A SECONDARY school is to sponsor a struggling Barton primary with the aim of boosting the performance of pupils.

Cheney School, which became an academy last January, has been approved by the Department for Education (DfE) as the sponsor for Bayards Hill Primary School.

It means the Waynflete Road school will become an academy itself when pupils return after the Easter holidays.

Cheney School headteacher Jolie Kirby said discussions between the schools began about two years ago.

About 75 per cent of pupils at Bayards Hill, which is one of the largest in the city with about 450 pupils, attend Cheney when they go to secondary school in Year 7.

Bayards Hill was told by Ofsted in December that it requires improvement. Inspectors noted that pupils were not making fast enough progress and standards of literacy and numeracy remain below the national average for both Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.

A similar set-up is already in place in the city.

In April 2012, Cherwell School became the sponsor of Cutteslowe Primary School.

Mrs Kirby said: “Ofsted has identified areas which need to make sure students make really good progress, raise attainment and also areas of leadership and teaching and learning.

“We will be working on these significantly as a school. We want to make as rapid progress as possible to address these areas.

“We have got very strong governors who bring a high level of expertise to make some quite rapid improvements. This is all the priority for us.

“We want to give the pupils the best start in life, making sure we have got really high quality of training for staff and a high level of expectation for students’ achievement.

“The right ingredients are already there for students to do really well at Bayards Hill and as they come through to secondary schools, both ours and others in the city, knowing that they can achieve anything.”

Long-serving Bayards Hill headteacher Keith Ponsford retired on Friday and will be succeeded in the role by Cheney’s deputy headteacher Sylvia Hawken.

Mrs Hawken has taken a secondment to work at the Blackbird Leys Academy schools.

She said: “The vision is to make sure the children achieve in line with everyone else. That is not happening at the moment.

“There is a really good, dedicated team of staff and Cheney need to support them to make sure that happens.”

Mrs Hawken’s position at the school is currently on an interim basis.