THE head of five Harlow schools has reassured parents she is not leaving Burnt Mill Academy.
Helena Mills has stepped away from her role as headteacher of the school, in First Avenue, to concentrate on raising the standards of all six schools within the Burnt Mill Co-operative Academy Trust (BMAT).
It was recently revealed long-term colleague John Blaney has been promoted to head of school, sparking fears among parents Ms Mills is leaving the organisation and town.
But, she confirmed: “Since May, John has taken over as head of Burnt Mill. People have already experienced life with me in my new role as head of the BMAT schools, so nothing is changing. I am not going anywhere.
“The whole reason John has taken over as head of school is because I want to make sure there is always somebody with both eyes on Burnt Mill, making sure the quality of our teaching and the outcomes for our children remain as high as possible. As head of six schools, I can only have one eye on Burnt Mill as my attention is needed elsewhere sometimes. But, I still meet with John once a week to go through data on our students so I still know exactly how the children of Burnt Mill are performing. Burnt Mill is such an important part of our organisation.”
Ms Mills spends two-and-a-half days every week at Burnt Mill and still teaches English to Year 8 for four hours each week. She then spends half a day in each of the four Harlow primaries – Freshwaters, Roydon, Cooks Spinney and Little Parndon – and Forest Hall School, in Stansted.
Ms Mills said: “There are still lots of things I do at Burnt Mill, such as lunch clubs and gate duty, and I will be there for open evenings and parents evenings.
“My role is now to support the heads of all six schools and I work really closely with them all. Complaints from parents should first go to the heads of schools, but I am still there if needed. It is my responsibility to make sure all BMAT schools are outstanding.”
Parents have also feared the “best” teachers from Burnt Mill are being taken away to help boost standards and results at fellow BMAT schools.
Ms Mills, whose number one mission is to keep Burnt Mill as an Ofsted-rated Outstanding school, said: “As Burnt Mill is a teaching school, I have a responsibility to recruit high quality trainees and to train high quality teachers. That is a way of us recruiting the very best teachers for our schools. We have 30 new recruits coming in to our schools in September and each one is of a really high quality.”
Ms Mills, who gets funding for her children for her work as a national education leader, said: “The Tory Government has expectations of all schools to work in small groups. We have been leading the way with BMAT in Harlow. We have visitors from all over the country to see how BMAT works.”
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