A ROW over the number of hours of maths and English being taught in an academy led to the resignation of a headteacher, the Echo can reveal.
The sponsor and governors at the Basildon Academies wanted to increase the number of hours of the core subjects being taught, against the wishes of Dr Rory Fox.
Dr Fox, who started in September 2011, decreased the number of teaching hours down from 30 to 27.5 hours and this year the school recorded the highest ever GCSE results- a 45 per cent pass rate A to C including English and Maths.
At an average state school children are taught 25 hours a week at the most and there are normally three to four hours a week of maths and english.
When Dr Fox started children were sometimes being taught up to seven hours of maths and english a week.
Academy sponsor Martin Finegold, who is a banker, is believed to have held a series of meetings with school chiefs on the day of the last governors meeting and the idea of increasing teaching hours surfaced.
It is understood Dr Fox didn’t agree with the idea and said that decreasing the number of teaching hours had helped turn the school around and bring about the good results.
Dr Fox said: “When I took over as the headteacher at the school lots of parents were coming in saying that the school day was too much for the children.
“We literally had children running out the school and jumping over fences in a bid to avoid lessons.
“Behaviour was a huge issue I had to sort out when I started at the school and it took a while for us to get that sorted out.
“I also went about decreasing the number of hours of maths and english being taught and we have seen that GCSE results went up by 13 per cent in one year.
“At an open meeting held for parents earlier this year parents and children had said there was not enough breaks in the school day and too many lessons were crammed in.”
Truancy was a huge issue with Dr Fox joined the establishment and the tough talking headteacher started fining parents whose children were skipping school.
The Echo revealed in July this year that parents had been fined and some even jailed because their children were playing truant from the academy.
Dr Fox said that attendance was key to turning the academies round which were plunged into special measures by Ofsted in March this year.
The headteacher and Essex County Council took 12 parents to court in the last academic year alone, which led to fines being issued to parents totalling £3,185.
Last month the school had a monitoring report and inspector said the school was making “reasonable progress” and it praised the leadership of Dr Fox.
Children and staff at the school which teaches across two sites in Timberlog Close and Wickford Avenue were left shocked when Dr Fox announced his resignation.
Dr Fox is expected to leave at Easter and has not got secured another position.