Wearside school to be taken over by an academy trust

Academy 360
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A school which was hailed as Sunderland's flagship academy is being taken over by an education trust.

Organised by the area's schools commission, the running of Academy 360 is being taken over by a Newcastle multi academy trust.

The Pennywell academy opened in 2008 and became the city's first all-age school, catering for pupils from nursery up to 16.

However, the school has struggled and in 2014, under the leadership of Sir Ken Gibson, Ofsted chiefs said it had a number of weaknesses and required improvement.

Now, the school will become part of the Laidlaw Schools Trust (LST) later this year.

The Academy’s current lead sponsor, Gentoo Group, has agreed for the new partnership, which has been organised by the North East Regional Schools Commissioner, Janet Renou,

to take place before the summer.

All legal responsibilities will then be transferred over to the LST.

It is hoped that Academy 360 will benefit from the expertise and knowledge from across the LST, as well as benefitting from the trust’s shared buying potential and economies of scale.

Training and development opportunities for staff will also be enhanced, leading to teaching and learning improvements for pupils.

John McGuinness, the current executive principal of Academy 360, said: “I am pleased to announce the Laidlaw Schools Trust as Academy 360’s future sponsor.

"Laidlaw is a small and local trust which shares very similar values and ethos to Gentoo and we are in a great position to continue the progress we have been making recently. The move

will not alter the autonomy of the academy or the curriculum that it currently provides, it is business as usual for staff and pupils.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank Gentoo for the hard work and support it has provided to Academy 360 over the past nine years.”

Steve Lanaghan, Gentoo Group Assistant Chief Executive, said: “Having set up the Academy 360 and helped with the running of it over the past nine years, Gentoo is stepping down as the lead sponsor of Academy 360 and handing over to the Laidlaw Schools Trust.

"We have overseen some significant changes to governance and leadership at Academy 360 and are leaving the academy as great progress is being made.

"We are confident this progress will continue under the guidance of Laidlaw. Gentoo will now refocus its efforts on its core housing business and remains completely committed to the

communities in which it works.”

Phil Marshall, Laidlaw Schools Trust Education Director, said: "We are delighted that Academy 360 will be joining the other schools in our trust. Academy 360, Gentoo and the Laidlaw Schools Trust are all committed to ensuring that the best interests of our children are at the heart of all that we do.”

“The Laidlaw Schools Trust has a proven track record of success in raising standards in primary and secondary education within its academies. We welcome Academy 360 into our

family of schools and look forward to working with the academy and the community it serves."

Parents and carers of Academy 360’s pupils, the Academy’s staff and Sunderland City Council have been notified of the news.