A Message from The Principal
Aspire Academy is about achievement and success for all. As a Provision catering to the needs of the most vulnerable children and young people in our education system, it is one that strips away any sense of failure and replaces it with self-confidence, self-esteem and real success. Learners entering the provision may have either a long history, a recent track record of failure in mainstream education. They may arrive expecting little difference, and in many cases will have already consignedthemselves to a bleak future. Some learners and parents may see Aspire as the end of the line; but in reality, Aspire is the ticket to future success. Our young people have one chance at their education and we aim to ensure that they don’t miss out on what this opportunity has to offer.
For many of our learners in both primary and secondary,this will mean a return to mainstream education in a much better position both academically and emotionally than when they arrived; for many in secondary this will mean a chance at a life-changing education that will take them forward to their future colleges, careers and (for some) university education. I firmly believe that everyyoung person can achieve their potential, but that it is up to us as professionals to ensure that the provision is right in order for that to be able to happen.
My role as Founding Principal of Aspire Academy presents a unique opportunity to take the best practices locally and nationally and bring them together to create outstanding provision for the young people of Harlow and other parts of West Essex. Building from the ground up, the vision and core values will be embedded through all decisions that are made. Staff will live and breathe the same values and model the positive behaviours we are expecting in our young people. As a cohesive team of professionals, together we will build a ‘no excuses’ culture where we see any failure of our young people as evidence that we need to adapt our practices and become a little better every day in order to help them achieve success.
I believe that appropriate behaviours can be learned in the same way that Maths, French and Science can be learned. Whilst any school can teach discipline, at Aspire we teach SELF-discipline – giving students the skills that they need in order to manage their OWN behaviours. Our curriculumwill be the key in that it supportsourlearners in the aims we are expecting for them. Where we are intending to return the learner to mainstream, we will ensure that they do not fall further behind their peers whilst with us. This will involve streamlining schemes of work as much as possible between Aspire and the commissioning schools and providing learners with a base of core skills that they can use in any subject, school or setting.
At Aspire Academy the Culture of Success will be evident. We aim to send all learners, regardless of length of stay, away from the Academy with a raft of improved skills and abilities and accredited qualifications. For some secondary age learners this will be at Level 1, 2 or GCSE qualifications. In primary and lower secondary there will be opportunities for success. These can be as simple as ‘Bikeability’, First Aid, Food Hygiene, a white belt in karate, a canoeing level 1 or even a craft qualification for example. The key is that whilst they have been with us they will have made significant gains in reading age, English and Maths levels and ‘soft skills’, which they may or may not really be conscious of…. but they will also have achieved an end result – something tangible that they can really take away with them – that they can see. Returning to mainstream with a feeling of real worth and success will set them on the right path for future success. For a ‘failure’ to view themselves as an ‘achiever’ creates a huge shift in Mindset.
Essential to success for all pupils is good literacy, numeracy and communication skills. Again, these are the veins that run throughout all other subjects and activities in the curriculum. Without the basic phonic knowledge, and primary pupil will struggle as he/she moves through the key stages and ultimately secondary school. Without a minimum reading age of 12+ by the start of Year 10 pupils will not be able to access a GCSE exam paper regardless of their knowledge in a subject, so a key aim for us will be making substantial gains in reading, writing and communication throughout the primary and secondary units.
For pupils in secondary who will not be returning to mainstream we aim to get the very best outcomes for them that are useful to them in their journey forward. GCSEs will be studied wherever possible, and a real focus on Level 2 qualifications for the more able. The key will be adapting the curriculum offer to meet the needs of the pupils and ensuring that they are in a position to access any courses they are looking at post-16 or apprenticeship work opportunities further down the line. Vocational qualifications will be aligned to what is needed in the local area in order to give them the best chance of future employment.
Our curriculum does not start and end with the school day. Early morning activities during breakfast club will support verbal communication through loosely structured debates on relevant topics. Lunchtime will be used as an opportunity to reinforce cultural norms such as sitting down to a meal, conversing appropriately, using knives and forks, passing condiments and clearing away after themselves. After school activities will have structure and achievement embedded – and no activities will take place ‘for their own sake’. Each activity will have an ‘end’ in the form of a grade, certificate or award. In addition, every child will be expected to take part in a community or charity project in order to make connections with the world outside of education and gain social skills working with new people of different ages.
At all times the staff and pupils will be expected to model our core values: