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Simon Underwood - Principal

Simon Underwood - Principal at Corby Business Academy

Our Principal, Simon Underwood, joined the Academy in 2018.

He is proud to lead the Academy and pledges to build on the Improvement made so far, whilst continuing to establish a positive culture of aspiration and high expectations.

Corby Business Academy was last fully inspected by Ofsted in April 2019, when the effectiveness of its leadership and management judgement was increased to good. During the most recent monitoring inspection, February 2022, it was recognised by inspectors that he leads with ‘moral purpose’. Other notable findings included:

“Leaders and those responsible for governance are taking effective action in order for the school to become a good school.”

“Senior leaders work with a clear sense of direction to improve the school’s provision.”

“Senior leaders have improved the school’s quality of education.”

Simon has also shared his journey and philosophies on his educational journey to date.

‘I pursued a career in teaching to change young people’s lives for the better, both in terms of academic success and personal development. Allowing students to access a range of opportunities and giving them as many options for the future as possible is the motivational factor. It is vital that students possess as many keys, to as many doors, as possible. It is also about developing people who are ready to contribute towards society.’

Simon is now approaching his third decade of teaching. His career has included successful roles as a PE and English teacher, Director of Specialism and Assistant Head Teacher at a Sports College and Strategic Leader of Inclusion. Before arriving at Corby Business Academy, he was Vice Principal at Brooke Weston Academy.

‘As Principal, the range of expertise and knowledge you need and the amount of people you work with increases. You are no longer focused on just one or two areas; it is that broader brush-stroke of many aspects, such as site and operational matters, financial management and successful relationships with all stakeholders attached to the Academy. It means having a more holistic picture of how a school works effectively, as well as maintaining the absolute focus on students.’

Corby Business Academy is currently operating with approximately 1200 students on roll and 180 staff; it includes a Special Educational Needs Unit Provision and a developing Sixth Form.

Simon has implemented many positive changes over the past few years and plans are already in action to build on the upward trend of improvement: ‘The culture and ethos has significantly improved, the aspirations and expectations of the students are much higher and standards have increased. The communication and partnerships with the community have been good. I have met hundreds of parents over the past few years and I feel the relationships with them are now strong; this is going to help the school move forward even further.

‘The most pleasing thing for me has been the buy-in from the community and the connections we are forging with the parents and carers. The aim is to ensure the Academy arrives at a status of delivering an outstanding provision for all students. The A Level increases in attainment are really pleasing and there have been improvements to some areas of GCSE attainment as well. We now have to focus on the progress students make from their starting points at Key Stage 3.

‘Quality of education is the main element of attention on this year, as well as making sure that students have high aspirations and high-quality pathways to take. The work with our SLT and middle leaders to make sure our curriculum is fit for purpose is hugely important and it is also crucial that all staff are committed to the ethos of what we are striving to achieve. It is a no-excuse culture. Every student will get the care and wrap around support they need to achieve academically and socially, regardless of their background or ability.

‘The highlights of the past year have been the new culture, our community relationships, individual and group achievements from students, as well as the Ofsted judgements we have received in such a short space of time. Inspectors found our quality assurance and self-evaluation to be accurate; therefore, we have a good knowledge about areas to develop.

‘We are now at or above capacity in each year group, which is a substantial increase in uptake. The amount of applications we received last year was a record for the Academy in recent years. This year we have had more than 1,200 prospective families looking at what we can offer.’

Simon has valued the support offered at Trust level and by the other Principals: ‘I have forged many professional relationships across the Trust. There is a true commitment from everyone to ensure that our students and the community get what they deserve.’

There is also an important acknowledgement to the staff and students within the Academy. ‘I have been really humbled by the acceptance and welcome I have received. The students have been excellent and the efforts from the all staff members has been vital, they are committed to our journey. ‘I am truly excited about the prospects for Corby Business Academy.’

Trust CEO Dr Andrew Campbell said: ‘Simon is a very experienced leader who, along with the senior leadership team, has demonstrated unswerving commitment to Corby Business Academy and Brooke Weston Trust. I and my Trust colleagues value working closely with him, and we will ensure that Corby Business Academy continues to develop and thrive, offering an excellent education for all.’