Trust steps away from Doncaster academy after failing to drive forward ‘rapid enough’ progress

Rebecca Staples, Danum Academy Headteacher. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP 17-11-14 Danum Tributes MC 3
Rebecca Staples, Danum Academy Headteacher. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP 17-11-14 Danum Tributes MC 3

An academy trust is pulling out of one of Doncaster’s biggest schools - after it admitted failing to drive forward “rapid enough” progress following damning criticism from education watchdogs.

The CfBT Schools Trust (CST) will relinquish control of Danum Academy two and a half years after it was placed into special measures by Ofsted after inspectors gave it an ‘inadequate’ rating.

Sir Michael Wilkins, Outwood Academies prinicipal and chief executive

Sir Michael Wilkins, Outwood Academies prinicipal and chief executive

The trust accepted it had not been able to spark enough improvement in recent years and added it is “in the interests of the children and young people” that another trust should “take over responsibility for them.”

Danum Academy, based in Armthorpe Road and with nearly 2000 students aged 11-18, will be taken over in September by the Outwood Grange Academies Trust (OGAT).

The move comes as the government revealed plans last week to transform every school in England into an academy, which means taking them out of local authority control. But one angry parent said the situation at Danum showed the academy model is not a guarantee to success.

The mum, whose three children attend Danum, said: “I don’t see why it should take another trust to come in and make the necessary improvements - these should have been made already.”

Danum Academy, Armthorpe Road, Doncaster

Danum Academy, Armthorpe Road, Doncaster

Steve Munby, chief executive of CST’s principal sponsor Education Development Trust, said: “In its early days the schools trust grew too quickly and took on too many schools all at once – many in areas where CST had no other local presence.”

He added at Danum “the progress has not been rapid enough and it is in the interests of the children and young people that another trust – more local to the area – should take over responsibility for them.”

Pupils, parents and staff were told about the changes at the end of February.

Chris Tweedale, chief executive of the CST, said the trust will “work closely with the new sponsors to ensure an orderly transfer.”

He added: “We have had to recognise that Danum’s long distance from the rest of our schools is a real barrier to providing the level of support the school needs and, as we have no future plans to expand in the region, this is unlikely to change. The transfer means Danum will get this much needed support on its doorstep.”

OGAT was handed a share of nearly £5 million in government grants last year to take on more schools in poor performing areas. It has 18 academies regionally, including Outwood Academy Adwick, which was rated as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted earlier this month.

Sir Michael Wilkins, OGAT chief executive, said: “Our vision for Danum Academy is to now lead it through its journey to becoming outstanding.”

In September 2013, Ofsted ruled Danum Academy had dropped in the ratings from ‘good’ to ‘inadequate’ and highlighted attainment in maths as a particular problem. A monitoring inspection in January this year said the school is “taking effective action towards the removal of special measures.”

Headteacher Rebecca Staples said academy bosses “are confident the school will exit special measures in the summer term” and added: “all of the school’s leadership team” will transfer to the new trust in September.