Academy trust announced for Ipswich Bridge School

The Bridge School in Ipswich is set to become an academy Picture: GREGG BROWN

The Bridge School in Ipswich is set to become an academy Picture: GREGG BROWN

The academy trust set to take over a struggling special school in Ipswich has formally been announced.

The Bridge School in Sprites Lane was rated ‘inadequate’ by education watchdog Ofsted following a visit in March, with Department for Education data in August revealing that it was set to become an academy.

Now, it has been confirmed that the Unity Schools Partnership will take over the running of the school in the summer term.

Tim Coulson, chief executive of the Unity Schools Partnership, said: “We are delighted to confirm that The Bridge School will be joining the Unity Schools Partnership in the summer term.

“The Unity Schools Partnership has developed a group of 15 primary schools and six secondary schools and we continually see the benefit of those schools working closely together.

“For some while, we have only had one special school – the Ofsted ‘outstanding’ Churchill Special Free School in Haverhill.

“The board of the Unity Schools Partnership want to create a specialist network of special schools working together and we have recently been approved to build new special schools in Ipswich and Romford.

“The Bridge School is seen as an ideal school to join this network. We will use all our experience of bringing local schools out of difficulty to create a special school that staff, students and the local community can be proud of.”

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A spokesman from the school’s parent action group said the appointment had looked inevitable but had not been advised formally of any appointment.

Councillor Gordon Jones, Suffolk County Council’s Conservative cabinet member for education is currently an active director with the Unity Schools Partnership, but a county council spokesman confirmed that the decision on which trust would take over the school was made by the Department for Education, not by the local authority.

Mr Jones was not available for comment at the time of going to publication.

A monitoring visit by Ofsted in October resulted in a report which said the school’s safeguarding was still not effective, six months on from the original visit.

A statement from the school’s interim executive board said: “We are delighted with the trust’s decision to continue working with the school’s current interim headteacher, Angela O’Rourke, and her highly committed leadership team throughout the transition from school to academy.

“These decisions will help secure The Bridge School’s bright future and ensure there is no let-up in the significant progress currently being made.”