Tynemouth academy principal vows to keep standards high

The principal of a controversial new academy has vowed to keep educational standards at the school high

David Dawes, principal at the new King’s Priory Academy in Tynemouth
David Dawes, principal at the new King’s Priory Academy in Tynemouth

The principal of a controversial new academy has vowed to keep educational standards at the school high.

The King’s Priory Academy in Tynemouth will open in September after the Department for Education gave the go-ahead for the private King’s School to merge with state-run Priory Primary.

North Tyneside Council has said it is “disappointed” with the decision and plans to hold a meeting to discuss the merger’s impact on the wider school network and consider its next steps.

However, the man at the helm of the academy, David Dawes, says his entire focus is on opening the new school.

The 45-year-old former vice-principal of the Bede Academy in Blyth said: “This academy will be a four to 18 all-age school which is going to offer outstanding education and outstanding standards.

“The educational standards will be better than either of the two predecessors because we will be getting the best of both sectors – an independent and a state school. I’m confident that synergy is working effectively.”

Mr Dawes, a dad-of-three, of Whickham, Gateshead, is a Cambridge graduate and former Army captain. He worked in industry, management consultancy and investment management, before qualifying as a maths teacher at the London Institute of Education.

His previous teaching posts include a stint as assistant head teacher at JFS School in Harrow, which in 2008 was acclaimed by The Times newspaper as England’s top performing ‘non-selective’ school.

He said: “When I was at the Bede Academy, I had experience of being part of the leadership. That was an all-through school as well.

“When I heard of this school coming into being, I thought it was a fantastic opportunity.

“It’s a real privilege to be part of it, both professionally and personally. I’ve got a real commitment towards this school and am determined it will be a real community asset.”

Children will be offered a variety of extra-curricular activities, including sailing, surfing, ski trips, music and art, building on what the previous schools offered.

The pupils will wear a new school uniform consisting of navy blue jackets, blue cardigans or jumpers, and grey skirts or trousers. The ties will remain the same.

The 1,400 students will be placed into one of four chapters, named after the previous King’s School houses – Barfleur, Dunelm, Hotspur and Provost.

The academy, sponsored and operated by Woodard Academies Trust, is expected to have around 75 teaching staff and 75 support staff.

The school is also making provision for an extra 50 students to join at Year Seven based on random selection, with no distance criteria. This means youngsters from outside the catchment area can get a place.

Mr Dawes added: “We have had great support from parents and from the community who are looking forward to having the school open.”

North Tyneside Council says it has concerns about the academy’s impact on school places in the borough.

In a statement, the authority said: “It is a disappointing outcome for the majority of children and schools in North Tyneside.

“A special council meeting will be convened to ensure all members can consider the consequences of this decision for our children and schools. Following this the authority will decide on its next steps.”

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