Adventure Learning Academies Trust

Category: News

Bright Tribe’s Alde Valley and Colchester Academies celebrate improvement in Progress 8

Placing both schools significantly above the national average for the progress of its students


Bright Tribe, a non-profit making, multi-academy trust, is reporting record results for Alde Valley and Colchester Academies in Progress 8 results – a measurement which benchmarks a student’s progress between the end of Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4 across eight key subjects.



Alde Valley Academy celebrates outstanding Progress 8 results

 Now significantly above the national average for the progress of its students

Alde Valley Academy, Bright Tribe’s secondary school and sixth form, in Leiston, Suffolk celebrated a positive Progress 8 score of +0.46 placing it significantly above the national average for the progress of its students.  Zero is the baseline average score for schools

The school, which is on a firm upward trajectory, was also recognised in its recent Ofsted report as a Good school with Outstanding attributes just four years after being judged ‘Inadequate’ and placed in Special Measures by the Department for Education.

Commenting on the students’ progress, Principal Michael Wilson said, “We are thrilled with our result of +0.46 which shows that we are achieving very significantly above national benchmarks and clearly demonstrates the outstanding quality of teaching and learning that takes place within our school. Students at Alde Valley achieve significantly better than their prior attainment would suggest for all groups of learners.

“This goes hand-in-hand with the excellent results the school achieved at GCSE level this summer and represents a truly phenomenal outcome for us.”

This judgement marks the latest in a series of successes for the school which this summer included 62% of GCSE students gaining a grade 4 and above in mathematics and English combined.

Colchester Academy celebrates Progress 8 results – placing the school above the national average for the progress of its students

Colchester Academy, a vibrant Bright Tribe academy in Colchester, Essex, providing outstanding learning for 11–16 year-olds, celebrated marked improvements in its Progress 8 results of +0.23 – placing the school above the national average for the progress of its students. Zero is the baseline average score for schools.

Earlier this year students at Colchester Academy also celebrated marked improvements in its GCSE results which showed improved academic measures from the previous year’s results as well as gaps between key inclusion groups narrowing significantly. Individually a number of students performed particularly well, celebrating A* results as well as grade 8s or above in the new maths and English GCSEs.

Fiona Pierson, Principal at Colchester Academy commented, “We are absolutely thrilled with our Progress 8 results and delighted to see so many students achieve so well, with many outperforming their predicted targets. Staff and students alike have worked incredibly hard throughout the year and I am delighted with the success the school has achieved.  I wish all students the very best of luck in the next stage of their education.”

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Whoopi the therapy dog recruited to help pupils at Gulval School in Penzance with a diverse curriculum

Children returning to Gulval School, Adventure Learning Academy Trust, in Penzance, Cornwall, this term found a welcome new addition when they walked through the gates – Whoopi the therapy dog. She joins a big family of animals including twelve chickens, two rabbits and two pygmy goats.

Research studies in both Britain and America1 have concluded that having a dog in a school classroom can have many positive benefits. The presence of animals teaches responsibility, raises self-esteem, improves attendance, decreases anxiety and stress, supports children’s emotional and social development and brings the school community closer together.

Animals have played a key role in Gulval School’s transformation from Inadequate to Good in just three years. The school was in Special Measures but the appointment of new Principal, Paul Baker turned its fortunes around.

It is now a Good school and was rated Outstanding by Ofsted for the behaviour, safety and the welfare of its pupils, Ofsted inspectors commented that, “The varied and diverse curriculum offers pupils many exciting opportunities to learn. The use of the outdoors is a particular strength” and that “The Principal leads with a relentless ambition for excellence. He leads by example to create a haven where pupils make good progress.”

Since joining Adventure Learning Academy Trust and the appointment of the Principal, SATs results at Gulval have risen dramatically. Its Key Stage 2 results are significantly above national averages in Reading, Writing, Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar and Maths and the school is now an increasingly popular choice with parents.

Whoopi’s exact duties are yet to be decided but she is already impacting on the social and emotional development of pupils and acting as a Listening Dog, supporting children to improve their skills by reading to her. Research in the USA shows that reading to a dog can lead to an increase in reading levels, word recognition and more enthusiasm for reading and writing.

When she’s not at school, Whoopi is at home with Blue Class teacher Mr Goddard. He introduced Whoopi to his wife during his speech on their wedding day which upstaged the best man completely!

Paul Baker, the Principal at Gulval, said: “Whoopi started school at just 14 weeks which makes her the youngest member of our school community. She is very cute, full of fun and the children love having her around.  She has fitted in very well and I am sure she will be a real asset to our school.”

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A ‘relentless ambition for excellence’ pays off in SATs results at Gulval School

Progress in reading and writing was particularly strong

Gulval School, part of the Adventure Learning Academy Trust (ALAT), in Gulval, Penzance, is celebrating excellent SATs results for the third year running.

At Key Stage 2 the number of children meeting expected standards in both reading and writing have risen from 85% to 92%.

An inspection was carried out in May 2017 and positive comments made in the report have been reflected in the school’s SATs results. Ofsted inspectors had noted: “An increased focus on developing pupils’ mathematical reasoning skills is leading to strongly improving outcomes.” They were quite right as this year there has been a rise from 62% to 88% of children meeting expected standards in maths.

Lower down the school highlights include a rise in Early Years Foundation Stage from 75% to 79% for Good Level of Development and the phonics results rose from 67 to 84%.

Paul Baker, Principal at Gulval School said: “We have an inspirational and dedicated team of professionals who are committed and driven to providing a first class education where learning is adventurous and challenging.  This ensures that all our pupils aim high and have the very best possible chances of success.”

Mary McKeeman, Chief Operating Officer, Bright Tribe Trust, commented, “This is an excellent result for Gulval School and really reflects the hard work put in by staff at the school as well as the support of the regional team at ALAT. I would like to congratulate everyone at the school, including the pupils on this excellent result!”

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Hard work pays off as Gulval Primary School officially recognised to be a ‘good school’ in latest Ofsted

With ‘outstanding’ for ‘personal development, behaviour and welfare’

Gulval School, an Adventure Learning Academy Trust (ALAT) school, in Gulval, Penzance, has been awarded a ‘good’ Ofsted rating with ‘outstanding’ attributes just four years after being judged ‘inadequate’ and placed in special measures by the Department for Education. Ofsted inspectors commented that since the appointment of new Principal, Paul Baker, there has been a renewed faith in the school and that as a result of rigorous school improvement the quality of teaching, learning and assessment has rapidly improved. Inspectors stated that “the principal’s vision and moral purpose has created an inclusive school where expectations are high”.

Factors contributing to the school’s transformation include not only a spotlight on progress in Maths and English but also a focus on improvement across the entire breadth of the curriculum, with opportunities for children to get involved in events such as ‘expedition week’ which saw over 80 pupils walk 12 miles to raise money for the school. Community events such as popular ‘Big Dig Days’ also give a chance for parents and other members of the community to get involved in the life of the school. Ofsted commented that “the varied and diverse curriculum offers pupils many exciting opportunities to learn. The use of the outdoors is a particular strength”.

Results at the school have also risen since its conversion to an academy, with Gulval celebrating its best ever results in 2015. In 2016 the school enjoyed outstanding results for a second year running, sitting comfortably in the top 5% of all schools nationally for reading and writing and the top 25% for Maths. Ofsted made reference to the dedicated staff who “share the principal’s passion and high expectations” stating that “teachers go to great lengths to make learning accessible and fun for the pupils”.

Following the inspection Ofsted representatives commented that “the school’s work to promote pupils’ personal development and welfare is outstanding” and that “Pupils enter the school at the beginning of the day with broad smiling faces. Lessons are typically a hive of buzz and excitement. There is an air of harmony and happiness as pupils play together in the vibrant and enriched environment.”

Inspectors also commented on the outstanding progress in the behaviour of pupils noting that: “Pupils have a powerful voice in this school. They are outstanding ambassadors for the school. Their eyes light up as they speak with immense pride and genuine enthusiasm about their school. They truly live out the school’s values of ‘Respect yourself, respect one another and respect the environment’.”

Paul Baker, Principal at Gulval School said, “I am absolutely delighted to see the hard work and dedication committed by my staff team formally recognised. This report demonstrates that by ensuring a real breadth of curriculum and focusing on the whole child, by setting high expectations, driving an agenda of positivity with a ‘can do’ attitude that anything is possible. Through this we have been able to achieve this success for our community – a message we strive to instil in our pupils every day”.

Mary McKeeman, Chief Executive Officer at Adventure Learning Academy Trust commented, “This is an excellent result for Gulval School and really reflects the hard work put in by staff at the school as well as the support of the regional team at ALAT. I would like to congratulate everyone at the school, including the pupils on this excellent result!”

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Altarnun Primary School pupils celebrate end of term success at Cornwall Athletics Final

Evie Williams wins gold medal and becomes the county champion at the 60 metre sprint

Students at Altarnun Primary School celebrated success in this year’s Cornwall Athletics Final at Par Running Track. Over 300 children from 22 different schools attended the day making it a hotly contested event. Ten children made up the team from Altarnun School making them the smallest, but certainly not the least enthusiastic team at the competition.

Events took place throughout the day with field events consisting of long jump, standing triple jump and vortex throw, and track events including short distance sprints, relays and long distances of 800m and 1500m.

Within the sprints three pupils from Altarnun Primary; William Carter, Toby Adams and Evie Williams, progressed from their heats to the finals. Once the finals started all eyes were on the sprinters with the runners showing the grit and determination needed within such a high-calibre event. Evie Williams, who won her heat, had a lot of pressure of her shoulders as the fastest qualifier going into the final however she handled the pressure superbly winning the gold medal and becoming the county champion at the 60 metre sprint.

The were also exceptional performances from the school’s relay team and long-distance runners with two pupils finishing in the top 10 in the 600 metre and 800 metre runs. Altarnun Primary also enjoyed success in the field events with pupil Shannon finishing third in the Vortex win, gaining another medal for the school.

Sarah Dinsdale, Class Teacher Altarnun Primary commented, “After visiting this event last year, we understood that the level of competition would be high, something that would push the children after their successes this year at Launceston’s athletics and within Cross-Country races.

The performance by all the children, through their efforts within their own events and the support they showed to their teammates, was a delight to see. We look forward to returning to this event yet again, and seeing where our athletes may progress further.”

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Using Thrive in our primary schools

For all of our schools, our first priority is to care for every child in a secure, friendly environment enabling them to skip into school and leap into life!

Here at ALAT, we have embraced the Thrive Approach for our primary schools to support all children’s emotional and social learning throughout their school day.

We are watching our children thrive and grow in confidence right in front of our very eyes as we encourage and teach them to face new challenges, become more independent and believe in their own abilities.

What is the Thrive Approach?

Children cannot always put their needs into words, but the way children behave can tell us a lot about how they are feeling. The Thrive Approach draws on the latest research from current neuroscience, recent attachment research, current studies of effective learning and current models of child development – in order to help the school to understand the needs being signalled by children’s behaviour. It gives us targeted strategies and activities to help them re-engage with learning and life.

Why do we need Thrive? 

Unfortunately, like all of us at some point in our lives, children may face challenges that knock them off course. What is needed during this time is understanding and support to get them back on track. Many children will respond to the care, understanding and support given by parents, family, friends and teachers. However, some children need a little bit extra.

What is a Thrive Action Plan? 

A Thrive Action Plan is a plan of activities tailored to support a child’s identified social and emotional learning targets. The activities are one-to-one and small group relational, play and arts-based activities designed to help the child feel better about him/herself; become more resilient and resourceful; form trusting, rewarding relationships; be compassionate and empathetic; and/or be able to overcome difficulties and setbacks. They might include playing in the sand, puppets, cooking, painting, model making, exploring difficult situations through role-play or comic strips, playing strategy games or projects focusing on the child’s own interests. Action Plans are shared with parents and they are encouraged to do some of the activities at home if possible. They are reviewed regularly to see the progress children have made.

So who gets Thrive? 

Everyone! Though they might not realise it. All of our pupils have access to regular class-based Thrive activities; most art and sport activities are taught within the Thrive Approach and we want to use specific whole class Thrive PSHE across our curriculum.

What makes our schools Thrive? 

We don’t consider Thrive to be an intervention for just a few children, we consider it to be a whole-school approach. We believe that all behaviour is communication and that communication needs to be understood and supported. Thrive feeds into everything we do; assemblies, getting to know everyone and their families, sharing all achievements not just academic ones, celebrating our diversity and our collective spirit play-times and of course learning time.

If you want to know more about Thrive, please visit the Thrive Approach website.


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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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