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Downham Market Academy told it must find new sponsor after warning letter

PUBLISHED: 14:08 28 March 2017 | UPDATED: 09:56 30 March 2017

Principal of Downham Market Academy Jon Ford, who stepped down in November. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Principal of Downham Market Academy Jon Ford, who stepped down in November. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© Archant Norfolk 2013

A school has been told it must find a new academy sponsor.

In a letter to parents at Downham Market Academy Dr Duncan Ramsey, chief executive of the College of West Anglia (CWA) Academy Trust, said the move came after a warning from the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) that improvements were not being carried out quickly enough.

The 1,500-pupil academy was told it required improvement after an Ofsted inspection in 2015. Inspectors said results were below average in maths and science, the sixth form required improvement and staff did not manage behaviour well enough.

In his letter, Dr Ramsey goes on: “You may recall that in November 2016, the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) issued a warning letter to the trust because of his concerns about the speed of improvement in performance and achievement at DMA. As a result of that, the trust put in place a rapid improvement plan to address the issues raised. Feedback on the improvement plan from the RSC has been positive and the school has improved well this year under the leadership of Phil Hearne. However, following discussions with the RSC, we have agreed that now is a good time for DMA to continue its academy improvement journey to good and outstanding with a new academy

trust.”

No-one at the school was willing to comment on the change. The former Downham Market High School joined the CWA trust in 2013 - a year after being placed in special measures.

Dr Ramsey added: “At this stage, we do not yet know who the new sponsor will be or when the change will take place but I would like to reassure you there will be no short-term impact on the management of DMA. The current leadership team will continue to implement the improvement action plan and to support your children in their education and the CWA Academy Trust will continue to oversee this until a new sponsor is in place.”

Principal Jon Ford stepped down after in November after a visit by representatives of the Department for Education and the commissioner. At the time David Pomfret, chief executive of the CWA trust said: “The trust is fully committed to supporting Downham Market Academy, its students and staff to become a great school and we cannot afford to lose momentum in our drive for improvement.”

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