Head hails a fresh start for Wonford school
FOLLOWING a holiday makeover a city primary school has opened its doors as an academy.
Walter Daw Primary School in Wonford has had a complete makeover and a change of character, and has reopened as the Woodwater Academy.
The school is part of the Children First Federation under executive headteacher Gary Chown.
And it is a member of the Devon Primary Academies Trust – the biggest primary academy trust in the country.
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The trust educates 2,300 pupils across Devon with 120 teaching staff and 280 support staff.
The consortium acts as a network enabling staff from each of the schools in the trust to have the opportunity to work in other schools and share their expertise.
In November the Echo reported on the school's rapid progress since March 2011 when it was put in special measures – a failing category – by education standards agency Ofsted.
But in the autumn, after a "thorough overhaul" of the leadership team, the school was rated satisfactory, and is striving to become outstanding.
"This is an exciting new start for the school with a strong new staff team under our newly-appointed head of school, Ashley Leeson," said Mr Chown, who is also executive head for four other schools in East and Mid Devon, and was brought in to drive improvement at the school in June 2011.
"The children have smart new uniforms with our fresh logo which also appears on our new signs.
"And we are all very pleased that Ofsted inspectors have told us we're well on the way to becoming a good school."
The school's swift transition out of special measures was largely down to its inclusion under the Children First Federation which helped to raise standards and improve the quality of teaching.
Under the sponsored academy scheme, the school will be in line for a start-up grant. It will also give the school more freedom and flexibility to drive improvement strategies forward. The scheme will enable the school to work as part of a collaborative model and share best practice and expertise with other schools.
"Senior leaders have set the school on a journey to becoming a good school," said the inspectors.
Mr Chown had already overseen improvements at Wilcombe, Sidbury, Sampford Peverell and Hemyock primaries, which are all part of the federation.
He added: "The school is on a strong journey of recovery. Just before Christmas, Ofsted told us we were well on the way to becoming a good school.
"Our ultimate ambition is to be judged as an outstanding school."