Rye News has kept in close touch with the Academy since the take over by Aquinas and now at the end of the first full school year under the new management, the executive head, Barry Blakelock, shares his thoughts on progress so far.
The end of an academic year is a busy time with the sitting of formal examinations, the bidding goodbye to our oldest students and a multitude of preparations for the arrival of our youngest – but it is also a good time to reflect on what has been learnt and consider what remains to be done.
Over the past nine months, it has been a pleasure to see students and colleagues benefit from the support of Aquinas whether through the steady transformation of buildings, the resourcing of new curricula or the exciting opportunities for personal growth. I’m confident that our mission to deliver “life transforming learning” at every stage of a child’s education is becoming an increasing reality.
Unquestionably, the impact of our work will be seen in the GCSE examinations taken at the end of Year 11. The hard work and dedication of our students during the exam period was tangible – and, we believe, will be justly rewarded on results day. Empowering young people with a meaningful next step in their education is all important; therefore we are pleased to report every single departing student has once again secured a destination in education, employment or training for next year.
Learners repeatedly tell us our schools feel more like ‘family’ than ‘community’. So it seems fitting to have been awarded the ‘East Sussex Quality Mark for Inclusion’ having met exacting criteria in relation to attendance, progress and exclusions for children with special educational needs. To have our work externally accredited is particularly satisfying especially in areas of such critical importance when serving a diverse rural town such as Rye.
We are rightly ambitious for our youngsters to access high-quality resources, second to none. Many residents will be aware of our plans to develop the so-called ‘education quarter’ – whether through development of sporting facilities, car park or boundary. Whilst we have much work to do in this regard, we have heard local residents – we will listen to feedback from planning applications and the views of the town and make sure we find workable solutions in the future. Whilst I’m sure we agree the needs of our children come first and foremost, we will be sympathetic in our implementation.
In September, our first cohort of trainees begins School Centred Initial Teacher Training with our partners, Bromley Schools’ Collegiate, which will train the teachers of tomorrow with placements in a number of local schools. That said, turnover has been modest, and both schools are fully staffed for the new academic year with experienced teachers who will continue improving the quality of education for all our youngsters. Alongside such appointments, we have also recruited talented associates to roles such as School Business Manager, Finance Officer and Librarian.
In the past few days we have also firmed up membership of our Advisory Councils, widening the participation of families and representatives of the local community in our schools.
Through this governance role, members have the opportunity to provide advice to the headteachers, make recommendations for improvement and highlight important community issues – ensuring the distinctive identify of each school is preserved throughout.
Whilst we are keen to share our progress with the community, there is no better way than seeing it with your own eyes. Therefore, my last words are an invitation – for potential students, families and community members to attend one of our forthcoming open events.
The college will be open on the evening of Tuesday, September 24 and the primary school on the afternoon of Wednesday September 25. There will also be a number of open mornings throughout the month.
I hope these reflections offer some insight into what keeps us all busy – whether you be student, parent or member of the local community, we would like to wish you all a peaceful summer with your families. See you in the new academic year.
Image Credits: Rye College .