THE head of Wellington Academy has left on the eve of a new academic year after poor GCSE results.

Students returned to the flagship £32m academy, which opened in Tidworth in 2009, to find principal Andy Schofield had gone.

In his place one of Britain’s most high-profile and outspoken educationalists, Dr Anthony Seldon, the Master of Wellington College, has been appointed executive head of the academy, which has 1,100 pupils, including 100 boarders.

David Cowley, Wellington Academy’s chairman of governors, said: “Wellington College’s exam results are among the most improved in the UK, and as head of the college, Anthony has a national reputation for transforming the academic profile of schools.”

This year sawWellington Academy’s benchmark figure of five GCSE A to Cs including English and maths slump from 47 per cent to 37 per cent.

Tidworth councillors welcomed the new focus – although appreciating the role that Andy Schofield played since 2008 in more than doubling the size of the school population and transforming its lacklustre reputation.

County councillor Mark Connolly, an academy governor until May, said: “These were bitterly disappointing results, especially as when I was a governor they were talking about a successful year – we would have been bottom of the table as far as Wiltshire was concerned.

“Education is a business like football, in that it is based on results. If we had been in the Premier League we would have been relegated this year.”

Businessman and town councillor Andrew Connolly said the results were unacceptable.

He said: “Our hope was that Wellington Academy would break the cycle of social deprivation, but it hasn’t made inroads into it.

“In some respects it is good to see the governors governing.”

Town mayor Chris Franklin said: “At the end of the day the buck has to stop somewhere and that is it.”

The changes come as the academy is poised to build a new sixth form centre on the Castledown Business Park.