County council may end its sponsorship of Eastbourne Academy

Keith Pailthorpe, Head of Eastbourne Academy. SUS-150519-152046001
Keith Pailthorpe, Head of Eastbourne Academy. SUS-150519-152046001

East Sussex County Council (ESCC) is to consider resigning from its sponsorship of the Eastbourne Academy Trust.

A report to Councillor Nick Bennett, lead member for learning and school effectiveness, explained concerns about performance levels had prompted the belief improvement could only come if the academy received help from “an established and effective academy sponsor”.

As such, Eastbourne principal Keith Pailthorpe announced the academy intended to join a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) – a move he said would increase the resources available to staff and students.

Sussex Downs College, which has been lead sponsor of the academy since it opened in 2010, also announced the end of its sponsorship.

A spokesman for ESCC said if Mr Bennett approved the recommendation, it hoped to make the change ‘at the earliest opportunity’, once a new sponsor had been appointed. He added, “The county council’s proposed resignation from The Eastbourne Academy would bring it in line with the vast majority of academy schools in the county, but we would continue to offer our full support to ensure standards are raised.”

Mr Pailthorpe said, “We are grateful for the partnership and support of our sponsors over the past five years but we are also excited by the prospect of joining a larger Multi-Academy Trust that would secure an outstanding future.”

The Eastbourne Academy was rated ‘good’ by Ofsted following its first inspection in 2012 but its latest GCSE results saw only 34 per cent of pupils achieve five A*-C grades, including English and maths. Explaining why he felt the move to a MAT would benefit staff and students, Mr Pailthorpe said the ability to share the knowledge, skills and experience of staff at other academies within the trust would prove invaluable.

He was quick to point out the change would not put staff jobs at risk and would have no negative impact on students.

One of the areas he recognised as needing assistance was maths – and having access to other academies which may be performing better in that subject would help bring the Academy up to scratch.

He said, “We’re in a position now where I’ve recruited some extra maths teachers and I’m confident we’ve got it already but I want to be able to move Ofsted’s ‘good’ to an ‘outstanding’ and I don’t think we can do it on our own.”

“We got a new maths team together in September. They are already looking way better than they were last year.”

Mr Pailthorpe said he was unable to name any of the MATs which had expressed an interest in taking the Acade- my into their fold and added the change was unlikely to happen within the next year.

He said, “The visitors we’ve had so far have come in and said we have so much that they could share with their own academies. I’m pretty confident we’re doing the right thing but it will make it so much easier to have a broad range of resources.”

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