced her resignation from Banbury Academy today

Banbury Academy principal Emily Gent has surprised parents and heads of the Aspirations Academy Trust by resigning.

In a letter to parents, Ms Gent, who joined the school in 2013, said she was ‘very pleased’ to have begun the process of transforming the school into an ‘outstanding place of education’ for young people.

However some parents have been unhappy with GCSE A-C results which declined in in 2014 and 2015 after a high of 64 per cent in 2013, under the leadership of outgoing executive principal, Dr Fiona Hammans.

They have also complained of the academy’s admissions policy - criticised by Oxfordshire County Council and the Department for Education - which is accused of being selective and biased against pupils who do not have English as a second language.

They have expressed alarm at the high number of teachers leaving and complained that exclusion was being used as a means of ridding the academy of low-performing pupils.

In her letter Ms Gent said: “I leave this academy in a stronger position than when I was appointed.

“We are expecting a full Ofsted inspection in the summer term and all indications point to a reasonable expectation of a Grade 2 and good Ofsted report.

“I assure you we will ensure a calm, consistent and thoughtful transition between principals and I wish our students, parents and community well for the term to come.

“In the two and a half years I have been principal our academy has made strides forward in a range of areas including pastoral care, teaching and learning and our behaviour systems.

“Teaching and learning has improved through the quality of assessment and feedback and a marking policy.

“Behaviour has significantly improved. The results... can be seen in our fixed term and permanent exclusions which are both down on previous years.”

Steve Kenning, chief executive of Aspirations Academy Trust, said: “Emily has been there for coming up to three years and I think she came with a three or four year plan.

“We have two outstanding primary schools, the Space Studio and the school giving education from two years - 18-19. It is a nice post as we intend to have a principal to oversee the school and the space studio. We run it like a district with four schools.

“We only heard of Emily’s resignation just before half term and we want to recruit as soon as possible. It is hard to recruit heads at the moment so we may have to go out twice. It may attract an existing head in the trust.”

Ms Gent said: “I worked in schools and educational research before working at Banbury Academy and am keen to pursue further research into improving the educational opportunities of young people.”