‘We’ll turn it around’ says Mexborough School’s executive headteacher

Executive headteacher of Mexborough School Alan Yellup.
Executive headteacher of Mexborough School Alan Yellup.

The man in charge of a failing secondary school has vowed to transform it into a ‘good performing academy’ within two years.

Executive headteacher Alan Yellup pledged to introduce a raft of measures designed to improve Mexborough School which was placed into special measures after a damning Ofsted inspection.

Mexborough School.

Mexborough School.

The 60-year-old has taken over following the departure of former headteacher Mirjam Buhler-Willey, whose four year reign ended when she resigned just weeks before Government inspectors visited in May.

Mr Yellup vowed to transform Mexborough into a “good performing school” by 2016.

He said: “There has been a lot of turmoil in the last few years and I’m not aware of the circumstances behind the former head’s departure. But I do want to change the culture and climate of the school. Let’s draw a line in the sand and move forward.”

Ofsted inspectors gave the school the lowest rating of ‘4 Inadequate’ in all of the key areas, including pupil achievement, quality of teaching, behaviour and leadership. The school had previously been in special measures just three years earlier in 2011.

He added how he intends for the school to become an academy in November as part of the Wakefield City Academies Trust, for which he is chief executive officer.

An interim executive board has recently replaced the former board of governors, but a new team of governors will be in place by November.

Mr Yellup said: “Becoming an academy gives us more autonomy to set budgets, introduce pay scales, incentives and more freedom with the curriculum. We will not make any radical changes with the curriculum though. We will be focusing majorly on improving achievement in the key subjects, such as English, maths, science, history and geography.”

He continued: “I also want a team of local governors in place by November, and there will be a new full time headteacher in the job from September. Stability is key and having people with local knowledge as part of the management team will be very important.”

He added boosting teaching standards was a priority, and one technique being considered is to record lessons.

“There is a system called Iris Connect, where teachers can film their lessons and review them back afterwards to see how they can improve their teaching technique. Everyone is made aware of the recording and it is for them to use at their leisure.

“The system has proven very helpful in other schools and it also allows staff to swap ideas for best practice.”

Mr Yellup said he had a duty to boost staff morale and encourage a positive atmosphere.

“We have a lot of talented staff here and it’s about unlocking that talent. The same goes for the students. I know the staff have been on a team building outing together and I will be encouraging things like that.

“A happy and confident workforce will produce better teaching. Good teaching is so important. If students are engaged, then so are pupils, so behaviour improves, along with learning and ultimately exam results.”

He also wants to work more closely with the town’s primary schools.

“It’s important that children feel comfortable when moving up from primary to secondary school. Our staff could go into primary schools to teach Year 6 for a few lessons.”

Having just been honoured with an OBE for services to education in the Queens Birthday Honours List, it is clear he knows a thing or two about running successful schools.

Wakefield City Academy was rated as ‘Outstanding’ in three separate Ofsted visits.

He said staff from Wakefield area schools could be brought in to work alongside Mexborough’s teachers.

“I would like to see staff from across our schools working together to share best practice, we can all learn something from each other.

“We need to get out of special measures within two years. The potential is there and I’m confident we can become a good performing academy within that time.”