Bright future predicted for struggling Sheffield secondary school, as new trust takes reins

The new trust in charge of a struggling Sheffield secondary school is confident it can repeat past successes and transform its fortunes.

Thursday, 11th January 2018, 3:36 pm
Updated Thursday, 11th January 2018, 3:45 pm
Yewlands Academy

Yewlands Academy, in Grenoside, was one of 21 schools left in the lurch when their sponsor Wakefield Cities Academies Trust (WCAT) collapsed days into the start of the academic year last September.

Brigantia Learning Trust quickly stepped into the breach to support the school, and the Department for Education today confirmed it would take over as the new sponsor.

Chris French, executive principal at Brigantia Learning Trust

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Yewlands Academy, like many of the schools previously run by WCAT, had been struggling. It remains in special measures after being rated inadequate by Ofsted in 2016, though the last inspection in June found progress was being made.

Brigantia believes its track record, having helped Concord Junior School improve its rating from inadequate to requires improvement, and Wincobank Nursery & Infant School go from requires improvement to good, proves it can propel Yewlands to greater things.

The trust, which also sponsors Hinde House School and Longley Park Sixth Form College in Sheffield, has been supporting Yewlands since it was identified in October as the preferred trust to take over.

It provided an interim headteacher, Simon Winslow, from Hinde House Secondary School, and also supplied extra finance, human resources and IT staff.

Chris French, executive principal at Brigantia Learning Trust

Chris French, executive principal at Brigantia, said it had already made a 'considerable' impact and would continue to lay the groundwork to help the school make further strides.

"We've already put in place or are putting in place very substantial changes which will give us a really solid foundation to move forward," he said.

"Our aim is to have an immediate impact on summer outcomes while configuring the school so it's ready for longer-term improvement.

"We've got a strong track record of turning around schools and we're confident we can achieve the same at Yewlands."

Mr French added that the trust's focus was on improving fundamentals at the school, like teaching quality, pupils' aspirations, and putting in place better systems to monitor students' progress and report back to parents.

Yewlands was one of 11 schools formerly sponsored by WCAT for which new sponsors were confirmed today, including five in Doncaster and one in Rotherham.

The Department for Education said it planned to complete the transfer by the end of this academic year, and would work to minimise disruption during that process.

Mr French said: "We intervened immediately when Yewlands needed a new sponsor.

"We could have sat back and waited until a decision was made, leaving the school floundering without leadership or direction.

"But we rolled up our sleeves at very short notice and we're really pleased to have reached this point."