School rocked by shocking antics of jailed ex-head praised by Ofsted for turnaround

Principal Sarah Wilson with Year 8 pupils Scarlett Dornelly, Owen Park, Lewis Rainger and Jaiden Taylor
Principal Sarah Wilson with Year 8 pupils Scarlett Dornelly, Owen Park, Lewis Rainger and Jaiden Taylor

A school rocked by the shocking antics of its former headteacher has been praised by Ofsted for turning itself around.

Sawtry Village Academy has had its Ofsted rating bumped up from ‘Requires Improvement’ to ‘Good’ following its latest inspection.

The news comes four months after James Stewart, who was its principal when it was previously called Sawtry Community College, was jailed for four years after engaging in sexual activity at the school and swindling more than £100,000 from its accounts.

Reflecting on the latest Ofsted report, Principal Sarah Wilson said: “We are thrilled with the Ofsted report and the comments made about all areas of our school.

“I am very proud of the hard work and commitment that has been shown by the members of staff, the pupils, the parents and the community to ensure Sawtry Village Academy is a school we can all be proud of.”

The mixed secondary school was taken over by the Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust (CMAT) in July 2014 and has been on an upward curve since then.

The Ofsted report states: “Leaders have navigated the school through turbulent times since the previous inspection. Their commitment and clarity of purpose have established the foundations necessary to make good improvements.”

In the latest validated league tables, the school was judged as above average and placed seventh in Cambridgeshire for its Progress 8 figure, which measures the amount of progress pupils make at secondary school.

The inspectors added: “The progress of disadvantaged pupils is improving rapidly across a wide range of subjects and the difference between the progress of disadvantaged and that of other pupils is diminishing.”

The level of teaching and attendance figures were also praised, while the Sixth Form was rated as ‘Outstanding’.

Mrs Wilson added: “As the report highlights the work that has been done at the school has been undertaken against a background of turbulence. Despite this, we have worked incredibly hard with CMAT to ensure students have received the best possible education throughout, which has been reflected in our fantastic GCSE and A Level results and in this report.”