A BALLOON launch was held to mark a Sunderland secondary school becoming an academy.
Farringdon Community Sports College is the latest school on Wearside to be granted academy status.
Staff and pupils at the Allendale Road school were joined by governors, to mark the start of what they believe will be a bright future for the school.
Howard Kemp, headteacher at the now Farringdon Community Academy, said everyone is excited about the prospect of becoming an academy and the benefits it will bring for the students.
He told the Echo: “The governors decided to investigate the possibility of academy status in January this year, so we consulted widely with parents, staff and the wider community and there was overwhelming support to go ahead and convert to an academy.
“Farringdon is a brilliant school and will remain a brilliant school, even if we hadn’t become an academy.
“But this gives us the freedom to spend money on Farringdon students, and improve the education and facilities for all students at the school and those coming into it.”
Mr Kemp said becoming an academy also gives the school greater freedom to apply for capital funding to upgrade the 55-year-old building.
The headteacher said a governors’ group will probably be set up to look at what exactly needs doing to improve the buildings at Farringdon, and a 10-year improvement programme put in place.
The school has set up as a multi-academy trust, which means it will be looking to work in partnership with other schools and academies with the same values towards teaching and learning as Farringdon has.
Plans already in the pipeline at Farringdon include a huge upgrade of the ICT facilities, creating an outdoor canopied area for break times, refurbishing the canteen and setting up a school radio station.
A small group of pupils, parents and governors was set up to come up with the new school logo and branding of the academy, which includes a golden sunburst and blue lettering.
Mr Kemp said four Year 9 students came up with the new slogan: Brighter Hearts, Brighter Minds, Brighter Futures.
Parents were overwhelmingly in support of keeping a formal uniform with shirt, tie and blazer, which will be introduced in the new academic year and phased in to keep the costs low for parents.