Over the last 12 months I have worked with students, staff and parents to demand changes to the way in which Whitehaven Academy school has been managed.

Since 2014 the pupil role has reduced from 1200 to 520, the educational standards had slipped year on year, Ofsted graded the school as requiring Special Measures and the estate, inside and out, fell into disrepair.

Despite this awful situation the Trust responsible for running the school charged a much higher than usual management fee, claimed public money to carry out works never completed and allowed the morale of a once incredibly proud community secondary school to wither. During an in-depth inspection I carried out last year, I was so shocked by what I encountered within in the school that I made an urgent call to the Regional Schools Commissioner to demand action - only to be asked to leave the site immediately.

Fortunately, I had taken sufficient short videos and photographic evidence to share with anyone and everyone who might be able to help stop this rot, including the Secretary of State for Education, Rt Hon Damian Hinds.

The footage showed that despite being invoiced for hundreds of thousands of pounds for improvement works, much of the work was either not completed or never even started and the school was in a terrible state.

For many years, a group of desperately unhappy parents, The Whitehaven Action Group, made their case - they were ignored, disbelieved or pacified. They never gave up.

Community activism is perhaps my favourite term - but in the case of Whitehaven Academy, it should not have taken the activism of desperate parents to alert those in charge of this wrong doing. It should not be possible to use public money, destined for school improvements on anything but that - nor should it be possible for related companies to profit financially - but as the Whitehaven Action Group found out, it was happening.

Their forensic investigations; dozens of Freedom of Information Requests, relentless enquiring and dogged determination has brought about the most comprehensive re-brokerage of any UK academy and much needed systematic changes within the Department of Education.

Working together alongside the Whitehaven Action Group, staff, students and the wider community we have secured a much brighter future for Whitehaven Academy and the new trust is already having a very positive impact. This year’s GCSE results were the best in five years, there is a notable improvement in morale and some short term works to bring the building in line with modern standards have been completed over the summer.

The future is now much brighter. I have absolute confidence that under the new management of Cumbria Education Trust, Mr Turner will be well supported and his phenomenally dedicated staff will continue to shine. I won’t rest until all the students and their families get the education they absolutely deserve, and a whole new school. I know that community activism will also ensure that happens.