New St Gregory's head had taken charge of failing school before

Warrington Guardian: St Gregory's High School St Gregory's High School

QUESTIONS have been raised over the decision by governors at St Gregory’s High School to hire an executive head teacher who had previously worked at a failing school in Sheffield.

Parents were shocked to discover in February that the school on Cromwell Avenue in Westbrook had been rated by Ofsted inspectors as ‘inadequate’ following an inspection in December.

But the Warrington Guardian can reveal that this is not the first time David Lewis has been told by Ofsted to rapidly improve at a school he is in charge of.

Mr Lewis, who was appointed executive head teacher of both St Gregory’s High School and Cardinal Newman High School in April, was identified as the principal of Sheffield Springs Academy by Ofsted.

The report, which was published following an inspection in May 2009, criticised the school for ‘inadequate’ teaching and lines of accountability were described as ‘insufficiently robust’ with the school consequently handed a notice to improve.

The report read: “Over the last year, there has been a loss of impetus stemming from a lack of strategic leadership and the failure to focus on tackling key weaknesses.”

Mr Lewis, who was executive director of United Learning - the trust in charge of Sheffield Springs Academy - from May 2006 to June 2009, was slammed in the report for failing to ensure ‘the senior leadership team works with a unified sense of purpose’.

Despite experiencing two damning Ofsted reports while in charge of two different schools, Mr Lewis has received positive feedback from Estyn, the education and training inspectorate for Wales, following an inspection of Blessed Edward Jones High School in Rhyl during his headship.

The school was rated as good - the second highest rating available to inspectors - following an inspection in October 2012.

Mr Lewis, who worked at the school from July 2011 to March 2013, was praised for bringing ‘significant improvements to many aspects of the school, in a relatively short period of time’.

He was also applauded for transforming a once failing school into an outstanding one during his headship at St Wilfrid's Catholic High School and Sixth Form College in Wakefield from September 1998 to April 2006.

Chairman of governors, Margaret Heelam, said: “We were fully aware of Mr Lewis’ full employment history and the governors were absolutely satisfied by the glowing references received from Mr Lewis’ previous school.”

Mr Lewis added: “Following a rigorous and thorough appointment process I was honoured to accept the post of executive head teacher and was delighted to be supported by the governors, who were clearly satisfied by my track record.”

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8:43am Thu 6 Mar 14

GRUMPY PARENT says...

Chairman of governors, Margaret Heelam, said: “We were fully aware of Mr Lewis’ full employment history and the governors were absolutely satisfied by the glowing references received from Mr Lewis’ previous school.”

Are you of the same opinion now and what would your reference say?
Still Grumpy
Chairman of governors, Margaret Heelam, said: “We were fully aware of Mr Lewis’ full employment history and the governors were absolutely satisfied by the glowing references received from Mr Lewis’ previous school.” Are you of the same opinion now and what would your reference say? Still Grumpy GRUMPY PARENT
  • Score: -14

9:56pm Thu 6 Mar 14

grey-area says...

It is a crime to give false references. Anyway, he thought his self references were fair.
It is a crime to give false references. Anyway, he thought his self references were fair. grey-area
  • Score: -8

3:48pm Fri 7 Mar 14

Kellystad says...

It's irrelevant as to whether Mr. Lewis has been in charge of another school that was in special measures. It just proves that he has experience in dealing with a school that has significant failings. Mr. Lewis actually called OFSTED into St. Greg's when he found out the serious inadequacies prevalent at the school. These were backed up by the damming report. Without OFSTED placing the school in special measures any headteachers hands are tied in improving the teaching standards at the school quickly.

The more important question is whether he actually improved his previous school and got them out of special measures. If so I have every confidence in his leadership team improving St. Greg's. If not then the question is legitimate as to why he was emplyed.
It's irrelevant as to whether Mr. Lewis has been in charge of another school that was in special measures. It just proves that he has experience in dealing with a school that has significant failings. Mr. Lewis actually called OFSTED into St. Greg's when he found out the serious inadequacies prevalent at the school. These were backed up by the damming report. Without OFSTED placing the school in special measures any headteachers hands are tied in improving the teaching standards at the school quickly. The more important question is whether he actually improved his previous school and got them out of special measures. If so I have every confidence in his leadership team improving St. Greg's. If not then the question is legitimate as to why he was emplyed. Kellystad
  • Score: 6

4:12pm Fri 7 Mar 14

GRUMPY PARENT says...

Kellystad wrote:
It's irrelevant as to whether Mr. Lewis has been in charge of another school that was in special measures. It just proves that he has experience in dealing with a school that has significant failings. Mr. Lewis actually called OFSTED into St. Greg's when he found out the serious inadequacies prevalent at the school. These were backed up by the damming report. Without OFSTED placing the school in special measures any headteachers hands are tied in improving the teaching standards at the school quickly.

The more important question is whether he actually improved his previous school and got them out of special measures. If so I have every confidence in his leadership team improving St. Greg's. If not then the question is legitimate as to why he was emplyed.
The report read: “Over the last year, there has been a loss of impetus stemming from a lack of strategic leadership and the failure to focus on tackling key weaknesses.”

Mr Lewis, who was executive director of United Learning - the trust in charge of Sheffield Springs Academy - from May 2006 to June 2009, was slammed in the report for failing to ensure ‘the senior leadership team works with a unified sense of purpose’.

Note the dates 2006 -2009 the inspection was carried out in 2009 read the story.
Still Grumpy (thumbs down all you want the truth is in black and white)
[quote][p][bold]Kellystad[/bold] wrote: It's irrelevant as to whether Mr. Lewis has been in charge of another school that was in special measures. It just proves that he has experience in dealing with a school that has significant failings. Mr. Lewis actually called OFSTED into St. Greg's when he found out the serious inadequacies prevalent at the school. These were backed up by the damming report. Without OFSTED placing the school in special measures any headteachers hands are tied in improving the teaching standards at the school quickly. The more important question is whether he actually improved his previous school and got them out of special measures. If so I have every confidence in his leadership team improving St. Greg's. If not then the question is legitimate as to why he was emplyed.[/p][/quote]The report read: “Over the last year, there has been a loss of impetus stemming from a lack of strategic leadership and the failure to focus on tackling key weaknesses.” Mr Lewis, who was executive director of United Learning - the trust in charge of Sheffield Springs Academy - from May 2006 to June 2009, was slammed in the report for failing to ensure ‘the senior leadership team works with a unified sense of purpose’. Note the dates 2006 -2009 the inspection was carried out in 2009 read the story. Still Grumpy (thumbs down all you want the truth is in black and white) GRUMPY PARENT
  • Score: -5

4:48pm Fri 7 Mar 14

GRUMPY PARENT says...

grey-area wrote:
It is a crime to give false references. Anyway, he thought his self references were fair.
Not a crime to give a bad reference but a reference that is bad would have to be 100% accurate in it's content. Many employers don't give bad references as if not true or could be proved to be not true could lead to the ex employee suing. One way around this for the ex employer is to refuse to give a reference at all, there are no laws stating that they have to. Any prospective employer who is refused a reference for a prospective employee would obviously take this as being a bad reference and/or alarm bells would ring. I am not sure what date Mr Lewis was employed at St Greggs but from the story above would have been sometime after March 2013. If this is the case then any time up to 12 months of employment an employer can just sack you and they would not be liable to any legal action. So Governors think smart and quick.
Still Grumpy
[quote][p][bold]grey-area[/bold] wrote: It is a crime to give false references. Anyway, he thought his self references were fair.[/p][/quote]Not a crime to give a bad reference but a reference that is bad would have to be 100% accurate in it's content. Many employers don't give bad references as if not true or could be proved to be not true could lead to the ex employee suing. One way around this for the ex employer is to refuse to give a reference at all, there are no laws stating that they have to. Any prospective employer who is refused a reference for a prospective employee would obviously take this as being a bad reference and/or alarm bells would ring. I am not sure what date Mr Lewis was employed at St Greggs but from the story above would have been sometime after March 2013. If this is the case then any time up to 12 months of employment an employer can just sack you and they would not be liable to any legal action. So Governors think smart and quick. Still Grumpy GRUMPY PARENT
  • Score: -2

6:41pm Fri 7 Mar 14

Undercover13 says...

He isn't that bad of a head teacher to be honest, can be proper annoying at times but he isn't as bad as people think
He isn't that bad of a head teacher to be honest, can be proper annoying at times but he isn't as bad as people think Undercover13
  • Score: 7

12:57pm Sat 8 Mar 14

Get A Grip Goveners says...

Unfortunately the governors are not up to the job. They have failed in their core duty to monitor the performance of the school. They have been blind to the issues and have not asked the right questions. Unbelievable that they openly say they have no idea how much money the school has - if the information presented to them by school leaders is insufficient, it is their job to challenge and seek the assurance they require. Margaret Heelam is completely out of touch and to say she was 'shocked to the core' by Ofsted's findings shows how completely out of touch she and the governors are.
Unfortunately the governors are not up to the job. They have failed in their core duty to monitor the performance of the school. They have been blind to the issues and have not asked the right questions. Unbelievable that they openly say they have no idea how much money the school has - if the information presented to them by school leaders is insufficient, it is their job to challenge and seek the assurance they require. Margaret Heelam is completely out of touch and to say she was 'shocked to the core' by Ofsted's findings shows how completely out of touch she and the governors are. Get A Grip Goveners
  • Score: 8

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