A News story by Ellena Schuster-Farrell 17 May 2019

In May, the staff and students of Heartlands E-ACT Academy were thrilled to receive not one, not two, but three prestigious awards at the Schools, Students and Teachers (SSAT) Network Educational Outcomes Awards.

Members of the academy’s leadership team were invited to Finham Park School in Coventry, where they were awarded for the academy’s performance in 2018. Heartlands was celebrated for outstanding progress, outstanding attainment and for closing the gap in attainment for disadvantaged students.

The awards were certainly well-deserved. In 2018, 70% of students at Heartlands Academy achieved at least 4+ in English and mathematics at key stage 4, rising from 60% in 2017. An amazing 98% achieved at least a 4+ in English Language.  The academy’s Progress 8 score was significantly above the national average at 0.61.

The academy’s phenomenal achievements are all the more impressive when taking into account the community it serves: over two thirds of students are eligible for Pupil Premium.

We caught up with Jenny Clegg, Head of School, to find out more about the academy’s huge win and just how they did it…

When did you find out that you had won the awards?

Not until the day. We were invited to attend the SSAT Education Outcomes Awards, so we assumed that we had won something! But on the day, we were sat there for ages as other people received their awards and we started to think that we might not have won anything after all. It was only at the end of the ceremony that they announced that we had won three. They had kept us right until the end because we were one of only five schools in the country that had won that many!

How did you feel?

We were thrilled, we were absolutely over the moon. We knew that we had been successful last year but to see it in that context was amazing. It was great to receive all three, but the award for closing the gap for disadvantaged students meant an awful lot to us. That was the one that I was most proud of.

Why do you think Heartlands has been so successful?

It really is down to Mr Choudhury (Regional Education Director and previously Headteacher of Heartlands). He’s turned this academy into a truly outstanding place. He’s given our children such self-belief and sets high expectations and standards for both the staff and students. There is also a relentless focus on Year 11, which really helps. And let’s not forget the students themselves– they work so hard, they have really earned these awards with their hard work. They are so focused on their futures and on what they can achieve.

How does Heartlands help students to achieve?

We offer lots of extra support to students, but fundamentally it’s the quality of teaching and learning and the amazing behaviour and atmosphere throughout the academy that contribute to success. It’s the high expectations set by Mr Choudhury, and it’s our very strong team of staff.

There is so much support for our staff, and the leadership team are very visible. I think everyone that works here is here because they want to make a difference to the lives of disadvantaged students. Everyone believes that our students can achieve, and they do. I’ve been here for 14 years and it has always been a great place to work – but now, it is an amazing place to work.

You received an award for the outstanding progress and attainment of your disadvantaged students – what does the academy do to support these students in particular?

We do everything to a very high standard. We don’t have lots of different initiatives, we have simple things that we do very well. Teachers can teach well and are well supported. There is a clear structure in place – students know what they’re doing every single day.

When it comes to our disadvantaged students, it is quality first teaching that makes the biggest difference, but we complement that with extra things: we provide revision guides, we provide them with the space to work, and we’ve got revision sessions that take place after academy and early in the morning.

Students won’t necessarily have space or support at home so it’s important that we can offer that here – and they do make the most of it. We have the library open for them until 6.00pm and we staff that every night, and you see them using it before and after academy. We offer maths, English and science revision before academy and we also deliver extra classes after academy for all of our subjects. They take up all those opportunities, as well as the classes we put on over the holidays and at the weekends.

 What’s next for Heartlands?

This year we expect even better results, so hopefully there will be more awards… watch this space!