A News story by Ellena Schuster-Farrell 5 November 2018

We were delighted to welcome the staff and students of Bourne End Academy to the trust in September 2018. Located in Bourne End, Buckinghamshire, the academy becomes the seventh to join our London and Bucks region and is one of three new academies joining the trust this term.

We caught up with new Headteacher Ryan Williams and his team to find out more about the staff, students and community of Bourne End E-ACT Academy.

Managing change

New Headteacher Ryan, who moved from his post at Christ the King College on the Isle of Wight to Bourne End, notes that the new academic year has brought significant change for everyone at the academy.

“It’s been a big change for me personally, but the staff could not have made me feel more welcome. Meanwhile, for the academy, this year there’s not only a new head, but also a new trust. It’s wonderful to see that there’s a real sense of excitement: students are enthusiastic and staff are eager to take the next step.”

Assistant Headteacher Richard Bromham, who has taught at Bourne End for two years, has also been impressed by the academy’s receptiveness to change. He believes that being open and transparent with staff has been key in getting the whole team on board.

“There is always anxiety around change, so making sure that people understand why we’re changing things is important. When people understand the reason behind your decisions, they are more likely to get on board. Our staff have been great because they know that the ultimate goal is to improve the academy for the children we’re teaching.”

“It’s a case of looking at each student as an individual.”

Bourne End is a relatively small secondary academy in a large village, serving students from a range of backgrounds and with varying abilities. The academy also has a higher than average proportion of students with SEND. With such a mixed student body, Ryan and his team believe that focusing on the individual is key in helping students to succeed.

“It’s a case of looking at each student as an individual and helping them to achieve their best. If that’s achieving the best grades, then that’s where we need to help them. Equally, if their dream is to be a rock star, it is our job to help them achieve that!”

As well as understanding the needs of each student, Ryan’s priority is to ensure consistent, high quality teaching across the whole academy.

“For our students to live up to their full potential, we need consistency of practice across the academy. Consistent, quality-first teaching and learning is the number one thing, because that is what drives results, aspirations and achievements up. We are in a unique position to develop and nurture these young people, so we need to make sure we are doing that, and doing that right.”

Building a reputation

In the past, Bourne End has struggled to recruit students due to stiff competition from neighbouring schools: the academy is also in an area where around a third of higher-attaining students opt for grammar schools.  However, this year has seen a much larger intake of students at Year 7, and Assistant Headteacher Richard believes that this is down to Bourne End’s growing reputation.

“We’ve worked to build up our reputation within the community by going in to local primary schools and forming relationships. Our fantastic A Level results have also really helped in making us more attractive to potential students. We’ve partnered with companies like Zebra Technologies, based in Bourne End, which means we can offer interesting trips and opportunities to our students.”

“A bigger network of support”

Ryan and his team have already started visiting other academies in the London and Bucks region, and have been working closely with the regional team to determine how to support the academy.

“We have had the regional team in, talking and working with our staff: that’s been useful, because you learn best from that sort of dialogue. Thanks to the regional team and other academies, we now have a bigger network of support which will enable our staff and students to achieve.”

According to Richard, staff at Bourne End are also looking forward to taking advantage of the development opportunities that are now available to them.

“Our staff members are excited to develop through E-ACT. There are a lot more training opportunities than there were before. Personally, I can’t wait to work with E-ACT to develop me as a leader.”

We’re delighted to welcome Bourne End Academy to the trust, and we are looking forward to working closely with our newest academy in London and Bucks over the coming months.