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Laidlaw Schools Trust

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Academy 360

The rapidly improving Academy 360 in Sunderland’s Pennywell estate is a community success story – with a 20% improvement in its GCSE A* to C grade pass rate in just two years.

Dedicated staff have a relentless focus on establishing a culture of higher expectations in a positive and caring learning environment.

Academy 360 offers enhanced learning opportunities such as its new 3D Discovery Centre where pupils studying subjects across the curriculum can be transported to ancient Egypt or examine the anatomy of insects in a state-of-the-art learning environment.

School Website

Excelsior Academy

Opened in 2008 as the first academy in the Laidlaw Schools Trust, Excelsior Academy is now recognised among the top 200 most improved secondary schools in the country.

Educating nearly 1,500 pupils from the west end of Newcastle, it provides unrivalled educational and personal development opportunities for its pupils aged from 3 to 19. Exam performance has consistently risen year-on-year at the academy rated “Good” by Ofsted in January 2013, with more students than ever before leaving Excelsior’s sixth form college to study at university. The academy recently celebrated its first student being accepted into Oxford University.

Excelsior’s superb creative arts programme has won national acclaim with a prestigious Artsmark Gold award.

School Website

Thomas Walling Primary Academy

A welcoming school located in Blakelaw, Thomas Walling Primary Academy has been a big part of community life in the local area for many decades.

The school provides a rich variety of educational and personal development opportunities for pupils, such as learning a modern foreign language and giving pupils their own musical instrument to learn – an innovative scheme benefitting from the support of Trust sponsor Lord Laidlaw.

Thomas Walling has won praise for the range of lunchtime and after school clubs it provides, popular with children and helping promote the importance of an active and healthy lifestyle.

School Website

Atkinson Road Primary Academy

Situated in the heart of a vibrant community, Atkinson Road Primary Academy is a popular and thriving school which has served the local area for over a century.

Staff pride themselves on making children feel safe and happy and providing them with the opportunities for an excellent education to help them become well-rounded, independent young people.

Ofsted inspectors rated Atkinson Road “Good with Outstanding features” and was visited again in January 2018 and “continues to be good”. The generosity of Trust sponsor Lord Laidlaw has seen extensive improvements made to school buildings and the site to improve children’s school experience even further.

School Website

South Hylton Primary Academy

The popular academy joined the Trust in summer 2017 and is the second Sunderland school to do so, following nearby Academy 360 where the majority of pupils go to after leaving South Hylton Primary.

The academy is home to over 330 pupils aged between two and 11 drawn from the surrounding Pennywell, Highfield, Pallion and Ford Estate areas, with 34 staff teaching children from nursery years upwards.

South Hylton Primary’s last three Ofsted reports have all rated the academy as “Good”, with inspectors praising the high quality of care and support for pupils, excellent behaviour and pride young people take in their school.

School Website

Westgate Hill Primary Academy

Westgate Hill Primary Academy has been at the heart of the Arthur’s Hill community in Newcastle for 120 years, educating nearly 750 pupils from one of the UK’s most ethnically diverse areas.

Staff are focused on raising standards and achievement through a strong emphasis on reading and maths. The school cherishes its unique identity – for more than 90% of its pupils, English is their second language.

Newcastle’s largest primary school has been a fixture in the local area since 1898, with its own grounds and gardens surrounded by terraced streets near St James’ Park football ground.

School Website

Become an academy


The support of a committed sponsor in Lord Laidlaw who offers generous financial support for each of the academies in the trust.


A clear vision from the Trustees for the success of the Trust. Supported by local governing bodies in each of our academies to meet the needs of all our children.


A professional and committed Board of Trustees with in-depth experience of all education sectors.


A comprehensive central team with expertise in HR, Finance, Data, IT, Digital, Procurement, Facilities, Health & Safety and Governance.


Our Trustees comprise of entrepreneurs, community service leaders, directors of local and international businesses and educational professionals.

School Improvement

Our leaders and practitioners have wide ranging experience of significant and effective school improvement from early years to post 16.


Extensive cross trust collaboration and continuous professional devlopment through a supportive network of colleagues.


We will provide you with support leading and managing change, including setting up new schools and academy conversion.


Leave your details and we’ll be in touch.