From the outset, STEP’s partnership with Wolsey enjoyed overwhelming support, particularly from parents. So we were delighted when on Friday 1st November, Wolsey Junior Academy joined Applegarth Academy, David Livingstone Academy and Gonville Academy as the fourth member of our Trust.
In keeping with the Trust’s mission, STEP partners will continue to, “strive together for excellence in partnership, so that our children, staff and Academy communities benefit from excellent teaching, learning and leadership.”
Only three weeks into the new academic year, Ofsted visited Wolsey to assess the school’s progress since being placed in special measures nine months earlier. Given the very poor KS2 SATs results, a judgement of “inadequate progress” seemed the most likely outcome. However, we were delighted when the inspection team concluded that, “reasonable progress” had been made based on the dramatic improvements of the previous fifteen days. Mr Glover and Mr Evans were singled out for particular praise:
“The Executive Headteacher and the Head of School have had a dramatic impact on the school, in a very short period of time……… There is a sense of urgency and speed about the work being undertaken.”
This tremendous achievement is further evidence of the transformational power of partnership through STEP.
On Friday 1st November, Wolsey Junior School converted to become Wolsey Junior Academy, a sponsored partner of The STEP Academy Trust.
On Tuesday 10th September, STEP’s partnership with Wolsey Junior School featured on BBC Breakfast. The report – “What happens if a school is failing?” – examined the positive impact of STEP’s model of school-to-school collaboration. In addition, the item highlighted inflexibilities in the current Ofsted Framework which may be discouraging outstanding providers from supporting vulnerable schools.
What happens if a school is failing? – BBC Breakfast
The STEP Academy Trust was disappointed by recent reports in local and national newspapers regarding staff changes at Wolsey Junior School. In response, the directors have highlighted the following facts for the record:
- Wolsey Junior School was put into special measures in February of this year, following an Ofsted Inspection that found the children were not receiving the standard of education that they should.
- The STEP Academy Trust was pleased to have the opportunity to sponsor Wolsey Junior School and to help deliver the rapid improvement in standards that the children at Wolsey need. This followed a consultation exercise which showed that this enjoyed parent and community support.
- Some members of the existing staff team decided they did not want to be part of this improvement programme and felt it was time to move on. Contrary to some press reports, no resignation letter cited unreasonable expectations as a contributing factor to their decision.
- Whilst this is disappointing, it is not completely unprecedented that staff move on with a change of leadership, and it does provide an opportunity to transform the quality of teaching and learning by recruiting a new team.
- This recruitment is now complete and Wolsey Junior School will be fully staffed for the start of the new academic year, and with a high quality team.
On Tuesday 30th April, the Governing Body of Wolsey Junior School voted to seek permission from the Department for Education to become an academy sponsored by The STEP Academy Trust. The decision followed a series of meetings seeking the views of the wider school community.
The next stage is for the Secretary of State to consider the request. If approval is given, an Academy Order will be passed and the school community will begin a formal consultation on academy conversion.
Following an invitation by the Governing Body of Wolsey Junior School, the directors of the Trust have entered into discussions about a possible partnership arrangement with the school. Earlier this term, Wolsey was placed in “Special Measures” by Ofsted. The Department for Education has indicated that it supports, in principle, the idea of STEP acting as sponsor for Wolsey Junior School, because of the Trust’s strong record of school improvement.
As well as fitting the mission and vision of The STEP Academy Trust, a partnership with Wolsey Junior School would enable Applegarth School, which joins STEP in April, to collaborate and share staff in much the same way as David Livingstone and Gonville. However, whilst there are many obvious benefits of entering into a supportive partnership with Wolsey Junior School, existing members are assured that the relentless drive to raise standards across our Trust will not be negatively affected. Indeed, STEP requires that all future partnerships enhance our efforts to improve the education we offer all our children.
Croydon Advertiser Article, Friday 8th March 2013