Forced academisation is a hot topic at the moment so after the somewhat turbulent journey of St Giles CE Primary School it is worth pausing to take stock of our experience.
Although our conversion to Academy Status was forced upon us, when we finally became an academy many of those involved were relieved that the uncertainties of the previous two years were finally over.
Through this uncertainty we always felt that we had the support of the Derby Diocese as we would remain a church school regardless of the final decision. During the ‘consultation’ David Channon put forward the case for us joining the Derby Diocesan Academy Trust (DDAT) in a very balanced way and this was appreciated by parents and staff alike. We felt reassured that if becoming an academy was going to be the final decision we would be backed by someone who was on our side.
Our conversion in September 2015 went so smoothly that it passed unnoticed by many at school. “Is the school an academy now?” was a question we were often asked.
Parents who have two children at St Giles had this to say about their experience, "We think it's amazing how the parents and staff have pulled together to provide a seamless and happy transition, you wouldn't even know the school had changed to Academy status. With very little impact on the education and happiness of the children. We as a family have only ever been concerned about our children's happiness and we have seen them thrive at St Giles forming great bonds with other pupils and teachers alike".
Most changes were behind the scenes and not obvious unlike the wonderful improvement to our EYFS outdoor area. The new canopy and mud kitchen were only possible because of a successful ‘Capital Improvement Fund’ bid made by the Trust on our behalf.
It has been sad to no longer see some of our friends from the Local Authority around school but they have been replaced by equally valued support and scrutiny from the Trust. Mark Mallender and Declan McCauley are regular visitors and we have made new friends among the other schools in the Trust which continues to grow.
As a school our transition has been a smooth one and we appreciate that some schools won't find this. The new local governing body, who took up their posts in September, has been extremely busy consulting about the future vision and direction for our school. Our ethos matches that of DDAT so there were no nasty surprises. We all want a rounded education, with continuous improvement while maintaining the happiness of our children.
While the discussions about academy schools will continue locally and nationally, at St Giles School, together with DDAT, our accountability is to our children and parents and we feel we are ahead of the game. We are focused, have a clear vision and a new confidence.
Year 6 SATs are now over & well done to all Year 6 for the perseverance and resilience they showed last week. Every morning on the day of the SATs tests Mrs Rogers provided and served her Year 6 breakfast in the hall making sure they were ready for the morning.
Mrs Rogers said, "We emphasised to Year 6, as we do in all lessons, 100% effort but not to worry about the tests. It's about balance and encouragement. After each test we made the most of the outdoor learning, spending time outside to relax and reflect after SATS, developing the vegetable garden and enhancing our sporting skills by getting the table tennis tables out in our outdoor learning environment. We also checked out some science games on the laptops."
"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much" ― Helen Keller