THE Education Secretary visited Swindon on Friday and said she supports Lydiard Park Academy’s (LPA) plan to help other schools in the area.

Nicky Morgan MP spent the afternoon at the West Swindon School, speaking to staff and holding a question and answer session with sixth formers.

Last year, Principal Clive Zimmerman revealed LPA had applied to become a multi-academy trust. As an excellent-rated school, this would mean it could offer help to other schools in Swindon which were not so successful.

The minister said she is supportive of these proposals as a way of boosting standards.

“Evidence shows multi-academy trusts work really well,” she said.

“It’s about seeing schools working together. We want excellent schools, like LPA, to help those which might be struggling and could benefit from shared leadership and shared expertise.

“My whole ethos in the department is about having educational excellence everywhere.

“That means tackling those schools that are not yet offering a good enough education and the most effective way to do that is to get great headteachers like Clive and great schools like LPA to offer in part that support.”

The Secretary of State, who also visited the Chalet School, said raising the standards at all schools was key to improving Swindon’s below national average A-level results.

She said: “The most important thing is to ensure every child has a good or outstanding school to go to, both at Primary and Secondary level.

“It’s been about making sure there are high aspirations and excellent standards in terms of exams. And it’s also about making sure children are aware about the options open to them whether that be university or apprenticeships.”

South Swindon MP Robert Buckland welcomed the visit of Nicky Morgan and also back the multi-academy trust move.

He said: “I was really pleased that the minister came down to LPA because it’s a school which in recent years has made remarkable progress.

“I have always believed that when academies were established they would have to work together and we’re seeing that increasingly. In Swindon we have the White Horse Federation.

“The multi-academy trust option gives schools and students more strength in depth so is an exciting option.”

Clive Zimmerman said the pupils at the school had enjoyed the visit and welcomed the support for the multi-academy trust.

“It’s a great encouragement,” he said.

“We put out bid forward because we were keen to do more for children in Swindon and try improve the standard as we have done in West Swindon so it’s great to have the ministers backing.”