As Chairman of the Governing Board, I am pleased to present the ninth annual report to parents from Sandwell Academy's Governing Board, with details of progress and success at the Academy during the academic year 2016/2017.
In September 2017, Sandwell Academy became a founding member of the newly-formed Thomas Telford Multi Academy Trust (TTMAT). This marks a formalisation of the existing relationship the Academy has with the Thomas Telford family of schools. The TTMAT currently consists of three secondary schools; Madeley Academy, Sandwell Academy and Walsall Academy. The schools continue to work collaboratively to seek the highest possible outcomes for students.
In August 2017, the Academy bid farewell to Simon Topper, Head of the Academy. Mr Topper has led the Academy from when it first opened in 2006. Having previously been a Deputy Headteacher at Thomas Telford School, Mr Topper brought with him many of the key attributes to make the Academy such a huge success. With these and his own drive, tenacity and vision, he led the Academy to achieve a series of Outstanding judgements from Ofsted and excellent outcomes for students, making the Academy one of the top performing schools in the region. Mr Topper has now taken on a new role as the Executive Assistant Advisor of the Thomas Telford Multi Academy Trust. I wish him well in his new role and I am certain he will be very successful.
We welcomed Ian Williams to the position of Headteacher at the start of the new term. Mr Williams joined the Academy from his position as Principal of Bulwell Academy and was formerly a Deputy Head at Thomas Telford School. Students and staff have been very welcoming to the new Headteacher and we look forward to Mr Williams continuing the legacy of success at the Academy.
The 2016/17 results are the first to report the new GCSE Mathematics and English qualifications which utilise a numerical grading system. The new exams herald a change to the demands within these subjects. Though it is broadly agreed that a new grade 4 is a pass, the requirements to reach this level is above that of the previous grade C. This change, prevents a true comparison with previous outcomes; however, a number of observations about students' exam results can be made. As a greater emphasis is now placed upon the progress made by every child, it is very pleasing to see that the Academy continues to do well in this area. Overall progress, as measured by the recently introduced Progress 8 measure, has improved from -0.25 to -0.06. These figures do not take into account examination re-marks which improve the figure even further. Students performed outstandingly in English, with 83% achieving a grade 4 or better (4+) in either English Literature or Language; this was the best result across Sandwell schools.
37% of students achieved an Ebacc qualification, well above the national average of 24%. This is in line with the Academy's three year average and a good performance considering the greater demands of the new GCSE qualifications. 67% of students achieved a grade 4+ in English and Mathematics; this is above the national average of 64% and will be used as our new benchmark by which future performances will be measured. Impressively, 20% of all qualification were at an A or A* grade or their new equivalent of 7, 8 or 9. This is an improvement on the 15% equivalent measure in 2015/16. 82% of students achieved five GCSEs at grade A*-C/ 4+ across all subjects.
56% of Pupil Premium students achieved five GCSEs grade A*-C/4+ with English and Mathematics. This is 10% lower than the whole Academy figure but shows a 2 percentage point reduction in gap over the previous year. 20% achieved EBacc (17% gap). Pupil Premium students achieved an Attainment 8 score of 44.8 (4 point gap) and a Progress 8 score of -0.22 (0.16 point gap).
2016/17 also marked the first year of the new tariffs for A-Level results. Tariffs are numerical values assigned to each grade for A-Level qualifications. Two different tariff systems are in popular use for the purpose of performance tables, school comparison and for applications to university and equivalent courses.
Overall, A-Level outcomes are very pleasing with Sandwell Academy's progress value being 0.43; the highest in the region, placing the Academy in the top 5% of the country. 2017 saw some fantastic destinations for our 6.2 leavers with 78% of students going on to university and 22% obtaining apprenticeships, employment or going on to further education. 64% of our university students gained places at their first choice university with 25 students securing courses at Russell Group universities.
Whilst we recognise that Key Stage 3 SAT's are no longer obligatory, the Academy is keen to ensure that students are appropriately assessed in order to monitor performance and to make sure parents have valid information about their child's progress. As SAT papers are still available, the Academy continues to use them in conjunction with internal marking. The results achieved demonstrate that collectively, students are making accelerated progress in their first two years at the Academy, and this can only give students an improved chance of achieving in Key Stages 4 and Post 16.
The Governing Board would like to thank parents for supporting their children in helping to achieve excellent attendance figures, 96.6% this year, which significantly exceeds local and national averages.
Sandwell Academy received a monitoring Ofsted inspection in May 2017. The inspection team were highly impressed by their findings and awarded the Academy an Outstanding grading. This is the third Outstanding judgement in a row and testament to the hard work of all involved. The report can be found on the Academy website.
Sandwell Academy specialises in Sport and Business Enterprise and places an emphasis on these two areas in the curriculum and as part of the extra-curricular programme. Annex 1 reports on developments in Sport, including a Sporting Roll of Honour. Annex 2 reports on Business Enterprise at the Academy.
The Academy's productions to date have included a wide range of shows including 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat', 'Grease' 'The Lion King' and most recently 'Disney's High School Musical'. This year will see excited and talented students perform the Olivier award-winning musical 'Our House' inspired by the music of Madness. Auditions took place during the Autumn term and rehearsals for the February production have started in earnest. This year approximately 100 students will perform on a professional set. The Academy continues to develop a reputation for superb performances and the professional West End stage sets have been enjoyed by students, parents, staff and governors.
The end of the Summer term saw a twist on the talent show 'The Voice' with groups comprising of both staff and students. Staff and students spent many hours finalising their routines and performed their perfected sequences to an excited audience.
Year 7 were once again invited to share in a Christmas celebration of carols, Christmas songs, music and the narration of the Christmas story. This provided some additional performance experience for some of our budding musicians and the Academy choir.
In addition, the annual Christmas Concert focused on showcasing the blossoming talents of our musicians across the Academy. This concert provides opportunities for many students to learn new skills and experience the thrill of live performance. Academy staff enjoyed support from Sandwell Youth Music and Arts Service, and it was particularly pleasing to see both the Wind Band and String Group, as well as the Sandwell Academy Rock School, continuing to go from strength to strength. The depth of talent showcased during the evening was evident and included the Academy choir, commercial rock groups, solo artists and musicians. The diverse programme included traditional Christmas songs alongside pop songs, both old and new.
Each year, a wide range and variety of educational visits and trips continue to enrich the curriculum and be a real strength of the Academy's academic provision. Over the course of the academic year 2016-/7 there were a total of 72 educational trips and visits.
Residential trips included a London Science trip for 30 Year 9 students, visiting attractions such as the Natural Science museum and Science museum. A Summer choir residential where Performing Arts students from a range of year groups took part in out of bounds activities, in addition to voice coaching sessions. A field trip to the Bridlington coast line helped Sixth Form geographers carry out important field work. Year 7 students took part in the annual residential Joe Hart football competition. In addition, Year 7 continued the tradition of a residential as part of their induction programme, this year visiting Kingswood Colomendy.
We once had the amazing opportunity to send a group of students on 'the voyage', sailing across the Channel on a tall ship, developing skills of teamwork and learning what it means to be on the open waters.
Duke of Edinburgh expeditions, visits to Universities, Twycross Zoo, theatres, Cadbury World and a wide variety of sporting venues are just a flavour of other visits that students benefited from experiencing.
The Enrichment Programme in October has been an exciting and enjoyable part of the curriculum since the Academy opened. Year 7 attended Kingswood Colomendy where they participated in numerous team building activities designed to help them build relationships with other students.
Years 8, 9, 10, 11 and the Sixth Form were involved in a range of day activities and residential trips:
All of the activities were carefully designed to enrich the students' experience of the curriculum at Sandwell Academy and for the Sixth Form in particular, to focus thoughts on their plans for life after Sandwell Academy. The Enrichment Programme also provided a great opportunity for Year 11 to focus on preparation for Controlled Assessments in various subjects.
Careers education and guidance is vitally important to ensure our students make the most of the opportunities available to them. Students across the Academy use the Careers Resource area on a regular basis seeking help and support on a broad range of issues including employment search and university entry. The Academy and Governors share a view that it is our responsibility to secure employment or further education for all of our students.
Annex 3 provides details of the extensive work carried out by Mrs Rebecca Orton and her team during the last twelve months.
The Governing Board are keen to know the destination of all students that leave Sandwell Academy and a list of destinations for 2017 is also available in Annex 3.
The Academy's Parent Advisory Group (PAG) continues to thrive, with successful fundraising activities and events. An enthusiastic team, led by Parent Governor Jo Harvey, includes dedicated parents, a Deputy Head and the Operations Manager. They meet termly with the Head to discuss fundraising and ways to benefit Academy pupils. The PAG's main event is the Summer Fayre and once again it proved to be a highlight of last year's calendar. All years took part, including the incoming Year 7 students and their parents. There was a lovely atmosphere as teachers and students took part in fun activities and team sporting events. The table below shows the amount raised each year since this event started:
The raffle was once again held in the Autumn term, with the Grand Draw taking place on a Family Bingo night in November. This was an enjoyable experience for PAG members and again gave them the opportunity to work with Sixth Form students who are studying Business and needed to organise an event as part of their course.
The PAG's continued fundraising activities are of immense benefit to the Academy and its students. A total of £3182.34 was raised through the PAG's activities in 2016-2017, and before the bidding round for departments in September 2017, there was still a rolling budget of £4254.65.
The funds raised contribute towards valuable additional equipment or resources for students. Departments are able to submit bids which are then discussed, evaluated and distributed at termly meetings.
We look forward to building on the success of the PAG in the coming year.
We are most fortunate to have the services of Mr Steve Turton, Governor and Director of Finance, Mr Daljeet Kangh, ICT Manager, and Mr Andrew Currier, Operations Manager.
Mr Turton, has maintained a firm rein on the finances, achieving optimum value for money. Coach provision continues to be an area for focus as government funding to schools are further squeezed. This year we will be seeking a solution to maintain the option for students to travel to the Academy by coach but reduce the impact this has on the Academy's budget.
Mr Kangh always ensures that Sandwell Academy's technology is first rate and up to date. He and his staff work tremendously hard during the year to install new systems and carry out upgrades and maintain the performance of our computer facilities. He successfully replaced the network infrastructure and 250 PCs last year. The MIS system was replaced with Bromcom last October half term and is an ongoing process as we learn to adopt the full functionality of Bromcom.
Mr Currier continues to maintain the Academy to an exceptionally high standard. His diligence, and the hard work of his staff, keeps the Academy clean, safe and graffiti free. Mr Currier also has responsibility for Health and Safety issues at the Academy and it is our primary concern to take all steps possible to minimise risk to students, staff and visitors to the Academy.
During the year, plans have been developed for an extension to the Academy building, to incorporate more Science laboratories and an additional cloakroom. This is in direct response to feedback from students and the ever increasing popularity of Science in Post 16. We are looking forward to work starting in early 2018 and expect the new facilities to be ready for students 2019.
The annual programme of repairs have resulted in the fabric of the building being maintained to its usual high standard. The phased programme of external maintenance ensures that the fabric of the Academy is maintained to the highest possible standard. The groundsmen have once again kept all areas tidy and have ensured that playing surfaces and pitches have been conserved in good order. It continues to be very pleasing that students respect the quality of their environment and thus contribute to its ongoing pristine condition.
Once more, our non-teaching staff and administration team have worked hard to provide effective support to the senior management team and teaching staff. Using our Keep Kids Safe email/text service and updating our website and Twitter feed, these staff are able to ensure high levels of communication exist between the Academy and parents.
The Catering staff continue to provide varied and healthy meals and snacks in the restaurant and still retain the 'EAT Gold Good Hygiene Award.' This award reflects the high standards of hygiene and cleanliness present in the Academy kitchens and restaurant.
Student safety, when arriving at and departing from the Academy, continues to be of paramount importance. A matter which remains of a concern to the Governing Board is the small number of parents who persist in turning round in the Academy entrance and parking on the yellow lines. May I request your assistance to ensure that students are not placed in any danger; your co-operation in this matter is greatly appreciated.
We are fortunate in continuing to attract and appoint hard working, experienced or newly-qualified teachers to maintain our full complement of teaching staff. We attract teaching staff from different backgrounds including utilising the Schools Direct Scheme, Teach First and local and national recruitment methods.
The Academy recognises its responsibility for providing high quality professional development for our staff to ensure their skills are constantly refined and up to date. Their high standard of teaching ensures that each child achieves their potential. Where there is a need in any subject area, support is provided by committed and conscientious teachers. Supply teachers are never used for cover, as our own staff cover for absent colleagues.
Sandwell Academy works very closely with our sister schools, Thomas Telford School, Madeley Academy, and Walsall Academy; all very successful establishments in their own right. The Headteachers meet termly to discuss ways of supporting each other for the benefit of students and the professional development of staff.
A major initiative across the family of schools this year was to prepare for the formation of the TTMAT and to ensure a seamless transition was experienced by all staff and students. I am happy to report that this was achieved and the Academy will continue to benefit from its close working relationship with the other schools.
Throughout the year, the Academy has undertaken a range of other outreach and community work which is detailed in Annex 4.
As part of the transition to the TTMAT, the Governing Board had been succeeded by a TTMAT Local Governing Board (LGB). The majority of former Governors have been appointed to the LGB, ensuring continuity, a wide range of skills, and knowledge of the schools' local context.
A full list of Governors can be found in Annex 5.
On behalf of Governors, I would like to record our congratulations and gratitude for another hugely successful year that has been achieved by the skill, knowledge and industry of everyone involved in Sandwell Academy. The Academy continues to strive for excellence in everything it does and student achievements result from superb leadership supported by the dedicated and committed teaching and non-teaching staff. I would also wish to recognise the importance of the role parents and carers play in supporting students in reaching for their potential by taking advantage of the width of education on offer not only in the class rooms and sports fields but also by the wide-ranging enrichment programme. It is of course students who ultimately determine their own futures but the vast majority are seizing the opportunities provided, taking account of guidance and through their own commitment, the overall Academy results continue to be outstanding.
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