Former head of Abbeyfield School causes stir just days into new job (From The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald)
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Former head of Abbeyfield School causes stir just days into new job
James Fox, the former head of Abbeyfield School in Chippenham, is causing a stir at his new job after a discipline blitz saw dozens of pupils suspended in less than a week.
The crackdown has seen more than 25 pupils disciplined at Portslade Aldridge Community Academy (PACA) in Brighton since term began on Monday.
It is understood more pupils have been sent home to smarten up.
The move coincides with the appointment Mr Fox as its interim principal.
It came as the academy’s first Ofsted report, released this week, highlighted some staff struggled to deal with the “most challenging” PACA students.
Mr Fox’s disciplinarian approach has led to several parents and teachers contacting the Gazette’s sister paper The Argus in Brighton with concerns over the tough measures.
One man who said he was a teacher at the academy stated: “The reasons range from skirts being too high to wearing nail varnish and bright lipstick.
“We are not happy about it. He’s an ex-military man so he thinks he can run the school like the army.”
One parent said: “He has gone over the top. We’ve spoken to other parents and they are up in arms over this.
“The students being taken out of their classrooms while the principal deals with them and it is affecting their education.”
The academy’s chairman of governors, Honor Wilson-Fletcher, said the blitz was simply an “emphatic implementation” of the rules. She added: “It is not about not wearing the right uniform but for refusing to do anything about it.
“It will settle down now as everyone knows about it.”
A spokesman for PACA added: “The uniform policy is not new in any way, and is the one that has been in force since the academy opened in September 2011.
“Any students who came in on Tuesday not in correct uniform were spoken to by teaching staff and most issues were easily resolved.
“However, six students refused to take action, having been given the chance to, and were subsequently suspended for two days because of that refusal.”
The spokesman confirmed that more than a dozen other pupils had also been suspended since then over their behaviour, including using abusive language towards teachers.
Mrs Wilson-Fletcher said she had received praise from some parents about the appearance of students since the start of term. She also said the governing body and sponsors had confidence in Mr Fox.
Mr Fox left Abbeyfield School in a cloud of controversy after introducing a new uniform and restructuring the senior management team. Unions also raised concerns after he announced a number of redundancies.
In December 2011 Wiltshire Council and the governing body announced Mr Fox was ‘no longer at his desk’ but it was not until the following June that it was confirmed he would not be returning to Abbeyfield.
The governors at PACA said they were aware of this but said they were “struck by the quality of Mr Fox’s references and by endorsements from both students and parents at his former schools” when they decided to appoint him.