11 January 2018
Academies Regional Delivery Group
Department for Education
Level 6, St Paul’s Place
125 Norfolk Street
Dear parents, carers,
You will be aware that Willow Academy is currently part of Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT). WCAT announced in September that it had taken the decision to work with the Department for Education to look for a new trust for each of its schools. As a result, on 10 October 2017 you received a letter from the Trust letting you know that Inspiring Futures Academy Trust had been provisionally identified as the new trust for Willow to join.
Following this, there was an opportunity for parents, staff, governors, local authorities, MPs and other interested parties to contact the Department for Education before 7 November (with this timescale later extended to 12 November), to share views on the proposals. I understand that, as part of gathering local views, Inspiring Futures has engaged with staff and parents at Willow and I would like to thank parents who engaged with them, or with the Department, during this process. It was very important to me that you had the chance to put your views forward before final decisions were made.
We have been focused on minimising any uncertainty for pupils, parents and staff by working quickly to take the final decision on the new trust for Willow Academy.
We are in a position to confirm the final trusts for some of the academies earlier than anticipated, and as a result ministers have decided to announce final trusts for these schools now. We are continuing the important work to be in a position to confirm final trusts for the remaining academies as soon as possible.
Following careful consideration of all views and information shared, ministers have decided that Willow Academy will join Inspiring Futures Academy Trust. I am confident that Inspiring Futures is best-placed to ensure rapid and sustainable school improvement at Willow and I have attached further detail on the trust for your information. If you have not yet been able to speak with representatives from Inspiring Futures they would be very happy for you to get in touch.
In terms of next steps, we are working to transfer Willow to Inspiring Futures within the current academic year, and are working closely with WCAT and Inspiring Futures to ensure that this is done with minimal disruption to pupils, staff and parents. Our priority remains ensuring that all pupils receive an excellent education and I strongly believe that staff, parents and pupils at the academy should feel positive about the future of Willow, moving forward with Inspiring Futures. Setting this clear direction now will provide further stability for the remainder of the academic year. In addition, we are working closely with Inspiring Futures to determine the funding and resources that will be provided to Willow to secure an excellent education for all pupils.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued engagement with this process, and to particularly thank staff at Willow Academy for the work they do every day. I remain committed to working with all involved to secure the best possible educational outcomes for every pupil at Willow.
Regional Schools Commissioner, East Midlands and the Humber
Inspiring Futures Academy Trust
We have now confirmed that Willow Academy will join Inspiring Futures Academy. This note provides further information on the trust.
Inspiring Futures Academy Trust (IF) was formed in May 2017 when both Bentley High Street Primary School and Scawsby Rosedale Primary schools in Doncaster converted to academy status.
Bentley High Street has been rated outstanding by Ofsted in 2010 and in 2015. The school has supported other local schools since 2010 and it became a National Teaching School in 2013. Bentley High Street gave support to Scawsby Rosedale from June 2015 and formed a Hard Federation in advance of it becoming an academy. As a relatively new trust, Inspiring Futures have supported Rosedale Primary to deliver improved results in summer 2017. Prior to joining the trust, Rosedale was rated inadequate by Ofsted.
Janis James is the Chief Executive Officer of Inspiring Futures. Local to Doncaster, she has 30 years’ experience in teaching with over 12 years as a head teacher.
Under Janis’s leadership, the number of Scawsby Rosedale pupils achieving the expected standard in reading, writing and maths rose from 47% to 63% in 2017 - an increase of 16% on the previous year.
Since being provisionally identified as the new trust for Willow Academy, IF has engaged with stakeholders, parents, staff and governors to understand the ambitions and hopes they have for the children of Willow Academy. It has been made clear to parents that there will be no changes to the uniform worn by the children other than there will be no longer be blazers introduced in year 6.
The Department for Education received a small number of views relating to the capacity of Inspiring Futures Academy Trust. Following careful consideration, we have determined that Inspiring Futures is best-placed to support Willow.
When Willow joins the trust, IF plans to set and monitor ambitious targets for both key stage 1 and key stage 2 pupils at the academy, to secure rapid improvement. The trust will also work with the academy to ensure that provision, tracking and outcomes are improved.
Now that IF has been confirmed as the new trust for Willow Academy, they plan to further engage with parents and will be in touch shortly with further details.