Academy sponsor reveals major new expansion plans for Leeds

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An academy sponsor which supports seven schools in Leeds has revealed plans to treble its reach to tackle a “north-south educational divide”.

The Co-op, the country’s largest corporate academy sponsor, has under its existing strategy sought to take over schools in economically challenged areas.

Announcing a £3.6m plan to increase the number of academies it sponsors from 12 to 40, the trust says this will improve efficiencies and effectiveness.

Co-op Group chief executive Steve Murrells said academies share learning and experience, creating “substantial” social value and broader economic benefits for their communities.

Frank Norris, trust chief executive, said: “We have an impressive story of improvement for academies in some of the most challenging circumstances in the north of England. Our aim is to increase the number of children benefiting from our unique educational offer so that we can play a significant role in helping to drive up standards.”

The Co-op Academies Trust sponsors two secondaries in West Yorkshire – the Co-op Academy of Leeds and Priesthorpe, together with four primary academies in East Leeds - Brownhill, Nightingale, Oakwood and Woodlands and Beckfield, the former Pudsey Tyersal.