Date: 9th January 2017

2017 heralds a new start for the pupils and staff at a Bradford primary school. This month sees the “Academy at St James” transition to become an academy within the Bradford Diocesan Academies Trust (BDAT) and the school opens its doors with a new Head of School to start the year.

Governors at the previously named St James’ Church Primary school took the decision to move to become a sponsored academy in 2016, shortly before the school was judged to require special measures, believing the support of an established multi-academy Trust would help drive rapid improvement in the school.

BDAT has worked with the school throughout the autumn term providing Executive Leadership support through National Leader of Education, Jayne Clarke and central BDAT staff and by strengthening the school governing body. The move to full academy status secures the Academy at St James’ place within the BDAT family of schools.

John Watts, a Trustee of BDAT and a new governor at the Academy at St James said “St James is exactly the kind of school BDAT was set up to support and we are committed to working with staff in school to widening expectations and advance performance. We are already seeing tangible improvements within the school with both teaching and non-teaching staff far better supported through the MAT model. We have a long way to go to get the school to where it needs to be but together BDAT, the governing body and the new and long-serving staff in the school are determined to make sure every child gets the best education they can, to achieve their potential”.

Jayne Clarke, Executive Principal at the Academy at St James, who has been working with the school since November 1st, said; “Our Academy is a special place in the community where learners collaborate and learn together. Families are welcome and supporting children to achieve their best is at the heart of what we do. Every child deserves a champion and at St. James we champion children’s rights to be safe, to be heard, to flourish and learn in an atmosphere of unconditional positive regard. Children begin their learning journey at 3 years old in our Nursery and leave us at 11 years old when they move onto secondary education, taking with them happy memories of friendship, learning and special days at their Primary Academy”.

Chris Tolson, the new Head of School joining St James from January 1st, is a well-known school leader in the City of Bradford. Previously Head of Teaching and Learning at Bradford Birth to 19 Teaching School, Chris joins BDAT with a track record of supporting schools in special measures including securing an outstanding judgement as Deputy Head at Ryecroft primary school in 2014.

Talking about his new role, Chris said “I am really excited to be joining the Academy at St James at this exciting point in the school’s journey and to have the opportunity to work alongside Jayne Clarke and BDAT to secure improvements. My first priority for 2017 will be to focus in on the quality of teaching and learning in the classroom so we can ensure that every minute a child spends in a school, is a minute well spent”.

The Academy at St James is the sixth primary school to join BDAT and tenth school to convert in to the Trust. The Diocesan MAT which was set up in 2012 grew quickly in 2016. The Trust expects to see further slower and steady growth in 2017 across the primary phase.

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