January 13, 2022 4.00 pm

Undersubscribed Lincolnshire school’s remarkable turnaround

From ‘crisis talks’ to sought-after status

By Local Democracy Reporter

A Cleethorpes school which was once holding crisis talks over low numbers has gone on to become one of the most sought-after in the area.

Beacon Academy has undergone a remarkable turnaround since it joined Wellspring Academy Trust just over four years ago.

It struggled to attract pupils as Holy Family Catholic Academy, with numbers dropping as low as 192.

But today, parents are clamouring to get their children in and the school’s senior leadership have been recognised at national awards.

There are now more than 500 pupils in its classrooms, with year seven oversubscribed for three years in a row.

The ‘dark days’ when it was under threat of closure seem far away now.

“Parents and students should also be proud of their input into turning the school around,” headteacher Jason Thurley said.

“Everybody continues to work tremendously hard to maintain the momentum created when we joined Wellspring back in 2017.”

Before that, there was serious doubt about the school’s future.

Talks had been held with sponsors and the council to find a path forward amid the low student numbers.

It was agreed that the under-subscribed school would leave its religious identity behind along with the Nottingham Roman Catholic Diocese Education Service.

It began a mission of growing numbers with the Wellspring Trust, opening as Beacon Academy in September 2017 with a new curriculum and six extra teachers.

The name was chosen to reflect the original school on the site 60 years ago.

Mr Thurley said he could feel a “buzz” and air of “excitement” as soon as he walked in the gates that day.

There was an instant increase in popularity, and numbers have continued to grow. It has become the most heavily subscribed secondary school in the borough and Ofsted has consistently rated it ‘good’.

Beacon’s dramatic turnaround was recognised in the National School Awards, with it making the final four in the senior leadership category.

Mr Thurley promised the school would continue improving, saying: “All the teaching and non-teaching support staff, plus the governors and Trust, deserve the plaudits.

“My sincere thanks to everybody who has contributed to making the Academy such a success.

“But the hard work does not stop here.

“We remain determined to keep improving and exciting plans ensure we will continue to provide the best teaching and learning experience for our students and staff.”

Judges praised the school for offering pupils “opportunities to achieve academically and to develop as a young person, embracing all the world can offer.”

Wellspring also took home the honour of being named Multi-Academy Trust of the year at the event in the houses of Parliament.

Chair of governors George Krawiec said: “This recognition is not about one individual or a small group of people but the whole Academy team.

“North East Lincolnshire has a school of which it can be proud.

“Those dark days in 2017 seem in the dim and distant past after a remarkable turnaround.

“I would like to pay tribute to chief executive officer Mark Wilson and the Trust team and congratulate them on being named multi-academy Trust of the year.

“The award and recognition is richly deserved. Its support of Beacon Academy has been phenomenal.”

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