VIDEO: Tollgate Primary School in Bury St Edmunds becomes an academy and joins all-through trust

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A Bury St Edmunds primary school which has been in special measures for more than a year has entered a new era after becoming an academy and officially joining the town’s Academy Trust.

Tollgate Primary converted to Academy status today following approval from the Department of Education and joins the all-through trust led by the ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rated County Upper School.

Alison Earl, Executive Head at Tollgate Primary, makes a speech to celebrate the school's new academy status ANL-140107-132852001

Alison Earl, Executive Head at Tollgate Primary, makes a speech to celebrate the school's new academy status ANL-140107-132852001

In a letter to the school’s governing body confirming the new funding arrangements, Education Secretary Michael Gove said: “Tollgate School will now have the opportunity to benefit from the freedoms and flexibilities of academy status, to share best practice and work with others to bring about sustained improvements to all schools in the area.”

As a result the school will maintain its current four to nine age range, will not be part of Suffolk County Council’s move to two tier education in Bury and is no longer in special measures.

Previously the council said the overhaul of schooling in the town was ‘not dependent upon Tollgate becoming a 4-11 primary school’.

Tollgate, which was rated ‘inadequate’ following an Ofsted inspection in November 2012, has received support from the Academy Trust in recent months to help raise standards.

A temporary senior leadership team from Barrow Primary was brought in as well as specialist teachers from other phases.

John George, chairman of governors at Tollgate, said: “The support we’ve received from the all-through trust has really made a difference. We are all 100 per cent confident that this is the way to secure a brighter future for all the school.”

The school community marked the conversion day with a big picnic lunch and a balloon release which coincided with its annual sports day. Guest of honour was Suffolk sporting star Louise Jukes, an international handball player who represented Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics.

At the school’s academy celebration day event, Alison Earl, executive head at Tollgate and head at Barrow, said: “It has been a privilege to work with the staff, children and governors at Tollgate. I’m looking forward to continuing to work with the Trust and other schools to ensure the very best outcomes for all children.”

Dr Richard Fletcher, chairman of the Trust board, said: “I’m delighted to formally welcome the Tollgate community into our all-through trust and am confident that the excellent progress made by the school this term will continue and accelerate in the new school year.”

For more details see Friday’s Bury Free Press.