Primary school unite in academy trust move
TWO Torquay primary schools have joined forces to create Torbay's first Primary Academy Trust.
Ilsham Church of England Academy and Ellacombe Academy are now members of the Learning Academy Partnership — the first primary multi-academy trust in the resort.
Ilsham, rated by Ofsted as 'outstanding', has sponsored Ellacombe as an academy with the Department of Education's approval.
Ellacombe had been put in special measures because of poor standards and last spring Torbay Council commissioned Ilsham to support the school. The relationship proved effective and has seen a rapid improvement in standards and Ellacombe's removal from special measures in February.
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The decision to cement the relationship was taken with the support of Torbay Council, the Diocesan Board of Education, Ofsted and the governing bodies of both schools.
The partnership involving 485 pupils and 66 staff was launched in April. The new trust is responsible for both schools and operates as one board of directors.
The trust will form a charitable company with the over-riding aim to promote 'excellence for all'.
Ilsham is recognised as a National Support School and is consistently in the 10 per cent of the highest performing schools. Head teacher Lynn Atkinson is a National Leader of Education. She is now executive principal of both academies.
She said: "Becoming a trust was a way of formalising and cementing our relationship and ensuring that Ellacombe continues to improve.
"Both Ellacombe and Ilsham have benefited from being in a close, professional partnership. Joining up will improve the opportunities and outcomes of our children still further.
"The new arrangement will continue to boost the potential to improve outcomes for every pupil across the partnership even more, improve the ability to secure and develop successful leadership, provide greater staff development opportunities, retain valued staff, share best practice between the schools and make economies of scale so budgets can be used more effectively."
She emphasised that for parents and pupils it is very much business as usual.
"There is no overall change to things like school hours or school uniform," she said.
"Instead, the trust will work behind the scenes to help us to build on our recent improvements, widening opportunities and enhancing learning."
Talking about Ellacombe school, she said the school has now appointed a new chairman of governors and a chairman of trustees.
"People can see the improvement. They can see the new facilities," said Mrs Atkinson.
"We have made radical changes to the curriculum. Our attendance has improved. There is a much improved ethos at the school.
"I want to be able to assist the school in achieving its objective, which is to give students the best possible education and the best opportunities in life."
The partnership will continue to work with schools across Torbay, she said.
"We already benefit from our partnership with Oldway Teaching School Alliance, and a number of Learning Networks within Torbay and Devon.
"This is an extremely exciting time for education in Torbay," she said.
It has recently been announced that Mrs Johnson will retire at the end of this term.