The principal of a new academy in Thetford has pledged that the south of the town will not miss out on educational improvements after pupils returned to the new-look school.

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The former Queensway Community Junior School opened its doors to pupils on Thursday as the Diamond Academy.

The transformation of the school site in Hillary Road has resulted in a revamped reception area, new facilities and students returning for the new term in new uniforms.

There are now over 20 academies in Norfolk, which have greater independence and freedom with budgets.

Principal Laura Jestico said sponsorship from Gaia Technologies meant that the school would be getting a technological investment with new computers and the introduction of Wi-Fi. The 170-pupil academy has also received new play equipment.

Mrs Jestico said it had been an intense process from applying for academy status in February and the school came out of special measures earlier this year.

The school is currently rated as “satisfactory” by Ofsted, but the management are aiming for outstanding status by the end of the academic year.

“The decision [to become an academy] was taken in the best interests of our children and there is considerable investment to the north of Thetford and we are in the south and we want to make sure they are not left behind.”

“The ethos will not change. We got our best results in the summer for SATS and we are building on them. We are called Diamond Academy because diamonds are inspirational and aspirational. We can spend our budget on what we consider to be the priorities. The majority of the changes have been contracted out to Thetford companies,” she said.

Mrs Jestico said pupils were consulted on the smart new green uniforms, which replace the school’s previously red attire.

The transformation comes as work continues to move the two campus Thetford Academy to one site to the north of the town in September 2013. It means the former Charles Burrell High School site in Staniforth Road will become vacant.

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