A Thought Piece by Ellena Schuster-Farrell 12 March 2019

In this new series, we’re speaking to parents and carers about what their child’s academy means to them.

Perry Court E-ACT Academy in Bristol experienced an incredible transformation last year, going from just 16% of pupils achieving the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics at key stage 2 to a fantastic 69% – making the academy the most improved in the country.

Here, we catch up with Louise Braithwaite, parent and chair of the academy’s Ambassadorial Advisory Group and her father Ed Morrison MBE, to find out about their experience of Perry Court.

Louise Braithwaite
Parent and chair of the academy’s Ambassadorial Advisory Group

“It’s not a secret that up until a couple of years ago, the reputation of the academy amongst parents and the community was really bad. It was to the point where, as a parent if I said to someone that my children went to Perry Court, they would question why I was sending them there. At some points, I was on the verge of pulling my eldest son out.

This is a really interesting area. You’ve got some children and some families that have very little and some families that are doing quite well. It’s really mixed. The success at Perry Court has helped to bridge that gap between the two somewhat. Children that have had opportunities are coming together with children that don’t and there is a real benefit in that.

“Children that have had opportunities are coming together with children that don’t and there is a real benefit in that.”

There are children at the academy who are very lucky and get to do lots of activities and have experiences at the weekend, but there are lots of children who don’t get to do that. It opens children’s eyes to that fact, but Perry Court also gives all children a chance to have some really fantastic experiences.

Mr Healey and Mrs Marsh are incredible. They’re really changing children’s lives. That sounds like such a big thing to say but a lot of our children don’t have positive role models. I popped in on a Monday morning a while ago and couldn’t believe the focus of the children. I thought to myself, in my office at 9.00am on a Monday, we’re still drinking coffee and talking about the weekend!”

Ed Morrison MBE
Has had three children and two grandchildren at the academy

“The difference in the academy in the last two years has been quite phenomenal. The school went through a difficult period where heads were going in and coming out on quite a regular basis. I think that had a demoralising effect on everybody. The academy serves our local community and that community spirit had really gone.

There is no question that the opinion of the academy has changed in the local community. A number of people living in the community moved their children out of the school because they weren’t happy with the atmosphere. But the improvement in the results last year shows that this has become a happy place of learning again.

“Everything has improved immeasurably since Richard Healey took over as headteacher – whatever he and his staff are doing, it’s working!”

If you went back four or five years ago, there were people at school shows but not very many. It’s quite interesting that in the last two years, you can’t even get in to the hall sometimes. There are a lot more activities going on outside of school for the children now, and the children and people in the community have responded really well to that.

Everything has improved immeasurably since Richard Healey took over as headteacher – whatever he and his staff are doing, it’s working! One-offs are amazing but you need that sustained improvement. I can sense that the discipline, the atmosphere, the feel-good factor and the learning are all there, and that puts Perry Court in a good position for the future.”