THE University of Bradford has pledged to strengthen links with a local school, and help raise aspirations of its pupils.

University Academy Keighley is sponsored by the university, but last year it was announced that Wakefield City Academy Trust would be taking over running it as part of the Trust’s expansion into the Bradford area.

The school, had been judged as inadequate shortly before Wakefield was due to take over.

However, in December the trust announced it would no longer be sponsoring UAK and Hanson School in Swain House.

In response to the Trust’s U turn, the University is now stepping up its involvement with the school after “re-assessing” its relationship after a long stretch of the partnership being in “limbo.”

A new head, Bernie Addison, started shortly before the inspection, and Ofsted has said she has a “clear ambitious vision.” And three members of the university’s executive board now sit on the school’s governing body.

In the most recent school league tables, UAK showed some of the highest progress levels in the Keighley area, and staff say that is a sign that the school is making a major impact on pupils’ education.

Joanne Marshall, director of human resources at the University, said: “After the Wakefield Trust pulled out we re-assessed our relationship with the school. The Department for Education are very happy that we’re improving the partnership, and so is the local community.

“The school was already on a trajectory of improvement. We have an exciting strategy to move the academy forward and move it into the future.

“We’re particularly supporting the school in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) . It is a big change in how we work with the local community, as well as making sure students at the school have the best education.

“We have a lot to offer that we can put back into the local community.”

Bernie Addison, head at UAK, said: “In the current education climate it is great to get a respected institute like the university re-affirming their support for the school. The main thing is the aspirations of the children of this community. It provides that important link between secondary education and higher education.”

Mrs Addison said the partnership would see children being introduced to the university even before they start at the school, with visits to the university for pupils in Year 6, preparing to start at UAK. She added: “It is about getting them to think ‘if I work hard enough I can achieve great things. It is giving them aspirations and options for their lives early on. A lot of young people don’t always know what is out there beyond school, we will help show there are lots of different routes they can take.”

Mrs Addison added: “Our link with the university shows children what is available on their doorstep, it really helps them see what the area has to offer in jobs and education.

“It is also giving our teachers access to specialists from the university.”

Imran Khan, Bradford Council’s Executive for Education said: “This will provide some reassurance to parents and the school community and allow everyone connected with the University Academy Keighley to move forward together.”