Head responds to concerned parent considering removing children from Free School

Artist's impression of the converted Carmelite Convent in Hunston will look like. Mr Martyn confirmed the school will move there next September
Artist's impression of the converted Carmelite Convent in Hunston will look like. Mr Martyn confirmed the school will move there next September

Guy Martyn has moved to reassure parents with any concerns after he announced he is to leave as principal of Chichester Free School.

It comes as one father said he was considering removing his two girls due to the ‘huge turnover of staff’ and what he called ‘broken promises’ over delays in moving to a permanent home.

Mr Martyn and his wife, also a teacher at the free school, are moving with their children after this term

Mr Martyn and his wife, also a teacher at the free school, are moving with their children after this term

Johny Cassidy said: “Changing schools is still very much an option, although for our eldest daughter, who’s just starting her final year, the disruption is probably going to have more of a detrimental effect than choosing to stay.

“The issues though are still very much the same. I’ve got massive concerns that the good faith that many parents put into the school and the senior staff has been left by the wayside.

“It certainly has for us,” he said, adding his belief in the school ‘has been eroded’.

Mr Martyn said: “It’s a shame this parent hasn’t come to us first about his concerns because we would have met the family to answer any questions and I’d urge anyone else with any worries to come to us directly.

“We chose to delay the announcement until the start of term so there were staff here to face up to any questions and provide sufficient reassurance.”

He said: “Regarding our staff, we are growing as a school, we doubled our size from year one to year two, we had another 180 pupils start this year so of course we have to recruit teachers and staff.

“It’s true people have left the school for different reasons, it’s unfortunate when people leave in the middle of term but that happens at schools.

“The first couple of years we had a very stable staff and people got used to that. The school is not the right place for everyone, that goes both ways and we want to ensure we have the highest quality of staff.

“A rapidly changing organisation like ours is not right for everyone and we don’t want staff to stay here and get comfortable if they are not right for the challenges of inspiring our children and giving them the very best education.

He said: “I really wanted to make sure the school was in the best position before I considered moving on.

“The knock backs of three delays to moving into the convent site was difficult for parents to believe but I think with the school currently being built we have demonstrated we mean it this time and the school will be ready this time next year.

“We have just had our first SATS and GCSE results which were very very good.

“Yes I wanted to be the first person to walk through the convent doors when it opened but these things happen, I’ve been here five years which is a good stint, especially for free school heads because it’s an intense and fast-paced job.

“I’m proud the school is in a good position to hand over to someone else, and in Jenny Clough there is a head who shares the school’s ethos and can take it to new places with new energy.”

He added: “I think we have demonstrated we are a school and not some risky vanity project that when we started in 2013 people said we would be.

“We started because the area needed new school places, especially primary, we wanted to raise the bar and I think the quality of education in the area now is really really good, there’s many great schools in the Chichester area and that’s a brilliant place to be.”

Mr Martyn, his wife, who teaches English and drama at the free school, are moving with their children at the end of the current term, with Mr Martyn taking up a principal role at an independent school in Essex.

Many readers took to the Observer’s Facebook page after last week’s announcement to express their shock and to praise Mr Martyn’s achievements.

Justin Geri said: “Best of luck Guy, thanks for all your hard work.

Brenda Robinson said: “A sad day for the school but good luck.”

Debs Morgan added: “Mr Martyn’s departure will be very sad for all but I am confident he will have very good reasons for this and I wish him well and thank him for his professionalism and dedication.

“However, it looks like the school will be led by an extremely competent replacement in Jenny Clough.”

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