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Fleetwood High School joins trust to boost improvements

Front, from left: Freya Iddon, Anthony Holden, Aeris Joyner, Michael Csehi, all 12. Back, from left: Fleetwood High School headteacher Richard Barnes, Mollie Mullinder, Robert Job, both 13, and FCATchief executive Tony Nicholson.
Front, from left: Freya Iddon, Anthony Holden, Aeris Joyner, Michael Csehi, all 12. Back, from left: Fleetwood High School headteacher Richard Barnes, Mollie Mullinder, Robert Job, both 13, and FCATchief executive Tony Nicholson.
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Fleetwood High School is to join a leading academy trust in a bid to become a ‘good’ school – but will remain independent.

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Fleetwood High School headteacher Richard Barnes

Fleetwood High School headteacher Richard Barnes

It will become an associate member of the Fylde Coast Academy Trust (FCAT), paying a five-figure annual sum to use the expertise of top teachers at its member schools.

Headteacher Richard Barnes, right, said the Broadway school would now work ‘closely’ with the outstanding Hodgson Academy in Poulton, Garstang Community Academy, and Blackpool Sixth Form, as well as others.

“The initiative is something we have been exploring for some time now,” he said.

“Mutual school-to-school support, sharing of expertise, and good practice between successful schools is the key to delivering sustainable high quality [education] in the local area.”

FCAT runs several primary and secondary schools across the area, including Unity Academy in North Shore, which recently became Blackpool’s second good-rated school, and Montgomery High School in Bispham, which was praised after escaping special measures.

Former Montgomery headteacher, now FCAT’s chief executive Tony Nicholson, said: “At FCAT we have one basic purpose – to help as many local schools and pupils as our capacity allows.

“Our hope is to add real value to the Fleetwood team and help support the school on its upward trajectory of improvement.”

Fleetwood has around 700 pupils and is current rated as ‘requires improvement’ by education watchdog Ofsted following a full inspection in July 2016.

In a follow-up visit last year, inspector Jonathan Smart said senior teachers and governors were ‘taking effective action to tackle the areas requiring improvement ... in order to become a good school’.

He said: “Since the previous inspection, leaders and governors have opened a dialogue with a multi-academy trust with a view to becoming part of that trust.”

Associate memberships, which see schools benefit from shared resources and leadership within trusts without giving up their legal independence, were given the go ahead by National School’s Commissioner Sir David Carter last year. This is thought to be the first.

Fleetwood is expected to pay around £64,500-a-year for its membership – and less in the first year. It can back out of the agreement should it wish to, FCAT said.