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Ipswich school faces uncertain future as academy trust handed termination warning

PUBLISHED: 16:38 20 December 2018 | UPDATED: 16:38 20 December 2018

The entrance to Sprites Primary Academy in Ipswich Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

The entrance to Sprites Primary Academy in Ipswich Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

GOOGLE MAPS

An Ipswich primary school recently branded inadequate by Ofsted could lose its sponsor unless "rapid improvements" are made to pupil outcomes.

Steve Lancashire, chief executive of REAch2, the trust in charge of Sprites Academy Picture: MATT HUNTERSteve Lancashire, chief executive of REAch2, the trust in charge of Sprites Academy Picture: MATT HUNTER

REAch2 Academy Trust, which runs Sprites Primary Academy in Ipswich, has been handed a Minded to Terminate letter by the Department for Education (DfE) – meaning it could be forced to cut ties with the school unless improvements are made in a number of key areas.

While the trust insists the Sprites Academy “will not be closing”, the DfE has warned it will be taking action if pupil outcomes do not improve significantly over the next school year.

If the trust fails to make the required changes, the DfE has the power to terminate its funding agreement with the school – leaving Sprites Academy without a sponsor.

However this does necessarily mean the school would face closure, as it may be taken in by an alternative trust.

The letter focuses in on a number of key problems highlighted by Ofsted in its most recent inspection, including issues with the curriculum, low standards set by teachers and a lack of support for disadvantaged pupils and those with special needs.

If “significant” progress is not made, the DfE has warned it may issue a more serious Termination Warning Notice, which could lead to formal termination of the funding agreement.

Sprites Academy now faces a number of Ofsted monitoring inspections, while REAch2 must supply the DfE with a formal school improvement plan.

The trust was also told that the DfE expects its “wider performance in the region to be improved and sustained”.

This means that REAch2 must also supply the Government with plans for improvement and leadership throughout East Anglia.

A spokeswoman for REAch2 said the trust recognises improvements must be made, and has already put in place “a number of significant changes” to boost teaching standards at the school.

“We can confirm that Sprites Primary Academy will not be closing,” the spokeswoman said.

“The letter from the Department for Education formally notifies us of their view that the academy needs to improve. We fully recognise this, and have already put in place a number of significant changes, including a comprehensive training programme to improve teaching and additional funding that will help improve results.

“These are already having an impact and are setting Sprites on the right track to deliver the high-quality education that local families deserve. REAch2 is providing intensive support to help drive the changes that are needed, and we are confident that the improvements in teaching and learning will be reflected in the pupils’ results at the end of this academic year.”

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