Expert brought in after shock revelation that head of Rugby's Ashlawn School left at Christmas

Paul Brockwell has joined Ashlawn School as an associate principal.Paul Brockwell has joined Ashlawn School as an associate principal.
Paul Brockwell has joined Ashlawn School as an associate principal.
The principal of Ashlawn School in Rugby left with ‘immediate effect’ at Christmas, with speculation swirling around that its long-held ‘outstanding’ rating from Ofsted was at risk following an inspection in November.

That inspection report is yet to be released but the Advertiser was contacted by parents straight after the Ofsted visit, concerned at what the outcome might be.

It had been rated outstanding in 2013 and 2007 but a statement released to the Advertiser in the wake of November’s inspection rightly pointed out that the school could not release details of the outcome at that point and had to follow the legal process.

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While the statement said that the likely release would not be until early this year, a change at the top came ahead of that public confirmation of the Ofsted verdict.

School heads are typically tied to a considerable notice period but a letter sent to parents on Friday confirmed Siobhan Evans had left at Christmas with ‘immediate effect’.

Mrs Evans became principal in January 2019, taking over from previous head Lois Reed, who also left abruptly - in the summer term of 2018. Her departure came in the wake of widespread condemnation of her salary in a band between £270,001 and £280,000 following a rise of at least £50,000, way in excess of guidelines and other Rugby headteacher salaries.

Friday’s letter to parents from Transforming Lives Educational Trust chief executive officer James Higham confirmed Mrs Evans’s departure and the swift appointment of a new associate principal, Paul Brockwell.

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The Trust has shared the letter with the Advertiser and it explains what has happened and the way forward: “At the start of the term, we wanted to update you on the leadership arrangements at Ashlawn School.

“Mrs Evans, who has been at the school since the start of 2019, has made the difficult decision to leave her role as principal. Given all of her efforts to support the school and community over the last four years, particularly during the lockdowns, we have worked together to help her leave with immediate effect.

"Mrs Evans has asked us to pass on her thanks to the whole school community and to stress how much she has enjoyed working with both the students and her colleagues. She wishes everyone the very best for the future.

“Trustees will now take time to consider the longer-term leadership arrangements for Ashlawn. In the interim, we are delighted to have secured the services of a very experienced individual who has led a variety of schools, from those where his leadership has brought considerable improvement to those that Ofsted has deemed as outstanding, to work in partnership with Ashlawn’s senior leadership team.

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“Mr Paul Brockwell will be joining Ashlawn School on a full-time basis from this week as an associate principal. He will work closely with Mrs Delves, Ashlawn’s senior vice-principal, and the rest of the team to do all that is necessary to ensure that every student can thrive in our community.

"I am sure that you will join with me in both welcoming Mr Brockwell to Ashlawn, and thanking Mrs Evans for her significant contributions to our community.”

The letter makes no mention of the Ofsted inspection – the Advertiser understands from a school spokesperson the report is likely to be published this month.

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