A HEADTEACHER has quit a struggling Southend school – just before it was reborn as an academy.

Victoria Overy, head of Chase High School, in Prittlewell Chase, for nearly four years, said farewell to pupils on the last day of the winter term.

She is believed to have left voluntarily.

Children returned today after the Easter break to find a new interim head, Andrew James.

Chase High has nowbeen officially taken over by the Brentwood Acadamies Trust, which runs two schools in Brentwood.

Chase’s last Ofsted report, after an inspection in late 2013, rated it “inadequate”.

Mr James, previously deputy head of the trust’s Brentwood comprehensive school, St Martin’s, has also taught in several Southend schools during his career.

He said: “The reason for moving to achieve academy status is just good sense when the Government has provided incentives for schools to move that way.

“This is certainly not a knee-jerk reaction against perceived negative elements in the school. Instead, it is just a way of securing greater freedom in terms of curriculum and sourcing services we need.

“We look forward to using all it offers us, as we look to the future.”

Having rated the school as failing 18 months ago, Ofsted has been monitoring progress at Chase and last year said it had not seen much improvement.

Mr James, who will run the school until August, when a permanent appointment is to be made, praised the efforts of his predecessor.

However, he added: “A renewed focus on teaching and learning, behaviour, uniform and standards will all go a long way to help the school move rapidly forward.”

News of Ms Overy’s departure has not been universally welcomed.

Former MP Sir David Amess, who is defending his Southend West seat on May 7, said he was “disappointed”

she had gone.

Speaking as he shared a platform with other candidates at an Echo hustings meeting on Thursday night, he said: “I think it’s an absolute disgrace that Victoria is no longer head.”

He later told the Echo: “She was a gifted teacher and I felt strongly that she was beginning to turn the school around.

“I’m very, very disappointed. When I’ve been out campaigning I’ve not spoken to any parent who has had a bad word to say about her.

“Schools aren’t forced to be become academies, but I haven’t had anyone in my constituency come to me and say ‘David, we regret changing’.”

The school was officially handed over to the trust, which also runs St.

Martin’s School, and Larchwood Primary School, both in Brentwood.

! For details of all the candidates in all south Essex’s seats – and the latest local election news – visit the 2015 Election section on the Echo’s website at echo -news.co.uk/news/2015_election