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Music Is Key To Feversham’s Outstanding Success

posted Nov 30, 2017, 1:52 AM by Nicholas Basson   [ updated Nov 30, 2017, 6:37 AM ]

A Bradford primary school locked in special measures just four years ago is now in the top ten per cent of pupils’ progress nationally in English, writing and mathematics. Key to their success is the strong emphasis on teaching music, up to six hours every week, the appointment of an outstanding headteacher and the inspirational imput of a local musician.

The dramatic turnaround in standards at Feversham Primary Academy has just been under the spotlight in  a 25 minute feature on 5 live Daily with Adrian Chiles and was top of the bill on BBC 1 The One Show.

Naveed Idrees was appointed headteacher at Feversham in 2013 and is totally committed to give every child the appetite to love and enjoy learning. A local musician, Jimmy Rotherham, was charged with introducing music to all ages across the school.

“When I started teaching the children it was something new and exciting and there was real enthusiasm. It was based on games and fun. Too often it is repetitious with children having to sing the same song 16 times. Now,” says Jimmy, “everyone who walks into school comments that it has a great atmosphere and that is down to the music.”

Jay McGuiness, lead vocalist of The Wanted and winner of Strictly in 2015, visited the school for The One Show feature to see the huge impact that music has had at Feversham. He met with children, teachers and parents and even visited the liv
ing room of 9 year old Abiha and watched her practicing on the drums. Abiha is the first Muslim girl to be accepted in Bradford’s Foundation for 
Musically Gifted Children. Abiha told Jay that her drumming had helped her with her concentration in school and made her improve in her work.

Headteacher Naveed Idrees explained his ambition from the beginning. He said, “What is the purpose of learning? Education should be fun. My view is exams are a by product of good quality teaching and learning which builds on the skill sets of the children, motivates and engages them.

“Rather than do more English and Maths the focus was on learning to learn skills, as well as engaging children and focusing on those skills that will allow them to become better learners.”

Our Michael Is 'Outstanding New Teacher Of The Year'

posted Oct 30, 2017, 5:27 AM by Nicholas Basson   [ updated Oct 30, 2017, 5:29 AM ]

A young and gifted teacher from an AET academy has achieved the highest possible commendation by being named as 'Outstanding New Teacher of the Year' in the widely acclaimed 2017 Pearson Teaching Awards.

At a spectacular celebrity even t in central London, Michael Grant, a 23 year old teacher at New Rickstones Academy, in Witham, Essex, was one of just 11 winners of a coveted  Gold Plato Award. Known as the 'Oscar of the teaching world,' the honour rewarded Michael for the outstanding contribution that he has made in the town where  he was taught and is now a teacher.

After the event Michael said: "It was a shock, I did not expect  it at all right up until they announced my name. I love the range of people that I work with in the job: 
 staff, students, parents and governors. I feel you get to make a real difference as a teacher. "

Mr Grant is the youngest of the 2017 Gold Plato Award winners. His citatation read: 'He has only taught for a year, but is already seen as an integral component of his English department and school. He has become known for his engaging teaching style, incredible subject knowledge and passion for learning. Mr Grant’s classes have become so popular students are regularly asking to join and his pupils make exceptional progress with their learning.'

Mr Damian Lee, Headteacher of New Rickstones Academy, said: “Having taught Michael whilst he was student in Witham I knew from a young age that he would become a successful teacher.  The passion he has for his subject combined with a calm and thoughtful manner with the students is second to none.  This is an amazing achievement for Michael and recognition of the great start he has made to his teaching career."

He added: "I’m sure everyone who knows Michael and is involved at New Rickstones Academy will be bursting with pride.”  Michael is a former student of the other AET secondary school in Witham, Maltings Academy.

Mr Grant received  his Award from Candice Brown, winner of 2016 'Great British Bake Off' title at the Awards Ceremony on Sunday 22 October. New Rickstones Academy is part of a national network of 64 schools sponsored by the multi-academy trust - AET. Since 2011 there have been no less than five national winners in AET academies of which four have been from Essex schools and two have been from Witham.
The recent AET winners are :- Richard Robb at Tendring Technology College, Frinton on Sea,  History Teacher of the Year 2011; Clare Baldwin at Maltings Academy, Witham, Teaching Assistant of the Year 2013; Benedick Ashmore-Short at Hamford Primary Academy, Primary Headteacher of the Year 2014; Joy Ballard at Ryde Academy, Isle of Wight,  Secondary Headteacher of the Year 2015; and Michael Grant at New Rickstones Academy  Outstanding New Teacher of the Year 2017.

AET completes top team hires with education heavyweights

posted Oct 18, 2017, 3:24 AM by Richard Sparks   [ updated Oct 18, 2017, 3:29 AM ]

AET completes top team hires with education heavyweights

++ Frances Soul appointed as National Director of Education ++

++ David Hatchett appointed as National Director of Secondary ++

++ Chas Parker appointed as Director of IT ++


AET today announces the two final appointments to complete the reconstituted executive team, under CEO Julian Drinkall’s leadership. Frances Soul and David Hatchett join the organisation as National Director of Education and National Director of Secondary respectively.

AET has also confirmed the appointment of Chas Parker as the Director IT. The appointments follow the announcement of James Nicholson as the new Chief Financial Officer, and Lauren Costello as National Director of Primary Schools.

Frances will be joining AET from Pearson where she is currently Vice-President Efficacy Improvement for Global Product and was previously Director School Improvement, Pearson UK. Prior to this Frances was National Programme Director for Secondary School Improvement, DfE National Strategies, where she developed and delivered on a number of national school improvement programmes such as support for the National Challenge. Here, she led a national team responsible for supporting improvement in leadership and management, school governance and raising standards in teaching and learning.

Frances has also worked for the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust where she managed and delivered a national programme targeted at improving outcomes in maths, English and science for the most underperforming specialist schools. Frances has experience across every sector of the education system from HE and FE through secondary to primary, specialising in curriculum design and teacher professional development. She has also worked as a local authority adviser, Ofsted schools Inspector and is an experienced school governor.

David Hatchett joins AET from the E-ACT multi-academy trust where he has held a number of senior and executive-level school improvement roles over the last five years. He is currently Regional Director of Education, where he has responsibility and accountability for a portfolio of academies covering primary, secondary and sixth form. David is also currently National Director for Assessment and the Lead for Teaching Schools.

Prior to joining E-ACT, David held senior roles with Pearson and Edexcel. As Head of Assessment Development at Pearson, he was responsible for the development and delivery of high profile Government tests and examinations for the UK and Abu Dhabi governments. At Edexcel he spent a number of years delivering national marking and assessment programmes and processes. David has co-authored a series of textbooks aimed at pupils learning English as an additional language for a well-known educational publisher, and was an accredited facilitator on middle leadership training programmes with Teaching Leaders'.

David brings with him over eight years’ experience as an Ofsted inspector and has led or participated in more than 200 inspections. He is a graduate of Ambition School Leadership's Executive Educators programme, an experienced governor of schools and sits on the Board of a sixth form college in London.

Taking up post in November, Chas Parker joins AET from CRI, a major social welfare charity with a turnover of £150m and staff and volunteers based across 260 sites in the UK. Chas will report to the new Chief Financial Officer, James Nicholson.

Julian Drinkall, CEO of AET said:

“These two appointments to the executive team mark an important milestone in AET’s turnaround – the trust is an entirely different organisation from just nine months ago. Frances and David are exceptional educationalists and bring a wealth of experience, both individually and collectively.

“We are also delighted to be appointing such an experienced specialist in Chas Parker as our new Director of IT.  

“The last academic year showed early signs of improvement across the trust, and with such an experienced team now in place, the pace of change will accelerate. Key Stage 2 showed the most improvement last year. Our focus will now intensify on our secondary schools so that across all phases we are on track to becoming an organisation that not only promises, but delivers a world class education for all our pupils.”

Frances Soul said:

"I am hugely excited to be joining Academies Enterprise Trust, at this crucial point in their journey, and being a member of the new senior team under Julian's leadership. I share his commitment to achieving the highest standards in education and to ensuring the best outcomes for all children across all our academies.”

David Hatchett said:

“I am thrilled about joining the AET executive team at this crucial stage in the Trust's journey of improvement and excited by its ambition of becoming an excellent, world-class MAT. I am looking forward to working with principals, governors and the central team to ensure that all secondary-age students receive the quality of education and the outcomes that they deserve and need”.

Chas Parker said:

“I am excited to be joining AET and am looking forward to contributing to the team that will lead the trust through the next stage of its development and to be supporting its work to become an internationally renowned MAT.” 

Academies Enterprise Trust bolsters Board with new Trustee appointment

posted Oct 5, 2017, 3:08 AM by Richard Sparks   [ updated Oct 5, 2017, 3:28 AM ]

Roger Matthews joins multi-academy trust AET as Trustee

The Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) has today announced that Roger Matthews has been appointed as a Trustee of the Board.

Previously Chair of Mitie Group Plc and a former Chief Finance Officer of FTSE-listed companies, Roger brings significant executive and non-executive experience to the newly reconstituted board, under the chairmanship of Jack Boyer.

Roger Matthews served as Group Finance Director of J. Sainsbury Plc from 1999 to 2005. Prior to this he was Finance Director at Compass Group plc. He has also held various finance positions at Grand Metropolitan Plc and Cadbury Schweppes Plc, following qualifying as a Chartered Accountant at PwC. He has extensive experience in business and property services, retail, food manufacturing and public procurement.

Roger’s appointment follows the news earlier in the summer of three new trustees, Dame Kathryn August, Professor Deborah Eyre and Alison Paines, joining the board.

Jack Boyer, Chair of AET, commented:

"Roger is a strong addition to the AET board who brings management and finance experience of successful large organisations given his background as CFO of FTSE companies Sainsbury's and Compass Group, and most recently Chair of Mitie Group Plc. His appointment represents a further step in providing AET with the governance and strategic skills at Board level required of a leading national multi-academy trust.”

Millbrook Academy to join the Greenshaw Learning Trust

posted Sep 22, 2017, 1:16 AM by Nicholas Basson   [ updated Sep 22, 2017, 1:16 AM ]

AET hires finance big-hitter to join top team

posted Sep 7, 2017, 10:46 AM by Richard Sparks   [ updated Sep 7, 2017, 10:47 AM ]

James Nicholson appointed as Chief Financial Officer

AET has today announced that James Nicholson has been appointed as the new Chief Financial Officer for the trust, taking up post in November.

James is an experienced Finance Director, and joins AET from E-ACT where he led on finance, ICT, estates and group procurement. Whilst there, James was instrumental in having the organisation’s Financial Notice to Improve lifted, just 12 months after joining the trust. Prior to E-ACT, James was the Group Finance Director for United Learning, and was involved in the opening of their first academy in 2003.

As well as working at the most senior levels of academy trusts, as a founding member of the Academy Finance Directors’ Forum, James has played a key role in sharing best practice across the sector.

Julian Drinkall, CEO of AET said:

“I am delighted that we have appointed someone of James’ calibre as our Chief Financial Officer. He has an impressive track record and will play a central role in this next important phase of AET’s development. The Financial Notice to Improve has now been lifted, and our Turnaround Strategy is gaining momentum. We are starting to see the fruits of the improvements we are making – most notably in our recent primary results – and this coming year promises to be a very positive one."

“Alongside James, we will be announcing a number of other key senior appointments in the weeks to come, creating a talented top team that has the experience, energy and determination to deliver our commitment of a world class education for all our pupils.”

James Nicholson said:

“I am looking forward to joining Academies Enterprise Trust at such an exciting time and being part of the team that enables our educators to focus on providing a world class educational experience for every pupil at every academy.”

Academy Rebrokering

posted Sep 6, 2017, 8:26 AM by Richard Sparks   [ updated Sep 6, 2017, 8:27 AM ]

An AET spokesperson said:

“We can confirm that Everest Community Academy in Basingstoke and Cordeaux Academy in Lincolnshire have been rebrokered to Bourne Education Trust and Tollbar Academy Trust respectively. The two academies were identified as part of our plan to reform and renew AET. This strategy was approved by the DfE and, with a newly constituted Board and the Financial Notice to Improve having been lifted, AET is now in a much stronger position to deliver the education that our students deserve. Our Key Stage 2 results are an early indication of the improvements that are starting to bite, and we are now engaged in active discussions about further primary schools in areas where we have demonstrable strength joining the trust over the coming year.”

Our School

posted Sep 4, 2017, 1:23 AM by Nicholas Basson   [ updated Sep 5, 2017, 10:33 AM by Richard Sparks ]

Sheffield Academy Students Star In TV School Documentary Series 

As nervous eleven year olds across the country set off on their secondary school careers, the clear message from young people in a Sheffield AET academy is that the move will be fine and the gateway to new experiences and opportunities.

For 16 weeks beginning Tuesday 5 September at 5.25 pm, CBBC will be launching their third series of 'Our School,' the 'fly on the wall' documentary whi
ch reveals all the fun and challenges for Year 7 students during their first big year in secondary school. 

For a whole term, students at Firth Park Academy on Fircroft Avenue Sheffield were under the watchful eyes of 36 tv cameras around the school grounds. The CBBC
crew homed in on 40 young people, both in and outside the classroom, as they learned a new way of school life, made new decisions and won over new friends.

In the first episode we meet Olivia and Abdul embarking on their first day at Firth Park Academy. Abdul has an older sister at school who gives him some useful advice, but for Olivia it is a whole new experience. We also meet teacher Ben Shore, who is also starting at Firth Park and will be in charge of one of the Year 7 groups we follow in the series. 

The highlight of the series was the opportunity for Olivia and Roman to spend a week with a Kenyan school community, Memusi, to see for themselves the huge difference UK fundraising has made to the lives of young people. Ten years ago school life began with six pupils learning in a simple shelter. Now 350 enjoy the educational opportunities learning in 11 permanent classrooms. Olivia and Roman not only shared their school experiences but also the two hour daily walk to school and back!

The series also highlights students meeting and working with celebrities on 'Our School 3', including England international rugby union player, Ben Foden; Strictly Come Dancing professional, Chloe Hewitt; and Great Britain's Paralympic gold medal winner, Claire Cashmore . Other notable events were a school sleepover, canoeing, setting up 'pop up' businesses at Meadowhall, getting close up to alpacas and 'staff rapping.' 

Mr Dean Jones, Principal at Firth Park Academy, said: "Inviting a television production team to be part of your school for more than a term, bringing cameras into lessons and along corridors could be a daunting proposition. We hoped it would prove an opportunity to celebrate the many positive moments that happen in our school day by day, as well as increase the range of opportunities our students have in the first term of their transition to secondary school. 

"I firmly believe both these goals have been achieved through participation in the filming of 'Our School.' The series that shows students at Firth Park Academy are of positive character and full of potential, whilst their teachers care enough to go above and beyond for their students." 'Our School 2' was also exclusively filmed in an AET academy, Greenwood Academy in Birmingham, and televised from September to December 2016.                                                       

Congratulations To The Class of 2017

posted Aug 25, 2017, 5:52 AM by Richard Sparks   [ updated Aug 29, 2017, 2:11 AM ]

Against a tide of major change in the structure and grading of GCSE examinations, students across AET academies have achieved, and are celebrating, outstanding personal success due to their outstanding efforts and fantastic support from their schools and families.

Beginning at Swallow Hill Academy in Leeds congratulations to Kornelija Devialtovskyte who has achieved Level 9 in both English Language and Maths and A* in all her other subjects. Kornelija will now be moving on to Notre Dame College to study A Levels as the next step to going to university.

Kornelija Devialtovskyte


Joshua Mulryne at Tendring Technology College in Essex was one of many AET students across the country who hit the jackpot with a maximum of three 9s in English Language, English Literature and Mathematics. He also scored seven A*'s in his other subjects. Colleague Katelyn Gibson gained a 9 in maths, 9 in English Language and an 8 in English Lit with seven A*'s in her other subjects.

Proud Katelyn (third left) and Joshua (third right)

Among some excellent individual performances at Kingswood Academy in Hull Dylan Aziz achieved seven A*'s and three A's, including a grade 9 in Maths, putting him in the top 2 per cent of students nationally.

At Rawlett Academy in Tamworth Evan Shipman achieved the maximum three grade 9's - along with five A* and two A's. Tyla Sleet and Gregory Stokes gained the new grade 9 in both English Language and Literature.

Samuel Pollard at Broadlands Academy in Keynsham near Bristol gained the maximum three grade 9s and 6 A*'s while Katherine Edgar achieved six A*’s and two grade 9's. There was a double success for the Lloyd family with sisters Kelsey and Kristina achieving an outstanding eighteen A's and A*'s between them.

Among the highest achievers at Firth Park Academy in Sheffield are Reem Murshad with nine A*/A (9-7/D*-D); Vithusan Sundaram and Amira Fadoul with seven A*/A (9-7/D*-D); as well as Nura Hassan and Ferencz Klausz with six A*/A (9-7/D*-D).

Jay Ayliffe at Richmond Park Academy in west London was also among the elite with three 9's, five A*'s and two A's. Jay was delighted with his results and will be taking them with him for the next stage of his education studying for the International baccalauréat.

Jay celebrates

Music loving twins Taliesin and Samuel Consentino-Hunter can be very pleased with their haul of excellent GCSE results totalling four A*'s, six A's, one 9, three 8's, two 7's, two B's an one C and are both looking forward to studying music, maths and creative media in 6th form.

Feeling Phenomenal

Head boy Charlie Campbell achieved the best overall results at Clacton Coastal Academy which included two grade 9's and one grade 8. Charlie admitted: "I was worried before opening my results, I now feel phenomenal! I am now going to the college I wanted to study Maths and Science."

Amongst those celebrating at Felixstowe Academy in Suffolk were Lucy Borrett, Yasmin Payne and Emma Borrett, who all achieved grade 9 in Maths on results day. Yasmin said: "I am so relieved to have my grades confirmed! I have been going over exam scripts and checking mark schemes to try and predict what grade I might have achieved."

Sisters Emma and Lucy Borrett achieved identical results with six A*/A grades each to accompany their grade 9 in Maths. Emma shared her happiness that the wait for Results Day was finally over saying: "The new Maths exam was hard and I am so glad I started my revision plan in September. That, along with after school sessions, really helped to prepare me. The stress is finally over - I am so happy!"

King of Results

At Nightingale Academy in north London Robel Asmelash, scored maximum 9's in both English Literature and Maths. He also achieved a grade 5 in English Language, plus four A grades and two B grades. He is hoping to study A-level maths, physics, further maths and computer science, with the ambition to become a software developer. Robel exclaimed: “I am proud of my results; in fact, I’m pretty speechless about the grade 9's. That’s the king of king of results."

Robel Asmelash

Meryemcan Meydan achieved the top grade 9 in English Literature, as well as grade 8 in English Language and grade 7 in maths. She also picked up two A* grades, four A grades and one B. She is looking to study English Literature, maths, history and psychology, possibly at Nightingale’s sixth form.

Top female students at Bexleyheath Academy in south east London were Ruby Moore, Grace Masters and Jaspreet Virdi with top male students being Bobby Kane-Fearn, George Allen and Toby Smith. Ruby achieved four A* grades, two A's, one 9, one 8, one 7 and a Distinction* whilst Grace achieved three A* grades, two A's, two 9's, one 8, one Distinction* and one Merit.

Success Against All Odds

It is not only the high flyers who deserve our sincere praise after the publication of the 2017 GCSE results. Many young people have had to overcome extreme personal setbacks and challenges to achieve outstanding results. Here are our three top choices from among our academies: Nightingale Academy in London; Felixstowe Academy in Suffolk; and Firth Park Academy in Sheffield.

Nickola Michalak pic.jpg

When Nikola Michalak arrived in England from Poland at the age of ten, she spoke no English at all. She has now picked up strong passes in the new English GCSE, with grade 6 in both Language and Literature. She also collected two A* grades, one B, three C grades and another grade 6 in mathematics.

The 16-year-old student from Nightingale Academy, in north London, spent a whole year out of education when her family arrived in the country. With no brothers or sisters at home and a family without any English language, she spent months at home with no friends and no schooling.

She joined Nightingale in Year 7 and said: “I love school and so was excited and happy to meet new people, but I felt isolated before I started school as there were not any other Polish people around us. It was scary, but within weeks I had settled into Nightingale and started to learn English.”

Nikola said: “I was always the best in my class in Poland for maths and so when I started at Nightingale I was able to help my classmates. Even though I didn’t speak English, it was about numbers and so I could show them."

“This school and its teachers are something special. They are so encouraging and have taught me English.”

As well as helping out at Nightingale’s Polish School in the future, Nikola is staying at Nightingale for sixth form studies in English Literature and art. She wants to go on to university to study architecture.

Lost for Words

The biggest smiles at Felixstowe Academy are on the faces of Paula Birchall, Hope Rutterford and Kirsty Aberdein.

Hope, who has had Cerebral Palsy since birth, completed her GCSE courses with grades 5 and 4 in English, an A grade in Health and Social Care and three additional higher grade GCSE passes. Beaming as she celebrated her successes, Hope shared: "I am lost for words to describe how I feel. I am so happy. We had a good time in lessons."

Hope’s mum Kirstie (pictured left) was full of pride in her daughter explaining: "It is such an incredible day. When Hope was born it was touch and go as to whether she would survive, but now she has her GCSEs and is planning to take a business course in September. It goes to show that from humble beginnings Hope has been able to achieve great things. She already has a business plan in mind, so I can’t wait to see what Hope achieves in the future!"

Hope’s Key Worker, Paula Birchall (pictured right) added: "Hope’s hard work has paid off. She brings so much joy to those around her and I am also very proud of her!"

Value of Resilience

The third student has overcome severe personal difficulties to achieve examination success. Although not named for personal reasons he is a 16 year old student at Firth Park Academy in Sheffield and is a true role model of the academy's value of resilience. He suffered the sudden death of his mum, his lone carer, the month before the exams began. He then had to overcome the resulting threat of homelessness.

The fact that this student then managed to attain some of the highest grades after these traumatic experiences is extremely impressive and is a true measure of his outstanding character.

GCSE results hold up well in a year of challenge

posted Aug 25, 2017, 4:06 AM by Richard Sparks   [ updated Aug 25, 2017, 5:54 AM ]

Many congratulations to all AET’s pupils who have taken their GCSE exams this year and to all the staff who have worked so hard and supported them.

This has been a particularly challenging year, with major change taking place in GCSE grading and curriculum across the core subjects. We are delighted to report that our students and staff have coped extremely well with these challenges.

Our academies have taken a good step forward in mathematics results, despite the increased challenge of a more demanding curriculum, and have further closed the gap against national results. 56% of students achieved Grade 4 or above. Meanwhile in English, 60% achieved Grade 4-9. 49% of our students achieved Grade 4 or above in both English and mathematics, a small increase over the number achieving Grade C or above in 2016.


% of students achieving Grade 4+


% of students achieving Grade C+







English & mathematics combined



AET’s Director of Challenge and Intervention, Beverley Perin, commented,

‘This has been a year of great upheaval for staff and students alike, and these results show they have all coped very well with the changes. Some academies have taken very big leaps forward and we send them our warmest congratulations. Our performance overall is very consistent with our predictions and reflects the huge amount of work done by all the staff and pupils, of whom we are very proud. We wish all students the very best for the future and congratulate them on their successes across the board’.

Individual success stories can be found here.

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