A Wolverhampton primary school which has enjoyed a remarkable turnaround over the last 18 months has become an academy.

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Only last year Hill Avenue Primary School was named and shamed as one of the poorest performing schools in the country - but following a dramatic transformation it is now among the top 5% of schools nationwide based on Key Stage outcomes.

The Lanesfield school was placed into special measures in February 2015, with the City of Wolverhampton Council starting the turnaround process by brokering support from Manor Teaching School and installing an Interim Executive Board.

Anita Cliff OBE, Headteacher at the Outstanding rated Manor Primary School, was appointed Executive Headteacher at Hill Avenue last May.

She introduced an inspiring new curriculum and robust assessment system to ensure that pupils could make rapid and sustained progress, while senior leaders and staff were given intensive coaching and mentoring to increase their skills and deliver outstanding teaching.

New staff were also appointed, leading to a rapid improvement in standards in a short period of time.

The learning environment has been improved, with new learning resources and furniture and improvements to the school building, and new key policies and procedures implemented around safeguarding, child protection, attendance and behaviour, among others.

Hill Avenue now also has its own Parents and Teachers Association and Pupil Leadership Team, giving parents and children a voice in the further development of their school.

And the hard work has paid off, with Hill Avenue this year ranked in the top 5% nationally for outcomes in all Key Stages.  Pupils are progressing well above the level expected of them and SATs results were "significantly above the national average", with progress in Reading in the top 1%, mathematics top 2% and writing top 5% nationally.

Councillor Claire Darke, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Education, said: "The turnaround at Hill Avenue has been remarkable, and that is down to the inspiring and motivating leadership of Anita Cliff and her team and of course the hard work and support of teachers, pupils and parents.

"The fantastic performance in this year's SATS, in particular, demonstrate the great strengths and exemplary standards that are now present at the school."

Anita Cliff OBE said: "This success has been achieved through the continued support from Manor Teaching School and the commitment of all staff involved in providing a world class education for the children of Hill Avenue.

"The appointment of Elliott Hateley as head of school has been instrumental in our improvement journey. He is an outstanding, inspirational leader and he was worked tirelessly to ensure every child succeeds.

"His newly established leadership team, which also includes Deputy Headteacher Darran Jones and Assistant Headteacher Harj Khallon, are fantastic to work with and are ensuring that pupils are receiving an outstanding education.

"Recent monitoring inspections have confirmed the good progress we are making, but we are determined to improve still further as we continue our journey to becoming an outstanding school."

The school joined the Manor Multi-Academy Trust on 1 December when it formally became Hill Avenue Academy.

Councillor Darke added: "As a council we are determined to ensure that pupils in Wolverhampton have the best possible education. More of our schools are rated either good or outstanding by Ofsted than ever before, and we look forward to Hill Avenue Academy joining this list in the not too distant future."

This month it was revealed that Manor Primary School, part of the Manor Multi-Academy Trust, had been ranked 185 in this year's Sunday Times Schools Guide of the country's top 500 state primary schools. Another city school, St Bartholomew's C of E Primary School, in Penn, was ranked 45.

  • released: Wednesday 14 December, 2016