Head reflects on school's first term with new academy trust

The Harbour School in Wilburton near Ely

The Harbour School in Wilburton. - Credit: Supplied by The Harbour School

The headteacher of a school for boys with special educational needs has reflected on a “busy and productive term” since it was taken over by a new academy trust.

The Harbour School, in Wilburton, near Ely, has reached the end of its first term as part of the Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust (CMAT).

It caters for almost 90 boys from Year 2 to Year 11 - the equivalent ages are between six and 16-years-old - with social, emotional and mental health needs.

The school was rated inadequate in its last full Ofsted inspection in March 2019 and placed into special measures.

But headteacher Lise Sugden, who joined last year, has praised staff and pupils for their handling of the lockdown and is positive about the new partnership with CMAT.

Mrs Sugden said: “The impact of joining CMAT could be seen immediately at the start of the term with investment in our information and communications technology allowing us to support any remote education we needed to take place during lockdown.

“We also have plans to help future-proof the school’s infrastructure and facilities including a new school roof.”

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She added: “We have managed to keep the school open throughout the lockdown, due to the needs of our pupils, and our staff have been integrated into the trust with introductory meetings with colleagues in CMAT’s other schools.

“This peer-to-peer learning and sharing of experiences will be a big advantage for our staff.”

Six of the school’s laptops were donated by taxi firm CamCab, which the school use regularly to transport pupils to and from its site.

CMAT runs 17 schools across Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire.

These include Ely College and Downham Feoffees Primary Academy. The Harbour School one of the trust's two schools that specialise in looking after pupils with special educational needs.

Ely College joined the trust in 2016 in special measures, and went on to receive an overall ‘good’ rating in July 2019.

Since The Harbour School was placed into special measures, there have been two further monitoring visits from Ofsted.

The most recent was carried out remotely and the inspector published her update on January 18.

It noted pupils were being supported with their education throughout the lockdown and extra time was allocated at the start of the autumn term to focus on mental health and wellbeing.

Guss the cockapoo who visits The Harbour School in Wilburton twice a week.

Guss the cockapoo has become a popular visitor to The Harbour School in Wilburton. - Credit: Supplied by The Harbour School

Mrs Sugden added: “It has been a busy and productive term all round.”

“We have even introduced a new puppy in to the school, with Guss the Cockapoo visiting twice a week. The pupils really love having him here.

“Outside of educational lesson time, the pupils really enjoy getting active and we get them involved in a variety of sports including cycling, canoeing and fishing.”

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