School changes its name to signal a new beginning

The hustings at Portsmouth College - from left:  David Carpenter (college governor), Gerald Vernon-Jackson (Lib Dems), Ian McCulloch (Green), Steve Fitzgerald (college teacher and chair), Stephen Morgan (Labour), Kevan Chippindall-Higgin (Ukip) and Penny Mordaunt (Cons)   Picture: Heather Eggelton

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A ONCE-FAILING school that is now leading the league tables with stunning exam results has changed its name to signal a fresh start.

Waite End Primary in Waterlooville will open its doors to schoolchildren in September as Mill Hill Primary.

The new name will have the double impact of rebranding a school that has worked its way up from being placed in special measures in 2007 to ‘satisfactory’ with good features, and identifying it more closely with the local area known as Mill Hill.

Diane Lawry, headteacher since September 2008, said: ‘The school has entered an exciting new era.

‘We’re incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved and what we stand for and feel it’s time to be a more recognised part of our local community.

‘A lot of people around here don’t know Waite End Primary exists and where it is.

‘The new name is about giving the school a fresh start and a chance to put ourselves on the map.’

Last year, Waite End achieved a 100 per cent good pass rate in its maths Key Stage Two exams for school leavers.

This year, Year Six children almost matched the national average results as 73 per cent of them gaining the target level four in English and maths combined, against 74 per cent across the country.

And when it came to high achievers, they smashed national figures with 27 per cent getting a level five in English and maths – the expected standard for 13-year- olds – compared with just 21 per cent in England.

This is an impressive achievement for a school rated the 14th most deprived out of 450 primaries in Hampshire.

Mrs Lawry, who is acting as executive head at Woodcroft Primary which was given a notice to improve in May 2010, hopes raising the school’s profile will encourage more local children to sign up.

She said: ‘This is now the good school we’ve promised the community.

‘As the Ofsted inspectors observed, the leadership is good, we offer good guidance and support and our standards for two years running have been hitting national averages.

‘Two or three years ago children from our catchment area were choosing to go elsewhere. That’s much less the case now and we want all children in the area to come to us.

‘It takes five minutes to ruin a reputation, but a long time to build it up, and we’ve worked hard to get to where we are.’

Mill Hill Primary is holding an open day on Tuesday, September 14, from 1.30pm until 3pm.

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