A 105-year-old Colne Valley primary school is gearing up for a new dawn.
Marsden Junior School, which opened in 1910, is putting the last couple of years behind it and it’s all systems go with a new regime.
After an inspection in February 2014, Ofsted judged Marsden to be inadequate in almost every area and placed the school in Special Measures.
A stormy governors’ meeting followed in September in which many of them – including the chair and vice-chair – resigned.
The government forces all schools in Special Measures to convert to academy and before they left the governors agreed that the school became part of The Mirfield Free Grammar and Sixth Form Multi Academy Trust, which also runs Colne Valley High School.
A new governing body was formed, Netherthong headteacher Catherine Jubb was brought in to help bring about improvements and on April 1 this year Marsden Juniors became an academy.
This week the 162-pupil school announced that Sarah Mansell, currently teaching at Shepley First School, has been appointed as headteacher following the departure of Colin Bird the day before the academy conversion.
She is an Advanced Skills teacher who has also worked to help raise language standards across Kirklees for the last 11 years and will lead Marsden from September.
Sarah, 39, said: “I want Marsden Juniors to be a place where children excel and are proud of their achievements. I want to connect with the whole school to create exciting and meaningful experiences, enabling individual personalities to grow.
“We will learn together and achieve together, striving for the highest possible standards of achievement in a stimulating environment.”
The Trust’s Lorraine Barker said: “In Sarah we have an outstanding teacher who is also a teaching and learning specialist and is very knowledgeable about assessment.
“We have a great team. When she joins we will have an exciting hub of outstanding teachers who will work to take Marsden Juniors on a rapid journey to Outstanding.”
New chair of governors is Tracy Greaves, an accountant specialising in governance and control within the insurance industry, who has one child at Marsden and another who went all the way through.
She admits to being “horrified” with Ofsted’s Special Measures judgement.
“It was not my experience of the school, my children have had great experiences here,” she said. “When I read the report I felt I had skills to offer and impassioned to get out there and make an impact.
“Since the Ofsted report, we have got a much stronger leadership team and a much calmer atmosphere in school. We have adopted a new behaviour system from Netherthong and we have two new teachers. All the staff are all are really excited and positive about the changes.”