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Deal will make Stamford Queen Eleanor School ‘first choice for parents’

Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust executive principal Mark Woods with Stamford Queen Eleanor School chair of governors Jonathan Selwyn. Photo: MSMP070714-003am EMN-140807-100135001

Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust executive principal Mark Woods with Stamford Queen Eleanor School chair of governors Jonathan Selwyn. Photo: MSMP070714-003am EMN-140807-100135001

The trust taking over Stamford’s only state-run secondary school hopes to build on the good work that is already going on there.

Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust, known as CMat, will take control of Stamford Queen Eleanor School in the coming weeks.

The trust initially backed the bid by a group of Stamford parents to build a free school in the town. But the Government rejected the bid, instead encouraging CMat to work with Queen Eleanor.

Both the trust and the school now believe they have a partnership that will take results to the next level.

This week the Mercury spoke exclusively to CMat executive principal Mark Woods and Queen Eleanor chair of governors Jonathan Selwyn.

“We always said we could see the work that was being done at Queen Eleanor,” Mr Woods said. “We were aware of the record GCSE results.

“The Government said they really liked the bid, they liked us at interview, but the problem was the possible effect of a new school on Queen Eleanor.

“If we went back three years ago and Queen Eleanor had approached us we would have smiled. Why would we not be smiling now?”

CMat, based in Cambridge and Peterborough, will take over from the CfBT Schools Trust, which is based in Reading.

CMat already has a proven track record at Swavesy Village College, which was rated outstanding across the board in its last inspection in 2011. The trust also transformed performance at Nene Park Academy, formerly Orton Longeuville School, boosting its Ofsted rating from satisfactory to good in a short space of time.

Queen Eleanor is already on an upward trajectory and Mr Selwyn believes the partnership with CMat will help the school get to where it wants to be.

He said: “The key is to recognise that this school has gone places. It has really transformed.

“What we are about here is building on that success and making it the first choice of school for all parents in the town.”

The initial free school bid was launched by parents who were concerned about the choice of secondary education in Stamford. One of the key issues was the lack of sixthform at Queen Eleanor.

Both the school and CMat are determined to create a sixthform in time, but the immediate priority is increasing the number of pupils arriving at Queen Eleanor in Year 7.

Mr Woods said: “A sixthform is definitely in our plan but we need a cohort to sustain it. It needs approximately 200 pupils to be sustainable.

“With cohorts of 70 to 90 the chances of operating a viable sixthform are relatively low. Whereas if we have a cohort of 120 and are looking to retain about 100 with the possibility of recruiting more from outside, then you are beginning to get into a ballpark.

“Our message to prospective parents is send us your children and we might have the justification.”

CMat hopes to take full control of the school by the autumn. A new headteacher to replace the outgoing Wendy Hamilton will be appointed in the coming weeks.

 

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