Mrs Allen joined Whitley Academy in 2004, at this time the school was in financial deficit and with a cohort of 746 was experiencing falling rolls. Mrs Allen led a crusade, supported by the governing body, for greater autonomy and sustainable viability, firstly by becoming a Specialist College in 2007 and then a Foundation School in 2008. Academy conversion was achieved in July 2011.
Today the school’s student population has grown and it is over-subscribed for new admissions. It is using surplus funds, the majority of which are generated by the school itself and mostly from Mrs Allen’s work as a National Leader of Education, to complete a new Sports Hall, expand classroom capacity, drive teaching and leadership development and enrich the curriculum. Over the last four years the school has spent over £1.0m on these improvements which will be an enduring tribute to Mrs Allen’s dedication to the school.
Under Mrs Allen’s direction Whitley Academy achieved an “Outstanding” Ofsted judgement in 2010 and again in December 2013. Ofsted praised Mrs Allen personally saying:
- “The Principal, who is a National Leader of Education, provides very determined leadership, promoting a clear focus on continual improvement, including the sixth-form. She drives school improvement with a clearly articulated vision for the future”.
- “The academy has a strong commitment to working with and supporting other schools”.
- “The Principal is a National Leader of Education (NLE) who is working in partnership with other schools in the region offering support and challenge towards school improvement”.
Mrs Allen’s passion for the equality of opportunity for every child, and her unwavering commitment to enhancing students' life chances through education have enabled an unquantifiable number of young people to fulfil and exceed their potential, both at Whitley Academy and through her work supporting under achieving schools as a National Leader of Education. Over the past 8 years she has supported 16 schools, most of which have improved from near Ofsted Category to Good or Outstanding. She is always extremely modest about her enormous contribution, but she does make things happen for students and for the better. Mrs Allen’s “Service to Education” is exemplary and worthy of this recognition.