We have had a great start to this year with some wonderful experiences for our students and staff alike. Post-16 students spent a long weekend in the Lakes working together with staff and fellow students, building confidence and gelling as a group. A group of our young leaders in KS4 had a long weekend learning to apply their leadership skills to a new environment. Our Year 7 students went on their first residential and I was fortunate enough to spend a night and a day with them, taking part in the outdoor activities and having time to reflect on what we had learned. I learned a lot about our Y7 cohort and they learned a lot about themselves. We had home sickness, bumps and bruises (and that was just the staff!) but survived! The residential experience is a real opportunity to build resilience and learn how lucky we really are. It is also an opportunity to really push oneself both physically and mentally.
Prospective students and parents joined a full house at our Open Evening in late September. It was lovely to see so many excited faces and to hear how much the students were looking forward to being with us.
Parents and carers also came along to work with their children at our AHSL Cafe, many relishing the opportunity to learn how to support their children through the next phase of their education. This was followed a week later by our Maths and English Cafe, again supporting students and parents to work together to improve students’ grades.
In late September, our Year 8 had a wonderful day working with professionals from a range of services learning about the impact of Antisocial Behaviour, Substance Abuse, Racism and Violent Behaviour. The feedback from students and providers was incredibly positive and we look forward to continuing this work with more of our students.
A lucky group of upper school artists spent a great Saturday with the Art team at Tate Modern and Brick Lane in London, for a day of total cultural immersion. The culture keeps on coming with our Art team and the Academy walls are now covered with Art work produced by our students; the work displayed is both aspirational and aesthetically pleasing. Very soon this work will be available as prints for purchase through our website; entrepreneurial to boot! The artistic talents of a different group of our students were explored in Blackpool when our dance troupe took to the stage once more to, as has now become the expectation, great acclaim.
Budding engineers in Post-16 found themselves at the NEC for the Bright Minds Engineering event whilst their Key Stage 4 colleagues were inspired by a Dyson by Design event. Add to this that a number of our girls were selected for some special treatment at Women into Engineering events and you get a flavour for the enriching opportunities Academy students are involved in.
For students interested in Law the Magistrates Court Enrichment group provided an excellent visit to Sandwell Magistrates where they were warmly welcomed by court staff and cross examined by solicitors!
Our work with the Family of Academies goes from strength to strength. Some of the benefits of working together were made most apparent this term when we started our new partnership with Warwick University. Thanks to Vikki Heywood, Chair of the RSA, we have new opportunities to work with Warwick – one of the top universities in the country.
The end of term saw us hosting PlayStation and the English Schools Football Association ‘Tie the Round’ event. Our students were coached by FA coaches in the morning and got the opportunity to test the latest PlayStation games. A visit by Gabby Agbonlahor (Aston Villa, England) and John Scales (former Wimbledon, Liverpool and England player) brought the day to a close in fine style. Crews from ITV Central and Skysports news together with a number of journalists provided our budding sports reporters with plenty of practice. Gabby also provided an impromptu training session for some of the boys!
Students and staff deserve a well-earned rest ready for another exciting term.
Daulton Redmond BSc. Hons, PGCE, NPQH, FRSA