The best thing about working with Schools is visiting them. It doesn't matter where they are located or how big they are, it's simply the best way to understand how our clients work. Aspirations Academies Trust is one of those clients and recently I had the absolute pleasure of visiting two of their Schools.
Jewell Academy (Primary) in Bournemouth opened in September 2013 with just two forms of entry. The School is led by Claire Addis and and will grow with a new year group each September until it reaches Year 6 in 2018. The School is as a Primary School should be; children are happy and cannot wait to share their stories with visitors but at the same time the atmosphere is calm and comforting. School funding is tighter than ever and for a growing School it is especially hard to strike a balance between gradual spending and ensuring that the first children benefit from day one. Jewell Academy has certainly achieved that balance. Upholding the basic principles of Aspirations Academies Trust, Claire believes that every child needs to feel special and by valuing each individual, pupil’s aspirations are raised, enabling them to reach their fullest potential.
Magna Academy (Secondary) in Poole replaced Ashdown technology College in September 2013 and the School is truly unrecognisable. The GCSE results have risen from 49% in 2012 to an amazing 67% in 2014. The £14 million new building has of course helped to create an image of 'change' but the real change lies solely in the School's leadership. Principle Richard Tutt has put in place simple but effective processes including one to one support and an open door policy across all lessons. Students say that their teacher's care and believe in them and that is clearly the key. There is no reason why any child in this Country, irrespective of background or opportunity, should feel like they can't achieve their goals and this belief is at the core of Magna. When asking a Year 11 student to describe the difference between the previous School and Magna he simply said "Ashdown was good because you could have your phone out in lessons but now, at Magna, I know that I can be a fighter jet Pilot." And that is the power of Leadership in Education.
As I said, the best thing about working with Schools is visiting them. Especially when you leave feeling nothing but hope and admiration.