A SOUTHAMPTON primary school that was slammed by the education watchdog has joined now joined an expanding multi-academy trust.

St Monica Primary School in Sholing has joined the Inspire Learning Partnership and is the third local primary school in the city to do so.

The school, which educates around 480 pupils, was criticised in an Ofsted report last year when it was rated as "inadequate" following a monitoring visit.

But now, the primary on Bay Road, will join the same trust as Kanes Hill Primary School and Hightown Primary School.

Staff at St Monica have been transferred to the trust under the same employment terms and conditions.

Claire Lowe, chief executive of Inspire Learning Partnership, said: "Our strapline is ‘Transforming lives, building futures’ and we live and breathe this for our family of schools, including new ‘pupil’ St Monica.

“They are receiving the best education available through achievable improvement plans, dedicated teaching and learning and further raising standards, with support from the Department for Education.

“We are acutely aware of the impact of the pandemic and lost learning for all our children, and the staff at St Monica, with support from across the Trust, are rapidly ensuring that gaps are filled.

“We have been supporting St Monica for some time and it was always the stated intention to bring the primary school into the Trust’s fold, complementing the work we do for Kanes and Hightown. This is an exciting time for all of the Trust staff as well.”

The arrival of St Monica on May 1 means the trust now oversees five schools and a nursery, with a total of 1,553 pupils and 64 pre-school children.

Blackfield Primary and Fawley Infants, along with Blackfield Nursery are the original schools.

Lisa Marshall, the executive principal, joined St Monica in September 2020 after Ofsted identified “serious weaknesses”, with subsequent progress and improvements.

She added: "This is a special moment for me and the team here at St Monica. Knowing we are starting another new and positive chapter in our story, serving the children and the community, gives me such excitement and enthusiasm for the future.

“Since meeting the team at the Inspire Learning Partnership we have been motivated and led to make improvements for all and while that path is sometimes rocky, the support and professional backing from the Trust is immense.