As Chairman of the Governing Board, I am pleased to present the tenth annual report to parents from Sandwell Academy’s Governing Board, with details of progress and success at the Academy during the academic year 2017/2018.
The 2017/18 results are the first in which the majority of subjects have been examined by the new 9-1 GCSE. Having no past papers upon which to draw and relatively limited documentation from Examination Boards, concerns were high that results could be difficult to predict and potentially volatile. It is, therefore, extremely pleasing to report that outcomes were in line with those of previous years, with many of the headline measures seeing small gains. The Academy’s Progress 8 value was maintained at -0.6, English and Mathematics results remained broadly the same, despite national results for Mathematics seeing a dip. Though 2017/18 had fewer high ability students than the previous year, overall attainment increased slightly. The reduced number of high ability students did manifest in a lower number of 5+ grades and a reduced EBacc percentage, however, these remain above the national average. In comparison to other schools in the local authority, Sandwell Academy was at the top of all headline measures. Whilst many subjects saw strong outcomes, Hospitality & Catering and Geography will be areas upon which the Academy will focus.
2017/18 Post 16 students had an excellent set of destinations with 80% progressing to university, including four medics. A greater number of students secured their preferred course and university, and three students have begun degree-level apprenticeships.
Despite these excellent outcomes, the Academy’s A-Level progress measure will now be reported as -0.12. The figure can be partly attributed to the ending of Applied ICT and Applied Business courses. Both courses routinely delivered excellent results for a large number of students but were brought to an end in 2016/17 by their respective Exanimation Boards. Students have since moved to other courses but these outstanding results are more challenging to replicate. Further to this, BTEC Sport and Exercise, a new course, proved not to be a good match for some of our students, who struggled with the examined components. This course is no longer offered by the Academy; however, strategies are in place to support students on courses with similar examined components.
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 these 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, 96.7% this year, which significantly exceeds local and national averages.
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 ‘Grease’, ‘The Lion King’, ‘Disney’s High School Musical’ and most recently ‘Our House’. Excited and talented students performed the Olivier award-winning musical ‘Our House’ inspired by the music of Madness. Auditions took place during the Autumn term with rehearsals for the production in February. Approximately 100 students performed on a professional set to the rapturous applause of the audience. 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 which comprised of music through the decades. The positive impact on the students’ wellbeing around the Academy was evident to see.
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.
The annual Christmas Concert focused on showcasing the blossoming talents of our musicians across all year groups within the Academy. This concert provided opportunities for many students to experience the thrill of a live performance. Performances encompassed a wide range of music from both the Wind Band and String Group to the Sandwell Academy Rock School. The depth of talent showcased during the evening was evident and included the Academy choir, solo artists and musicians. The diverse programme included traditional Christmas songs alongside pop songs, both old and new.
Each year there are a wide range and variety of educational visits and trips that enrich the curriculum and are a real strength of the Academy’s holistic provision. There were four residential trips, including the voyage on the Tall Ships and a Gifted and Talented course at Warwick University for Year 10 students. A field trip to the Holderness coast helped the Sixth Form geographers carry out important field work and Year 7 students took part in the annual Joe Hart football competition. Numerous Duke of Edinburgh expeditions, visits to universities, Chester Zoo, theatres, GCHQ, Cardingmill Valley and a wide variety of sporting venues are also just some of the other visits that students benefited from.
Over the course of the academic year, there were a total of 49 educational trips and visits (excluding the dedicated enrichment week). Nearly 1,000 students from across all year groups and 14 different areas/ subjects went on trips and visits.
The Enrichment Programme, in October, has been an exciting and enjoyable part of the curriculum since the Academy opened. Year 7 attended Whitemoor Lakes 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 the Director of Careers 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 2018 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 Kay Coley, includes dedicated parents, a Deputy Head and the Operations Manager. They meet termly with the Headteacher 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 held in the Autumn term, with the draw taking place on a Family Bingo night in November. This was an enjoyable experience for PAG members and gave them the opportunity to work with Sixth Form students who are studying Business and required 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 £2617.10 was raised through the PAG’s activities in 2017-2018, and before the bidding round for departments in September 2018, there was still a rolling budget of £4136.80
The funds raised contribute towards valuable additional equipment and 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, Director of Finance, Mr Daljeet Kangh, IT Director, 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. In order to reduce overall transport costs, this year we have arranged for Thandi Coaches to manage the Academy annual coach contract, with parents liaising directly with the coach company to arrange coach provision for their children. Overall this process has worked well but we will continue to review this arrangement on an ongoing basis.
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 has assisted in the new Science extension by attending meetings with the architects and builders and ensured all IT, audio visual and CCTV were installed correctly. His role has been expanded to provide advice to the TTMAT
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, construction has taken place of an extension to the Academy building, incorporating more science laboratories and an additional cloakroom. We are looking forward to students being able to access the new facilities very shortly.
The annual programme of repairs has 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 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 around 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. In what is a challenging period nationally with regards to teacher recruitment and retention, we attract teaching staff from different backgrounds, utilising the School Direct Scheme, Teach First and local and national recruitment methods. Our involvement in the pilot of the DfE’s Return to Teaching initiative has also supported our recruitment strategy. We also continue to develop our links with partner ITT providers. This has included hosting School Experience Days and supporting local Universities with interview training and involvement in CPD for trainee teachers.
The Academy recognises its responsibility for providing high quality professional development for our staff to ensure that 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.
The first year of the Thomas Telford Multi Academy Trust (TTMAT) has been a great success. Staff from across the MAT have collaborated on a number of projects to support the delivery of high quality teaching and learning.
Throughout the year, the Academy has undertaken a range of other outreach and community work, which is detailed in Annex 4.
Kay Coley was welcomed on to the Local Governing Board as our Parent Governor. Mrs Coley has already made a valuable contribution to the Academy as one of the members of the Parent Advisory Group (PAG). We look forward to her contributing her insight and ideas at forthcoming Governing Board meetings.
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.
If you would like to leave a comment about any item covered in the Chairman’s Report then please email Clair Drummond at email@example.com.