STUDENTS are entering a new era of opportunity after a North-East school secured funding to boost learning and life chances for its pupils.
Headteacher of Wyvern Academy, Darlington, Julian Leader has successfully bid for £228,000 under the DFE’s ONE Vision initiative, designed to improve attainment in North East schools.
As part of the academy’s ambitious development plans, six educationalists have been appointed to tackle key areas as the academy strives to be a school of choice for a fast-expanding area of Darlington.
These members of staff will address vital areas to revitalise a school which has already won praise from Ofsted inspectors for its vision and progress over the past 100 days since Mr Leader took charge.
Appointments include a new Deputy Headteacher Simon Chalk, IT Curriculum Leader Chris Holden, Attendance and Family Welfare Officer Izzy Brown, Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Co-ordinator Kris Marley, Exams, Data and Timetable Manager Carole Moran and Behaviour Support Officer Adrian Crumpton.
Mr Leader said: “At Wyvern Academy every child does matter and we work hard to achieve excellence for all, day in day out, whether that is in academic studies, sport, music or through our pastoral care and to provide the widest possible opportunities to secure a truly rounded education.
“For every child to achieve their full potential they need a positive, supportive and well-disciplined environment in which to work. We are able to provide this by focusing on our key drivers of excellence and opportunity. This ensures that high quality teaching is supported by disruption‐free learning in an atmosphere of high expectations and high aspirations.”
As Deputy Headteacher, Mr Chalk will help to create a culture in which students can excel in their studies while accessing wider experiences including music, sport, drama, art and work experience.
“One size doesn’t fit all, children have varying and different abilities and it is up to us to help them discover and develop their skills,” he said.
“As we look to see what skills they will need in life we will also ensure we have great links with the next stage of their development, such as in further education at Darlington College, Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College or apprenticeships. We are an important stepping stone in terms of where they can go.”
One rapidly emerging sector for the current generation is around new technology. As Curriculum Leader for ICT, Mr Holden will be ensuring that ICT is deemed as important as maths and English.
“There isn’t a job on the planet that doesn’t involve some form of IT so students must be confident, literate and proficient in technology to meet a huge skills gap in this area.” he said.
With so much to learn and opportunities to reap, attendance has never been so important. As newly appointed Attendance and Family Welfare Officer, Miss Brown and the attendance team are having a major impact on students and their families through home visits and work in school.
“We are trying to make school appealing and give them the sense of belonging to a community,” she said. “We genuinely want them in school and we really care about them and their futures. We strive to build trust with them and their families.”
Any children with special needs will now be even better catered for thanks to the appointment of a new SENDCO. Mrs Marley said: “Just because some children have special needs doesn’t mean they should not be able to achieve what they want to achieve and we are working with children and families so they can recognise this.”
“There are things we can put in place to make these students feel as valued and enriched as any student here.”
All students benefit from having the optimum learning environment and when issues arise that could disrupt the classroom the academy now turns to its new Behaviour Support Officer.
Mr Crumpton said: “We now recognise the value of rejecting the behaviour not the child and are conscious of our reactions to students’ reality. We create a climate where learning can take place and if there are behavioural challenges we can offer the pupil the space to reflect on their behaviour without disruption.”
“It becomes their choice how they behave in lessons and if they make the wrong choice we deal with it quickly and calmly. We then work with them to get them back into the classroom focusing on ensuring that such behaviours are not repeated.”
This has resulted in a reduction in the number of exclusions allowing pupils to stay in school, a safe environment for young people at risk of being exploited.
To ensure students do perform to their very best, progress is monitored by Mrs Moran, the new Exams, Data and Timetable Manager.
“I make sure everyone is on the right course, entered for the right exam and able to access their examinations.” she said.
“We want everyone to get stunning results so we make it as easy as possible to work up to their exams by managing stress levels and helping them maintain good mental health. By monitoring our data we know exactly when to step in to support pupils and teachers so they can meet high expectations.”
“No one is ‘just a kid from…’; they have as much right to achieve as anyone in the community and our high expectations help them to open doors to a successful future.”