In June 2013, Roke Primary School in Kenley was placed in special measures by Ofsted after consecutive poor performances in inspections.

But just two years later, inspectors described the newly-named Harris Primary Academy Kenley as “outstanding”, and the school even featured in a Government publicity campaign for its education policies. So how to explain the turnaround?

As the guiding force behind this transformation from sinking school to political poster boy, principal Kate Magliocco has been nominated for a Croydon Champions award.

Speaking in October, Mrs Magliocco described the process of changing from a community school to an academy.

She said: "In the run-up to opening, there was a great deal of confusion about what it meant to be an academy and I know some in the community were genuinely fearful about what it meant.

“By transforming standards quickly, we now have a successful school with a happy and thoroughly supportive parent body.

“Whatever an anti-academy campaigner might say to them, parents know the difference between a child who is taught badly at school and one who comes home full of excitement about what they have done that day.”

The school did have a rocky start to its life as an academy – including legal challenges from parents about the conversion, and the publication of a strict new uniform policy that contained spelling and grammatical errors.

But Mrs Magliocco, who became principal at the same time as the academy conversion, believed the performance of the school had proved its detractors wrong.

She said: “During all of the anger of the conversion process, the campaigners tried to convince parents it was impossible to combine high academic standards with a fun, caring and loving primary school environment.

“We have shown that this is simply not the case.”