Laidlaw Schools Trust – newly appointed by the DfE to sponsor Sunderland’s Academy 360 – has pledged to raise educational performance for all its 800 pupils in an exciting new era for the academy.

The trust will work with teachers, parents, governors and the local community to build on the rapid progress Academy 360 has made over the past year making it one of the North East’s most improved schools for GCSE exam results.

The Laidlaw Schools Trust (LST) has an outstanding track record at its existing academies of improving exam performance, creating positive environments where children want to learn and of offering them unrivalled development opportunities.

Pupils, parents and carers have been told about Academy 360’s new sponsor LST and its vision and values for the future. Gentoo Group was the academy’s previous sponsor.

Phil Marshall, LST Director of Education, is the former headteacher of both Sandhill View and Monkwearmouth Secondary Schools in Sunderland.

“The Laidlaw Schools Trust will share with Academy 360 the expertise and success it has achieved with its existing academies,” said Mrs Marshall.

“It’s an exciting partnership for us and we are looking forward to building upon the rapid progress the secondary school is making and to support the development of its highly respected primary school.

“The new partnership will improve teaching and learning opportunities for pupils and enhance training and development of staff and resources available to them.”

The trust’s sponsor Lord Laidlaw has a record of generous financial backing to LST academies, funding unmatched opportunities to broaden pupils’ education – such as supporting some students to climb to Mount Everest base camp.

Academy 360 Secondary School Principal Rachel Donohue said: “I want Academy 360 to make the community proud.

“We are at the beginning of our exciting journey and we are building a culture of high expectation, based on effectiveness of leadership and management, quality of teaching and learning and celebrating our pupils’ achievements.

“We have made significant progress in the past year, and we are looking forward to building on the success of the Laidlaw Schools Trust. Academy 360 is joining a trust with a proven track record of academic success and of strengthening partnerships with the wider school community.”

Keeley Wood, Principal of Academy 360 Primary School, said: “I am looking forward to working with LST and sharing experience and expertise within the trust. 

“In partnership with LST, we will further develop the many benefits of all-through provision by building on the success of our primary school.”

Academy 360 is Sunderland’s first all-through academy, providing education for pupils aged from 4 to 16.

It is celebrating some of the North East’s most improved GCSE results this summer – doubling its A* to C grade pass rates from 16% to 33% under the leadership of Ms Donohue and her team.

Academy 360 will still have its own local governing body as well as representation on LST’s board of directors.

The Laidlaw Schools Trust comprises three academies in Newcastle, two of which are primary academies and the trust’s founder Excelsior Academy which provides education for children aged 2 – 19.

Excelsior is one of the highest performing secondary schools in the North East.

It has transformed exam performance for pupils in the west end of the city over the past eight years; for instance 62% of pupils gaining an A* to C grade in GCSE English this year in a school where English is the second language for half its pupils.