Academy’s head leaving

Theresa Phillips
Theresa Phillips

A headteacher, who has steered a school through turbulant times, is leaving after six years at the helm.

Theresa Phillips, principal of The Hastings Academy, joined the Rye Road school in September 2008, when it was called Hillcrest.

It was only in her second week as head that Hillcrest was placed into special measures by Ofsted education inspectors due to poor performance.

In 2009 education consultants Ninestiles Plus, led by Sir Dexter Hutt, were drafted in by East Sussex County Council to take over the running of Hillcrest, Filsham Valley and The Grove schools in a bid to turn their fortunes around and improve performance.

Under Mrs Phillips’ tenure Hillcrest was pulled out of special measures a year later in November 2009 and the school became The Hastings Academy in September 2011 as part of the overhaul.

Filsham Valley and The Grove became The St Leonards Academy, also in 2011.

Mrs Phillips is leaving to join Ofsted as an inspector. Michael Brett, vice-principal of Brighton Aldridge Community Academy takes over as principal next month.

Mrs Phillips said: “I started in 2008 as head when Hillcrest’s GCSE results were exceptionally low. It was placed into special measures in my second week but everyone pulled together and we came out of it in November 2009.

“Hillcrest continued to improve in 2009 but the county council had made the decision to close it and turn it into an academy.

“When I first started in 2008 we had 66 first choice preferences from families, as Hillcrest was not a popular school and didn’t have a good reputation.

“This year we have 185 first choice preferences, meaning we are now oversubscribed. We now have a waiting list for children wanting to come here, which is an extraordinary turnaround and I am most proud of that.

“The local community, primary schools and families now see that children can get a really good education here. I am enormously grateful for their support in enabling this to happen.

“I am sorry to leave. The last six years have been very challenging but fulfilling and it has been wonderful to lead a team of such capable staff.