New Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds chose DEMAT’S St Andrew’s Primary School in Soham as his first school to visit since being appointed.
Mr Hinds – also MP for East Hampshire – spent over two hours with the trust CEO, headteacher, staff and pupils during the visit on January 11 to the Diocese of Ely Multi-Academy Trust’s (DEMAT) 480 pupil primary academy.
The Education Secretary answered questions about his new role from Year 5 pupils – shortly to visit the Houses of Parliament – and listened to the views of staff and leaders.
St Andrew’s was chosen partly because Fenland and East Cambridgeshire is designated as an opportunity area – one of 12 to receive a share of £72m to help create opportunities and raise education standards in disadvantaged areas.
The school has a strong focus on encouraging every child to realise their potential and is helping to raise standards, with recent results and a ‘good’ from OfSTED showing pupils are above average for reading.
DEMAT – recognised recently by OfSTED as a high-performing multi-academy trust – has 86 per cent of its schools rated good or outstanding, including St Andrew’s.
The Education Secretary said: “It has been a pleasure to meet the talented teachers and ambitious pupils at St Andrew’s. The school is raising standards for children in Cambridgeshire and inspiring them to make the most of their lives. I am excited to build on the strong record of raising standards that our bold reforms and the hard work of schools – like St Andrew’s – have helped to deliver.”
Headteacher Mike Harrison said: “We are delighted to have been visited by the Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds – especially as we are the first school he has visited in his new role. The opportunity to discuss the challenges faced by St. Andrew’s Primary, and the wider education system, was invaluable and we appreciated his constructive views. We are also very pleased he took the opportunity to meet our wonderful pupils and discuss a range of issues pertinent to their young lives. This visit is very much a recognition for all of the school’s stakeholders’ hard work in making the school a success.”
Andrew Read, Chief Executive of DEMAT added: “The Trust greatly appreciated the recognition by the new Secretary of State of the work of the multi academy trust (MAT) in supporting the wider national agenda to improve outcomes for young people. St Andrew’s is a shining example of the benefits of being part of a successful MAT, as recognised in our recent whole-trust Ofsted Review. We look forward to working further with all stakeholders, including the new Secretary of State, the Regional Schools Commissioner, the Local Authority and Opportunity Area Board to improve social mobility across our region.”