‘Best Christmas’ as new sponsor is found

Julie Taylor, principal of The Havant Academy celebrates with pupil Antony Deakin (15)
Julie Taylor, principal of The Havant Academy celebrates with pupil Antony Deakin (15)
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Jean Everitt from Friends of the Earth, Cllr Trevor Cartwright, Cllr Rob Humby, Cllr Graham Burgess, Jean MacGrory from Hampshire County Council with Callum Manson, Thomas Houghton and Skye Maccoll from Rowner Junior School. Picture: David George

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THE principal of Hampshire’s first academy is celebrating ‘the best Christmas present’ after securing a new sponsor.

Julie Taylor has announced a new alliance between Havant Acdaemy and The Kemnal Academies Trust (TKAT).

It comes after months of uncertainty when original sponsor South Downs College in Waterlooville pulled out.

Without this deal, the academy would have returned to local authority control as a trust school, which Mrs Taylor feared would result in limited freedom to innovate at a time when their site is undergoing a £10m rebuild.

She said: ‘It’s been a time of great uncertainty, but now we’ve been given the best Christmas present.

‘TKAT is a sponsor that shares the community’s vision for Havant Academy – a school that is inclusive and doesn’t exclude pupils, that provides outstanding education for every child, and that serves the wider community.

‘The challenge this year is to make sure the GCSE results are above the government’s benchmark.

‘I’m confident we will achieve that because we have fantastic students, outstanding teachers and the right people backing us.’

Mrs Taylor said she was attracted to TKAT’s approach to school improvement by moving around experienced staff throughout its cluster of academies, mostly in Kent.

She is excited at the prospect of gaining teaching schools status, as well as plans to deliver head and senior leadership training.

She said: ‘Our teaching and learning is strong, we have great ICT resources and our attendance is good. When we acquire teaching status we will attract the best graduates to train here. Currently 70 per cent of our teachers are good or better – in 12 to 18 months we will have outstanding teaching and learning.’

Last summer, 23 per cent of pupils gained five good GCSEs with English and maths – well below the 35 per cent government threshold.

But the academy has already attracted a 25 per cent increase in applications this year compared with last.

And in January, students will enjoy the first phase of building works funded by the axed Building Schools for the Future scheme, including a new theatre, music block and business centre.