Olympian launches Plymouth's first primary academy
OLYMPIC diver Tonia Couch has officially launched Plymouth's newest primary-level academy at a special ceremony.
Tonia joined city dignitaries, education leaders and around 400 pupils when she unveiled a commemorative plaque at Mayflower Academy in North Prospect.
The academy, formerly Mayflower Community Primary School, is being sponsored by Plymouth University, with a new Talent and Enterprise Trust overseeing the running of the institution.
Academy status means that the University will play an active role in its management, building on the already close relationship between the institutions.
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David Sammels, acting headteacher of Mayflower, said: "The children, staff and governors at Mayflower have made great strides since the school was formed in 2009, and this move towards academy status is the next step in that direction.
"We're delighted to have Tonia and so many city leaders joining us for this symbolic moment, and we're looking forward to working with the University, with whom we share so many core values."
Once Tonia unveiled the plaque, local artist group Stiltskin revealed 'The Three Sisters' art project that has been undertaken by the children at Mayflower, commemorating the first successful harvest of the American pilgrims.
Cornwall poet Caroline Carver then talked about the creative writing project that she's been running with the school, and invited two pupils to read out their work.
There was also an array of activities and exhibits at the event, thanks to the university, the National Marine Aquarium, the Marine Biological Association, Dartmoor Search and Rescue, the Children's University, and Education Through Expeditions, run by Plymouth explorer Antony Jinman.
Professor Richard Stephenson, Chair of the Talent and Enterprise Trust at the University, said: "When Mayflower asked Plymouth University to work with them to create a new academy, we were only too pleased to further our long-standing relationship and assist in their development.
"Their motto of 'Together We Can' chimes perfectly with our own enterprise mission and working 'with' partners, and we look forward to helping advance social inclusion and raising aspirations in our city."
Councillor Nicky Williams, Cabinet Member for Children and Young people, added: "Congratulations to all those involved in creating this fantastic new school, which will be enjoyed by pupils, staff and the local community for many years.
"Mayflower is an incredible environment in which to teach, inspire, learn and play. We know education is not just about exams but gaining the confidence and skills needed for life and this is such a wonderful place to learn those lessons."