New Hall School in Chelmsford, a leading independent boarding and day school for boys and girls aged 3-18, has today announced a pioneering new partnership. In the first example of such an arrangement, a school from the independent sector will act as sponsor for a state academy primary school.
Messing-cum-Inworth Primary School, a rural village school, based 15 miles north east of Chelmsford, was placed in Special Measures by Ofsted in March 2011. Despite making progress under a new governing body, the governors have decided that it would be beneficial to apply for Academy status in order to enhance and improve the education of their pupils. To further strengthen the school and to ensure it leaves Special Measures in the shortest possible time, the governing body has been seeking a strong sponsor. Currently there are a wide range of organisations that sponsor academy schools but this will be the first time a school from the independent sector has sponsored a state primary school.
In their latest inspections, New Hall School was rated ‘Excellent’ by the Independent School Inspectorate (ISI), the highest accolade an independent school can receive, and ‘Outstanding’ by Oftsed for its boarding provision. As a leading HMC school, New Hall won the National Independent School Award 2011 for Outstanding Strategic Initiative, as a result of bucking the national trend with a 55% increase in pupil numbers to 1,160 and setting up an innovative ‘diamond model’ school that combines single-sex and co-educational teaching.
Governors at both schools agreed the partnership, which will see New Hall School share expertise and resources with Messing-cum-Inworth Primary School. The main areas identified by inspectors as requiring urgent improvement were: academic progress, teaching methods, and management and leadership. Pupil attainment needs to be significantly improved. In addition, the school roll at Messing School has fallen from 54 pupils to just 40, a drop of 26% since the school was placed into Special Measures.
Principal of New Hall School, Mrs Katherine Jeffrey, who will act as Executive Head of Messing-cum-Inworth Primary School whilst retaining her role at New Hall School, said:
“At New Hall School, we will always have a great appetite for development and improvement, and the enhancement of teaching and learning is at the heart of all we do. Therefore, we were keen to respond to the invitation to take a pioneering move to sponsor a state primary school in our local area. We are delighted to form a partnership with Messing-cum-Inworth Primary School, to help it to come out of Special Measures and to rebuild the pupil roll. We welcome the opportunity to help by sharing the considerable expertise of our academic and support staff.
“Outstanding independent schools are being called on to ‘share their DNA’ through sponsorship of a school that is need of support and we were delighted that New Hall has been identified as such a school, due to our three outstanding inspections last academic year. At New Hall, we are proud that the Governing Body has taken the decision to explore the sponsorship of the primary school that has requested our help. We consider that this would form a valuable part of the public benefit that we provide as a charitable organisation.
“For us, it makes perfect sense to share our educational expertise to benefit children’s learning and we welcome the opportunity that has been created to break down barriers between the fee-paying independent sector and the state sector. This is about working together, in our local community, to respond where there is a need and to promote educational excellence. I have no doubt that such a partnership between two schools is mutually beneficial. “
Schools Commissioner, Dr Elizabeth Sidwell, said: “I am delighted that New Hall School wishes to sponsor Messing-cum-Inworth Primary School. It is a great opportunity for the schools to work together to raise standards.
“Our independent schools are rightly regarded as world-class institutions. We want more of them to sponsor primary schools in the most challenging circumstances to become academies, to help them provide the best education possible for their pupils.”
Chairman of Governors at Messing-cum-Inworth Primary School, Mr Bob Wiggins, said: “This is an exciting and positive step forward for our school. This is a unique opportunity to share expertise between the independent and state sector and for Messing-cum-Inworth Primary School to benefit from a school with a proven track record of excellence. We are extremely pleased that New Hall School has agreed to sponsor the new academy and we look forward to working with them.”