School leaders have heralded a positive start to the new term – despite some controversy over changes.
Pupils at the newly-renamed Spalding Academy – formerly the Sir John Gleed – have returned to the classroom under a new regime which has seen a strict new uniform policy and changes to other school rules and procedures.
The school’s executive head Laurence Reilly, who heads up the South Lincolnshire Academies Trust (SLAT), of which Spalding Academy is now a part alongside the higher performing Bourne Academy, said the changes were aimed at bringing achievement and attainment up to scratch.
The Sir John Gleed School had been dogged by underperformance, with poor teaching, bad behaviour and bullying highlighted by Ofsted as major concerns, resulting in it being placed in special measures.
It was removed from a two-year stint in special measures in May 2015 and Mr Reilly hopes his leadership will see performance improve even further.
He said: “There have already been a number of changes made at Spalding Academy, bringing the school more into line with the tried and tested principles and practices in place at Bourne Academy, whilst recognising local differences and traditions.
“One of our immediate priorities is to close the attainment and achievement gap, starting in 2017, between our two schools.”
The percentage of students at Bourne Academy gaining five GCSE grades including English and mathematics in 2016 was 66 per cent, whereas at Sir John Gleed School it was 33 per cent.
But some parents have taken to social media to express frustration and concern over some of the changes, including the strict uniform policy, strike cards and long queues at the canteen.
Mr Reilly did not address the issues directly, but did say: “I understand that change is difficult, even when people think it is probably for the better.
“I can assure the Spalding Academy community that any changes will be consistent with SLAT’s principles of having a broad based curriculum, research based policies and practice in teaching, learning and assessment, but traditional values and high standards in terms of uniform and behaviour.
“We will also maintain and develop supportive links with parents/carers.
“In a nutshell, we simply want to enhance and celebrate the successes of all students attending Spalding Academy and I hope that the local community will support us in this aim.’