Celebrations as Whitfield school joins Cumbrian flock
A SPECIAL celebration has been held to mark a Tynedale school becoming the first from outside of Cumbria to officially join the Diocese of Carlisle's Multi Academy Trust.
Whitfield C of E Voluntary Aided Primary School became The Good Shepherd Multi Academy Trust's fifth member school on September 1, following a successful community campaign to keep the 260-year-old village school open.
The school was placed into special measures following an Ofsted inspection in 2014 but has since performed a remarkable turn around prior to becoming a sponsored academy.
During the summer a brand new wooden-clad extension insulated with sheep's wool was built to enable the school to open an early years unit, Little Lapwings, which will cater for children from nursery to year one.
In addition the existing car park has been extended along with further internal modifications to improve facilities for staff and children.
The building is already carbon neutral with electricity provided by a wind turbine and solar panels, and water from a spring.
Katherine Ayre, the newly appointed head of school, said: "The school extensions and re-furbishment have made a great difference and the opening of the new nursery is especially exciting.
"There's been a tremendous amount of hard work done by the team at school and by the trust."
The school has 27 pupils with Mrs Ayre being supported in her role by executive headteachers Claire Render and Rob Blake from Wreay C of E Primary near Carlisle.
The Good Shepherd Multi Academy Trust launched in April 2014 and has four other member schools: Lazonby Cof E Primary, Braithwaite C of E Primary, Ambleside C of E Primary and Lorton Primary.
Michael Mill, chief executive of The Good Shepherd MAT joined the Archdeacon of Lindsifarne, the Ven. Peter Robinson, director of education at the Newcastle Diocese, Paul Rickeard, and county councillor Ian Hutchinson at a celebration held on Friday. (Oct6)
Outgoing chairman of governors, Amanda Stembridge, cut a ribbon to officially open the new Little Lapwings unit.
Mr Mill said: "We are pleased that the Department for Education has seen the impact our Trust is having and has given us the opportunity to work with Whitfield.
"This is our first member school from beyond Cumbria and so this represents an important milestone for us. Earlier this year we also saw our first non-church school join.
"We continue to explore expressions of interest with other potential academy partners and it is heartening that school communities can see the benefits of our academy membership in terms of long-term support, encouragement and success set within a Christian ethos."