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Friday, 10 March, 2000, 19:17 GMT
First 'superhead' resigns
Mr Friedag tried to inspire pupils
The first "superhead" to be appointed to turn round a school has resigned suddenly.

Torsten Friedag was appointed, on a salary of 70,000, to run the Islington Arts and Media School - formerly George Orwell School - in north London.

Islington education authority said on Friday that it had accepted his "immediate" resignation.

In a statement, the authority said Mr Friedag had "decided that the interests of the pupils will be best served if someone with different skills takes the school on to the next stage".

Mr Friedag said: "The establishment of the school has been a great enterprise.

"I am sad to be leaving and I gave this a great deal of thought. I am proud of what we have achieved.

"I do believe it is the right time for somebody else to take on the challenge for the good of the school, its students and the community."

Fresh Start

Islington Arts and Media School was held up as a shining example of the government's "fresh start" policy, in which failing schools are closed then reopened with a new name, a new head and mostly new staff.

George Orwell School had a reputation for poor academic performance and high levels of truancy, violence and disruption.

The new school, which opened last September, was boosted with hundreds of thousands of pounds in extra funds after being designated a specialist arts school.

Mr Friedag was hailed as a visionary head teacher who would revive the school and restore the confidence of local parents.

But only last term, violence flared again with a playground fight between different ethnic groups.

Islington's statement paid tribute to Mr Friedag's work.


"The intake of the first year of the new school was oversubscribed and the strong indications are that it will be again this September," it said.

Mr Friedag's vision was that it should be a "highly successful learning environment, an outstanding school and a centre for excellence in arts and media education".

That vision was "ripe for implementation, though there have been and are difficulties, not unexpected in a project like this", Islington said, such as the severe disruption caused by ongoing building work.

The acting director of education, Simon Jenkins, said: "This is a brave and mature decision and we have both thought long and hard about it.

"Our overriding concern is what is best for the pupils at the school and we both believe this is the best way forward.

"I would like to thank Torsten and wish him all the best in the future."

Last week, the Education Secretary, David Blunkett, threatened to invoke the Fresh Start policy for dozens more schools if they did not lift their exam results quickly.

To the anger of head teachers, he said consideration would be given to closing and reopening every school that had not improved to at least 15% getting five GCSEs at grades A*-C over three consecutive years.
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See also:

01 Mar 00 | Education
Closure threat to failing schools
22 Oct 99 | Education
Failing school gets fresh start
09 Nov 98 | Education
First 'super head' appointed
16 Jul 98 | England
Secondary schools
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