THE temporary principal of troubled St Aldhelm’s Academy has pledged to turn things around for its hundreds of pupils.

Monica Cross is determined to raise the aspirations of the children and to ensure the curriculum gives them every chance of success.

“I know what I’m doing because I have done this before” she said. “Every school goes through a bit of upheaval when a principal leaves but we are going to move on smoothly.”

Mrs Cross stepped in as interim principal following the shock departure of Cheryl Heron on Monday.

She said she will be in post until a permanent principal is appointed but has no idea when that will be.

Ms Heron became principal when the old Rossmore Community College was replaced by St Aldhelm’s in 2010.

Despite her promises to make rapid improvements to the failing college, just a year later they posted the worst GCSE results in the country with just three per cent of pupils reaching the national benchmark standard of at least five GCSEs at grades A* to C, including English and maths.

Only last month it was revealed that the academy has been the victim of a £1million scam.

Mrs Cross said it was “entirely Cheryl’s decision to leave when she did.”

She added: “Running an academy is not an easy thing, even for an experienced head. Setting up a new school and moving into a new building is very time-consuming and stressful.

“Anybody that leaves before the end of the academic year has their own personal reasons and must be feeling a great deal of stress.”

She said the academy has placed great emphasis on vocational qualifications in recent years but will now focus more on academic subjects due to government changes.

It is currently sponsored by Bournemouth University and the Diocese of Salisbury but the government is considering proposals to make it part of a bigger group of academies, also operated by the Diocese of Salisbury.

Mrs Cross said: “It is becoming increasingly obvious across the country that stand alone academies are not as successful as those that are grouped.”

She was the principal of a London Academy and has since been involved in Portland’s Aldridge Community Academy Trust in an advisory role.