Principal aims to put new academy in top five

THE principal of the first purpose-built city academy in Bradford has vowed to turn the school into one of the top five in the country within five years.

The inner city community of East Bowling in Bradford has seen its local comprehensive relaunched three times in a bid to improve standards.

But Bradford Academy's principal Gareth Dawkins said he was confident the latest project would succeed as the new school opened its doors for the first time yesterday.

The new 25m building has been built with Government cash and 1m each from its two sponsors, Bradford Anglican Diocese and the social action charity TocH. Its first ever pupils in year seven started yesterday and by the time they finish their GCSEs Mr Dawkins wants the academy to be in the nation's top five among schools with a similar intake.

City academies were created by the Government to transform the fortunes of struggling inner-city schools.

Bradford Academy replaces Bradford Cathedral Community College which lasted only six years after it was placed in special measures by Ofsted two years after it opened. The school in East Bowling first started life in 1963 as Fairfax Community School but during the 1990s it was named and shamed as having one of the worst exam results in the country. In 1994 it became one of the first in the country to be placed in special measures. It was brought out following a relaunch as Bowling Community College but the school was reinvented a second time in 2000 to become Bradford Cathedral Community College which went into special measures in 2002 and came out again two years later.

The school's principal Gareth Dawkins said: "The question you have to ask is, are all of the conditions in place to make for a successful school?

"We have a principal and management team with a proven track record, we have managed to keep people with local knowledge of the area, we have good governance, we are well resourced and have a beautiful building and we have the support of the parents."

Bradford Academy's new building includes a large open forum room with an Eden project style lattice roof which will allow pupils to meet and hold debates. It also boasts a restaurant, cafe, lecture theatre with a giant screen and computer facilities throughout the school.

Each pupil will also be part of their own learning team of 15 youngsters from all ages within the school who will be allocated their own personal learning guide to track their progress.