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Tuesday, 18 May 2021 19:46

Ex-Vice Principal of Ebbsfleet Academy resigns as Principal of Pimlico Academy after eight months

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Last month I published an article about the current chaos at Pimlico Academy in London. This was created after Daniel Smith, previously a controversial Vice Principal at the notorious Ebbsfleet Academy in Kent, was appointed Principal at the school.

His Tough Love policies, featuring an uncompromising and confrontational approach to difficulties with echoes of his start at Ebbsfleet, created turmoil from the start. An overwhelming majority of teachers passed a vote of no confidence in Mr Smith in March and were in the process of ballotting for strike action, a decision almost unheard of in recent years. 32 teachers have handed in their resignation including two-thirds of the senior leadership team.

The Future Academies Trust, which runs Pimlico Academy under its founders Lord and Lady Nash (Lord Nash being a former Education Minister), has jumped both ways, initially trying to defend Mr Smith and his policies, but today in a curt statement confirming his resignation, effective 31st May after just eight tumultuous months.

It was most unfortunate that the effect of Mr Smith’s policies was picked up by some of the more hysterical media who tried to represent them as a breakdown in law and order. The reality was that most of the concerns expressed by pupils and families were peaceful and reasonable, and although there were attempts by outside political agitators to stir up the situation, these failed. After my article was published, I was approached by several of these families asking for advice, although sadly I had little to offer as it was outside my experience.

The writing on the wall probably came last month when Future Academies Trust appointed Sir Michael Wilshaw, former Ofsted Chief Inspector of Schools as ‘mentor’ to Mr Smith, as I recorded here. However, the decision for him to go at short notice was probably taken very recently, whether by Mr Smith or the Trust, as a teacher, quoted in the Guardian today, said “Even in his final moments in the school, Daniel Smith managed to bungle his exit. Mere days after briefing the staff on his upcoming priorities and hours after negotiating contracts with new and returning staff, he announces his resignation in an optional meeting and via a vague and non-committal email”.

The letter to parents omitted a sentence in the more formal announcement for Future Academies Trust: 'We thank Mr Smith for his unwavering commitment during this time which has been very difficult due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic', a very perfunctory summary of his achievements.

 

Final Thoughts 
My very best wishes to Mr Tony Oulton,  who is taking on the role of Acting Principal from 1st June. Mr Oulton was seconded to the post of Senior Vice-Principal at the school over the past seven months. His permanent position was at Future Academies Watford where he had spent just four months as Senior Vice Principal, so was probably shipped in to Pimlico to reinforce the school management at this difficult time. It may also explain why there is no Senior Vice-Principal showing on the Pimlico staff list if the post was created especially for him.  
 
Message to Academy Trusts seeking to appoint a Principal in the future, including Future Academies Trust: As I have demonstrated several times on this website, Tough Love does not work.  
Read 567 times Last modified on Tuesday, 18 May 2021 23:49

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