Ipswich schools’ ambitious proposals to convert to academy model in bid to become outstanding

The Oaks Primary School, Ipswich

The Oaks Primary School, Ipswich

Ambitious proposals which will see three primary schools in Ipswich take control of their own futures, have been revealed.

Whitton Primary School, Ipswich

Whitton Primary School, Ipswich

St Helen’s, The Oaks and Whitton primary schools have announced they are to form an academy trust and move away from Suffolk County Council influence.

The changes will affect around 1,200 children – with the schools hoping the move will enable them to raise standards and improve their Ofsted ratings from “good” to “outstanding”.

On Thursday, the trust, called “Ipswich Primary Academies Trust” (IPAT), which will be the first primary multi-academy trust in Ipswich, will be launched.

Clare Flintoff, headteacher at St Helen’s Primary in Woodbridge Road, said their model would mean the schools would have greater powers than if they were taken over by an academy sponsor.

St Helen's Primary School, Ipswich.

St Helen's Primary School, Ipswich. - Credit: Gregg Brown

“The main reason is about raising achievement levels for pupils in school, we are all good schools but we are aiming to be outstanding.

“We feel as an academy trust working very closely – much closer than we would do with the support under Suffolk County Council – we will have the expertise and economy of scale to be able to get these good schools to outstanding, that’s our aim.

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“Why should Ipswich not have a group of outstanding schools? There are very few maintained schools which are outstanding.”

Phil Palmer, co-head of The Oaks, said joint projects already being considered included an academy Olympics and promoting pupils’ outdoor experiences similar to the Natural Trust’s 50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 and Three-Quarters idea.

He added: “We are confident that by working with the other schools and using each of our strengths and support, allayed with having greater freedom on how we spend money, we will raise standards in the future.”

Jeremy Pentreath, co-head at The Oaks added: “There is a lot of good practice locked up inside our schools and our intention is to open up and share it.

“We also need to continue to build our expertise and seek out the best practice elsewhere in the country to emulate here in Suffolk.”

The Ipswich Primary Academies Trust launch will take place at The Oaks Primary School on Thursday at 10am. It will also see the opening of a new community room at the school.

Richard Dedicoat, headteacher at Whitton Primary, said: “IPAT is a business and we have already seen financial savings which we will plough back into provision in the classroom. Our schools are aiming for excellence in all areas and that means employing the best teachers and support staff as well as providing the best possible experiences for pupils.”

Consultations with parents and teachers have been carried out.

Lisa Chambers, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for educations and skills, said: “We will continue to work closely with all academy schools as part of our shared ambition to see Suffolk’s school children receive the best possible education.”

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