1,000 Wisbech students protest over ‘very upsetting’ decision to remove principal and claim her dismissal was ‘unfair and unjustified’

PUBLISHED: 10:21 17 June 2016 | UPDATED: 10:22 17 June 2016

Outgoing principal Clare Claxton.

Outgoing principal Clare Claxton.

Archant

Sixth formers at Thomas Clarkson Academy collected more than 1,000 names on a petition protesting at the removal of principal Clare Claxton.

Head girl Beth Kelley and deputy head girl Ellie Cullen claim the school has changed considerably – and for the better- since Ms Claxton took over.

In April Ofsted described the Thomas Clarkson Academy in Wisbech as “inadequate” and last month the college announced Ms Claxton is to be replaced.

Academy sponsors The Brooke Weston Trust revealed it has invited turnaround specialist Anne Hill from the thriving Northampton Academy to take charge from September.

But Beth and Ellie, both sixth formers, said the decision was “very upsetting” and “a lot of the students here really appreciate Ms Claxton and her hard work.”

They said they decided “to take it upon ourselves to reach out to Brooke Weston and tell them about our view on Ms Claxton’s leaving.

“We, as a sixth form, conducted a petition over the course of a day and a half at break time, lunch time and period six.

“The subject of the petition was that ‘we believe Mrs Claxton’s dismissal was unfair and unjustified” and ‘we acknowledge and appreciate the changes Ms Claxton has made to Thomas Clarkson Academy’”

They said “More than 1,000 students agreed with us out of a total of approximately 1,500 in the school,

“We believe that this shows that the students of this school feel strongly about the dismissal of Ms Claxton as such a large proportion of the school took the time to respond.”

They felt even more students would have signed the petition since they only had a limited amount of time to collect signatures.

“When we were circulating the petition one student from the Cooper Centre told us that they believe Ms Claxton has made Thomas Clarkson ‘a home away from home’ for them, which is a testament to how much Ms Claxton truly cares about and acts to improve the students individually and the academy as a whole.”

Beth and Ellie added: “We are aware of the negative press Thomas Clarkson and subsequently Ms Claxton are often on the receiving end of but as students at Thomas Clarkson we believe it is important to take into account our views of how the school has changed.

“We experience the school daily and some of us have been here for up to seven years and have seen at first hand the improvements.”

Ms Claxton, who will move to a new role within Brooke Weston, has faced an uphill challenge as the Thomas Clarkson’s proportions of pupils gaining the ‘gold standard’ for GCSEs fell below the government minimum target of 40 per cent for three years running.

Brooke Weston said that Ms Claxton, who has been in charge at TCA since 2012, will move into a new role, which will focus on bringing teaching talent to the trust.

BWT Chief Executive Andrew Campbell said: “Anne’s track record speaks for itself. “She is a highly experienced and respected head teacher. Working with Thomas Clarkson’s outstanding executive principal, Trish Stringer, Anne will continue the good work begun by Clare Claxton to drive forward the rapid improvement plan agreed with Ofsted following the recent inspection.

“I would like to publicly thank Clare for her hard work, care and commitment over the past four years and am pleased that she will remain part of the trust and will play an important part in driving our teacher recruitment strategy.”

He added: “This is the start of a new phase for TCA and the Trust is confident that the future is bright.”

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