A celebrated headteacher has stepped in to help a flagship free school whose second principal in three years left suddenly in the middle of the term.
Dame Sally Coates, principal of Burlington Danes Academy, has come to the rescue of West London Free School by becoming the free school's acting head principal while a permanent head is found to run the three-year-old Hammersmith school.
The leading free secondary school, set up by journalist and philanthropist Toby Young, was shrouded in controversy earlier this month after a advertisement for a new headteacher was placed in the Times Educational Supplement.
Parents were outraged earlier this month about losing a second headteacher in three years and complained about high staff turnover at the school said to be one of the UK's leading free schools and the most over-subscribed state secondary in Hammersmith and Fulham .
But, while former England hockey coach, Sam Naismith has left his post at WLFS, Dame Sally has come to the rescue and agreed to look over the school at the same time as continuing her role as principal at Burlington Danes School.
No reason was given for the sudden departure of Mr Naismith, who took over from previous head Thomas Packer a year ago after he left after just two years in the post.
Mr Young, said: "Dame Sally Coates has very kindly agreed to keep on eye on the school this term and help us recruit a new head.
"It's not a formal role, she's acting as a mentor and adviser to the acting head and the senior leadership team. So far she's been brilliant and everyone at the school is very impressed.
"She is still principal at Burlington Danes Academy but we're glad she has stepped in to help West London Free School out. With Dame Sally's help I'm confident we'll find an excellent new head."
Dame Sally is seen as a leading role model in the education sector as she pulled Burlington Danes Academy in White City out of special measures and turned it into an outstanding school last December.
In 2006, Burlington Danes was the first school taken over by education charity ARK school and Dame Sally, with senior vice principal Michael Ribton joined in 2008 to turn the school around to achieve an 'outstanding' Ofsted inspection under new, stricter criteria where it is thought only four to five per cent of schools will be awarded outsanding status.
Mr Ribton will be taking over from Dame Sally - who was given a DBE in March last year - as principal when she starts a new role as director of another academy chain, United Learning in September.