Parents and pupils of a failing Wigan school have returned from the summer holidays to find it has been taken over by a fast-growing education trust.
Rose Bridge Academy, which is in special measures following two damning Oftsed reviews, is to be sponsored by The Dean Trust, led by charismatic chief executive Tarun Kapur.
The trust, which also runs the former Abraham Guest Academy, has been credited with turning around some of the region’s most troubled school.
As part of the takeover, radical uniform changes have been implemented, leaving some pupils at threat of “isolation” if they fail to get the “correct” footwear.
Dozens of mortified parents contacted the Wigan Post following the first day of term voicing their outrage at the “military” requests.
Despite being approved back in June, the move has been kept under wraps by bosses and was only revealed after Lancashire and West Yorkshire Headteacher Board published the latest minutes on its website this week
Related: Statement from Rose Bridge Academy
However at the time that the Wigan Post went to print - parents had not been officially informed about the latest developments.
According to the minutes, a letter was to be sent to the academy following the meeting to inform them of the decision.
The Ince school, which has been in special measures, was slammed by Ofsted inspectors in May, who said that the leadserhip was not doing enough to tackle the serious problems previously identified there.
Ofsted’s report once again did not hold back on the criticisms following a prior review in January, outlining massive shortcomings in governance, leadership, teaching quality and pupil behaviour.
Shortly after this, parents received a letter announcing a new partnership between The Community First Academy Trust, which runs the school and The Dean Trust, which runs the former Abraham Guest Academy in Orrell.
But it was not until June 21 that the crucial meeting took place in which plans were approved for the take-over.
Earlier this year, The Dean Trust installed experienced head Barry Bridden to replace interim principal Suzanne Pountain as well as other members of the senior leadership team.
Ofsted inspectors acknowledged that the changes at the top table have “given new purpose to the school’s work and started to rebuild the confidence of staff and pupils”, with better morale among teachers and expectations being raised around the building.
However, changes were still to be fully embedded and some pupils reportedly “resisted” the stricter emphasis on discipline, though the report said some have also recognised how that helps them learn.
The Dean Trust, led by charismatic chief executive Tarun Kapur, has been credited for turning around some of the region’s most troubled schools.
Abraham Guest Academy, now The Dean Trust Wigan, has trumpeted improved GCSE grades for the third year running since being sponsored by the trust.
Headteacher Paul Bousfield said: “Since being a part of The Dean Trust we have experienced brilliant support and our staff feel really valued.
“The enthusiasm and skills within the staff body have rightly produced our best ever results.
“Just as important is the fact that our pupils really value education and have great pride in their achievements’
“The journey from Abraham Guest to becoming Dean Trust Wigan has been welcomed and this ‘leap of faith’ by the Governors has paid dividends with year on year improvements.”
However, Rose Bridge parents, unaware of the takeover have not welcomed the changes so far.
Concerned guardians flooded the office with complaints on the second day back following massive changes - including gates on the toilets preventing students from using them during lesson-time and stricter uniform guidelines which saw many pupils under threat of isolation for wearing the wrong “type” of black shoe.
We asked The Dean Trust and Rose Bridge Academy for a statement but none was forthcoming.