FUTURES Community College made a breakthrough this year in its improved Ofsted rating, creating momentum which headteacher Stuart Reynolds fully intends to continue and consolidate.

Since being appointed headteacher at the college, in Southchurch Boulevard, Southend, two years ago, Stuart has worked with staff and pupils to drag it out of its “inadequate” rating to “requires improvement”.

It might not sound much, but improving a school which has hit rock bottom is not easy, and it takes time.

Keen to keep this improvement going, and wanting to pull the school up to a “good” rating as soon as possible, he has enlisted the support of Partnership Learning, an academy trust based in East London with a track record of school improvement.

Mr Reynolds said: “The school’s been successful and we’ve got the point now where we can take full advantage of the support a trust can offer.

“It’s fixed with a regional schools director, who looks for good matches between schools and academy trusts.

“From my point of view one of the advantages being part of a trust beings is the extra capacity and expertise you gain and can tap into, which only increases as the team gets bigger, meaning you can share good practice among the schools in the trust.

“I want Futures to be good and outstanding as soon as possible, and this is a way of getting the school to that point, because we’d have all this support we could tap into.”

Academy conversions sometimes divide opinion among parents due to the hardline many trusts take on issues such as uniform and behaviour, though this is often paired with a focus on high expectations of students, whatever their ability.

Mr Reynolds adds: “It’s my ethos on expectations and fits in very well with Partnership Learning’s view to have high expectations and expecting a lot from students, for them to be successful.

“I think that’s key and I don’t think any headteacher would disagree with that.”

Naturally the elephant in the room with any discussion of academy conversion has to be the Government's announcement it will force failing schools to convert in order to improve, having climbed down from a plan to force all schools to convert regardless of their performance.

But, having taken Futures out of the “failing” category, is Mr Reynolds pleased he is able to choose to convert the school rather than having it forced?

“I know there’s a lot of politics around the academy agenda at the moment but, the thing that’s at the top of my agenda is the school’s improvement and I believe this is the right thing to be doing for the school.

“By having all the additional resources being part of a trust pulls in, it will make my job a little easier in taking the school to good and outstanding status.”

And that other elephant, what’s the new school going to be called?

“It isn’t a college or a community school, so it may be time for a change in terms of the name and we’ll need to clarify that at some point - but it’s something we need stakeholder agreement on.”

Watch this space.