New name marks fresh start for trouble-hit school

Hope Wood Academy pupils Kayleigh Maddison and Joshua Newton with headteacher Carolyn Barker.
Hope Wood Academy pupils Kayleigh Maddison and Joshua Newton with headteacher Carolyn Barker.

A name change is marking a fresh start for a former trouble-hit special school.

Glendene Academy in Easington Colliery was thrown into turmoil last summer when Ofsted placed it in special measures for a catalogue of failings.

Everyone really feels that things are moving forward.

Adele Pearson

However, after joining the Sunderland-based Ascent Trust, a multi-academy trust of special needs schools, Ofsted bosses have confirmed the Crawlaw Road school has turned a corner.

To mark a fresh new start for the school, which caters for children with special needs, aged two to 19, the pupils and parents have decided on a change of name to Hope Wood Academy.

Now, boasting new uniforms, new staff and a new way of working, everyone at Hope Wood Academy is firmly looking forward to the future.

Carolyn Barker, headteacher at Hope Wood, as well as Barbara Priestman Academy in Sunderland, said: “The school officially joined the Ascent Trust on November 1, so we felt a change of name would reflect that.”

She said they have has good feedback from parents about the changes made so far and added: “Things are very positive for the future.”

Deputy headteacher, Adele Pearson, said: “Everyone really feels that things are moving forward.”

Ms Pearson said one of the main changes is that staff are now engaging much more with parents and carers and getting them involved with their children’s learning.

As Glendene, the school was placed in special measures by Ofsted bosses last June when watchdogs said it was inadequate in all areas and urgent action needed to be taken to improve the safeguarding of students.

Watchdogs made their latest monitoring visit to the school a few weeks ago and their report stated the new Hope Wood Academy is taking effective action towards the removal of special measures.

They said: “There has been considerable change in the academy since the previous inspection visit.

“There is now clear evidence of progress in pupils’ and students’ achievement, especially in their acquisition of key literacy and numeracy skills.

“Through targeted interventions and support programmes, more teachers are providing better quality learning experiences for the pupils and students, which are helping them to make better progress.

“The academy continues to make progress in relation to improving the safeguarding of all its pupils and students.

“The overall effectiveness of leadership and management is continuing to improve at a rapid pace. Senior leaders are driving change across the academy, not least in challenging weak or inadequate teaching to improve quickly.”