A former leading headteacher has left Star Academies a year after joining as a regional director tasked with getting more disadvantaged children into elite universities.
Mouhssin Ismail, who was also an executive principal at the trust, left before the start of the current academic year.
He joined Star’s headquarters in Blackburn last September with much fanfare, after moving from the top-performing Newham Collegiate in east London where he had been founding principal.
The state sixth-form centre, which has come under fire for pushing out low-attaining pupils, was in the top 2 per cent of schools and colleges in terms of average point scores per A-level entry last year.
It is also renowned for getting pupils into Oxbridge and Ivy League universities.
A press release from Star in January to mark Ismail being awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours, alludes to him “spearheading” its elite university preparation programme.
The scheme seeks to “help pupils and apply for some of the most competitive universities in the world”.
Trust is developing ‘elite’ sixth forms
In partnership with Eton College, the trust is also establishing three “elite” sixth-form settings in Dudley, Middlesbrough and Oldham.
Ministers have said they want to see a wave of elite post-16 institutions across England as part of the “levelling-up” agenda.
Asked in The Times last year whether he would help set up these schools, Ismail said: “I think I’m in a good position to be able to advise and support wherever they need me. If they asked me to get involved, by all means I’ll share my expertise.”
Ismail’s social media posts show he visited Eton twice during his tenure at Star, which involved discussing state and independent school collaboration and curriculum and assessment.
But Star said he was not involved in the project. It would not comment on the departure. Ismail did not respond to a request for comment.