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Spotlight on Derby Pride Academy

On 23rd January 2015, twelve leaders from Free Schools across the country came together for a visit to Derby Pride Academy, the first Alternative Provision free school to be judged ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted

The event was organised by Derby Pride Academy and New Schools Network.  New Schools Network is a charity that aims to improve the quality of education by increasing the number of independent, innovative schools within the state sector.  In the last year their services have expanded to include support to existing and open free schools.

“ The “spotlight visits’ are a new series of events that provide free schools  with the opportunity to come together, have a tour around a successful school and meet other free schools.   Derby Pride Academy is the second Spotlight visit in the series after a successful visit to Reach Academy Feltham last November, which was the first all-through free school to be, rated Outstanding by Ofsted.” commented Abbie Clark from New Schools Network.

The visit included a presentation by Ms Whelan, Executive Principal, a tour of the school, some spotlight sessions and the chance to discuss observations, ideas and experiences with the staff from the School, Derby County Community Trust and the other free school leaders present. There was also the opportunity during the tour to discuss attendance, behaviour and rewards systems with Karen Hayes, the Associate Principal of the school. 

The visit was the ideal opportunity for other schools to find out how the school was able to demonstrate 'Outstanding' progress to Ofsted inspectors within an Alternative Provision setting, how Alternative Provision schools can operate alongside mainstream schools effectively and how sport can be used to engage young people.

The feedback from all the visitors was extremely positive, and they all felt they had gained a lot from the visit.

 “It’s been a fabulous day.  The learning around quality assurance will have a massive impact on our own recording systems.  It’s really reassuring to know that you are not a million miles away from where you should be.  I am so glad I came” - Annette Turner from Southend YMCA

It’s been brilliant and I have taken away about a dozen things to go back and tweak.  Lots and lots of ideas” - Jeremy Dodd from the Academy of Central Bedfordshire

“A massive thank you, the best of these events I have been to” – Chris Mulqueen Aspire Academy

“It’s great to see the way other people work.  There are a lot of differences.  The feel and design of the building, the focus on subject and the Partnerships are all different to us as we are a stand-alone Academy” Chris Manze, Stone Soup Academy

Karen Hayes, the Associate Principal of the school was really pleased with how the visit had gone.

  “It was great to welcome some of our fellow Alternative Provision providers to the Academy.  The students welcomed our guests and were able to show some of the fabulous work they have created.  Our visitors were particularly interested in our regular rewards scheme for students; students qualify for reward twice per half term if their behaviour and attendance meets our threshold.  Our visitors commented on how calm and friendly the atmosphere was throughout the Academy and how enthusiastic students were about their work”

Sarah Pearson, Director of External Relations of New Schools Network commented.

“The event was an opportunity for Alternative Provision free schools to come together to exchange ideas and experiences while seeing first-hand what makes Derby Pride Academy ‘Outstanding’. Across the country free schools are more likely to be judged outstanding than other state schools and are helping to raise standards for some of our most vulnerable young people.”