Record pupil numbers at Lincolnshire school after academy transformation
A former community school has become an academy as it welcomes a record roll call.
Hillcrest Academy, which has been teaching youngsters for 50 years, has transformed its fortunes since principal Julie McDonald took over in 1998.
Back then, the Gainsborough feeder for nearby White's Wood Lane Community Primary was a long way from academic excellence and had major financial mismanagement problems.
But at an opening event on Wednesday, VIPs, including Lincoln Bishop Grosseteste University College principal Professor Muriel Robinson, were being told of the Heapham Road school's transformation.
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"We have seen very difficult times in the past, but the future is very positive," said Mrs McDonald.
"We are very proud of the successes that our school has made over recent years and took the challenge of converting to our own independent academy.
"Our children have been heavily involved in decisions about our new school uniform, changing from blue to a rather nice purple."
Year one teacher Ginny Hickerton revealed that the record number of 206 children aged three to seven had a big say in the change.
"They were also asked to compile a wish list of things that they would like to change or to get within the school," she said.
"Although some of these were a little far-fetched – including a school helicopter – some very interesting and sensible ideas were taken on board.
"With the help of the children we have altered the entrance hall and now have the addition of a tropical fish tank.
"The opening event featured our school song Hillcrest Rap, the reading of our new Hillcrest Academy Prayer and the unveiling of the plaque listing all 30 staff.
"We are all very excited about the changes that are due to happen over the coming school year and beyond and would like to thank Mrs McDonald for all of the hard work that she continues to do for our school.
"Without her strong vision and dedication, the successes that we continue to have would not have been possible."
Parent volunteer Sam Gibson is studying an NVQ level three in childcare with a view to becoming a teaching assistant. She said: "My daughter, Charlotte, is four and has just started in Hillcrest's reception class.
"I've seen so many improvements in the last two years and we all think academy status will be far better for our children."