Staff at March Neale-Wade were treated to a round of inspirational talks on Monday as the 1,700 pupil school officially became a sponsored academy.
A new sign at the entrance and the promise of a new uniform from September are the main outward signs of change, but Principal Jason Wing hopes the behind the scenes changes wrought since he took the helm will bear fruit and lead to the once failing school becoming outstanding.
Speaking at the official launch of the school’s academy status, in the presence of all staff, Dr Liz Sidwell, School’s Commissioner for England, Clive Bush CEO of the Active Learning Trust (the school’s academy status sponsors) and the trust’s board members, Mr Wing thanked staff for their hardwork.
He said the new status meant a fresh start for the Neale-Wade, which would see them put the despair of being in Special Measures behind them and concentrate on raising standards so the school becomes one of the best in the country.
Mr Wing acknowledged staff had been under pressure to improve, and congratulated them on their achievements so far, but he said: “We can’t take our foot off the pedal, we have got to keep pushing and pushing, we don’t want to let the good work we have done this year slip away.”
Mr Wing believes academy status will help the school achieve its goals with the Active Learning Trust providing expert support and guidance.
A view backed by Dr Sidwell who spoke of her delight at the Neale-Wade becoming an academy and explaining why she is a firm believer in the scheme promoted by the Department for Education.
She believes every child deserves the best education available and that working in partnership with parents is also vital in ensuring a school’s success.
Mr Bush, who has been working closely with Mr Wing and the school leading up to the move into academy status, said his motives were not based on political ideology.
And he said: “There is a strong sense of moving things forward and I would like to take the opportunity to formally thank you for that. We have really high aspirations for the Neale-Wade Academy. I have spoken to parents, primary schools and there is a massive groundswell of support for this school. The Neale-Wade Academy continues to face very significant challenges, we can’t duck that, there is still a long way to climb. The spotlight is on us but I am absolutely confident these expectations can be matched,” said Mr Bush.
As part of the new academy status the Neale-Wade will have a new uniform from September. It will see a return of the school blazer for all pupils and ties for boys.
But not everyone was happy about Dr Sidwell’s visit and for reaction from the school’s NUT branch turn to page six.