THERE might have been a groundbreaking change in the way one school in Radcliffe is being run — but life in the classroom and playground for pupils is back in its normal routine.

The new term has signalled a fresh start for Radcliffe Primary School in Coronation Road, which has become the first academy in the borough, and is being sponsored by Bury College Education Trust.

Staff and parents were vocal in their objections in 2012 when the Government announced it would force the school to become an academy.

But having begun life as an academy, headteacher Mr Tim Power says he is confident the school could match or exceed national benchmarks in 2014 and 2015 in partnership with Bury College and its principal, Charlie Deane.

He said: “Our new signage is up and the brand is there for all to see.

“This is a new start for our academy school and we are embracing the opportunity.

“Myself and Mr Deane have had really positive, strategic conversations about moving the school through good and to outstanding.

“The future for us is very different, but very exciting.”

Radcliffe Primary had previously been rated “good” but in May 2012 Ofsted inspectors judged the school to be “inadequate” and placed it in special measures.

Ofsted found pupils’ attainment, the school’s leadership and teaching quality lacking but parents and teachers argued Radcliffe Primary had received one bad report and would be able to improve.

But this report prompted the Department for Education to decide to turn into an academy, despite attempts to reverse this.

Mr Power added: “Radcliffe Primary School’s performance in reading, writing and maths for year six pupils moved from 34 per cent in 2011 to 67 per cent in 2012 — a swing of 33 per cent.

“Was this due to being a sponsored academy? No.

“In 2013 the year six measure was 68 per cent. Do we aim to be close to or beyond national benchmarks for 2014 and 2015? Absolutely.

“Can we do it working in partnership with Bury College? Absolutely.”

The school have kept their own name, uniform and logo and will gain improved outdoor provision and wireless internet connectivity.

Earlier this month, the DfE revealed more than 400 primary schools had been paired up with academy sponsors last year – bringing the total to 645 nationally since 2012.

The DfE spokesman also said the recently-published primary school league tables showed sponsored academies had improved their performance by three per cent against an overall improvement in all schools of one per cent.

The spokesman said: “The best way to turn around the stubborn underperformance that exists in some schools is to bring in a sponsor.

“These sponsors bring with them experience, strong leadership, knowhow — and a track record of success.

“It is vital we continue to raise standards so all children leave primary school with a thorough grounding in reading, writing and maths so they can thrive at secondary school.”

Elton Primary School in Bury is also set to become an academy after it was placed in special measures in May last year, and a partnership with Bury College is also being considered.