IPACA has announced its principal is leaving in a shock resignation, just days before the new school year was due to begin.

The Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy has confirmed that Alison Appleyard has left the academy in order to embark on the next stage of her career.

The resignation comes just weeks after IPACA announced they had plans in place to ask exam boards for GCSE papers to be reviewed and regraded. Mrs Appleyard became the first principal at IPACA in January 2013 after the academy got the go ahead in April 2012 Since then, the academy achieved their best ever GCSE results in 2013, a ‘Good’ rating from Ofsted, and will be opening the door to its new Sixth Form this year.

John Tizard, chairman of governors said: “Alison has made a significant contribution as principal.

“During her time in post as our 'Founder Principal’, the academy has secured a ‘Good’ grade from Ofsted and the governors are very grateful for the contribution that she has made to the academy.

“She leaves IPACA in a much stronger position, and well placed to continue its journey. We and everyone at IPACA wish her every success in the future.

“Alison has asked me to pass on her love and best wishes to all staff, students and their families and to wish them every success in the future. She has felt privileged to have been the first principal of IPACA.”

Toni Coombs, the cabinet member for Education at Dorset County Council said: “All I can say is it is very disappointing because the results IPACA have achieved have seen great gains and they have had a really good start to their future as an academy.

“I am very sad to hear about the resignation, it is a real shame.”

Following her resignation, vice-principals, Darren Marklew, Stuart McLeod and Robert Russell will lead the academy, as they did when Mrs Appleyard was absent last year.

The academy said it is planned that a “highly-experienced interim principal” will be appointed to the role at the earliest opportunity.

“We are fortunate at IPACA in having a very experienced set of school leaders and staff team, and we are confident that our development will continue with passion, determination and innovation,” Mr Tizard added.