FORMER Sunderland skipper Kevin Ball has helped to kick-start a bright future for a city primary school.
Kevin, now the under-21 development manager at the club, was invited to a celebration day to officially open Hasting Hill Academy.
The former Hasting Hill Primary School has become part of the We Inspire Success and Excellence, Academies (Wise), with the hopes of turning around its fortunes. The Tilbury Road school, which was placed in special measures two years ago, has continued to make improvements.
New headteacher Louise Saunders, who took up her new post just five weeks ago, said: “I am very excited about the future. It is about working together as a team and everyone has a big contribution to make.
“The school has been on a journey so far, and there have been a few bumps in the road, but it is all about moving onwards and upwards.
“Our aspiration is that the school will be outstanding in the near future and we will maintain that position.”
Zoe Carr, acting chief executive officer for Wise Academies, which also includes Bexhill Academy and Town End Academy, said the aim of the multi-academy trust is for all the schools to learn from each other.
She said: “It is about sharing our expertise, which will benefit all the students. We take part in a lot of joint projects – for example, children from each of the three schools are going to Derwent Hill.”
Ms Carr said the celebration day to officially launch Hasting Hill Academy, included fun events for the children such as a balloon launch. She said: “It is all about raising aspirations, and the children have all been talking about their hopes and dreams for the future.”
The children themselves have seen improvements.
Niall Sharp, 11, head boy, said: “Everything is better. The way we learn is a lot better and my grades have gone up.”
Head girl, Charlotte Casey, 10, said all the children love the new purple uniforms and the new look to the inside of the school.
Kevin said he was thrilled to be asked to go along to open the academy, especially as he himself is from Hastings in East Sussex, so it was meant to be.
He said: “I was so impressed by the school. What struck me was the enthusiasm of all the children and staff.”