AFTER years of uncertainty, Padgate Academy is determined to take back its place at the heart of the community.

Since joining Warrington's Challenge Academy Trust (TCAT) in 2018, the secondary school's aim has been to improve its quality of education and engage families and young people in Padgate and across Warrington.

Latest figures show that GCSE results at Padgate Academy have risen from the bottom 10 per cent nationally to within the top 40 per cent.

Warrington Guardian:

Acting principal, Ibrahim Syed, was working in schools in London when the government introduced the London Challenge, a school improvement programme in the capital.

He has seen first hand how schools can turn it around.

Ibrahim explained: "Sometimes communities that have disadvantages and challenges can lack aspiration and we want to give them a sense of progress.

"It was always about bringing that idea back to the north west.

"I know with strong leadership it can be done, it's about demanding the best for the community.

"We are the most improved school in Warrington and it's the students who have had to make that journey."

Warrington Guardian:

To help create the perfect backdrop for its new chapter, Padgate Academy started work on a £1.8 million project to refurbish the school, a majority of which was built in the 1970s and was no longer fit for purpose.

Refurbishments, which started last year, include new roofing, lighting, flooring, PE changing rooms, canteen and science labs and will help aid the learning of its increasing numbers of students.

After joining TCAT as University Academy Warrington, its name was changed to Padgate Academy, at which stage students helped design a new badge to mark the occasion, a homage to the school's location on an RAF military air base used in the Second World War.

The school is now in the top 10 secondary schools in Warrington for GCSE results last year.

Students have witnessed the improvements themselves, praising the teachers and the new sense of focus around the school.

Warrington Guardian:

One student said: "People would always ask why we were going to this school, but now its reputation is going back to what it was."

Stephen Lears, IT and Facilities Manager and parent at the school added: "This is clearly saying to the community that we are here, we have been through turbulent times and we are coming out the other side.

"I'm so proud of the improvement my own children have made in the past two years.

"It's about passion. It's not just Ibrahim's plan, it's a shared passion.

"As a parent and a member of staff, there is a real sense of pride."

Andrew Moorcroft, director of quality and standards at TCAT and executive principal at Beamont Collegiate Academy said: "As a trust, we are working really closely with Padgate Academy to ensure the school delivers the best possible educational provision for both current and future pupils.

"Specifically, we have forged strong links between the school and Beamont Collegiate Academy to provide support for leadership, curriculum development and teaching and learning.

"We saw significant improvements at Padgate in 2019 and feel confident we are building on this platform to achieve great things in the future."