A school will reopen with a new name and a new man in charge as it tries to make a clean break from its past reputation.
Stamford Queen Eleanor School will this year become Stamford Welland Academy under the leadership of the Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust, known as CMat.
New principal Anthony Partington, who replaces outgoing headteacher Wendy Hamilton, has a track record of transforming failing schools. While Queen Eleanor is by no means failing, the new principal feels it is important to break away from the past and essentially start a new school.
“The rebranding is a signal that this is a fresh start and a fresh school,” said Mr Partington. “We are not taking over Queen Eleanor. We are proposing a new school.”
Mr Partington said his first task was to get more children coming to the school. This year’s intake at Year 7 is so far less than 50, from a maximum capacity of 108, while numbers are up at the neighbouring Casterton Business and Enterprise College.
“The biggest challenge is to increase pupil numbers in the school. That will be an indicator that the school is a credible choice for parents,” said Mr Partington.
“We want to really make sure this is a school that the community is proud of.”
Mr Partington began his career at the Parkside Federation in Cambridge before joining CMat and taking a role as assistant principal at Orton Longueville School in Peterborough. The school became Nene Park Academy and results shot up, with a record this year of 40 per cent A* or A grades at A-level.
Queen Eleanor has suffered from a reputation of low achievement for many years, dating back to its time as Fane School. Although last year’s GCSE results broke all records, this year’s have not been released in full.
The history of low achievement prompted a group of parents to set up a bid for Government funding to build a new school in Stamford. CMat joined the bid last year, but the trust was instead asked by the Government to help transform the fortunes of Queen Eleanor.
Mr Partington was part of that bid team and knows the value of education to parents in Stamford. He said: “Education seems to be really important to Stamford people. But identifying what it is that parents want from their school is something that in a very short time we have to address.”
Mr Partington met some of his new pupils towards the end of the summer term. He said: “The thing that is always fantastic when you come into a school is the children. They are always the best bit.”
Although CMat will not officially take over the school until October, its current owner CfBT has agreed to let the rebranding begin. Mr Partington has now started his job and will be there to greet staff and pupils at the start of term.
CMat executive principal Mark Woods, who helped develop the initial bid for a new school, said: “Stamford Queen Eleanor has made progress in recent years, but unfortunately it has struggled to shake off its historic link to a school with low achievement levels.
“Stamford Welland Academy will bring to life our proposal that we submitted to the Department for Education to create a new school in Stamford, but will make use of and develop existing facilities in the town.
“CMat will bring a new drive, a fresh perspective, and a wealth of experience to improve standards. We look forward to developing Stamford Welland Academy into the good school everyone wants it to be.”
As part of the rebrand a new lion logo has been designed and new house groups will be introduced this term.
CMat hopes to get an intake approaching 100 pupils in September 2015, with a good rating at its first Ofsted inspection.