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Trust which saved two failing schools asked to work with struggling Croydon primary

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A TRUST which transformed two failing schools has been asked to work with a struggling primary in New Addington.
Governors of Wolsey Junior approached Striving Together for Excellence in Partnership (STEP) after the school was placed into special measures by Ofsted.
Discussions started last week and could mean two different academies opening on the same site - with Wolsey Infants seeking to join the Bromley-based group which has taken over Addington High.
The potential partnership with STEP is encouraging news for the junior school, which in February was judged to be failing by Ofsted, with attainment particularly low in maths and staff criticised for having low expectations of pupils.
The trust, which was set up by Gonville Academy in May 2010, has had great success with the two schools it has worked with so far.
When David Livingstone, in Thornton Heath, was given notice to improve, Gonville shared its resources, including eight of its most experienced staff, leading the school to be judged as by Ofsted as good.
Then STEP helped Applegarth Junior to move from special measures to good in less than six months. The school, on the same estate as Wolsey, is in the process of following David Livingston by joining the trust permanently. 
STEP's executive head teacher Mark Ducker believes the trust is now ready to help another school.
"We have been asked by the Department for Education (DfE) and the governing body to consider whether we are in the position to support Wolsey Junior School," he told the Advertiser.
"It is important to stress that discussions are at a very early stage. We've sent letters to parents to inform them what is being proposed and a little bit about STEP.
"We want them to be excited about this. It's potentially a very exciting move for the school."
Wolsey Infants, which like Gonville was once named Croydon's best school, wants to voluntarily become an academy.
Ravens Wood School, in Bromley, which will run Addington High as an academy from April 1, has confirmed it has been asked to sponsor the school.
Wolsey junior and infants are on the same site - sharing a kitchen - but Mr Ducker said the potential arrangement is manageable.
"Ideally you would want the schools to be part of the same group but I think it's workable," he added.
"Had the infants not planned to become an academy we would be working with it as a local authority school. It wouldn't be too dissimilar to that."
Carole Bonner, chair of governors at the junior school, is quietly encouraged by the prospect of working with STEP.
"I was a governor at Applegarth Junior when it went into special measures so I've seen the changes they can bring about," she said.
While STEP has helped improve two failing schools, this success has come at cost.
In the same week as Ofsted praised its impact at Applegarth, inspectors downgraded Gonville from outstanding to good, prompting Mr Ducker to write to Education Secretary Michael Gove to express his disappointment.
The determined head teacher believes the trust can cope with another school.
He said: "We have been building capacity in preparation for going into another partnership. Even before Wolsey became a possibility I thought we were ready.
"In Wolsey's case we will have more time than we are used to because David Livingstone and Applegarth both happened within a few days of being approached.
"They have time to decide whether it's the right thing to do and STEP also needs to consult over whether it's something we want to do.
"This isn't a case of Wolsey being forced to become an academy. The DfE know we're not prepared to work with a school that doesn't want to work with us. If it happens, it will be as an equal partnership."

Trust which saved two failing schools asked to work with struggling Croydon primary


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