The head of an academy trust taking over sponsorship of two schools from next month has vowed to transform them into a success.
Both University Academy Kidsgrove (UAK) and neighbouring University Primary Academy Kidsgrove faced an uncertain future after it emerged in the summer that the debt-ridden chain running them was due to fold.
Now Shaw Education Trust has stepped in to rescue the two schools and has already begun working with staff this term to improve children’s lessons.
It comes as an Ofsted report revealed University Primary Academy has been struggling to raise standards as the help offered by its original sponsor came ‘too little, too late’. Inspectors criticised University of Chester Academies Trust (UCAT) for having only ‘limited impact’.
University Academy Kidsgrove
Jo Morgan, Shaw’s chief executive officer, now hopes to draw a line under the past.
She said: “We are very much committed to making sure there is high-quality education provision for young people in Kidsgrove. We are absolutely determined to keep these schools sustainable in the long-term.”
At the primary school, Shaw has introduced a ‘peer coaching’ programme and extra training for teachers.
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As both Kidsgrove schools were given a corporate branding by UCAT, they will have to change their names. But the plan is to get the local community to help decide what they should be called.
Parents have also been reassured they won’t need to buy new uniforms for this academic year.
University Primary Academy Kidsgrove
Shaw Education Trust already oversees half-a-dozen primary, secondary and special schools in Staffordshire. They include sponsored academies like Wolstanton High, along with schools that are just members of the trust, such as Madeley School, Seabridge Primary, and The Meadows Primary Academy in Madeley Heath.
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Mrs Morgan said the Kidsgrove schools would be collaborating with the other schools on a range of activities, including joint professional development and projects led by pupils. There will also be an annual ‘graduation’ ceremony to recognise the achievements of key stage three students.
In recent years, UAK has suffered from dwindling pupil numbers, which has seriously affected its finances.
But Mrs Morgan stressed students would still have access to a full curriculum there. Some young people could choose to take additional courses at one of the other secondary school sites.
UCAT, which ran into millions of pounds’ worth of debt, is relinquishing control of all seven of its schools.
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A trust spokesman confirmed the proposed transfer date for UAK and University Primary Academy is November 1.
He said: “UCAT is working very closely with both Shaw Education Trust and the Department for Education to ensure a smooth transition.”
The community is being invited to a ‘food for thought breakfast’ at University Primary Academy this Friday (October 19) from 8.30am. They can share ideas for the new school names.