A different approach to schooling
Learning from the best schools in the country and our experiences in Bedford and elsewhere, we believe that some radical changes are needed to ensure that every student can be better prepared for university and a successful career.
Whilst many of these changes are not innovative in themselves, they are highly effective if applied together, and these include:
- longer school days to allow for more learning time, electives and private study.
- a culture of a no-excuses and firm discipline.
- placing personal responsibility on students rather than teachers.
- teaching every student a musical instrument.
- ensuring all extra-curricular activities are built into the standard school day.
- an emphasis on traditional academic subjects.
- dedicated, focused time for reading every day, especially of classic literature.
- preparing every student for university from day one.
How our Academy will be different, and how it will be the same
Let’s be clear: St Neots Academy will be radically different to the existing local schools in how we operate.
- We will run a longer day – with school facilities available to students from early in the morning until the evening, helping working families with their busy lives, and our students with their studies.
- Students will be free to learn as we will ensure strong, positive discipline – we know that students need an orderly school experience if they are to learn and be happy, and this includes time in AND out of lessons. We believe that all students can behave and thrive, whatever their background or family context – and won’t make excuses for poor behaviour or sloppy attitudes. Through this, we know every child can succeed.
- There will be a major emphasis on the fundamentals of English and maths – with lessons in these every day throughout Years 7 to 11, as they are the key to everything else. There will be a programme whereby all students read and enjoy the greatest there has been in classic literature
- Every student will be prepared for a good university – this is what we want for our own children, and it is what every student deserves, regardless of background. If we prepare students for university and they end up doing something else, then that’s great – but this way they will have all options open to them. We will focus on the traditional, academic subjects that best enable this.
- Every child will take part in extra-curricular activities – the arts, sport, hobbies and fun activities are such an important part of life, and so we will carve out significant time every week for all students to take part in clubs and activities with teachers and community groups.
- Every child will be taught a musical instrument – we believe that the joy of music should not be the preserve of those who can afford to pay for instruments and lessons, so we will make this a core part of the music education that every child receives at St Neots Academy.
Of course, as a state school we will have particular obligations to fulfil like any other school:
- Families will apply to us like every other school, and we will follow the rules on school admissions – we will be a properly comprehensive school that serves its local community.
- We will welcome students of all backgrounds and learning needs – with highly qualified staff, full provision for any students with a special educational need or disability, a qualified SENDCO, and so on.
- We will be accountable like any other state school - we will work closely with the Local Authority, be regulated by the Department for Education, and be inspected by Ofsted.
The school’s location
It is early days still, so we have not yet determined exactly where the school will be. However, we have started the process of identifying potential sites, and as we take the project forward we should be able to draw upon the Department for Education’s support in securing & developing a final choice.
We know for sure that we want to be in, or very close to the boundary of, St Neots itself, in order that it is as easy as possible for all families in St Neots to apply to us.
As we already do in our existing school, we will be running a minibus service around the town in order to assist students who live that bit further away to come to us.
How we will open St Neots Academy
We intend to open the school through the Government’s “free school” programme. This is the way that all new state schools are developed nowadays, and lots of excellent new schools have already opened in this fashion – including our school in Bedford.
We will be submitting an application to the Government at the end of this September. As one would expect given how important schools are in a child’s life, the application process is extremely thorough, and so a final decision will not be made until next spring.
Assuming we are successful, then once the school is approved we will around 18 months to pull everything together in time for a September 2018 opening.
We will keep the community informed as to our progress through this website and regular updates by email, Facebook and Twitter, as well as holding a substantial number of public meetings.
If you wish to stay informed of our progress, please register your interest, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
As the project progresses, we will obviously draw upon the advice and expertise of a larger group of people. However, right now we have formed a small project team made up of individuals with significant experience of great schools.