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Newcastle’s largest primary joins Laidlaw Schools Trust


Sep 24, 2017 #education

A Newcastle primary school educating nearly 750 pupils from one of the country’s most ethnically diverse communities has joined the Laidlaw Schools Trust (LST).

Westgate Hill Primary Academy in Arthur’s Hill is the latest school to join the growing trust which now supports six academies in Newcastle and Sunderland.

Laidlaw Schools Trust academies educate a total of 4,000 children in some of the most socially and economically challenged areas of the North East.

Westgate Hill Primary is situated in the heart of the community in the west end of the city with its own unique identity. For 92% of its pupils, English is a second language.

Principal Karl Ellerbrook and his team of 77 teachers and teaching assistants are working hard to deliver the best possible education for the pupils aged three to 11.

Staff are focused on raising standards and achievement through a strong emphasis on reading and maths.

The Newcastle primary has been a fixture in the local area since 1898, with its own grounds and gardens surrounded by the terraced streets of Arthur’s Hill near St James’ Park.

“Our diversity brings a brilliant mix into our school of a strong work ethic and feeling from our families that they expect children to do their best and fulfil their potential,” said Karl, who joined Westgate Hill one year ago.

“We are right in the middle of the community. We are very lucky in that we have excellent outdoor space and state-of-the-art facilities which is a very good starting point to build an improving school.

“We were impressed by LST because of the opportunities they could bring to the children of Arthur’s Hill, that we couldn’t previously offer them. In particular, we liked Lord Laidlaw’s focus on giving children from deprived communities life-changing opportunities to discover more about themselves and achieve what they want to in their lives.

“We are focusing on the key principles of raising results in reading and maths. Staff are determined that children will access that knowledge not just through ‘talk and chalk’, but by providing opportunities to switch children on to learning.”

Westgate Hill draws its pupils from Arthur’s Hill, Fenham, Elswick and Benwell and is a feeder school for the LST’s Excelsior Academy.

Jane Spence, LST Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted to welcome Westgate Hill into the Laidlaw Schools Trust family – it makes perfect sense as a feeder school for Excelsior Academy serving the same communities in the west end of Newcastle.

“We are really looking forward to working with Karl and his staff to raise standards and give Westgate Hill pupils the best possible start to their school lives.”

In 2008, Lord Laidlaw set up the Laidlaw Schools Trust to give young people in disadvantaged areas of the North East life chances they otherwise would not have.

He invests his own finance in improving trust academy facilities and providing extra-curricular activities.

The LST educates 4,000 children in six North East schools – Excelsior Academy, Thomas Walling, Atkinson Road and Westgate Hill Primary Academies in Newcastle and Academy 360 and South Hylton Primary Academy in Sunderland.

By Emily