Huddersfield’s biggest secondary school has moved out of Special Measures.
Colne Valley High School has just received a letter from Secretary of State for Education, the Rt Hon Nicky Morgan, officially confirming that, as of September 1, the school has become an academy.
Although the name has been retained, the old school legally no longer exists. In its place is a brand new academy sponsored by The Mirfield Free Grammar and Sixth Form.
The move has been welcomed by academy leaders who are keen to draw a line in the sand and move forward with their plans of rebuilding an outstanding centre of education for the Colne Valley.
Executive Principal Lorrraine Barker said: “September 1st heralded a new beginning for this school with its rich history and Mr Wilcocks, together with the staff and students and support from The Mirfield Free Grammar and Sixth Form Multi-Academy Trust, will drive the school to achieve outstanding success.
New principal Christian Wilcocks said: “This is a monumental step for Colne Valley students, parents and staff.
“It is long overdue for the school to be given a chance to put its past to one side. My first week here has been remarkable.
“The students are a credit to this valley in the way they have welcomed me to the school and are wearing their uniform with renewed pride.”
This news follows reports last week that students were disciplined for wearing trousers and footwear that contravened the school’s policies.
Mr Wilcocks said: “ The breaking news about “Trousergate” was clearly an additional challenge during our first few days as a new academy. In fact, no students whatsoever were excluded as a direct result of uniform issues.
“We have gone to great lengths to support families in obtaining uniform so that parents were not inconvenienced or out-of-pocket and so that the students could get back to lessons”.
“We will continue to expect the highest standards of dress, but have listened to those parents who have been in touch with the school to share their concerns. We will issue detailed images and descriptions to illustrate precisely what is and what is not acceptable.”
He added that less than 5% of students were affected by the tightening of uniform standards, contrary to earlier reports that the uniform issue was much wider.
Since making the headlines on his second day, Mr Wilcocks has appealed to parents in the valley, saying: “I very much want to work with our parents and families, and respect the views and opinions they have shared through social media over recent days. But we need to work together in partnership.
“I am happy to discuss any issues and concerns directly with parents as I believe that opening a one-to-one conversation will be infinitely more productive”.
“This will enable our students to have the best life chances for their future.”Colne Valley factfile
Colne Valley opened in 1956 as the first comprehensive school in the north of England.
In December 2012, Colne Valley Specialist Arts College (as it was then called) was placed in Special Measures following an Ofsted inspection the week before the Christmas holiday, and despite the school achieving its best-ever GCSE results.
Inspectors said that students’ achievements and some teaching were not good enough. School leaders and governors also came in for criticism, as did the behaviour of a minority of pupils.
Since then, much time, effort and expense has gone into turning the 1,200- pupil school around, assisted by education experts from Kirklees Council.
Following a number of staff departures, interim acting headteacher Maggie Dunn was co-opted in from The MFG to focus on improving teaching - especially maths - raising academic standards and introducing better systems for monitoring pupils, discipline and communicating with parents.
The new academy can expect a full Ofsted inspection within the next 18 months.