Joining Year 7 is a dramatic change for all of our students. That is why our transition programme is such an important part of what we do. In the passages below, one of our current Year 7 students recalls her participation in the 2015 programme.
It is very important to ensure that we are making the right provision for each and every one of our students as soon as they join us so that each experiences just the right mix of challenge and support. That is why we work so closely with our partner primary schools. That is why we undertake our own testing programme at the start of the year to complement the scores and teacher assessments from Year 6. That is also why some of our children join a transition group on entry while others start taking Maths and English alongside students from Year 8.
It is also important that we been to build relationships with parents from the outset. In the course of Year 7, parents will receive five reports setting out the progress their children are making and the levels they have attained. Year 7 is unique in offering three consultation events with parents: a meeting with the form tutor in the Autumn term, review day in the Spring Term and a subject based parents’ evening in the Summer term.
It is important that all of our student continue to make progress. However, there is more to life at the Academy than lessons alone. Year 7 is also students’ first encounter with our pioneering enrichment programme as well as their first chance to take part in our wide variety of extra curricular activities including the Christmas concert and the summer production. By the end of Year 7 we want them all to be on track for future success and also to have widened their horizons by taking part in a wide variety of activities they have never tried before.
As Year 8 progresses and students continue to build on their success from Year 7, our thoughts start to turn to the best courses for them to follow in Year 9. We firmly believe that one size does not fit all where the curriculum is concerned and our aim is to ensure that each student begins the right course at the time that is right for them. Our Pathways Evening in the January of Year 8 is the beginning of a conversation between students, parents and staff to find the best way forward for each individual. Most of our students will continue with either French or Spanish and take one further subject to GCSE; others will take two other subjects to GCSE; others again will take an alternative programme designed to accelerate their progress in English and maths so that they are ready to begin GCSEs the following year.
Year 9 is an important and challenging year for all of our students. Many take their first public exams at the end of the year so that the majority begin Year 10 with an FCSE in a foreign language and their first GCSE success. Others will consolidate their maths and English skills so that they are ready to embark on GCSEs the following year. This extra level of challenge has played an important role in motivating all of our students to aim high and work hard throughout the year and some of the results they have achieved have been spectacular.
Year 9 is also the year when students are encouraged make a greater contribution to the running of the Academy. Many will already have taken important roles in our student voice programme, as library leaders or in the dining hall, but Year 9 is the time when we recruit and train our student mentor team. These students, distinguished by their smart green ties, offer support to other students around the Academy and play an enhanced role as emerging student leaders.
In Year 10, most of our students complete their foreign language GCSE and one further GCSE as well as continuing with their core subjects in English, Maths, Science and RE. Year 10 is also the year when students begin to think ahead to life after the Academy. Our carers programme begins to focus on possible routes to further education and training: A levels, college courses or apprenticeships and students start to plan for their next steps in making their best better. As a result, by the end of the year, the majority have at least three GCSEs already secured and choose their final pathways for Year 11 with a clear idea of their progression plans for after the Academy in mind.
Year 11 is the culmination of a student’s time at the Academy. Not only do they complete their final GCSE courses but they are also preparing to move on into the adult world of further education and training. One important part of this is the process of applying for sixth form places, for college courses and for apprenticeships; another is the development of their roles as leaders across the Academy. Whether by taking leading roles in the production, by serving the Academy as prefects or by joining our prestigious student leadership team, our Year 11 students are important ambassadors for the Academy.
Year 11 ends with two important events: the prom in June when students decked out in all their finery celebrate the end of their exams and the (slightly more sedate) awards evening in November when we celebrate their achievements in examinations and other aspects of Academy life and present the GCSE certificates and other wards. It is always sad to watch our students move on, but we do so proud of what they have achieved and confident that they are well prepared for whatever the future may hold.