Charles Read Academy in Corby Glen is showing signs of a resurgence after it was taken over by the David Ross Education Trust last year.
The school, which was part of the West Grantham Academies Trust, was threatened with closure a year ago before the Grantham-based Trust stepped in to take over. The Education Trust has taken more than 20 schools under its wing.
Mr Ross, a founder of Carphone Warehouse, spoke to the Journal on at the school.
What progress is the school making since the David Ross Education Trust took over?
We have made a lot of progress. We have made some substantial environmental improvements such as investment in new kit and harware, new tennis courts, a new entrance to the building to make it cheery and brighter for the students. We have bought 1,000 new books for the library and there will be a new indoor/outdoor area so that the students can eat their lunch outside, but come into an indoor area if it is raining. Next we want to replace the music block, because that is a temporaray building and replace it with permanent accommodation. We are also going to upgrade the science block. We are a Trust committed to investing in our academies and in our children.
Do you see any improvement in academic performance?
We have to improve the performance of our kids in exams. Last year prior to our involvement overall exam results were completely unacceptable and we are forecasting a substantial improvement in exam results. This is in the gift of the children and it’s an aspiration but we would expect a substantial improvement in exam performance.
Is the number of pupils increasing at the school since you took over?
Numbers have increased and we have had some new mid-year arrivals, but it will take a couple of years to fill the school back up.
What do you think is important for the pupils attending your schools?
I think responsibility to oneself and to one’s colleagues are essential lessons that you have to learn to make a worthwhile contribution to the workplace later in life. It’s at the core of what we are trying to achieve. We have done a lot of this at Charles Read. We are opening up opportunities around sport, art and music and I think this produces self-confident, self-reliant and employable young people who understand their responsibility in the community and the workplace. There are great opportunities out there if you show application and work hard. I think as you walk around this school you already see a tangible difference in the mindset of the kids. The key to all this is the ethos, the energy, the happiness; these are all factors which would encourage me to send my kids to this school. This school is on a journey and the journey is heading in the right direction. You don’t need two years to see that, but you do need a few years for the exam results to show there is tangible proof that that has happened. This is a happier, smarter, tidier school than it was. The kids are usually appreciative of this and that’s very rewarding. I enjoyed a fantastic education and if we can give more kids the opportunity to enjoy a fantastic education then it has to be a worthwhile thing to do.