Cromer Academy may join new Inspiration Trust group of schools

Penny Bignell, principal of Cromer Academy

Penny Bignell, principal of Cromer Academy - Credit: Archant

Cromer Academy may join a small cluster of schools under the umbrella title The Inspiration Trust in a bid to gain more funding and improve prospects for students and staff.

Head teacher Penny Bignell told Cromer Town Council last night that she believed the move would bring 'huge advantages' to the school which has fewer than 500 pupils.

Mrs Bignell said in the new, harder, economic climate funding was based on a 'per student' basis and joining forces with the 'small family' of other schools would give Cromer access to new sources of cash, as well as training and development opportunities for staff.

'The trust would continue to support Cromer Academy in its vision of raising the achievements and aspirations of the children here, as well as our traditional values such as good behaviour, smart school uniform and helping students to become respected members of the wider world,' Mrs Bignell told councillors on Monday.

The trust includes Larkman Primary School, in Norwich, the new Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form Free School, due to open in Norwich this year, and Great Yarmouth Primary Academy.

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Its chief executive is Rachel de Souza, ex-principal at Ormiston Victory Academy – the former under-achieving Costessey High School – who is credited with turning the school around. Within two years it was judged by Ofsted to be making 'outstanding progress.'

The Inspiration Trust, formerly the East Norfolk Academies Trust, was originally established by multi-millionaire sponsor Theodore Agnew.

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Aylsham-born Mr Agnew has set up more than 20 companies, including Somerton Capital LLP, a private equity investment firm. He is a non executive director board member with the Department for Education, and has stressed that he would be looking to include no more than six schools in the Inspiration Trust.

Parents have been invited to a consultation meeting at Cromer Academy this evening to learn their views about the idea.

Mrs de Souza said she would be delighted if the academy chose to join the group. 'It needs to be a community decision,' she said. 'But I've been to the school a number of times and always thought what a fabulous school it is. I think they would bring a huge amount to the trust.'

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