Venturers Trust Appoints Interim CEO

Venturers Trust has announced the appointment of Andy Bird as Interim CEO with effect from 3rd September 2018.  With a successful and extensive background in education, Mr Bird began his career as a PE and design teacher and has since held a number of senior positions, including Vice Principal for two large academies and Headteacher in another.  More recently, he founded the Fairfax Multi-Academy Trust in Birmingham and became CEO of the Trust.  Mr Bird was a member of the West Midlands Headteachers Roundtable for the Regional Schools Commissioner and he has spoken at many national conferences about school improvement and leading a complex organisation. Chair of Governors for Venturers Trust, Trevor Smallwood, said: “We are delighted that Mr Bird will be joining the Trust in September and I look forward to the contribution that he will make over the coming 12 months.” Mr Bird said: “It is a privilege to be the Interim CEO of a Trust that is so dedicated to supporting and developing children and young adults in Bristol.  From what I have seen already, I believe that we have a committed and talented team to deliver the outcomes these children richly deserve.”

Venturers Trust ends first year with strong SATs results

Venturers Trust primary schools are celebrating some excellent results for children of all ages against national benchmarks. In particular, three schools have shown significant increases in the proportion of students reaching the Government’s expected standard in Key Stage 2 SATs tests, which are taken at age 11. In the provisional results released by the Department for Education, Barton Hill Academy saw 55 per cent of its Year 6 children make the grade in reading, writing and maths. This was a rise of 19 percentage points on 2017. The Kingfisher School’s outcomes rose by 17 percentage points to 59 per cent, close to the national average and Merchants’ Academy Primary saw a rise of 12 percentage points to 50 per cent.  Julie Hearn, Primary Vice Principal, was delighted at the rise in the combined total and also at the improved results in writing and maths. Bannerman Road Community Academy saw a dip in combined outcomes but was particularly pleased at its students’ continued strong performance in writing, where 77 per cent reached the expected standard. Some excellent performances were also recorded in the Key Stage 1 SATs, taken at age seven, and in the Year 1 phonics check and the Early Years Foundation Stage Good Level of Development (GLD). Fairlawn Primary School achieved 73 per cent, which is above the national and Bristol figure for GLD for the third year in a row.  An impressive 93 per cent of Year 1 pupils passed the phonics check and 63 per cent of the school’s first year group to sit the KS1 SATs attained the expected standard. Meanwhile, at The Dolphin School, the proportion of children making the grade at reading, writing and maths rose by 14 percentage points on 2017. Principal Shelley Flanagan said: “This is due to excellent teaching and a curriculum which is designed for the needs of our school.” These are the unvalidated outcomes and the Trust expects them to rise further once they are validated by the DfE in September. As well as the headline figures, many children have made excellent progress and schools have worked hard to close the gap between disadvantaged pupils and others, to provide for children who do not speak English and those who have special educational needs. Chair of Governors for Venturers Trust, Trevor Smallwood, said the results, coming at the end of Venturers Trust’s first academic year, were very pleasing. “We have made a strong start and our schools have benefited from working together and learning from each other, as well as receiving specialist support from experts through the Trust. “We know there is more work to do and our focus remains firmly on supporting Venturers Trust schools to ensure that all children are given the best possible start.  Sue Dobbs, the Trust’s Director of Academy Improvement, said: “The strong SATs results are testament to the dedication and vision of our school Principals. I am also very proud of our students and staff, who have worked incredibly hard throughout the year.”

Venturers Trust News Round-up July 2018

As we near the end of the summer term, all Trust schools have much to feel proud of, including excellent SATs results in the primaries. Well done to all children and staff for your hard work and determination. In addition to being rated the top secondary school in the region by the Real Schools Guide, Colston’s Girls’ School (CGS) also won the Education and Business title at the Bristol Education Awards, where two staff members from Venturers’ Academy (VA) also triumphed: Jackie Burton was named Primary Teaching Assistant of the Year and Catherine O’Connor was named SEN Teacher of the Year. This followed VA teacher Emma Buckley’s honour in being shortlisted for the national TES New Teacher of the Year award. Merchants’ Academy has been celebrating individual student successes by awarding sports, music and drama trophies to its top performers, while Year 10 and 12 students have been undertaking interesting work experience placements. The Society of Merchant Venturers (SMV), one of the Trust’s sponsors, donated £5,000 to the schools programme for the revived St Paul’s Carnival, which included costume-making workshops at 16 schools, among them three from Venturers Trust. Staff and children from The Dolphin School (TDS), Fairlawn Primary School and CGS were involved in the colourful carnival procession, where TDS was awarded the prize for Best Dance and shared the award for Best Interpretation of Unity. VA and TDS students joined the selection challenge in Snowdonia for The Wettest Classroom, a thrilling and inclusive voyage planned for next year and led by VA Principal Trystan Williams. Activities in North Wales for the children, whose participation was funded by the Trust’s Endowment Fund, included a mountain scramble, hiking through sand dunes, paddle boarding, raft building and lake swimming. If you plan to follow the Gromit Unleashed 2 trail this summer, look out for three Feathers McGraw sculptures decorated by Venturers Trust school children. On display at The Mall, Cribbs Causeway, are Flippers McGraw (TDS), Unicluck (Bannerman Road Community Academy) and Different World (Barton Hill Academy). Finally, to all Venturers Trust students, families and staff, we wish you a safe and happy summer break and we look forward to a host of opportunities starting in September, not least the opening of the new school building at The Kingfisher School.

V6 is born as CGS 6th Form expands and goes co-ed

Colston’s Girls’ School is set to expand its sixth form from September 2018 and for the first time in over 100 years, it will be co-educational. The new sixth form, to be called V6, will welcome ambitious 16 to 18-year-olds and aims to have a focus on science, technology, engineering, the arts and maths (STEAM) as well as on developing skills for the workplace. Like CGS, it will be part of Venturers Trust, which is sponsored by the Society of Merchant Venturers and the University of Bristol. Sixth-form girls and boys will have a dedicated base in the Georgian building next to CGS, although they will also have access to the specialist science, music and other facilities in the main school. The post-16 students will continue to play important leadership roles in the school. Principal John Whitehead said the time was right to give teenage boys the same opportunities that are open to CGS girls. “Our sixth form is a unique provision, combining high standards, specialist teaching and individual support. Our students follow a range of high quality pathways to future success. The school has a strong emphasis on community action and our students have developed and delivered a number of impressive projects in recent years. “CGS is an inner-city school with students from across the city and beyond. We pride ourselves on our ethnic and social diversity - now we will have a gender mix too.” Mr Whitehead said that while research showed that girls aged 11-16 perform more strongly in single-sex schools, mixed sixth forms were the most successful. “Some of the highest-attaining sixth-form colleges are co-educational,” he said. “We already have a good proportion of students moving on to Russell Group universities and by expanding our numbers we will be  able to increase the availability of quality alternative routes, including high-level engineering apprenticeships.” The governors and sponsors of the school, which was founded in 1891 and became a state-funded academy in 2008, have been considering the future direction for the sixth form for some years. In creating this exciting initiative, CGS will build on and develop the relationships formed during that journey to ensure that collaboration offers the greatest range of opportunities. “We have talked extensively with students and with the wider school community, and they welcome this move,” said Mr Whitehead. "It will offer greater opportunities for social interaction, helping all students to prepare for life beyond school, whether at university, volunteering or in the workplace.” Members of the CGS head girl team said the change would prepare them for studying alongside boys at university as well as for later life. Olivia Wright, who hopes to do a maths degree, said: “Sixth form is a perfect time to change the learning environment. Boys will bring in different opinions and ideas.” Yasmin Rees-Khan, who hopes to study medicine at university, added: “It will be interesting to get a male perspective in lessons.” Head girl Zainab Adelopo said having boys in the sixth form would make the school even more diverse, and everyone’s views would be treated with respect. Kerry McCullagh, vice principal and head of sixth form, said: “The boys who choose to join us will share our values, ambition and work ethic. We are proud that already our students go on to a wide range of destinations, and progress to careers that in the past have been dominated by men. “Our new sixth form will be a unique provision with its own identity but also at the heart of the school.” V6 will continue to be selective, offering A-level courses in academic subjects, including modern foreign languages, which is the CGS specialism. When numbers increase, appropriate and challenging Level 3 vocational courses will be added to the curriculum. Anthony Brown, Chair of Governors for Colston’s Girls’ School, said: “We believe this development will be a strong addition to the post-16 provision in Bristol. Young people will have the opportunity to belong to a sixth form that has a proven track record as well as a strategic forward-looking vision, based in a vibrant, diverse inner-city location.” An open evening for V6 takes place on Thursday November 23 from 6-8pm. Please contact the school to book a place.        

Category / Venturers Trust News