“When you’re down on your knees you need someone to give you hope that things can get better,” says Stuart McLaughlin, headteacher at Bower Park Academy. He should know, having joined the 850-pupil secondary school in Romford, east London, in January 2017 when it was at a very low ebb.
In 2014, Bower Park was graded Requires Improvement (RI) by Ofsted and then in 2016 it slipped even further, to Inadequate, or ‘in special measures’. Under McLaughlin’s leadership, the school made a rapid turnaround, so much so that in March 2018 it achieved a Good rating from Ofsted.
“I was parachuted in when the school was at its lowest point,” says McLaughlin. “My focus was immediately, ‘We’re raising the bar’. I had four key things I felt we needed to implement if we were going to drive change.