New future for Carlisle pupils after primary school joins education trust

Children and staff at a Carlisle primary school are looking to a brighter future after joining Cumbria’s largest education trust.

After months of planning, Caldew Lea School, which was rated ‘Inadequate’ by Ofsted last year, today transfers to the control of the successful Cumbria Education Trust (CET). Action has been immediate with experienced headteacher Ayesha Weston taking charge at the start of the new school year in preparation for the move – and the trust has worked on physical improvements to classrooms. The 251-pupil school becomes the eighth, alongside four other primary schools, to join the expanding trust.

Miss Weston, formerly headteacher at Crosby-on-Eden CE Primary, said she was delighted with how both children and the local community had responded to the changes.

She said: “In spite of everything that has happened in the past the children are absolutely fantastic. They are polite, open and warm and they soak up everything you give them.

“If you give children in a school like this the belief that they can go and change the world then they show you they are just as bright and articulate as any other children.

“They want to learn, behave and do the very best they can and that is all we can ask of them.”

In June 2018 the school was rated Inadequate in two out of the five key inspection areas – effectiveness of leadership and management, and personal development, behaviour and welfare of pupils. CET is using its greater scale and resource to drive up standards across its schools. Those changes have seen both Yewdale in Carlisle and Longtown move from ‘Inadequate’ to ‘Good’ in their most recent Ofsted inspections.

Chris Wilkins, CET’s new director of primary education, said Caldew Lea would benefit from the support and collaboration of being part of a growing trust.

He said: “This allows headteachers and the staff to focus on education and learning to the benefit of the children and the school community.

“We are a family of schools working together to raise standards and already we are seeing the benefits with best practice being shared across the schools under our wing.”

The Ashley Street school has been redecorated and substantial improvements to the buildings have been made in preparation for the transfer, with funds provided jointly by CET, Cumbria County Council and central government. Further work will be carried out in the October half-term and there are plans to improve the school’s ICT capability.

Miss Weston added: “It is early days but our ambition is for Caldew Lea to be the school of choice for the area. We are heartened that some parents have already chosen to come back to us and we are determined to reward the faith shown in the team here.”

And the school’s new regime has got a thumbs up from its most important judges – the children.

Connor, a Year 4 pupil, said: “Children now play together and get on with each other. They used to be too rough with each other but now they know not to.”

Jack, who is in Year 2, said: “The teachers are helping everyone to be happy and making sure we all work hard.”

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