At last! Future is settled for Ridings

January 29 2018

A NEW era begins for Winterbourne’s secondary school this month as it joins a new academy trust.

A NEW era begins for Winterbourne’s secondary school this month as it joins a new academy trust.

Winterbourne International Academy  was due officially to become part of  Olympus Academy Trust (OAT) on February 1.

It joins Abbeywood and Patchway secondaries, the all-through Bradley Stoke community school and five primaries in the locally-based group of schools.

Staff, children and parents are unlikely to see many immediate changes as WIA has already been working closely with OAT for some time.

Dave Baker, Olympus chief executive, announced at the start of term that following lengthy discussions involving the Education and Skills Funding Agency and the Department for Education a deal had been agreed for WIA to join OAT without any financial burden to other schools in the trust.

The move ends a long period of instability at WIA, whose students include many from Downend and Emersons Green. As the former Ridings High School, it became an academy in September 2009 - along with the then King Edmund School in Yate - under the umbrella of the Ridings’ Federation of Academies.

The two academies were created through a scheme in which stronger schools were invited to partner weaker ones and both got new buildings as a result.

However, the federation experienced a string of problems, from a financial crisis surrounding a potential £1 million deficit, poor Ofsted ratings for both academies and the departure of two short-lived chief executive principals. WIA was later placed in special measures by Ofsted, although its exam results continue to be among the best in the area.

A consortium of Olympus and Castle School Education Trust (CSET) applied to take over sponsorship of WIA and provided interim leadership at the school.

Meanwhile, the Yate academy split away and has transferred to the Greenshaw Learning Trust.

OAT and CSET continue to work in partnership and are setting up a training organisation called North Avon Teaching School Alliance, which will be based at Bradley Stoke Community School.

Olympus is also looking to set up a centre at Patchway called the Concorde Learning Intervention Centre for students who struggle to learn effectively in a standard classroom environment. Shoppers at local Tesco stores can vote using the token scheme until the end of the month to support this provision.