Chairman's Report January 2017

This is the eighth report to parents from Sandwell Academy's Governing Board and I am pleased to share with you details of progress and success at the Academy during the academic year 2015/2016.

Examination Results and Key Performance Indicators

Annex 1 details the examination results achieved by our students in the Sixth Form, Key Stage 4 (Years 9-11) and in Key Stage 3 (Year 8).

Due to the way that the Government reports the examination results of schools via Performance Tables, parents and students may become confused. Performance Tables only report the results of the first time that students sat the exam and do not take in to account if the student improved the grade by taking the examination again. Please refer to Annex 1a.

University admissions and employers take a different view. Many of our students who have taken an examination before Year 11 often wish to improve the grade by taking the examination again. What appears on the Examination Certificate is the highest grade achieved and this is the grade that is used for application to university or employment.

Irrespective of what appears in the media or elsewhere, the real figures for Sandwell Academy are 79% 5+A*-C with English and mathematics. This represents a 12% increase on the previous year. 80% achieved a C grade or better in both English and mathematics. 38% of students achieved the EBacc qualification; an improvement of 2% from the previous year, with 55% of students entered for this range of qualifications. 15% of all grades were A*/A and 22 students achieved 5 A*/A grades. 93% of students achieved 5 A*-C grades across all subjects.

The new measures of Attainment 8 and Progress 8 have been published recently. Using best entry results our Attainment 8 score was 52.5 against a national figure of 48.5 and a local figure of 45.1. Our Progress 8 score was -0.07 against a national figure of -0.03 and a local figure of -0.29.

Pupil Premium students achieved 67% 5 A*-C with E&M (12% gap). 81% achieved 5 A*-C. (12% gap). 25% achieved EBacc (13% gap). Pupil Premium students achieved an Attainment 8 score of 47.2 (5.3 point gap) and a Progress 8 score of -0.25 (0.18 point gap).

In the Sixth Form, students delivered another set of record outcomes. The average points score per student this year reached 423 UCAS points. Average points score per entry was 90 UCAS points this year. 29% of all grades were at A*/A, and 58% of all grades were at A*-B. Value added scores reached +0.68 for Academic courses and +0.80 for General Applied courses.

Whilst we recognise that Key Stage 3 SAT's are no longer obligatory, the Academy is keen to ensure that students are appropriately assessed in order to monitor performance and to make sure parents have valid information about their child's progress. As SAT papers are still available, the Academy continues to use them in conjunction with internal marking. The results achieved demonstrate that collectively, students are making accelerated progress in their first two years at the Academy, and this can only give students an improved chance of achieving in Key Stages 4 and 5.

The Governing Board would like to thank parents for supporting their children in helping to achieve excellent attendance figures – 96.6% this year - which significantly exceeds local and national averages - and making the most of the longer hours on offer at the Academy.

Ofsted Action Points

Sandwell Academy was last inspected by Ofsted in January 2014 and was judged to be Outstanding in all inspection categories. Annex 2 provides information for parents in relation to the actions points identified by Ofsted to further improve the quality of teaching and learning and action taken.

Sport and Business Enterprise

Sandwell Academy specialises in Sport and Business Enterprise and places an emphasis on these two areas in the curriculum and as part of the extra-curricular programme. Annex 3 reports on developments in Sport, including a Sporting Roll of Honour. Annex 4 reports on Business Enterprise at the Academy.

Performing Arts

The Academy's productions to date have included a wide range of shows including 'The Jungle Book', 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat', 'Grease' and most recently 'The Lion King'. This year will see excited and talented students perform everyone's favourite 'Disney's High School Musical'. Auditions took place during the Autumn term and rehearsals for the February production have started in earnest. This year approximately 100 students will perform on a professional set, including a specialised lighting rig. The Academy continues to develop a reputation for superb performances and the professional West End stage sets have been enjoyed by students, parents, staff and governors.

The end of the Summer term saw a twist on the talent show 'The Voice' with a staff versus student competition. Staff and students spent many hours finalising their routines and performed their perfected sequences to an excited audience. After a very intense, head-to-head, closely fought competition, the students were crowned the overall winners.

Year 7 were once again invited to share in a Christmas celebration of carols, Christmas songs, music and the narration of the Christmas story. This provided some additional performance experience for some of our budding musicians and the Academy choir.

In addition, the annual Christmas Concert focused on showcasing the blossoming talents of our musicians across the Academy. This concert provides opportunities for many students to learn new skills and experience the thrill of live performance. Academy staff enjoyed support from Sandwell Youth Music and Arts Service, and it was particularly pleasing to see both the Wind Band and String Group, as well as the Sandwell Academy Rock School, continuing to go from strength to strength. The depth of talent showcased during the evening was evident and included the Academy choir, commercial rock groups, solo artists and musicians. The diverse programme included traditional Christmas songs alongside pop songs, both old and new.

Visits and Trips.

Each year, a wide range and variety of educational visits and trips continue to enrich the curriculum and be a real strength of the Academy's academic provision. Over the course of the academic year 2015-16 there was a total of 95 educational trips and visits.

Residential trips included a Summer choir residential where 40 Performing Arts students from a range of year groups took part in out of bounds activities, in addition to voice coaching sessions. A field trip to the Bridlington coast line helped Sixth Form geographers carry out important field work. A trip to London with Business gave other Sixth Form students exposure to a range of top employers and allowed some of our students to truly shine. In addition, Sports students took part in out of bounds activities at Ullswater and Year 7 continued the tradition of visiting Boreatton Park as part of their induction programme.

Foreign trips included Barcelona, where students developed language skills, in addition to viewing the sights of this famous city. Students also hit the slopes skiing in Andorra, where students and staff alike had an amazing time developing skills and enjoying the all ability facilities. A small number of students had the opportunity to visit and understand more about the horrors of Auschwitz, and another group of students grasped the opportunity to sail across the Channel on a tall ship.

Duke of Edinburgh expeditions, visits to Universities, Chester Zoo, Warwick Castle, theatres, Cadbury World and a wide variety of sporting venues are just a flavour of other visits that students benefited from experiencing.

Enrichment Programme – October 2016

The Enrichment Programme in October has been an exciting and enjoyable part of the curriculum since the Academy opened. Year 7 once again attended Boreatton Park where they participated in numerous team building activities designed to help them build relationships with other students.

Years 8, 9, 10, 11 and the Sixth Form were involved in a range of day activities and residential trips:

  • Art workshop with John Denaro – 6.1/ 6.2
  • Geneva trip – 6.1/ 6.2
  • Educational trips London and Liverpool – 6.1/ 6.2
  • Master Classes/Workshop by Careers – 6.2
  • Twycross Zoo trip – 6.1
  • Build a Nation – 6.1
  • The Voyage – Year 11/ 6.1
  • Jamie Edwards – Motivational Speaker came in to see Year 11
  • Maximising Success – Revision Workshop for Year 11
  • Trampoline sessions to support assessments in PE – Year 11
  • Art and Design Technology Workshops – Year 11
  • Additional speakers attended in English – Year 11
  • Ackers Outdoor Centre in Birmingham – Year 10/11
  • Duke of Edinburgh Award - Year 10
  • The Theatre Motown the Musical – London – Year 10
  • The Art trip to the Butterfly Farm in Stratford – Year 10
  • Tour of the Hawthorns (WBAFC) – Year 10
  • Wheelchair Basketball (WBA Foundation) – Year 10
  • Bali Rai – English writing speaker – Year 10
  • The Dance workshop – Year 10
  • Closer to the Edge Activity Centre Sandwell Valley – Year 9
  • Coca Cola Real Business Challenge & Dragons Den – Year 9
  • Language Festival – Year 8
  • West Midlands Safari Park and Zoo – Year 8

All of the activities were carefully designed to enrich the students' experience of the curriculum at Sandwell Academy and for the Sixth Form in particular, to focus thoughts on their plans for life after Sandwell Academy. The Enrichment Programme also provided a great opportunity for Year 11 to focus on preparation for Controlled Assessments in various subjects.

Careers Links

Careers education and guidance is vitally important to ensure our students make the most of the opportunities available to them. Students across the Academy use the Careers Resource area on a regular basis seeking help and support on a broad range of issues including employment search and university entry. The Academy and Governors share a view that it is our responsibility to secure employment or further education for all of our students.

Annex 5 provides details of the extensive work carried out by Miss Sandra Caddick and her team during the last twelve months.

Destination of Leavers

The Governing Board are keen to know the destination of all students that leave Sandwell Academy and a list of destinations for 2016 is available from Annex 6 (Year 11 / 6.2) .

Parent Advisory Group

The Academy's Parent Advisory Group (PAG) continues to thrive, with successful fundraising activities and events. An enthusiastic team led by Parent Governor Jo Harvey, the group includes dedicated parents, a Deputy Head and the Operations Manager. They meet termly with the Head to discuss fundraising and ways to benefit Academy pupils. The PAG's main event is the Summer Fayre and once again it proved to be a highlight of last year's calendar. All years took part, including the incoming Year 7 students and their parents. There was a lovely atmosphere as teachers and students took part in fun activities and team sporting events. The table below shows the amount raised each year since this event started:

Year Amount

2016 £1676.32

2015 £1789.98

2014 £1500.91

2013 £1610.10

2012 £1336.52

2011 £1572.55

2010 £1190.17

2009 £1435.60

The raffle was once again held in the Autumn term, with the Grand Draw taking place on a Family Bingo night in November. This was an enjoyable experience for PAG members and again gave them the opportunity to work with Sixth Form students who are studying Business and needed to organise an event as part of their course.

The PAG's continued fundraising activities are of immense benefit to the Academy and its students. A total of £3290.75 was raised through the PAG's activities in 2015-2016, and before the bidding round for departments in September 2016, there was still a rolling budget of £5171.25.

The funds raised contribute towards valuable additional equipment or resources for students. Departments are able to submit bids which are then discussed, evaluated and distributed at termly meetings.

We look forward to building on the success of the PAG in the coming year.

Finance, Administration & Premises

We are most fortunate to have the services of Mr Steve Turton, Governor and Director of Finance, Mr Daljeet Kangh, ICT Manager, and Mr Andrew Currier, Operations Manager.

Mr Turton, has maintained a firm rein on the finances, achieving optimum value for money. This year the decision to significantly increase the parental contribution towards the coach costs over the next 3-5 years was taken to allow the Academy to budget effectively for educational costs during a period of Government cuts on educational spending.

Mr Kangh always ensures that Sandwell Academy's technology is first rate and up to date. He and his staff work tremendously hard during the year to install new systems and carry out upgrades and maintain the performance of our computer facilities. He is currently looking at upgrading the white board technology, replacing circa 250 PCs and installing a new management information system to improve data collection and communication with parents.

Mr Currier continues to maintain the Academy to an exceptionally high standard. His diligence, and the hard work of his staff, keeps the Academy clean, safe and graffiti free. Mr Currier also has responsibility for Health and Safety issues at the Academy and it is our primary concern is to take all steps possible to minimise risk to students, staff and visitors to the Academy. We were delighted to install a new 3G playing surface over the summer to replace our astro turf. The new surface will enable us to host competitive football and hockey matches whilst still being suitable for multi sports to enable us to deliver our PE programme.

The annual programme of repairs have resulted in the fabric of the building being maintained to its usual high standard. The phased programme of external maintenance ensures that the fabric of the Academy is maintained to the highest possible standard. The groundsmen have once again kept all areas tidy and have ensured that playing surfaces and pitches have been conserved in good order. It continues to be very pleasing that students respect the quality of their environment and thus contribute to its ongoing pristine condition.

Once more, our non-teaching staff and administration team have worked hard to provide effective support to the senior management team and teaching staff. Using our Keep Kids Safe email/text service and updating our website and Twitter feed, these staff are able to ensure high levels of communication exist between the Academy and parents.

The Catering staff continue to provide varied and healthy meals and snacks in the restaurant and still retain the 'EAT Gold Good Hygiene Award.' This award reflects the high standards of hygiene and cleanliness present in the Academy kitchens and restaurant.

The Academy continues to provide a transport service for students using 13 coaches provided by Thandi Coaches, a locally based company. The safety of students when travelling on these coaches is of the highest priority and Thandi is subject to rigorous vehicle, personnel and driving ability checks.

Student safety, when arriving at and departing from the Academy, continues to be of paramount importance. A matter which remains of a concern to the Governing Board is the small number of parents who persist in turning round in the Academy entrance and parking on the yellow lines. May I request your assistance to ensure that students are not placed in any danger; your co-operation in this matter is greatly appreciated.

Teaching Staff

We are fortunate in continuing to attract and appoint hard working, experienced or newly-qualified teachers to maintain our full complement of teaching staff. We attract teaching staff from different backgrounds including utilising the Schools Direct Scheme, Teach First and local and national recruitment methods. Interestingly, the Academy currently employs seven former students within the staff. The Academy recognises its responsibility for providing high quality professional development for our staff to ensure their skills are constantly refined and up to date. Their high standard of teaching ensures that each child achieves their potential. Where there is a need in any subject area, support is provided by committed and conscientious teachers. Supply teachers are never used for cover, as our own staff cover for absent colleagues.

Outreach Work

Sandwell Academy works very closely with our six sister schools, Thomas Telford School, Madeley Academy, Walsall Academy, Hammersmith Academy, Milton Keynes Academy and Bulwell Academy; all very successful establishments in their own right. The Headteachers meet termly to discuss ways of supporting each other for the benefit of students and the professional development of staff.

A major initiative across the family of schools this year was to alter our working hours to enable students to benefit from a more formalised and personalised Session 3 programme to meet individual needs.

In addition, the Academy undertakes a range of other outreach and community work which is detailed in Annex 7.

Governors' and Sponsors

The Academy is sponsored by The Mercers' Company, Thomas Telford School, West Bromwich Albion FC and Tarmac, and these sponsors are totally committed to the aims and objectives of the Academy. They continue to offer generous support to our students in a wide variety of ways. Each sponsor nominates Governors to serve on the Governing Board and this provides the Sponsors with on-going information regarding the achievements of the Academy and the Head is also able to seek advice from Governors when needed. A full list of Governors can be found in Annex 8.


On behalf of Governors and Sponsors I would like to record our congratulations and gratitude for another hugely successful year that has been achieved by the skill, knowledge and industry of everyone involved in Sandwell Academy. The Academy continues to strive for excellence in everything it does and student achievements result from superb leadership by Simon Topper and his management team supported by the dedicated and committed teaching and non-teaching staff. I would also wish to recognise the importance of the role parents and carers play in supporting students in reaching for their potential by taking advantage of the width of education on offer not only in the class rooms and sports fields but also by the wide-ranging enrichment programme. It is of course students who ultimately determine their own futures but the vast majority are seizing the opportunities provided, taking account of guidance and through their own commitment, the overall Academy results continue to be outstanding.

Looking to the future, the Academy has to adapt to the changed criteria imposed by Government (DfE) as the newly introduced "Attainment 8" and "Progress 8" will join EBacc in taking centre stage when Ofsted make their judgements. The Governors also have the challenge of replacing the Head following his recent resignation, but this process is already underway and we are optimistic about making an early appointment. We recognise the benefits of belonging to the TTS family of schools, particularly in this, but also in many other situations. Whilst the collaboration between the schools within this family has been advantageous to all concerned it has previously only been on an informal basis. I am pleased to say that we are in discussions to formalise our collaboration with our family of schools through a multi academy trust arrangement and more information will be shared on progress with this in due course.

Whatever changes confront us, parents and students can be reassured that Sandwell Academy will continue to focus all its efforts on inspiring and supporting each student to reach his or her individual potential.

Clive Tonks, Chair of Governors