Taking the risk to convert to academy status has paid off for primary schools in Sunderland.
Four years ago Town End Primary School and nearby Bexhill Primary School came together to form the WISE Academies Trust.
Although working together the two schools, Town End Academy and Bexhill Academy, have kept their own identities.
WISE, which stands for We Inspire Success and Excellence, then took on two struggling schools, Hasting Hill Primary School in Sunderland and Welbeck in Newcastle, and say they have had huge success.
Zoe Carr, the chief executive officer of WISE Academies, said the improvements at Hasting Hill Academy have been amazing.
The Tilbury Road school was placed in special measures by Ofsted in 2011 and joined WISE as a sponsored academy in December 2012 in a bid to turn it around.
Just 18 months later the school was given a good rating by Ofsted and exam results have shot through the roof.
In the academic year 2010-11, just 53% of children gained the expected level four in the SATS exams for both English and maths. However, last year the number of students who made the grade was 91%.
The amount of pupils at Hasting Hill who got the higher level 5 grade was 3% in 2010-11, compared to an impressive 38% in May.
Over the same period reading levels went up from 56% getting a level 4 to 97% and 13% gaining a level 5 to 62%.
Zoe said: “The schools have just gone from strength to strength with hugely improved outcomes for the children. We now have one outstanding school and three which are good.”
She said the success of the schools is even more impressive when considering the trust’s schools are in areas of high deprivation.
Zoe said: “We do everything we possibly can to give the children a broader life experience.”
Employing the right people with the right skills for the right jobs is one of the ways the trust believes it has managed to achieve success.
Zoe said having specialists in a number of roles, such as financial experts and family liaison specialists, also frees up the headteachers and teachers to concentrate on their jobs of educating the children.
She said: “Partnership working is a key aspect of WISE Academies and is central to its success. The breadth of talent that exists across the workforce is used in a creative way to allow all academies to rapidly achieve their full potential.”
Town End Academy, which is outstanding, is also a Teaching School and works with other schools across Sunderland to help improve the education of children throughout the city.
The trust has also spent £1.5million on improving the school buildings.
Zoe said: “Our clear stated ethos is to provide a high quality educational experience in a safe, creative and exciting learning environment.
“We set high expectations for our pupils and for our staff – our philosophy is ‘the sky is the limit’.
She said the trust is determined to build on its current success and continue to achieve great outcomes for every pupil and is ready for the next challenge.