Woodard Schools chose the former Boundstone Community College in Lancing to be their "flagship" academy & named it after the grandson of their founder, the Revd Nathaniel Woodard, because its exam results had been on a rapidly rising trajectory and it had been described by the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust as one of "the most improved schools in the country" in 2007 & 2008.
This had been achieved by the hard work of the staff, many of whom had worked for years at the school, despite the fact that this small community on the Sussex coastal strip forms one of the most socially deprived postcodes in the county.
I am proud to have worked at that school for most of my career and to have sent both my daughters, who received an excellent education there, to Boundstone Community College.
Boundstone closed in August 2009 and The Sir Robert Woodard Academy opened in September with a Senior Leadership Team handpicked by Woodard & led by Carole Bailey. The new academy had the blessing of Schools Minister Lord Adonis, who warmly welcomed what he described as this "injection of the private sector's DNA into state schools". Tragically, in a little over 2 years, the progress made by Boundstone had been destroyed: many excellent teachers left prematurely because of the appalling management style of the academy's Senior Leaders; the key GCSE results actually fell; and as a result of an inspection in November 2011 the academy was put into Special Measures, with Ofsted rating it as "inadequate" because "it is failing to give its students an acceptable standard of education and the persons responsible for leading, managing or governing the academy are not demonstrating the capacity to secure the necessary improvement."
What an indictment of the policy of Michael Gove and David Cameron (not to say of the last government too), who have repeatedly urged independent schools to sponsor academies! Woodard have shown a complete inability to choose the right Senior Leaders for the job and to exercise proper oversight of them.
Now the existing staff (those that remain) have the herculean task of turning the school around, in the difficult context of a local community who have been told their secondary school is no good. Many parents are understandably voting with their feet by planning to send their sons and daughters to the other schools in the area which are still maintained by the local authority.
The best wishes of everyone, like me, who passionately want an excellent school in Lancing are with the staff and students of the school, as they work hard to overcome the damage inflicted on them by an independent sector which brought not so much the "injection" Lord Adonis described but more a destructive "infection" of its DNA.