Troubled City Academy Norwich to be run by new sponsor after poor results

City Academy in Norwich.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

City Academy in Norwich. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

A troubled Norwich academy will be run by a new sponsor, it has been confirmed.

City Academy principal Mary Sparrow. Photo: Steve Adams

City Academy principal Mary Sparrow. Photo: Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

The Transforming Education in Norfolk (TEN) Group says, if plans go ahead, it will no longer run City Academy Norwich (CAN), which will instead be taken over by the Bohunt Education Trust (BET).

The switch will allow BET to 'build on the work' undertaken since the school became an academy in 2009, the TEN Group said.

Though the move has the backing of the regional schools commissioner, it is awaiting ministerial sign-off, which is expected to be given in the coming weeks. Parents and staff were told on Monday.

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It comes after the school, on Bluebell Road in Earlham, saw another set of disappointing GCSE results last month, with just 34pc of its pupils achieving a grade four or above in English and maths - roughly equivalent to a C.

Last year, they achieved 38pc A* to C in English and maths and became a coasting school after falling below the government standard for exam results three years in a row.

Aerial view of City Academy Norwich. Credit: Mike Page

Aerial view of City Academy Norwich. Credit: Mike Page - Credit: Mike Page

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In April this year, CAN was rated requires improvement across the board by Ofsted.

The school received a pre-warning notice from the government about standards in 2013 and official warning notices in 2014 and 2015.

Principal Mary Sparrow, who will be joined by two executive leaders, said: 'The proposal for our academy to join the Bohunt Education Trust is a really exciting opportunity for students, staff and parents. We have made great strides forward as a TEN Group academy and I would like to thank the group for their support for the achievements and progress we have made together.

'Our number one priority is our students, and we will work closely with all partners to ensure that these proposed changes are introduced in a smooth and seamless way that does not detract from our core focus on providing the best possible teaching and learning for our students.

'On a personal note, I would like to thank Gary Green and Paul Collin from BET for their understanding and support.

'As a result of my ongoing treatment for cancer, I will have continued spells away from work, and I am hugely appreciative of the consideration they have shown me in accommodating this in our planning for the proposed new academy executive leader team.'

MORE: City Academy Norwich is improving - but more work is needed, inspection finds

Earlham High School. Picture: Adrian Judd

Earlham High School. Picture: Adrian Judd - Credit: Archant

It was in 2009 that its predecessor Earlham High School became an academy - making it the second school to academise in Norfolk - and the school was relocated into a state of the art, £21m building in 2012.

Academisation came after a string of poor results, which in 2007 saw just 6pc of Earlham High pupils achieve A* to C in five grades including English and maths, making it the fourth worst school in the country. It was also put into special measures by Ofsted in 2007.

Dick Palmer, chief executive of the TEN Group, said the school had seen a 'complete transformation' over the last eight years.

'I would like to extend our deepest thanks and appreciation to City Academy's exceptional teachers, students, parents, governors, and other partners, whose incredible hard work and commitment means that we are in a position to hand over a transformed and improving school to a new sponsor,' he said.

MORE: City Academy Norwich celebrates opening of new £21m school

It was hoped that academisation would change the school's fortunes - and while results did improve up to 39pc in 2010/11 and 40pc in 2011/12, the progress was not sustained and results fell back to 24pc in 2012/13.

New executive leader Paul Collin said: 'CAN is, and will continue to be, a school which recognises the importance of its local community and the families and young people within it. I look forward to working with all the team this year as we continue this journey together.'

Neil Strowger, chief executive of BET, said: 'We are very much looking forward to delivering a high standard of education at CAN. We hope the change to BET to be confirmed in the next few weeks, and then will be working hard to bring in improvements across the Academy, to benefit all students.

'We have a track record of success, including school improvement, and we are committed to overseeing progression in school standards here at CAN.'

• See more in Tuesday's paper. What do you think of the change? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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