FOLLOWING months of uncertainty, a troubled school in Winterbourne is set to formally join a new trust next year.

Winterbourne International Academy has been run in partnership by the Olympus Academy Trust and the Castle School Education Trust (CSET) since the end of last year, following news that it would face a £1million deficit, as well as being placed into special measures and staff strikes.

At the time, the school was run by the Ridings Federation.

In an announcement made earlier today, it has been confirmed that as of early next year, the school would be joining Olympus.

The move has been given approval “in principle” by the Department for Education, which means that the Ridings and Olympus trustees will work with the DfE to plan for a smooth transfer.

Following the takeover, Castle School head teacher Peter Smart took the reins at Winterbourne as interim principal, a role which was extended to see him through to the end of this year.

Dave Baker, CEO of Olympus, said that the transition would be “with the best interests of Winterbourne students and their learning community at the heart of discussions”.

Regarding the previous deficit, he said that the partnership’s combined efforts have meant the deficit no longer exists, but that there are “re-structure costs associated with change”.

He said: “However, there was enough money in the bank to pay all commitments at the end of August and to pay back the money which was borrowed from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) last autumn and which initiated the financial notice to improve.

“Discussions are, therefore, underway with the ESFA about removing the financial notice to improve as soon as possible.

“A massive amount of work has gone into re-structuring and managing finances which means that Winterbourne has a budget for 2017-18 which balances in-year and we believe it will be completely deficit-free very soon.

“This is good news for Winterbourne and for the Olympus Academy Trust as we are not in a position to fund deficits and it will give students the best possible opportunity to achieve.

“There has been a calm and purposeful atmosphere in our schools this week as students and staff adjust to term-time routines again.”

Will Roberts, chief executive of CSET said he was delighted by the news that Olympus had been approved in principle as the new sponsor for Winterbourne "following the very successful OAT/CSET joint leadership support that has been provided since January".

He said: "CSET and OAT will continue to work in close partnership to provide a high quality education at Winterbourne as well as our other primary and secondary schools.”