Corporation bails out ‘inadequate’ Highbury Grove School


The Corporation has come to the rescue of a local secondary school stripped of its “Outstanding” Ofsted rating.

Highbury Grove School, which has 1,200 pupils, was labelled “Inadequate” – the lowest possible rating – by inspectors in February, forcing it to become an academy following serious financial difficulties that left the institution £700,000 in the red.


The Corporation has agreed to bail out the specialist music school, and will bring in current principal of City Academy Islington, Clare Verga, to fill the void left by former headteacher Tom Sherrington, who vacated his post in January – two weeks before the damning report was published.

In the paper, lead investigator Helen Matthews said: “Progress for all pupils in 2015 and 2016 was significantly below the progress made by pupils nationally. “School leaders do not have an accurate understanding of the quality of education they are providing. “Leaders do not base their assessment of the school’s effectiveness on solid evidence because their monitoring processes are not rigorous.”

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Clare Verga is
set to take the helm as executive principal of both Highbury Grove and City Academy Islington

But as of 1 September and the start of the new academic year, Highbury Grove will be managed by the City of London Academies Trust, subject to an agreement over future resources.

The Corporation is committed to providing access to excellent education and learning opportunities for children and young people,” explained the trust’s chief executive officer Mark Emmerson. “The school already has an inspiring record for the arts and creative subjects and this is something we will continue to build on as well as raising academic achievement.”

Mr Emmerson says a smooth changing of the guard is a major point of focus for trust officials, with Miss Verga poised to become “executive principal” of both Highbury Grove and City Academy Islington.

“We will work closely with Islington Council, parents and the leadership of the school throughout the period of transition to ensure high-quality future provision on the site from September 2017,” he added.

Across all City academies – of which there are five in Hackney, Islington and Southwark – 77% of students achieved five A*-C with English and maths. They are all judged “Good” or “Outstanding” by Ofsted, and the group is ranked as the top multi-academy sponsor in the country for pupil progress.

Four new schools are due to open later this year under the trust’s umbrella.