A HEADTEACHER and governors have left an Oxford school suddenly amid claims that bad behaviour and staff shortages have spiralled.

The Oxford Academy told parents last week that head Andy Hardy is 'currently out of school', just days after Ofsted sprang an inspection on staff.

A deputy headteacher from Wheatley Park School has become acting head, while governors have been replaced by a temporary team of education experts called an interim academy board.

The Oxford Mail understands the Littlemore secondary school is edging closer to a takeover by the River Learning Trust, which runs respected academies including The Cherwell School in Summertown.

Parent Hailey Townsend said the academy is 'like juvey' [a juvenile detention centre], with trouble-makers triggering regular evacuations by setting off fire alarms.

Also read: Oxford Academy 'disappointed' by GCSE results

The Headington mum, who has two children there, said: "There are children being beaten up and picked on.

"My kids don't even want to go to school. It's bad for the children who want to go and learn and get their grades.

"Some members of staff have walked out, they've had enough."

The 35-year-old said some pupils were 'little delinquents' and the school was 'in over its head'.

Oxford Mail:

The Oxford Academy in Sandy Lane West

The school teaches about 1,000 children, with a high proportion from disadvantaged backgrounds.

It is run by the Oxford Academy Trust, sponsored by the Diocese of Oxford, Oxford Brookes University and The Beecroft Trust.

Miss Townsend's 15-year-old and 17-year-old daughters both attend the school, while her 14-year-old son is at Mabel Prichard Upper School on the same site.

She said the special school had been affected by the fire alarms, with students in wheelchairs also having to evacuate.

Her eldest, sixth former Kimberley Townsend, said there has not been a single week since September that a fire alarm had not sounded.

The 17-year-old said it often took 30 minutes out of lesson time, and had happened several times in one day.

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She said: "We no longer have a headteacher and multiple staff have even left the school.

"Students have deadlines and we are incredibly worried we will not reach them.

"People are not turning up to the school because of the problem."

A younger pupil who contacted the Oxford Mail said there were also 'too many supply teachers for core subjects'.

On behalf of the three sponsors, the Oxford Diocesan Board of Education admitted there are 'temporary staff shortages' and 'behaviour issues' at the school.

A statement added: "We are acting firmly and swiftly on these issues which will, no doubt, be raised by Ofsted following their recent inspection.

"We want to see a rapid improvement in pupil behaviour and are endeavouring to improve the staffing position at the school at pace.

"We are committed to doing all that we can to achieve a lasting step-change in the daily life of this school."

The Oxford Academy and its council-run predecessor, the Peers School, had been in special measures before.

However, under the leadership of previous head Niall McWilliams, it gained a 'good' Ofsted rating in 2016.

Mr McWilliams left in 2018 to become managing director of Oxford United, and said at the time that Mr Hardy was an 'experienced' educator.

Oxford Mail:

Andy Hardy pictured outside the school in 2018

In October, the school admitted it was 'disappointed' by its provisional GCSE results for 2019, which were the worst of Oxfordshire's mainstream secondary schools.

Also read: The Oxford Academy's 'massive vote of confidence'

A letter sent to parents on Wednesday said 'experienced' teacher Steve Pearson had become acting head.

He has been brought in from Wheatley Park School, a River Learning Trust (RLT) academy, where he was deputy head.

Paul James, chief executive of the trust, confirmed that it has been approached 'with a view to welcoming The Oxford Academy into [our] family of fantastic schools.'

He added: "Discussions are taking place and in the meantime, we and other schools in Oxford are providing support for the academy during a challenging period."

He said his team is optimistic of 'rapid' improvements, and that Mr Pearson is an 'extremely capable senior leader'.

Mr James added: "We looking forward to working closely with the academy in the coming months.

"The issues facing the school are all ones that can be improved, and students, their parents and staff should be reassured that we are all doing all that we can to make things better."

Also read: School installs CCTV to stop pupils sounding fire alarm

A spokesman for the Oxford Diocesan Board of Education said members of the interim academy board, who include Mr James, are 'senior and significant figures from education in the region'.

He added: "Further senior appointments will be announced in due course, along with details of a robust school improvement plan.

"In the meantime, we are indebted to local schools who are providing practical support to pupils and teachers.

"This includes the provision of an acting headteacher to cover the substantive headteacher, while he is away from the school."

The Oxford Mail understands that the school's new Ofsted report will be released in January, but parents have not been told if or when Mr Hardy and governors will return.