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Dudley schools earmarked for £4.5m refurbishment to help boost standards

By Pete Madeley | Dudley | Education | Published:

Two of Dudley's worst performing secondary schools will get a refurb this summer as part of multi-million pound plans to improve education in the town.

Holly Hall Academy was rated 'inadequate' in its last Ofsted inspection

Hillcrest School and Community College and Holly Hall Academy – both rated inadequate following their most recent Ofsted inspections – will see run-down facilities spruced up after the Dudley Academies Trust (DAT) launched its 'blueprint for change'.

They will get a share of £4.5 million, along with the 'requires improvement' rated Castle High School and High Arcal, which is rated good.

The four schools, which cater for a combined 3,515 pupils, have been taken over by the Dudley College-run trust in a bid to drive up educational standards in the borough.

A new strategic plan has been implemented, which has already seen new staff brought in to drive up standards in English and maths, while the curriculum will be overhauled and standardised across the schools.

Hillcrest School is in talks with the FA over a 3G pitch

The DAT says that a key issue is that the quality of facilities at schools has been 'compromised' in recent years due to a lack of investment.

The cash, which comes following successful funding bids to the Education and Skills Funding Agency, will be spent on initial improvements to heating, roofing and glazing.

Holly Hall and High Arcal are both in line for partial rebuilds at a later date.

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Bosses are also in talks with the FA to build a floodlit '3G' football pitch at Hillcrest's Simms Lane site in Netherton.

Trust chief executive Jo Higgins, said there had already been a 'sea change' in the four schools since the DAT was founded six months ago.

“We have recently recruited some excellent new staff, who will join us in September and will help to drive up achievements in English and mathematics," she said.

"Our learners who are at the heart of everything we do, have helped us create new values for our schools and we have reshaped our curriculum too.

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"The publication of our Strategic Plan lays out our intentions for the next three years and establishes our intention to accelerate the pace of change in our schools, so that students can discover more, do more and achieve more.”

Castle High School

Dudley College principal Lowell Williams said the Trust would create an 'aspirant culture' in the schools, and prioritise 'exemplary behaviour' from students, and outstanding teaching and learning.

“We have already come a long way but there is an even longer journey to go if we are to give the young people of Dudley the first class education they deserve," he said.

"But there is absolutely nothing standing in our way as I am confident we have the skills and expertise to do just that.”

The DAT's plans have been backed by Dudley North MP Ian Austin, who said: "I have always said that education and skills should be the number one priority to give youngsters in our town the best start in life.

"Giving the young people of Dudley the skills they need to build their future careers is not only the right thing for them but also for the region, if Dudley as a place is to grow and prosper.”

Pete Madeley

By Pete Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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