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Turner Schools Turner Schools Chief to take up appointment as Adviser to Education Secretary

Turner Schools Chief to take up appointment as Adviser to Education Secretary

News : 11 March 2020

Turner Schools Chief to take up appointment as Adviser to Education Secretary

++ Mr Seamus Murphy appointed as Acting Chief Executive ++

Turner School is today announcing that Dr Jo Saxton will be stepping down as the Chief Executive of Turner Schools as she has been invited to take up an important position advising the Minister for the School System and the Secretary of State for Education on policy matters. She will take up the post as Policy Advisor on 23 March 2020.

Dr Saxton has achieved a huge amount as the founding Chief Executive of Turner Schools. In addition to all Trust pupils having access to a powerful, sequenced curriculum and receiving a free breakfast:

  • Turner Free School is oversubscribed after only two years and a multi-million pound investment in a new school building, and in Folkestone, is now under way
  • Morehall Primary was judged as “Good”, under the new tougher Ofsted framework, for the first time in the school’s history
  • Martello Primary has been found to have Good Leadership and Management and Good Early Years, and has made huge strides in pupils’ reading ages; fast establishing itself as a specialist school for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Folkestone Academy primary has achieved its highest ever Phonics Screening Check results under Jo’s tenure and is leading the way with its curriculum — particularly in History — which has recently been visited by the Department for Education
  • Folkestone Academy has turned a real corner, with an ambitious curriculum now in place, behaviour hugely improved, exclusions dramatically reduced and attendance increasing.

The Board of Trustees has announced that Mr Seamus Murphy has been appointed as Acting Chief Executive. As Dr Saxton departs, Mr Murphy will continue the work she began as the acting Chief Executive. Mr Murphy will be based at Folkestone Academy and will continue to be the Executive Principal at the Academy.

Michael Buchanan, Chair of Turner Schools said:

“We are very sad to be losing Jo – she has put her heart and soul into Turner Schools and has achieved a huge amount since setting the Trust up in 2016, leaving all our schools in a much better place than she inherited them. Her vision to create schools that offer a powerful education to all children regardless of background and to effect a sea-change in Folkestone is fast becoming a reality. Our loss is the Secretary of State’s gain, and we are incredibly proud of what she has achieved.

“The Directors of Turner Schools are pleased to be able to provide immediate continuity of leadership for the schools in the form of Seamus Murphy and we are looking forward to working closely with him to ensure the momentum of improvement in the education provided to children and young people in Folkestone is maintained.”


Damian Collins, Member of Parliament for Folkestone and Hythe said:

“Jo Saxton, through Turner Schools, has brought drive and energy to raising school standards in Folkestone, and has led the Trust through key strategic decisions to improve the education of local children.


“Jo leaves behind a powerful legacy most visibly in the state of the art new buildings for the Turner Free School and Morehall primary’s first ever Ofsted Good. Through the Trust Board, Chairs of Governors and day to day leadership of Mr Murphy and the school Principals Jo is leaving with strong continuity of leadership.”

Dr Jo Saxton said:

“It’s a huge wrench to be leaving Turner Schools – I have lived and breathed Team Turner for the last four years and it’s been such a privilege to serve Folkestone. It has been an honour and privilege to set up an education Trust that can and will continue to help young people gain the knowledge and skills they need to succeed and have choices in their futures.

“I am proud of what we have achieved so far, and have absolutely every confidence that Turner Schools is going to go from strength to strength in the coming years under the guidance of Mike, the Board and Seamus’ expert leadership.”