New Diocese-sponsored Academy opens in Bristol


On 2nd September, the new Fishponds Church of England Academy in Bristol became the first Academy sponsored by the Diocese, opening its doors for the first year of its new status.
Formerly St Matthias and Dr Bell’s Church of England Primary School, the school was invited by the Department for Education to become an Academy. The governors and the Principal, Mr Mike Eatwell, were keen to grasp the opportunity and the Diocese is pleased to be the sponsor.

Until March 2012 the school had been in Special Measures following its Ofsted inspection in 2010. Its new Academy status means that the Diocese as sponsor will take over responsibility for improving standards as well as ensuring the Academy retains a distinctively Christian character and designation.

John Swainston, Interim Director of Education for the Diocese, said:

“In line with the National Society’s recent report (The Church School of the Future) we are putting school improvement hand-in-hand with Christian distinctiveness as the two core aims for the Academy.”

In order to pursue its aim to sponsor the Academy, the Diocese had to gain accredited sponsor status, set up an Academies Company (Diocese of Bristol Academies Company) and form an Academies Trust (Bristol Church Academies Trust). As a Sponsored Academy the Local Board of Governors has a majority of church nominations and reports to the Trust.

“Staff at the Diocese’s Department for Children and Young People have put in an enormous amount of work to help make this happen”, continued John.

“Our prayers and efforts are for the continuing provision of a good quality and distinctively Christian education at this new Academy and for the rest of the 15,000 children in our Diocese’s schools.”

Using a grant from the Department for Education, Cabot Learning Federation has been sub-contracted to deliver School Improvement Services. This extra support secured for the Academy is a great opportunity to continue the good work started since Mr Eatwell took up his key leadership post eighteen months ago.

Bishop Mike will formally open Fishponds Church of England Academy on 18 October 2012.