College of West Anglia quits West Norfolk schools trust

The New College of West Anglia technology building at the King's Lynn Campus.

The New College of West Anglia technology building at the King's Lynn Campus.

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The College of West Anglia has announced it is to pull out of sponsoring the schools trust it set up.

The decision, which was announced this morning, means the college will resign as a member of the CWA Academy Trust – which will also need to change its name.

But officials have denied the move is connected to recent criticism of the college and two of its secondary schools.

They also insist day-to-day operations at the schools currently supported by the trust will continue as normal while new officials are appointed.

The trust currently supports six primary and three secondary schools across the borough.

However, earlier this week, it was revealed that the Downham Market Academy would be released from the organisation, once a new sponsor is found.

The announcement came after another of the trust’s secondaries, King’s Lynn Academy, was deemed inadequate by Ofsted and the college itself was told it required improvement.

But college principal David Pomfret said the withdrawal decision, which was confirmed at a board meeting last week, related to the trust’s plans to extend its operations further into the primary sector

He said: “The trust is planning to take on additional primary schools in the near future and to expand beyond West Norfolk.

“We feel, therefore, that now is an appropriate time for CWA to withdraw and allow the trust to develop further in this direction.

“We will continue to work closely together, particularly in supporting transition from school at 16.”

He added: “We founded the trust with the main purpose of supporting the development of education and the life chances of the young people of West Norfolk.

“Although there is still much work to be done to improve outcomes in the secondary phase, the trust has had some fantastic success in the primary academies, including the notable recent Ofsted judgements for Eastgate (outstanding) and Nelson (good) academies.

“Our involvement with the trust has always been focused on supporting young people and schools in the West Norfolk area and we can offer particular expertise and experience in supporting transition to post-16 education.”

New directors will now have to be appointed and vetted by the Regional Schools Commissioner before they can take up their roles. The trust says it hopes to have new members in place by the end of the current school year.

But it said: “These changes are primarily at a legal and governance level and will have no impact on the day-to-day running of the trust or any of the academies.”

Chief executive Dr Duncan Ramsey paid tribute to the college’s support for the trust and its member schools since its foundation in 2010.

But he added: “This is an exciting time for the trust and we expect to complete the formalities of appointing new members very soon and will be confirming a new name in the coming weeks.

“In the meantime, all the academies in the trust will continue to operate as normal, and students and staff will be unaffected by the change.”