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Four Salisbury Plain schools form MAT

Following return of soldiers to Salisbury Plain, demand for school places to be met with new academy trust

Posted by Stephanie Broad | July 02, 2016 | People, policy, politics

Four Salisbury Plain Schools have come together to become multi-academy trust, Salisbury Plain Academies, from July.  

The four schools, Durrington InfantsBulford St Leonard's Primary schoolSt Michael's Figheldean and Avon Valley College, aim to provide 'excellent education,' according to CEO Helen Mathieson.

Mathieson said: 'The schools will deliver all through education, 0–18, which will allow shared skills and shared opportunities for professional development of staff and experiences for children.'

The Army's decision to move soldiers back to Salisbury Plain has been a key factor in the creation of the multi academy trust. 

Its rebasing will see a big rise in the numbers of school-aged children over the next four years and beyond, making the need for 'excellent education for all on Salisbury Plain' of paramount importance. 

The new St Michael’s school at Larkhill will be a 420 place, two-form entry primary with a purpose built nursery attached and will be opened in 2018; a new building has just been opened at Bulford St Leonard’s to answer the growing demand for places there and building works are due to start at Avon Valley Academy to accommodate the expected growth in numbers.   

Mathieson continues: 'But at the very forefront of that drive for improved educational standards is the determination to work together in partnership to enable Salisbury Plain Academies to offer the very best educational experience to all of the children in their communities.” The new academy trust has, she adds, 'The potential to become a hub of excellence, a reflective leader of learning, a provider of all-through education that enables children and young people to develop their skills and potential.' 

Three of the schools are church schools and have the full backing and support of the Diocese of Salisbury.

Canon Joy Tubbs, Director of Education at the Diocese of Salisbury, said: “The Salisbury Diocesan Board of Education is thrilled to support the schools, both church and community, as they form their academy trust. How exciting it is that the children of the villages across the Plain are going to benefit from this exciting partnership. I commend the leadership of the Trust for the way in which they have been determined to place children’s needs first, to secure a really strong future for education in the area and placing children at the heart of decision making.”

Tom Lindsay, Education Officer (Primary) at Wiltshire County Council put the school places' need into context, he said: 'The Salisbury Plain area needs to provide 1200 extra school places for 2019; we anticipate 800 of these additional places will be for primary school aged children, this is the largest rebasing of military personnel since the Second World War.'

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