A News story by Ellena Schuster-Farrell 26 September 2018

We were thrilled to welcome the staff and students of Royton and Crompton School to the trust in September 2018. Located in Oldham, Royton and Crompton E-ACT Academy is within close proximity of fellow E-ACT academy, The Oldham Academy North.

We caught up with Headteacher Neil Hutchinson to find out more about our newest addition to the North region.

Significant changes

Royton and Crompton E-ACT Academy is the fifth academy in our North region and one of three new academies joining the trust in September 2018. It is a large secondary academy, serving more than 1,000 students aged 11 to 16.

Royton and Crompton has undergone significant change in recent years. In the past, the school had a reputation for challenging pupil behaviour and was generally seen to be underperforming. In June 2016 Neil Hutchinson, who has experience of working in challenging schools, came on board as headteacher.

“There was a number of serious issues here. Children were underachieving drastically, behaviour had become a major issue, teachers had no training and had not been invested in, staff absence levels were through the roof and the buildings needed investment. I’ve worked in some tough schools, but Royton and Crompton was in a really bad way.”Neil Hutchinson, Headteacher

“Confidence in Royton and Crompton is growing”

By December 2017, Neil had established a new leadership team and was beginning to make a number of positive changes. The team put in place rigorous systems for behaviour and classroom management and ensured that lessons were being monitored for quality and consistency by subject leaders. According to Neil, setting high expectations for staff and students was key – even with something as simple as uniform.

“For the first time in five years, the academy is oversubscribed. Within the community, confidence in Royton and Crompton is growing. And it’s because of things like changing the uniform: there used to be a sweatshirt uniform here but now we have a blazer, tie and a badge. The students look sharp when they come in and we’re meticulous with picking that up at the gate. It sets a standard for the day.”

A broader curriculum

Another key change implemented by the team was broadening the curriculum, which Neil believes has led to greater student satisfaction.

“There was a really academic curriculum previously but we’ve made it a broader curriculum now. We’ve got vocational studies and opportunities for young people who find academia isn’t the route for them, and we’ve found that the students are starting to talk more positively about school.”

“We must help to open the door to new experiences.”

Like some other E-ACT academies, Royton and Crompton serves a high percentage of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, with almost half of its pupils eligible for Pupil Premium. But for Neil, being classed as disadvantaged should not mean that students miss out on enriching activities.

“I’ve seen all facets of education and I want the children here to get the best of the independent sector and the state sector, but for free. Education isn’t just about the academic and the classroom, it’s about cultural experiences and social interactions. I expect all my staff and students to aspire to try new things. We must help to open the door to those new experiences.”

To achieve this, the team have worked with parents to fundraise for exciting school trips, like the recent geography and drama field trip to New York. Neil is keen that every student who wants to attend a trip should be able to, regardless of their family’s financial situation.

Royton and Crompton has also partnered with the Ministry of Defence to introduce their own Combined Cadet Force, which gives students the opportunity to take part in educational and adventurous activities like team trips and camps. The academy has now been recognised by the Department for Education and the British Army as being a flag-bearer for cadet forces in state schools.

Working with E-ACT

With so many improvements already underway, Neil and his team are positive about the future.

“The relationship we’ve developed with E-ACT already gives me confidence. As we go forward, the trust will be able to support and enhance the systems that we’ve put in place to improve the academy – they’re my sort of trust.”

We’re delighted to welcome Royton and Crompton to the trust, and we are looking forward to working closely with our newest academy over the coming months.