By Linda Tanner, Education Correspondent
THE group chosen to open Bristol‘s first primary academy in the north of the city will also sponsor a school in the south.
The education provider E-ACT has been selected to support and sponsor Ilminster Avenue Primary School in Knowle West, which has again been judged by the learning watchdog Ofsted to be failing.
This follows the long-awaited announcement of the sponsor for the primary academy on the former St Ursula’s site in Westbury-on-Trym.
E-ACT runs 11 academies in various parts of the country and is involved in a number of other free school and academy projects. It does not yet operate any primary academies but does sponsor an “all age” academy in Dartmouth.
Ilminster Avenue Primary has been struggling for some years. It was placed in special measures by Ofsted in 2007 and removed in late 2009 but has now gone back into special measures after a “turbulent time” when it has had four head teachers.
Plans for it to seek academy status in partnership with Waycroft Primary in Stockwood and Connaught Primary, Knowle West, were dropped last month.
Now Bristol City Council and the school’s governors have announced that E-ACT will be the new Ilminster Avenue academy sponsor. The aim is to submit plans to Education Secretary Michael Gove with a view to formal conversion in January.
The council’s director for children, young people and skills, Annie Hudson, said: “Securing E-ACT as the sponsor for a new academy at Ilminster Avenue Primary School is an important step in our work to raise standards at the school. We are committed to securing the best possible education for all children in Bristol.
“E-ACT have a strong track record in sponsoring successful schools and I am sure they will work collaboratively with other schools in the area.”
E-ACT is led by former Schools Commissioner, Sir Bruce Liddington, who is expected to visit Bristol next week for discussions about Ilminster Avenue and about the new academy at St Ursula’s, which is set to offer 60 much- needed reception class places for 2011 as well as taking in the children from the independent Oasis School Westbury on the site.