Farewell Oakmeeds, hello Burgess Hill Academy

Jon Francies
Jon Francies

It’s been two years in the planning but the Burgess Hill Academy has now opened.

The academy – formerly Oakmeeds Community College – officially opened as part of the University of Brighton Academies Trust on Thursday (September 1).

Jon Francies, who served as interim headteacher following the departure of Colin Taylor in April, has been appointed principal.

Mr Francies said: “I’m delighted to join The Burgess Hill Academy at this exciting time. My focus will be on continuous improvement as we aim to deliver the highest quality of education so that our students can achieve their academic potential, develop their talents and fulfil their future ambitions.”

He joined the academy from St Leonard’s Academy, where he served as vice-principal and then principal. Under his leadership, St Leonard’s was rated ‘good’ by Ofsted, with he and his team receiving praise having “dramatically improved the quality of students’ education”.

His skills will be needed as Oakmeeds was rated ‘requires improvement’ following its inspection in November 2015, though that itself was an improvement on its previous ‘inadequate’ rating.

The request to convert the community college to an academy was approved by schools minister Lord Nash, following consultation with parents, carers and staff – and the Brighton Academies Trust aims to see it rated ‘outstanding’ as soon as possible.

Chief executive Paul Griffiths said: “We will support and challenge the academy to build on its strengths to become an outstanding secondary school for the Burgess Hill community.

“We look forward to sharing best practice from our other academies and the substantial expertise and experience of the university’s School of Education, rated by Ofsted as ‘outstanding’ for its initial teacher training.

“The aim of the academy will be to create an exceptional school focused on inspiring, motivating and enthusing young people to meet their potential.”

As well as the new name, a number of changes are in the pipeline, including remedial building work and updates to IT equipment.

An open day for Year 6 children, their parents and carers, and members of the community will be held on September 29, from 6-9pm.

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