The woman set to take the helm of a failing South Derbyshire school has written to parents to reassure them of her intentions for the future.

Karen Squire, who will become the head teacher of John Port School in September, has set out the academy development plan to improve the school after Ofsted inspectors found it was “inadequate” in all areas and placed it in special measures.

Inspectors said that John Port School had weak leadership which had contributed to falling standards, pupils had been put at risk because safeguarding had not been checked for effectiveness, teaching was weak or inadequate in all subjects and incidents of poor behaviour had increased.

Its exam results were also among the “worst in the country”.

Mrs Squire said the school now planned to secure robust and effective safeguarding arrangements that permeated everything it does, and to provide strong and visible leadership at every level of the Etwall school.

It will also aim to raise achievement throughout the school with a relentless focus on securing equity for all, provide high quality teaching in every classroom, every day, in every subject and for every child and secure high standards of behaviour, presentation and attendance so that students can achieve highly.

Mrs Squire said: “Thank you for your wishes of support for John Port over the last few days and also for sharing your concerns with me. I am joining the academy in September as the head teacher and look forward to working with you and the students.

“It is vitally important that we work together closely as a team to ensure John Port delivers for your children and it returns to its prior status as an outstanding school for the local community.

“I have been working through the Ofsted report and spent time in the academy to ensure that we focus on all areas to improve the education provided to the students.

“During the last week, I have received various concerns from parents and although in an ideal world I would like to meet individually, it is essential that I prioritise my time ensuring that changes and systems are in place for a successful start in September to secure the learning for all students. I would now like to address the actions I will have in place for September to assist in this rapid improvement.”

It has been a turbulent period for the South Derbyshire school after head teacher Chris Sainsbury was suspended from his post last month and last week resign from his job.

An interim academy board was brought in during last October and November after half of the school's governing body resigned, citing a lack of confidence in Mr Sainsbury, acting head since 2012 and then head from 2014. The board has been working since to turn the school around.

New head teacher addresses some of the school's issues:


All statutory requirements have now been met to ensure students are safe in the academy. A new safeguarding team is in place for September.


The policy in the academy is that all enquiries and communications are replied to within two working days. This will be closely monitored. The email addresses for key staff are included with this letter. For pastoral issues please email the pastoral manager or head of year. Please email subject leaders if there is an issue in a particular subject area.

To improve communication and discussion around changes to the academy we are introducing parent forum meetings next term. The focus and dates of these meeting will be shared via ParentMail and the website next term.

Pastoral System

Although the house system has been a positive move for competitive events and charity work, communication and tracking of students behaviour and progress has suffered. The academy will return to a year team based structure in September with the following leads. House communities remain for competitive purposes and the house lanyards will remain.

Supply Staff

All teaching posts are filled by qualified teachers for September. We are also fortunate to have extra staffing from Spencer Academy Trust to support our capacity in the teaching team.


Homework will be set by all staff for all students next year. This is a basic requirement and will be monitored closely. For Key Stage 3 students, Homework will be set at a rate that is approximately equivalent to one session per week for each subject of approximately 30 minutes in duration.

This will increase in KS4. A new policy will be in place in the new term.


The academy will be monitored approximately every eight weeks by Ofsted. There will be daily monitoring by myself and the Spencer Academy Trust with safeguarding and quality of teaching being the main focus in September. The response from Ofsted monitoring will be shared on the website after each visit.


We have no intentions of changing the current uniform, however I am now allowing girls to wear black pleated skirts to the knee, as they are unable to ride bikes in the straight skirts (straight skirts are still acceptable). All skirts should be to the knee and skirts above this level will not be acceptable in September. (Suppliers will advise on acceptable length and have the pleated skirts available). Please ensure all students are wearing the correct uniform in September to enable the staff to focus on teaching and learning.