Wellfield to be a new academy

Exciting times: Headteacher Piers Tolson
Exciting times: Headteacher Piers Tolson

Leyland’s ‘failing’ high school is opting for academy status in a bid to improve its performance and exam results.

Wellfield Business and Enterprise College, on Yewlands Drive, was criticised by Ofsted during its latest monitoring inspection, following the school being placed into special measures last year.

The report came on the back of disappointing GCSE results, and headteacher Piers Tolson has now announced that steps are being taken to convert the school into becoming the town’s next academy.

Mr Tolson said: “We have been approached by the Department for Education (DfE) about becoming an academy and we discussed it with the governors of the school.

“We were targeted quickly by the DfE after the Ofsted report.

“We will need to become a ‘sponsored academy’ because any school in a category which is less than ‘good’ under Ofsted cannot convert on its own; it needs the support to make the necessary improvements.”

The school has now teamed up with the University of Chester Academies Trust (UCAT), which is looking to sponsor schools in the North West.

“We attended an academy show and also visited a school in Liverpool which is in a deprived area, but is really benefiting from UCAT’s help,” Mr Tolson said.

“We got a really good feel for what it can do for a school, and it really inspired us to move forward with the prospects of becoming a sponsored academy ourselves.”

The governing body has voted in favour of the move, and Mr Tolson held a parents’ meeting last week to gauge feedback about the idea.

“Whilst there is some concern and questions from parents, I felt the response was generally positive,” he said. “They understand that it’s about driving the school forward.”

The plans are being taken to the DfE now and a consultation between staff, parents and students will follow shortly.

The school name could change under the move, as well as the students’ uniform, but Mr Tolson said pupils won’t see many of the changes as most of it will involve ‘back office’ work.

He added: “We have actually been considering this for a long time now. The issue was first raised in 2010 but we didn’t feel it was the right time for us to become an academy then.

“We’ve looked into it every year since and have decided that now is the right time.

“It will increase our students’ opportunities for the future and give them something very inspiring to work towards.

“It’s an exciting time.”

Wellfield would be the second Leyland high school to become and academy after Worden Sports College announced it was converting to academy status last month.

Set to officially become Academy@Worden on March 1, the school does not need to be sponsored because it achieved a ‘good’ Ofsted result at its last inspection.