Hundreds gather to show support for Sawtry Village Academy’s campaign for a new school building

Posted on September 26, 2017 by Ryan Hyman

Hundreds gathered on Wednesday evening at Sawtry Village Academy to pledge their support for the launch of the Academy’s ‘New Building, Strong Future’ campaign.

During the evening, leaders of the Academy urged members of the local community and local politicians to support its campaign to put right the crimes and neglect of the past and invest in the future of the school. Members of the community can show their support by lobbying local councillors and MPs, following the campaign’s Facebook page, and signing the campaign’s petition at www.newbuildingstrongfuture.co.uk.

The campaign comes following the guilty pleas of former principal of Sawtry Community College, James Stewart, to eight counts of fraud by abuse of position and one count of misconduct in public office.  The former vice principal, Alan Stevens, has also pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud by abuse of position.  All these crimes are related to their time at the College.

Following James Stewart’s departure, Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust (CMAT) took over the governance of the school in January 2015, recognising the challenges ahead but determined to put right the neglect of the past regime.

Mark Woods, chief executive officer of CMAT said, “It is time to look forward to a bright future for Sawtry Village Academy. We have come a long way since 2014 but we cannot ignore the truth that the crimes and neglect of the school’s former leaders have put the long-term sustainability of the school at risk. For far too long, the Academy’s students, staff and community have put up with shoddy buildings that are not fit for use.  We have had great support from our local Councillors and our MP – we need to help them to make our case to the County Council and the Education Funding Agency by showing how strongly we feel that Sawtry Village Academy has been neglected and that now is the time to put that right. ”

Sarah Wilson, principal of Sawtry Village Academy said, “I am overwhelmed with how the community has come together to support the Academy in this time of need. When James Stewart resigned in 2014 the school was in special measures and was facing a financial crisis with serious personnel issues, a declining student roll and without the leadership capacity to recover alone. The school has already made significant progress in all areas and has one of the very best sixth forms in the county, but for too long these crimes have cast a shadow over our school and it is time now to make up for the mistakes and lack of leadership in the past and invest in making our buildings fit for purpose.”

Under its new leadership Sawtry Village Academy has made significant progress.  In 2014 the school was in special measures.  The latest Ofsted reports judges the academy to be making progress towards becoming a good school.  This year’s ‘A’ level and GCSE results were another step forward.  The Academy’s ‘A’ level results were among the top post-16 results in the Huntingdonshire area, with 83% of students achieving A*-C, 9% higher than 2016. The overall pass rate has remained high again at 100%, with 57% of students achieving the highest A*-B grades, a 12% increase from last year.  GCSE results were no different with over 10% of entries across all subjects achieving A*, 8 or 9 and 24% of entries being graded at 7 or A, and above.