The Newcastle-based multi-academy trust, Laidlaw Schools Trust (LST),  welcomed a new ‘outstanding’ school to its growing group of academies on March 1.

The highly regarded 11-16 secondary school, Sedgefield Community College (Sedgefield), which was rated outstanding by Ofsted in every category in March 2017, joined LST’s portfolio of two all-through and four primary academies in a move which formalised an existing advisory relationship with the trust.

Extending a warm welcome to Sedgefield Community College, LST’s chief executive, Jane Spence, said:  “We are so delighted that Sedgefield Community College has decided to come on board and now that the conversion process, which began several months ago and involved our parents, pupils, staff, governors and the community has concluded, we can begin working together as a team with a collective vision for transforming the lives of children and communities.

“We are looking forward to sharing the wisdom and experience of Sedgefield’s outstanding leaders and teaching staff to help bring about improvements at our existing schools, where many of our students have challenging lives.”

The decision to become part of LST represents a superb opportunity for Sedgefield’s staff team to broaden their experience and to benefit from the many advantages to be gained from joining an established multi-academy trust.

Commenting on the move, Sedgefield Community College headteacher, David Davies, said:  “These are exciting times for us.  My governors and I are constantly reviewing our long-term plans and how best we might ensure the future of Sedgefield as a highly successful school, and it became clear that becoming an academy would provide the best all round opportunities.  LST’s proposals were by far the most attractive of the many options considered. Crucially, it soon became apparent the we share the same ethos and believe that there is much to be gained by both parties from the opportunities this exciting new alliance will create.

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“It is vital that the transition is well managed and subsequently my own role will be to lead on this as LST’s newly appointed Director of School Improvement (Secondary).  Much of my working week will be spent at other LST academies, but I will be based at Excelsior Academy in the west end of Newcastle, so it gives me great pleasure to announce that Geoff Robinson, currently Deputy Headteacher (Curriculum) will be succeeding me as Headteacher at Sedgefield Community College from June 1, so I know that Sedgefield is being left in extremely capable hands.

“I should like to take this opportunity to thank my wonderful staff for their hard work and support over the years.  I believe they will benefit from significant career opportunities as a result of this alliance.   We are looking forward enormously to the journey ahead.”

As part of the exciting development, LST will also be investing in a multi-million pound teaching and leadership centre on the Sedgefield site.  Architects have already developed plans for the centre, which have now been submitted to the local authority for approval

Durham University is partnering with LST as its training and leadership hub for secondary school teacher training, which means that each year, 120 of its PGCE students will attend the teaching and leadership facility throughout their training year as part of their teacher training programme, with practical experience to be gained working closely with exceptional teachers from Sedgefield Community College and other LST academies.

Chair of governors at Sedgefield, Cllr John Robinson, added:  “The governing body was unanimous in its support of becoming part of the Laidlaw School Trust and is eagerly anticipating the development of the teaching and leadership centre, which has the potential to not only impact positively  upon secondary education locally, but across the entire North East region, and we are thrilled to be able to play our part in that.

“Additionally, we believe that being part of LST will not only help to improve educational outcomes across the trust but it will allow Sedgefield Community College staff to reap the benefits of working for an established, forward thinking multi-academy trust, which enjoys  a well-deserved reputation for its inclusivity approach and determination  to improving the life chances of children within its schools.”