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Struggling Orpington school joins top-ranked academy trust

PUBLISHED: 11:49 17 May 2016 | UPDATED: 11:50 17 May 2016

The Harris Federation is among the top academy trusts for improving the prospects of disadvantaged students

The Harris Federation is among the top academy trusts for improving the prospects of disadvantaged students

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The school will benefit from focused support to transform the education on offer

An Orpington secondary school found to have serious weaknesses is set to join one of the top academy trusts for improving the prospects of disadvantaged children.

The Priory School, which became an academy in 2012, will join the Harris Federation, a not-for-profit charity that runs 20 secondary academies in and around London, including Harris Academy, Beckenham, and Harris Girls Academy, Bromley.

It will benefit from a great deal of focused support as it seeks to transform the education on offer to students and come out of its Ofsted category of serious weaknesses.

Three quarters of Harris secondary academies inspected have been rated outstanding by Ofsted, with the remaining quarter judged to be good - an unmatched track record.

Education charity The Sutton Trust has produced successive reports concluding that the Harris Federation is among the top academy trusts for improving the prospects of disadvantaged students.

Last month, experts from Watchsted ranked the federation first out of 26 academy sponsors for improving Ofsted outcomes in schools, while recent research by PwC for The Times newspaper showed that children and teenagers in Harris academies are outperforming their peers in other academy groups.

Ms Gill Lamb, headteacher of The Priory School, said: “Well before our Ofsted inspection, we judged that significant improvements needed to be made to our school. I am pleased that inspectors recognised the impact we had already begun to have.

“There is huge potential in our dedicated and hard-working community of students, parents and staff. By combining with the proven and experienced Harris Federation, we will build on our strengths and address all of the areas where we need to improve.”

Ms Carolyn English, the Harris Federation’s director of secondary education, said: “We are pleased to have been selected by the Regional Schools Commissioner to support The Priory School.

“Ofsted’s report recognised the impact of Ms Lamb and other senior leaders in beginning to secure the improvements needed. We will help them in any way we can to accelerate the schools journey to becoming outstanding.

“We will consult and liaise closely with the school community to ensure a smooth transition, and are looking forward to welcoming The Priory into our family of schools.”

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