A NEW team of school leaders has been appointed to help transform a struggling high school which has been taken over by a leading academy trust.

Former executive principal of Accrington Academy, Andy O’Brien, has taken over leadership of The Valley Leadership Academy in Stacksteads, formerly known as Fearns Community Sports College.

Fearns, which was rated as ‘inadequate’ at three Ofsted inspections from 2014 to 2019, joined the Star Academies group last year.

Star runs the Tauheedul group of schools in Blackburn, including the girls’ high school which is regarded as one of the highest performing in the whole country.

Now Mr O’Brien has outlined his vision to improve academic attainment and a commitment to developing a broad programme of extra-curricular activities, which focuses on sports and the arts.

He said: “I have heard so much about how The Valley Leadership Academy is a school at the very heart of the community it serves.

“This is a school that has educated entire generations of local families and I feel very fortunate to be able to build on the school’s legacy. I am looking forward to working closely with parents and our community partners as we create the school our pupils truly deserve.

“The core of these developments will focus on improving pupils’ outcomes. Star Academies, the multi-academy trust responsible for The Valley Leadership Academy, has a long track record in running some of the highest-performing schools in the country.

“As part of Star Academies, The Valley now has access to greater resources, expertise and support to help it achieve its potential.”

Mr O’Brien will be joined by a new management team, including his new deputy Steven Taylor, which he said had a superb track record.

Mr O‘Brien said: “I am delighted to have an extremely talented new Senior Leadership Team to help lead the ambitious next phase of investment and development at the school.

“Along with their extensive leadership experience, our team brings with them years’ worth of subject and exam experience to help our pupils achieve the best results possible.”

Sarah Davies, chair of governors at the school, said: “This new term marks a key milestone in the school’s transformation to The Valley Leadership Academy.

“Star Academies and our incoming executive principal, Andy O’Brien, have worked tirelessly to recruit not only this highly talented and experienced senior leadership team, but also strengthen teaching across the school with new appointments in every faculty and major improvements to school facilities.

“In these uncertain times, this investment in education at the heart of the Rossendale Valley presents a huge opportunity for young people across the whole community.”

Fearns converted to an academy in July 2019. Since joining Star Academies, bosses said it has already benefitted from investment, a redesigned curriculum and the recruitment of new specialist teaching staff.

In September, the school opened five new classrooms including ICT, art and music rooms.