Adventure Learning Academies Trust

Category: News

How we’re supporting teaching and learning in our primary schools

Our new Teaching and Learning Lead, Simon Danby has been doing some fantastic work with our primary schools since joining in September, including working with our enthusiastic and talented teachers to develop tailored professional development to enhance their teaching and support progress.

This has been very productive, with all staff keen to action their ideas. On working with the schools, Simon says: “It’s been a thoroughly enjoyable experience so far, and inspirational to work with our senior leaders and principals on a day to day basis, assisting them with pushing through ideas to raise standards and move the schools forward.

“I will be spending quite a lot of time at Altarnun Primary School in Cornwall in the coming months, and have already started to look at developing the guided reading and phonics sessions there.”

Working for Adventure Learning Academy Trust (ALAT), Simon’s role is a bridge across the Trust’s primary schools and he has been sharing the good practice that takes place within each school amongst teaching staff and principals. Simon continues: “We are in the process of trialling a forum to encourage staff across the Trust to further share ideas and plan resources. The recent Maths Moderation Day was a great example of our schools working together and networking to share ideas and expertise, as well as to validate levels.”

Simon has spent considerable time developing the marking and feedback policies at Tywardreath School and Gulval School, working closely with the senior leadership teams, and has followed this up with planning and work scrutiny to raise standards and make sure that policies are followed correctly at staff meetings. Simon continues to support schools and is currently working with subject leaders so that they can monitor the books as effectively as possible and have confidence to review them independently.

At Tywardreath School, Simon was tasked with improving the learning environment and has given much more focus to teaching and learning in the staff room, and looking at how the school can improve and share what it does well. Simon talks us through his process for this: “Initially I worked with the Year 5 teacher, who was very responsive and made behaviour charts, role play areas and outdoor topic displays. This has worked particularly well and the staff at Tywardreath School are all taking this on board with classrooms and entrances of a high standard, geared towards stimulating and improving children’s topic work.

“Science is another area on which I have spent some time to improve within our schools, having the opportunity to work with teachers to raise the subject’s profile and make sure that it is covered effectively by staff in schools. It would be lovely to see some of our science trail park ideas come to fruition in the schools in the not too distant future – some of these are already starting to happen.”

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Gulval School pupils and staff celebrate best ever SATs results

Pupils and staff at Gulval School, Penzance are celebrating after achieving another year of amazing SAT results.

Key Stage 2 results are significantly above Cornwall and national averages in Reading, Writing, Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar and Maths in every measure including progress and attainment.

According to the Data and Statistics Team at Cornwall County Council, Gulval School are in the top 21% of schools in Cornwall for progress at Key Stage Two in 2016 in Maths. Also the Penzance School are in the top 10% of schools in Cornwall for progress at Key Stage Two for Reading and Writing.

In just 2 years, and since conversion and the appointment of Principal Paul Baker the pupils numbers have increased by 26% and first choice reception applications for September 2016 increased by 96%, a direct result of the progress children are making and the breadth of opportunities they have here in school.

Principal Paul Baker, said “We are absolutely delighted with these results and are incredibly proud of our pupils and staff who have all worked incredibly hard throughout the year. We have seen continued improvements not only with our Year 6 results but also with our phonics results as well which are now above the national average. Our Key Stage 2 results are fantastic; we have seen improvements in every area. The future is looking incredibly bright for all our pupils.”

Gulval School joined Adventure Learning Academy Trust (ALAT) in June 2014 and since joining has gone from strength to strength, Heidi Hoskin, Executive Principal for ALAT says: “Gulval School has been on a real journey over the last couple of years. Everyone has worked really hard and these results are a testament to our pupils and staff. Gulval is rapidly becoming the number one school of the area and rightly so.”

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How to do an Inset Day Adventure Learning style…

Over the last two days Gulval School, Penzance,  have hosted an Adventure Learning Training and Staff Development day for colleagues from Tywardreath School, Liskeard Hillfort Primary School and Altarnun Primary School.  Alongside Cornwall Outdoors, staff from Gulval School put on various workshops and activities to inspire and test.

Principals, teachers and teaching assistants all rolled their sleeves up and got stuck in, as they developed new skills, overcame fears, stepped outside of their comfort zone, banked a wealth of knowledge and exciting new ideas, made friends, shared resources and as a result have planned even more exciting learning opportunities for pupils.

Andy Barclay at Cornwall Outdoors said “Everyone was fantastic, determined, committed and always ready and willing to have a go! Lucky children.”

Organiser and Principal of Gulval School, Paul Baker said “Thanks to Commando Joe’s and Cornwall Outdoors for leading exciting workshops and sharing your wealth of experience, knowledge and expertise with us all. Our journey towards excellence continues!”

Claire McColville, Principal of Tywardreath School, had to say “It was one of the best training days I’ve ever been on, it was both inspiring and invigorating.  Cornwall Outdoors were just full of fantastic ideas and eyes were opened to endless possibilities as to how we can further enrich our curriculum. Having the opportunity to work with our colleagues from other schools within ALAT was tremendous.”

Katie Dalton, Principal of  Altarnun Primary School said, “Staff spent an exciting 2 days of joint Outdoor Learning INSET training and are keen to bring back many of these new skills into school, so we can all set off on our journey of adventurous learning together. Already, Altarnun staff have mapped out a short-term, medium-term and long-term plan for this and this began with an outdoor session on the heart and its circulatory system for Class 3, with children playing key roles and passing cones around to represent blood. This was followed up in class later, as they explored a real pigs’ heart first hand.”

Adventure Learning Academy Trust (ALAT) firmly believe that learning through adventure has a proven track record in developing those personal qualities – independence, problem-solving ability, discipline, working within a team and confidence – which are in demand in the modern workplace and underpin successful social development. Learning through adventure provides a reliable means for developing a distinctive school ethos, supportive of personal development, the achieving of high standards and encouraging student and parental choice.

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Bright Tribe Trust and ALAT confirm improved results across all schools

Sister multi-academy trusts Bright Tribe Trust and Adventure Learning Academy Trust (ALAT) are celebrating record GCSE results this year across their four secondary schools.

The Trusts as a whole have improved their two key measures of percentage of students achieving five or more A* – C grades including English and Maths which has increased by five percent (5%) and the percentage of students achieving A* – C grades in English and Maths combined, which has increased by eight per cent (8%).

Alde Valley Academy, a Bright Tribe Trust secondary school in Leiston in Suffolk, is hoping to be the most improved school in the county with a “staggering” thirty per cent (30%) improvement from its 2015 results with sixty-eight per cent (68%) achieving A* – C grades in combined English and Maths.

In addition to these “transformational” results, sixty per cent (60%) of students gained five or more A* – C grades (including English and Maths) which is a twenty-three per cent (23%) increase from 2015.

Earlier this year the Trust appointed Mr Jeremy Rowe as Executive Principal for the south east region. Mr Rowe was previously Headteacher at Sir John Leman High School in Beccles, Suffolk where he led the school for eight years to become one of the most prestigious and sought- after secondary schools in East Anglia.

In June 2016, Mr Rowe pledged that he would work with the school and Bright Tribe Trust to deliver these same results to Alde Valley Academy, saying “we will make it the most improved school in the county by August 2016”. Today, after making his pledge in June, Mr Rowe said “Today’s GCSE results have exceeded all expectations and we are confident that this could potentially make Alde Valley Academy the most improved school in the county, if not across the whole region of East Anglia. I am delighted to be able to say we have fulfilled our promise to the local community and I am confident that Alde Valley Academy will now be seen as the academic school of choice in the area.”

Both Trusts are also celebrating great results at Fowey River Academy, an ALAT secondary school in Cornwall, where the academy has achieved some “drastically” improved GCSE exam results this year with fifty-six per cent (56%) of students gaining five or more A*-C grades including English and Maths, which is almost a ten per cent (10%) increase from the 2015 results.

Colchester Academy, a Bright Tribe Trust secondary school in Essex, saw fifty per cent (50%) of students achieving A* – C grades in English and Maths combined – ten per cent (10%) over the national government target and forty-seven per cent (47%) achieving A* – C grades including English and Maths.

The Whitehaven Academy, also a Bright Tribe Trust secondary school in Cumbria, has seen improvements with forty-four per cent (44%) achieving A* – C grades in English and Maths – an eight per cent (8%) improvement from the school’s 2015 results.

Mary McKeeman, Director of School Improvement at Bright Tribe Trust said: “We are delighted with this improvement in GCSE results and are very proud of all our students. We have an excellent team across the country supporting our schools and strong leadership and staffing structures now in place within each academy. We are seeing some real progress in these schools and, with many now seen as the school of choice in their areas. These are certainly exciting times for all of our schools and we’re looking forward to continuing to work with them.”



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Survival School comes to Gulval School

Children at Gulval School, Penzance are getting hands on with their learning this term. 2016 sees the new Survival School launch at Gulval School. It is a chance for the students to get immersed in real life learning.

Survival School is a specialised learning approach that sits within and compliments the wider context of outdoor and classroom education. Gulval School are walking distance from a local wood which forms both the playground and classroom for the school.

The 12 week programme will see its students graduating with skills which will set them up for life such as resilience, determination, team work and collaborative learning. This is something that the school’s Principal, Paul Baker feels strongly about; “Our pupils will be learning to build shelters and lighting fires which is no mean feat without matches! The Survival School will encourage out pupils to evaluate perceived risks, explore and use their own initiate and drive their own learning and development. These are life skills which are needed in today’s society.”

At the end of the 12 week programme the students will be having their very own graduation in the woods where carers, parents and families will be invited to attend. There will also be representatives from the Adventure Learning Academy Trust (ALAT) and Commando Joes.

Gulval are certainly putting the “adventure into learning”.

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Fowey River Academy Win Chance To Speak Astronaut Tim Peake

Students and staff of Fowey River Academy have been left feeling ‘over the moon’ after hearing news that they have successfully won the opportunity to speak to Major Tim Peake live.

 A group of Year 9 Astronomy students, led by teacher Laura Davies, signed up to take part in the UK Space Agency and European Space Agency funded ‘I’m an Astronaut, Get me Out of Here’ school competition.

I’m an Astronaut is a free online activity that gives school students across the UK a chance to meet the team behind a human space mission.

The competition consisted of four rounds (Training, Launch, Orbit and Touchdown) and a final. In each round five members of the Astro Support Team: scientists, engineers, technicians and researchers, met and interacted with the school students. Each school must nominate one category to enter.

In each of the rounds, The Astro Support Team nominated one winning school. Fowey River Academy was the nominated successful school from the Launch category. As a winning school, Fowey will take part in the final live chat with Tim Peake when he returns from the ISS towards the summer.

Laura Davies said, “I am absolutely thrilled that my students have been a part of this initiative. It was incredibly exciting just to take part in the first chat with the four different scientists, now to think that they will be chatting to Tim himself is fantastic. They have followed his mission from the beginning, studying how he trained, and watching him blast off live. I cannot wait to see what questions they come up with.”

Principal Martin Dale, said that is has been such a great aspirational experience for all students involved. “This activity has introduced our students to the wide range of careers within the space industry from researchers, technicians and engineers and it’s hoped that this experience will inspire them.”

Final details of when the live chat will take place are yet to be released, but in the meantime congratulations Fowey River Academy.

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Top 10 tips to help teachers use data effectively

An interesting article in the Guardian yesterday – with input from our education technology partner The Knowledge Network – read it here.

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Instructional Round – hosted by Altarnun Primary School

Instructional rounds - Altarnun

From left to right – Ray Newberry, Claire McColville, Paul Baker, Prof David Hopkins and Dr Tim Cook.

Principals from across all of ALAT’s primary academies ascended on Altarnun Primary School yesterday for an Instructional Round led by internationally renowned author, scholar and ALAT’s Director of Education Professor David Hopkins.

Instructional rounds; a practice adapted to education from the field of medicine, embodies a specific set of ideas about how practitioners can work together to solve common problems and improve their practice. In the education context, it is designed to help schools support high-quality teaching and learning for all students. Instructional Rounds strategically connect schools within the Trust and builds a collaborative network of educators who learn from one another about improving teaching and learning.

Yesterday’s event included a combination of classroom walkthroughs, observations with discussion and feedback led by Prof Hopkins.

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It actually is Rocket Science for two of our Academies!

Pupils at Fowey River Academy and Gulval School are preparing to become space biologists and embark on a voyage of discovery by growing seeds that have been into space.

In September, 2kg of rocket seeds were flown to the International Space Station (ISS) on Soyuz 44S where they will spend several months in microgravity before returning to Earth in March 2016. The seeds have been sent as part of Rocket Science, an educational project launched by the RHS Campaign for School Gardening and the UK Space Agency.

Both Fowey River Academy and Gulval School will be one of up to 10,000 schools to receive a packet of 100 seeds from space, which they will grow alongside seeds that haven’t been to space and measure the differences over seven weeks. The students won’t know which seed packet contains which seeds until all results have been collected by the RHS Campaign for School Gardening and analysed by professional biostatisticians.

The out-of-this-world, nationwide science experiment will enable the students to think more about how we could preserve human life on another planet in the future, what astronauts need to survive long-term missions in space and the difficulties surrounding growing fresh food in challenging climates.

Miss Davies from Fowey River says: “We are very excited to be taking part in Rocket Science. This experiment is a fantastic way of teaching our students to think more scientifically and share their findings with the whole school.”

Mrs Welch from Gulval says: “We are delighted that Gulval school have been chosen to receive these seeds from space and can not wait to get growing. This is a great opportunity for all our pupils to be involved with an international experiment that links to our new, adventurous and exciting curriculum.”

Rocket Science is just one educational project from a programme developed by the UK Space Agency to celebrate British ESA astronaut Tim Peake’s Principia mission to the ISS and inspire young people to look into careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects, including horticulture.

Follow the project on Twitter: @RHSSchools #RocketScience

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Friends, family and staff of Gulval School unite!

Friends, family and staff from Gulval School all came together as a united community this week to help improve the school’s outdoor space.

On Saturday friends, family and staff all come together to help bring the schools outdoor space to life. With over 30 people in attendance, there was plenty to do. From weeding, planting, building raised flower beds and painting. The foundations for the schools new poly tunnel were laid and along with a tyre play park too. An area of the playground has had a stage built along with seating.

Principal of Gulval School, Paul Baker, commented “I must say a huge thank you to everyone that helped on the day. It was by far one of the best community, team, family days I have ever experienced.  To see the looks on the children’s faces on Monday morning was such a great way to start our week, so many excited children and so many broad smiles.”

This recent effort is just stage one of Paul Bakers vision for the school’s outside space. There are plans for a chicken run, and the school is currently recruiting for student chicken farmers, the eggs the chickens lay will be sold at the school gate with all funds going back into the school. Joining the chickens will be a small animal park which will house rabbits and Guinea pigs, the park is currently being designed by Green Class.

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