Principal's Blog

What makes a successful school? (A brief explanation of Progress 8 - a guide for parents)

Over the years, school leaders have been praised and criticised; lauded and admonished; and even knighted and sacked on the "performance" of their schools. The issue has mainly been about what benchmark we use to "measure" a school.  At the time of year when parents are selecting their secondary school, this blog is mainly aimed at this audience. 

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Why choose The Co-operative Academy?

This year, like many parents I am choosing a school for my daughter.  I have started to think many of the same questions that parents will be asking themselves.  The main question is of course ‘why choose this academy?’ with all the amazing new schools in the area that are performing well, what makes us different?

We have a strong set of values and what makes us unique is the most important word in our name ‘co-operative’. We breed young people who co-operate together with our staff and embody the values of co-operatives that first began in 1844. Young people, through confidence and hardwork are the ones that will have a positive impact on their community.

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Six Things To Think About When Choosing a School

Twelve months ago I had a new experience in education, I was the parent for the first time. My wife and I chose the school that my eldest daughter now attends. It wasn’t easy. Even for myself as a Principal and someone who by most standards would be considered an ‘expert’. 

In fact I got it wrong.  I looked for the wrong things.  I studied Department for Education data and old Ofsted reports and on tours I studied feedback systems and looked at target grades.  I over-complicated things.  Luckily I changed my mind in time and now my daughter has started at the local school and she is happy and flourishing.

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Paying for education?

This week a Stoke-on-Trent high school asked all of its parents to pay £60 per term to backfill the financial gap left by well publicised national funding cuts. Whilst I understand the business case for this as all schools are facing huge cuts, this does not sit comfortably with me.

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A View From The Sidelines

Our academy is not in the Stoke-on-Trent Central constituency. We sit right on the border in Stoke-on-Trent between the north and the central constituencies.  One of our main feeder primary schools and many of our students live in the Stoke-on-Trent Central constituency.

First of all, I am not a Stokie. I am a Manc, and a very proud one.  Despite the fact I have worked at this academy for seven years I still feel a slight outsider.  However I have always found the community welcoming, open and honest. In fact it symbolises the values that we base our academy on. Ofsted referred to the "culture of tolerance and respect that permeates the academy".

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Who Would Be A Teacher?

We recently said goodbye to some members of staff with outstanding service records. My predecessor Mr Stanier, Mrs Adams and on Thursday 17th November we said happy retirement to Mrs Clarke. All of whom had 40 plus years in education and most of it at the Academy and Brownhills High School. 

The farewell to Mrs Clarke has felt like a long goodbye. Originally retiring 12 months ago she came to my and the Academy's aid when we needed her. Altogether Mrs Clarke was a teacher for 43 years and this is a massive achievement. 

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Grammar Schools - My thoughts

I have learnt that you need to let the dust settle with a great deal of the recent education policy announcements.  So as we survey the opinions and articles both for and against, I would like to offer my own thoughts on the matter. I have learnt that although there is a clear position from the education establishment that this is a terrible idea, this is a political decision and it has support amongst elements of the public. 

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Pupil Premium: Ensuring Equality of Outcomes

Our Pupil Premium leader recently gave a very powerful presentation. Two students from last years Year 11. Both girls. One girl who we call Lucy (not her real name) started in set 3 in Year 7, one girl who we will call Sarah (again not her real name) started in set 4. Lucy came to us with almost a level higher from her Key Stage 2 results. 

However Sarah left with far better GCSEs. And I mean far better. Lucy's progress while she was with us wasn't good enough. She was not able to access level 3 courses at college. 

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Muhammad Ali

The death of someone I greatly admire, Muhammad Ali has prompted me to write this blog.

In my teenage years, I used to box. It taught me respect, discipline and focus. Old school values but important. I have followed boxing closely throughout my life. However the sport I love always had a shadow of Muhammad Ali hanging over it. In so many ways he created the sport we now know as boxing. We all know Ali's cry, "I am the greatest"; most seasoned boxing fans agree that Sugar Ray Robinson was in fact the greatest with Ali a close second.

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New Pioneers

Working Class Heroes.

Where are the working class heroes nowadays? We look around at the TV shows, internet pages and social media noise and it seems an endless procession of footballers, reality TV people and identikit popstars. It's an important issue as our youth need to get their touchstone from somewhere. Without role models then as children become young adults they lack reference points; they simply rely on those around them.

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Equality & Equity - Everyone is Welcome Here

It's been four months since tragic photographs of the lifeless body of a small Syrian boy adorned the front pages of the newspapers. The country shook their head; Facebook statuses were updated in support of the refugees; the Prime Minister made promises of help and support. "Refugees welcome here" was written on placards across Europe.

The headlines have retreated. As have many of the promises of support. Yet again the support for the most needy in society rests on those who are prepared to give their own time, effort and resources.

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