Teachers ‘horrified’ by removal of Thomas Clarkson principal Clare Claxton as they join students in protesting against decision

Thomas Clarkson Academy launching football academy at Wisbech. Left:Thomas Clarkson Principal Clare

Thomas Clarkson Academy launching football academy at Wisbech. Left:Thomas Clarkson Principal Clare Claxton and Stephen Walker from Pitchside football academy.Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

Teachers have now joined with students in mounting protests at Thomas Clarkson Academy, Wisbech, over the removal of principal Clare Claxton.

A day after it was revealed that more than 1,000 students had signed a petition calling for the principal’s re-instatement, it has emerged teachers launched their own protest.

Teaching representatives issued a statement saying more than three quarters of them signed a petition in school yesterday asking Brooke Weston Trust (BWT) to reconsider their decision to replace Ms Claxton.

A teachers’ statement said: “Ms Claxton is regarded as an exemplary role model to both staff and students.

“She has successfully implemented many improvements at the school during her tenure.

“Staff believes that replacing her is unfair and will have a detrimental effect on the progress of students and the academy.”

One of the teachers behind the petition said they had been forced to collect the signatures “surreptitiously” and given more time were confident of even greater support.

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“For staff to stand up and sign is quite a bit step for us all,” said the teacher. “We were horrified when the announcement about Ms Claxton was made. There was no consultation and it was presented to us a fait accomplit.”

The teacher said ‘ballot boxes’ had been placed around the academy for a brief period to collect signatures.

“We believe Brooke Weston has reacted too swiftly to the recent Ofsted inspection,” said the teacher. “The academy trust has significantly misjudged the mood of staff, students and the community.”

BWT Chief Executive Andrew Campbell said: “Thomas Clarkson Academy has improved in many ways over the last few years and that is testament to the leadership of Ms Claxton as well as the hard work of staff and students who are rightly proud of the strides the school has made.

“We recognise that change can be unsettling for all involved and that feelings are strong at such times. Ms Claxton is a much valued and respected colleague whose new role as director of teacher recruitment with the Brooke Weston Trust is focussed on finding creative solutions to the ongoing shortage of teachers in Wisbech.”

Sixth formers at Thomas Clarkson Academy collected more than 1,000 names on a petition protesting at the removal of Ms Claxton.

Head girl Beth Kelley and deputy head girl Ellie Cullen claim the school has changed considerably – and for the better- since Ms Claxton took over.

In April Ofsted described the Thomas Clarkson Academy in Wisbech as “inadequate” and last month the college announced Ms Claxton is to be replaced.

Academy sponsors The Brooke Weston Trust revealed it has invited turnaround specialist Anne Hill from the thriving Northampton Academy to take charge from September.

But Beth and Ellie, both sixth formers, said the decision was “very upsetting” and “a lot of the students here really appreciate Ms Claxton and her hard work.”

They said they decided “to take it upon ourselves to reach out to Brooke Weston and tell them about our view on Ms Claxton’s leaving.

“We, as a sixth form, conducted a petition over the course of a day and a half at break time, lunch time and period six.

“The subject of the petition was that ‘we believe Mrs Claxton’s dismissal was unfair and unjustified” and ‘we acknowledge and appreciate the changes Ms Claxton has made to Thomas Clarkson Academy’”

They said “More than 1,000 students agreed with us out of a total of approximately 1,500 in the school,

“We believe that this shows that the students of this school feel strongly about the dismissal of Ms Claxton as such a large proportion of the school took the time to respond.”

They felt even more students would have signed the petition since they only had a limited amount of time to collect signatures.

Beth and Ellie added: “We are aware of the negative press Thomas Clarkson and subsequently Ms Claxton are often on the receiving end of but as students at Thomas Clarkson we believe it is important to take into account our views of how the school has changed.

“We experience the school daily and some of us have been here for up to seven years and have seen at first hand the improvements.”

Ms Claxton has faced an uphill challenge as the Thomas Clarkson’s proportions of pupils gaining the ‘gold standard’ for GCSEs fell below the government minimum target of 40 per cent for three years running.

The college said today it had yet to receive any information from staff about their protest.