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The Day The Oscars Came To Percy

posted Mar 16, 2018, 6:44 AM by Nicholas Basson   [ updated Mar 16, 2018, 6:46 AM ]

Over 400 pupils at Percy Shurmer Primary Academy in Birmingham had an unforgettable day when two British Oscar winning stars returned from Hollywood to see for themselves that the support the school gives to deaf children is not just top quality but also supported by the whole school community.

Rachel Shenton and Chris Overton had, only days beforehand, both scooped an Oscar for Best Short Film, (Live Action) with 'The Silent Child' at the star studded 90th Academy Awards. The film features a profoundly deaf four year old child living in a world of silence until a caring social worker teaches her to use sign language to communicate. Rachel wrote and starred in the film which was directed by her fiance, Chris. Rachel's father became deaf when she was just 12 which prompted her to learn sign language and qualify as an interpreter. She famously signed as she presented her Academy Award acceptance speech to the world..

During their visit they toured the school, took part in a 'signing' class, were interviewed by the school's media team and enjoyed an assembly which featured every child singing and signing. At the end of the morning they spent quality time with the children from the Deaf Learning Base who were thrilled at the opportunity not just to meet them, but also hold a world famous - and very heavy - Oscar in their hands. The celebrities, children and staff were also joined by representatives from local newspapers, regional and national tv.

Eight year old Mawadah from the Percy Shurmer Deaf Learning Base told the media: "It is important that everybody knows sign language."

Marie Duffy, Assistant Headteacher - Teacher of the Deaf , explained: "It was wonderful that Rachel and Chris were able to support our school's vision that being deaf does not stop you from doing what you want. It was an amazing inspiring day for all. The children loved sharing their passion for learning British Sign Language with Rachel and Chris."

Ofsted “Good” Signals Latest Improvement At AET

posted Dec 18, 2017, 9:38 AM by Richard Sparks   [ updated Jan 11, 2018, 7:57 AM ]

The largest provider of apprentice places among Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) has been praised by Ofsted for successfully improving the quality of its service. Securing a “Good” rating from the regulator Ofsted highlights that AET's apprentices are 'highly valued by their employers, make beneficial contributions to their businesses and often play an integral role in the smooth running and the success of their department.'

Launched in 2012, AET has extended its programme to enrol 80 people, including new apprentices and using the apprenticeship levy to upskill existing staff. As the largest MAT in England, AET has pledged to nearly double the number of places on offer. Ofsted now rates the programme 'good' in all the main categories of inspection.

The report is the latest indicator of improvements at AET since Julian Drinkall took over as Chief Executive in 2016. AET also saw a significant upswing in primary school performance last summer, paving the way to exploratory discussions with the DfE to expand the number of primary schools in the trust.

Julian Drinkall, Group CEO for AET, said: "I am delighted that Ofsted recognises the significant improvements to our apprenticeship programme. We are working very hard to transform every aspect of AET’s performance, both in terms of the education that our schools provide, but also how we train and upskill our staff. This is an important milestone along the way, and we will look to build on this in the coming months and terms.”

In their 10 page report following the inspection in November 2017, Ofsted  confirms:-

  • leaders' and managers' actions have had a positive impact since the last inspection in 2015/16 with the number of apprentices significantly increased

  • training both on and off the job is highly relevant enabling apprentices to contribute positively to their organisations

  • staff are highly skilled and their industry-related skills are strengthened through good quality professional development and training

  • achievement in English and mathematics has significantly improved since the last inspection in 2015/16.

  • apprentices are proud of their work and achievements, and employers are proud that they have been able to 'grow their own' staff, often employing former pupils as apprentices.

  • they produce work of a good and sometimes high professional standard.

Building on progress to date, AET intends to increase the number of apprentices each year.

Tanya Bentham, Head of Talent, commented: "We aim to meet the new Public Sector Target, approximately 150 new starts a year for the group, whilst also working with schools and academies outside of the trust to offer Apprenticeship training.”

AET is providing support to the Woodard Academy Trust on apprenticeship training, which has five academies nationwide.

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.                                                       

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