PARENTS have been given their first taste of plans for a new academy primary school on the old Townsend School site.

The Jewell Academy, run by the Aspirations Academies Trust, will open in September with two reception classes and one Year 1 class, but is expected to take on some 400 pupils when Bournemouth Council’s £4.15million refurbishment is complete.

Its predecessor, Townsend School, was closed in 2008 due to its poor performance record, despite a local campaign to save it.

Trust chief executive Steve Kenning told parents at an open evening in Townsend Community Centre on Wed- nesday that they expected pupils to leave with high levels of literacy and numeracy, self-confidence and good standards of behaviour, “We have high expectations for all our students, and we work really hard in all our schools to raise their aspirations,” he said.

“But it is fun as well, learning should be fun and we train our teachers how to get the students engaged with learning.

“We are all experienced teachers and we know what works, we have turned around failing schools in deprived areas. We have seen it work in our other schools and it will work here.”

After the talk Townsend mum Sue Clark, 30, said she would definitely be sending her four-year-old son Max to the school if there was a place.

“It sounds really good, like they really want to make a go of the place,” she said.

“I think some of the other schools around here are perhaps a bit stale and have lost interest but there seems to be a lot of enthusiasm here, at least from the start.”

Kelly Rickman, 36, also from Townsend, said: “I used to go to the old school myself so I was sad when it closed down, it was very friendly there and everyone knew each other.

“We definitely need a new school. It is a nightmare doing the school run to Queen’s Park every day, and this looks really good. I will be applying.”

By September the trust will be running three primary schools and four secondary schools based in Dorset, Hampshire, Oxfordshire and London. They are looking for a secondary school in the Bournemouth area.

They will be holding more open day talks over the next few months. Information on applying for places at the school can be found on the council website.

  • COUNCILLOR Nicola Greene, cabinet member for education and children’s services, said the trust was chosen to run the academy as the council was impressed by their work in other schools.

“It was exactly what we wanted, particularly their particular focus on meeting the needs of the community,” she said.

“We went to visit one of their schools in Oxfordshire, the Dashwood Academy, to see how they operate there, and were impressed.

“The selection process was particularly rigorous as we will be spending a lot of money on refurbishing the school and won’t be involved in running it.

“But that doesn’t mean they will be on their own, they are keen to work closely with the council and the community.”

She defended the council’s decision to close the old school down four years ago, saying: “It was sensible at the time, the school was consistently failing to deliver an adequate education.

“At that time we had enough spaces to move the existing pupils on.

“There is a lot of good will behind the new academy and every reason to think it will be a success.”