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Links between parental engagement and pupil outcomes explored at governance conference
27 November 2019
The University of Brighton Academies Trust held its annual Governance Conference on 16 November 2019. It welcomed Trustees and Local Board members from the Trust’s family of 15 infant, primary and secondary academies in Sussex.

Focused on parental engagement, the conference launched with a keynote presentation from Ruth Lowe, External Affairs Manager for Parentkind; a charity that aims to champion the ways that parents can participate in education. Ruth’s presentation explored how engaging with parents/carers and the local community affects the educational outcomes, behaviour and attendance of children. 

Next, education pioneer and former Head Teacher, Gloria Hyatt MBE facilitated a workshop that focused on the practicalities of how to effectively engage with parents as a way of improving outcomes for pupils. 

Sam Coates, Executive Director of Strategy, University of Brighton Academies Trust said: “The Department for Education has recently placed greater emphasis on the role of governance in the important area of parental and community engagement. This is one of the key functions of our Local Boards so we welcomed the opportunity to explore with experts how we can make improvements. I look forward to seeing plans being put in to action to help our pupils achieve excellence.”
Pupils “bubble with enthusiasm” at Desmond Anderson Primary Academy
19 November 2019
Desmond Anderson Primary Academy in Crawley has received a Good rating from the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) following its latest inspection.

Ofsted noted the Academy is a school where pupils “bubble with enthusiasm about coming to school” and where “everyone is respected”. 

The positive role of leaders and the good behaviour of pupils was also observed: “Leaders have improved the teaching of reading, writing and mathematics” and “pupils discuss their work sensibly in lessons…no time is wasted in classrooms by off-task behaviour”.

The report emphasised the pride pupils take in their school and their community and noted that they “know it is a safe place where staff treat them very well and a good place to learn and play”. 

Managey Powys, Principal of Desmond Anderson Primary Academy, said: “It is wonderful that the enthusiastic and positive culture of our school is reflected in this report. I would like to thank all our staff, parents and carers, pupils, local board volunteers and local community for their support. I very much look forward to continuing to develop our school as a place where children are excited and passionate about their learning.”

Desmond Anderson Primary Academy joined the University of Brighton Academies Trust, sponsored by the University of Brighton, in 2017. The Ofsted report also noted: “The trust has been instrumental in helping the school to improve” and that “staff enjoy working at this school, they feel that leaders take care of their wellbeing and provide helpful training.”

Dr John Smith, Chief Executive, University of Brighton Academies Trust, said: "I am delighted to congratulate Desmond Anderson Primary Academy on this Good judgement. The fact that Ofsted have noted that both children and staff are well cared for is a wonderful testament to the success of the academy and trust. All of our 15 schools are either Good or Outstanding and my continued thanks goes to all across our family of academies, working together to deliver excellent education for the children of Sussex.”
Train to teach with the University of Brighton Academies Trust
01 November 2019
The University of Brighton Academies Trust invites individuals interested in a career in teaching to apply for a place on one its teacher training programmes starting in 2020.  
School Direct is a year-long school-led teacher training programme, which provides valuable teaching experience alongside personalised support from highly experienced academy teachers and tutors.
The Trust’s School Direct programme for those wishing to qualify as a secondary school teacher is offered at our academies in Hastings, St Leonards and Burgess Hill. It is delivered in partnership with the University of Brighton, rated by Ofsted as an outstanding provider of initial teacher training, with places covering a broad range of subjects from Art and Design to Physics.  
Our School Direct programme for those wishing to qualify as a primary school teacher is provided by the East Sussex Teaching Training Partnership SCITT, led by the Robsack Wood Teaching School Alliance. Trainee teachers are based in one of the Trust’s primary and infant academies or one of our local partnership schools, with training provided by experienced, practising teachers, tailored towards local needs.
Our Postgraduate Teaching Apprenticeship programme is for experienced professionals who are existing employees in the Trust aspiring to become a primary or a secondary school teacher. The year-long Teaching Apprenticeship blends on-the-job school-based training with part-time university study at the University of Brighton. 
The high quality of the Trust’s support and training for its teachers has been commended by Ofsted, following a recent evaluation: ‘The trust prioritises staff well-being and training. This helps to improve the quality of teaching, increases staff retention, supports succession planning and adds capacity to the trust as a whole’
Paul Degg, Director of Teacher Recruitment, University of Brighton Academies Trust said: “We are committed to making a difference to the education of children in Sussex. To do that, we need outstanding teachers. I encourage anyone interested to contact me to find out more about the opportunities available in our academies and the role you could play in helping us achieve excellence for all our pupils.” 
Caroline Thayre, Executive Principal of Robsack Wood Teaching School Alliance said: “I am passionate about teacher education and development and we pride ourselves on our longstanding reputation for providing high quality career pathways and support for trainees and newly qualified teachers. We look forward to welcoming our next cohort of new teachers to the profession in 2020.”
‘Outstanding behaviour’ helps Dudley Infant Academy achieve Ofsted Good
22 October 2019
Dudley Infant Academy, the only infant school in Hastings old town, has received a Good rating from the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) following its inspection under a new and challenging framework that came into effect this September.

Ofsted noted Dudley Infant Academy is a school where “staff are kind, caring and dedicated” and “pupils are happy, feel safe in school and enjoy their learning”. The positive Ofsted findings also observed that levels of behaviour and attitudes were “outstanding”, with pupil behaviour described as “exemplary”. The inspection team also noted that Dudley Infant Academy is “a school where only the best will do”.

The report emphasised the strong community links that help “develop the skills needed to become confident young citizens”. For example, Ofsted said the school’s ‘shore academy’ “encourages pupils to appreciate the wonder of the beach. They learn about pollution and the importance of charities, such as the lifeboats”.

Stuart Maclean, Principal of Dudley Infant Academy, said: “I’m delighted that our school’s love of learning and our efforts to keep improving are reflected in our Ofsted result. This positive change is a community effort and I’d like to thank our hardworking, talented and dedicated staff, pupils, parents and carers, along with our local board volunteers. We provide an especially nurturing environment for children starting their formal education and that’s why so many parents and carers choose us.”

Dudley Infant Academy joined the University of Brighton Academies Trust, sponsored by the University of Brighton, in 2013. 

The Ofsted report also noted: “The principal, supported by other leaders from the trust, has created a school where only the best will do. He gives them [teachers] time to do their job well. This means that the quality of education gets better and better.”

Dr John Smith, Chief Executive, University of Brighton Academies Trust, said: "I whole-heartedly congratulate Dudley Infant Academy on this Good judgement. I note with pride Ofsted’s recognition that the school helps the children grow in confidence and that children behave very well. This result is confirmation that both Dudley Infant Academy and the University of Brighton Academies Trust are meeting our ambitions to deliver excellent education for the children of Sussex. With this splendid result now all of our 15 schools are either Good or Outstanding – a terrific achievement. My thanks to all across our family of academies, we are stronger together.”

Families of children due to start school in September 2020 are invited to attend Dudley’s November open days on Tuesday 19 at 10am, Thursday 21 at 10am, and Thursday 28 at 6.30pm. For more information and to book a visit, go to: www.dudleyinfantacademy.org.uk.
University of Brighton Academies Trust launches innovative teaching programme
11 September 2019

Staff at the University of Brighton Academies Trust celebrated the start of the academic year with the launch of a new, innovative teaching programme, known as TEEP (the Teacher Effectiveness Enhancement Programme).

The programme aims to boost the progress and educational outcomes of the students and pupils attending schools within the Trust, by improving the quality of teaching.

It has been developed following a successful bid to the Department for Education’s Hastings Opportunity Area fund, with matched funding provided by the University of Brighton Academies Trust, which could enable all 15 schools within the Trust to participate.

The innovative programme builds on previous training, so that the Trust’s teachers will participate in high quality professional development on the nationally recognised TEEP approach. TEEP supports teachers to develop interesting and motivating lessons whilst accelerating students’ progress and improving attainment. The St Leonards Academy already holds TEEP Ambassador School status, which means that expert accredited staff can train every teacher in the Trust on the teaching approach.

The new teaching programme will be supported by curriculum developments in years 5 to 8, designed to enable students make excellent progress from primary to secondary education. Strengthened assessment arrangements, facilitated by collaboration of teachers across the Trust, will improve the accuracy of data so that early intervention and additional support can be provided to students.

Teachers from the Trust’s three secondary academies, The Burgess Hill Academy, The Hastings Academy and The St Leonards Academy, attended the launch event, which outlined the programme, including plans to extend it to its primary and infant academies.

Helen Howard, Executive Director of School Improvement, said: ‘I firmly believe that the biggest impact on student outcomes is excellent teaching and learning. This new programme marks an exciting initiative for the Trust, by supporting our teachers through quality training and collaborative working’.

Dr John Smith, Chief Executive said: ‘Our staff do amazing things every day to support students and pupils, their families and the community. I am delighted that this programme will provide new opportunities for high quality professional development, collaboration and sharing of excellent practice so that our students are inspired to meet their potential.’

University of Brighton Academies Trust praised by Ofsted
06 September 2019
The University of Brighton Academies Trust, a network of 15 infant, primary and secondary schools in Sussex, has been praised by Ofsted following an evaluation in June 2019.  
Ofsted’s ‘Multi-academy Trust Summary Evaluation’ was conducted by a team of senior inspectors over four days in June with the findings released recently. The evaluation involved detailed scrutiny of data and documentary evidence, and numerous meetings with trustees and local board chairs, the Trust’s executive team, all academy principals, senior staff and teachers from across the Trust’s academies.  
Inspectors praised the Trust’s strategic plans which: ‘are rightly focused on improving the quality of pupils’ educational experiences and outcomes’; the strong leadership in academies which ‘leads to a culture of high aspirations, in which dedicated staff use a range of effective approaches to ensure pupils’ welfare and safety’; as well as trustees and the executive team, who are ‘determined to improve pupils’ life chances through providing high-quality education for all of the pupils in their schools’.

Dr John Smith, Chief Executive, said: ‘I am absolutely delighted that Ofsted has recognised the tremendous achievements and hard work of everyone in the Trust. We truly believe that education transforms lives and ensuring our 7,600 pupils are inspired to meet their potential. I am extremely proud that our work and plans have been praised in this way. 14 of our 15 academies are now judged to be good or outstanding by Ofsted, and we are committed to continuing to improve the educational outcomes and progress of all of our pupils in partnership with our stakeholders.’
Professor Chris Pole, Chair of the Board of Trustees and Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Brighton which sponsors the Trust, added: ‘The senior Ofsted team conducted a very thorough review of almost every aspect of the Trust’s work, including the collaboration between the Trust and the University itself. The University regards school sponsorship as a cornerstone of its strategy to raise attainment, improve progression and increase participation in higher education for the most disadvantaged, and I am very pleased that Ofsted has endorsed the work of the Trust so positively.’

Ofsted also commended:
    •     ‘The multi-layered approach to ensuring that pupils are safe.’
    •     ‘The sharp and unerring focus [of trustees and the executive team] on school improvement, ensuring that the Trust’s central values of “excellence, innovation and integrity” are at the heart of their strategic decision making’… ‘School improvement is at the heart of the work of the Trust.’
    •     ‘Leaders [who] have ensured that effective systems are in place to facilitate collaboration and cooperation between the Trust’s schools.’
    •     ‘[the priority given to] staff well-being and training. This helps to improve the quality of teaching, increases staff retention, supports succession planning and adds capacity to the Trust as a whole.’ 
    •     ‘Local boards [who] play a useful role in supporting school leaders, monitoring behaviour and safeguarding, and maintaining strong links with local communities.’ 
    •     ‘The central services provided by the Trust [which] are highly efficient so that leaders can focus on educating pupils’…  and have ‘been instrumental in improving the education of the pupils.’ 
Bright Star Awards celebrate ‘doing your best to be your best’
18 July 2019
The University of Brighton Academies Trust celebrated outstanding pupils and colleagues at its annual Bright Star Awards on Monday 15 July. Held at the University of Brighton’s Asa Briggs lecture theatre, the location underlined the strong nurturing links the university has with the Trust as its sponsor.

The University of Brighton Academies Trust is a not-for-profit charitable trust comprising 15 schools across Sussex aimed at boosting opportunities for children to enjoy brighter futures.

Across an uplifting event each principal highlighted the qualities that made each award-winner outstanding.

Dr John Smith, Chief Executive of the University of Brighton Academies Trust, welcomed students, parents, carers and colleagues to the event, saying:

“I am honoured and incredibly proud to host this occasion. The dedication, excellence and commitment of staff, students, Local Board members and professional services colleagues from our family of schools is inspiring. It also demonstrates very clearly that what we do makes a difference to so many lives.”

The awards were generously sponsored by Astec Computing.

In addition to the award winners there were some terrific performance from academy students. The Dudley Infant Academy Glee club sang by video link, Tom Bruges of The Hastings Academy played classical guitar (having recently achieved Distinction in his Grade 8 guitar exam), and The Hastings Academy dance troupe performed a powerful dance piece entitled  ‘Together we move’.

The winners in full:

Student of the Year

Isabelle - The Baird Primary Academy  
Serena - Blackthorns Community Primary Academy  
Evie - Churchwood Primary Academy  
Finley - Desmond Anderson Primary Academy  
Eli - Dudley Infant Academy  
Riley - Hollington Primary Academy   
Katie - Holmbush Primary Academy 
Annabel - Lindfield Primary Academy
Harry - Pound Hill Infant Academy 
Aliyah - Robsack Wood Primary Academy
Jaime - Silverdale Primary Academy
Oscar - West St Leonards Primary Academy 
Adam - The Burgess Hill Academy
Ivan - The Hastings Academy 
Mary-Lou - The St Leonards Academy 

Staff Member of the Year

Nichola Benton - The Baird Primary Academy
Mark Tugwell - Blackthorns Community Primary Academy
Gail Clements - Churchwood Primary Academy
Alison Tighe - Desmond Anderson Primary Academy
Corrine Harris - Dudley Infant Academy
Debbie Wibberley - Hollington Primary Academy
Mandy Southwell - Holmbush Primary Academy
Lorraine Pellett - Lindfield Primary Academy
Elizabeth Davis - Pound Hill Infant Academy
Kerry Hopkinson - Robsack Wood Primary Academy
Claire Baker - Silverdale Primary Academy
Christopher Woods - West St Leonards Primary Academy
Paula Ridley - The Burgess Hill Academy
Lynn Brown - The Hastings Academy 
Julie Jones - The St Leonards Academy 

Local Board Member of the Year 
Winner: Rose Durban

Professional Services Staff Member of the Year
Winner: Mauricia Goldberg
The power of ‘ordinary magic’
17 July 2019

Highlights from a University of Brighton conference held on 26 June 2019: ‘Developing and embedding a whole school approach to Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing’

In a context where approximately three children in each classroom have a diagnosable mental health disorder (ONS Overview of UK population, 2016), the phrase ‘ordinary magic’ was at the heart of at a conference held at the University of Brighton this week. 

In her opening remarks to conference, Professor Debra Humphris, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Brighton, emphasised some of the opportunities made possible by linking the University of Brighton with the Academies Trust:

“I am delighted that we have the Academies Trust in our family. It does brilliant work strengthening schools, improving children’s lives and supporting teachers. We must support our children who are our future and we need to boost the talent of our nation by doing so in a compassionate and supportive way.” 

Judy Perraton, Schools' and Colleges' Mental Health & Emotional Wellbeing Adviser, East Sussex County Council, explained that this ‘ordinary magic’ was found in “small, everyday actions, noticing when people are not ok.”

Stuart Gallimore, Director of Children’s Services East Sussex County Council, elaborated further, quoting psychologist Dr Ann Masten of the University of Minnesota:
“Resilience does not come from rare and special qualities but from the everyday magic of ordinary resources in the minds, brains, and bodies or ordinary children, in their families and relationships, and in their communities.”

Hilary Morawska, Principal of The Hastings Academy, part of the University of Brighton’s Academies Trust,  led a workshop outlining the school’s innovative approach to pastoral care:

“For our students whose emotional literacy is far behind those of their peers, we transition them, in Year 7, through our Thrive centres. Many of the more-worrying behaviours seen in our students stem from unmet social and emotional needs which lead to a poorly developed stress-regulation system. Behaviours that are disruptive or aggressive, or children who are chronically anxious or withdrawn are triggered by the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response when the child or young person has limited or no ability to regulate their emotions.”

Based on neuroscience and attachment theory, the Thrive Approach offers a dynamic, developmental, trauma sensitive approach that helps academy staff interpret the behaviour and meet the emotional and social needs of children and young people. 

Hilary explained that the school’s ambitious vision extends supportive mental health provision for all students:
“Every young person at The Hastings Academy takes part in a wealth of opportunities which inspire and motivate them to become ambitious, resilient individuals. Every young person at The Hastings Academy is given outstanding careers education, advice, information and guidance on all career pathways so that our young people know what to do to be successful, to go to university or to achieve an apprenticeship and to achieve their dreams.”

In addition to outlining an interlinked set of activities aimed at boosting mental health and resilience, Hilary highlighted the links to the University of Brighton, who sponsor The Hastings Academy and a family of 14 other Sussex-based schools through its Academies Trust.
“We ensure our students from year 7 to year 10 visit the university where they engage with undergraduates to realise this could be their potential, too.”

The conference was jointly organised by Michelle Tarling, outreach manager at the University of Brighton Widening Participation team and Judy Perraton of the East Sussex County Council.
The University of Brighton Academies Trust is a not-for-profit charitable trust comprising 15 schools across Sussex aimed at boosting opportunities for children to enjoy brighter futures.
Principal appointments Holmbush and Desmond Anderson
05 July 2019
New Principals for Holmbush and Desmond Anderson Primary Academies

The University of Brighton Academies Trust, a family of 15 schools across Sussex, is pleased to announce the appointment of new Principals for two of its West Sussex Primary schools. 

At Holmbush Primary Academy in Shoreham Miss Susan Stickley is now permanent Principal. Miss Stickley has been Vice-Principal at the school and was Acting Head in the run up to her appointment.

Miss Stickley said: “I am absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to lead Holmbush Primary Academy. One of our values is ‘exciting things happen’ and I am delighted to be helping our pupils and staff do just that. I am immensely proud of what we have achieved already and I very much look forward to continuing to work with our pupils, parents, carers and staff to deliver the best possible education for our community.”

In addition Mrs Managey Powys has been appointed Principal of the Desmond Anderson Academy in Crawley.

Mrs Powys has worked at leadership level at a range of schools, both in the UK and abroad. She is currently Deputy Head of an inner London primary school (Loughborough Primary). Mrs Powys will take up her role with Desmond Anderson in September.

Of her appointment Mrs Powys said: “I am impressed by the high levels of motivation in staff to ensure the best possible education for our pupils. Pupils have very positive attitudes to learning because they are involved in the process. I am hugely looking forward to joining the Trust family of academies and leading this happy and inclusive school.”

Dr John Smith, the Trust’s Chief Executive, said: “I am delighted with these two new appointments as both Susan and Managey are outstanding leaders. Their ideas, enthusiasm and drive will boost both schools and serve our children and their families well.”
Ninja Warrior TV star wins Silverdale Primary Academy Ultimate Ninja award
18 June 2019

Jonathan Morris is Principal of the Silverdale Primary Academy, one of 15 Sussex based schools that are part of the University of Brighton Academies Trust. Here he reflects on a special week for the school:

It’s not often that you can invite a national award-winning Ninja warrior – of TV series fame ­– into your school. Our pupils were excited and delighted to spend two days last week [Thu 6 and Fri 7 June] in workshops with Jonny Urszuly, the ‘Last Man Standing’ winner of Ninja Warrior UK 2017.

Jonny visited the school with another former Ninja Warrior competitor Wendy Jagger as part of our ‘Ultimate Ninja Week’. Wendy said:

“Our workshops aim to inspire and motivate children of all ages to participate in sport and to work hard to achieve their dreams.”

As Ninja thinking is at the heart of our school values Jonny and Wendy were perfect to host a number of Ninja themed obstacle courses. Jonny also presented to assembly and reminded us all:

“It’s good to try and fine to fail, but never fail to try.”

He then asked of all the pupils: “Who is brave and wants to show courage?”

Most hands shot up.  Two children were chosen and, cheered on by the school,  took the challenge to walk the beam like Ninja champions. Jonny then followed them by crossing the beam too, but on his hands!

For this and all else we were pleased to present Jonny and Wendy with our highest school accolade: the Ultimate Ninja sticker.

Behind all the fun was the inspiring central message that we should all have a go and aspire to be the best we can be. Across a week of ‘Ultimate Ninja’ activities children have been identifying the qualities of people they admire. These have included mums and dads, celebrities, sporting stars, scientists and creatives. For example one group of pupils, inspired by designer Coco Chanel, made fashion outfits out of newspaper.

We also found time to celebrate JK Rowling and Harry Potter by staging our own game of Quidditch (without the flying). This proved so successful we are setting up an after school Quidditch club.

I asked Jonny about his time with us: “It’s so good to see the children learning that being fit is fun. Our workshops are important as this is encouraging the next generation to make the most of opportunities. It boosts confidence and it has been great seeing the children trying things new and really going for it!”

And the positive impact has been felt by all our pupils. Chrissie, one of our independent needs assistants, noted of an autistic pupil:

“He has had a whale of a day, so many smiles, and he has kept trying when at other times he would have just given up. It’s the first time I’ve seen him stick at it and stay happy and coordinated and confident right the way through.”

Pupil Robin, 10, summed up the experience: “It has been great fun to try everything and it encouraged me to be my best.”

And it wasn’t just the children who went for it. Well done Mr Pridden for taking on the Ninja Warrior obstacle course like a pro!

‘Visionary’ Burgess Hill Academy ‘broadens pupils’ horizons’ to achieve Ofsted Good
22 May 2019

The Burgess Hill Academy, one of 15  Sussex schools that make up the University of Brighton Academies Trust, has received a Good rating from the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted).

  Ofsted noted: ‘The principal, Jon Francies, has worked tirelessly to create an ambitious culture, characterised by raised expectations, improved standards and strong pastoral care. His compelling vision of a school at the heart of the community is shared and promoted vigorously by staff, pupils and parents.’

The positive Ofsted findings also acknowledge a clear culture where: ‘Pupils’ well-being and safety have an extremely high priority in the school. Pupils are kind to each other and respectful and are valuable members of their community, taking part in a wide range of fundraising and local events.’

Staff, the report found, felt valued, with one staff survey respondent stating: ‘It has been a breath of fresh air to be encouraged to do what we do best.’

The Burgess Hill Academy Principal, Jon Francies said: " I am proud of this assessment and to lead a talented and well qualified staff who hold a firm belief in all of our students' abilities to achieve. We are committed to ensuring that every child will leave with the qualifications, enrichment experiences and employability skills they need for life beyond The Burgess Hill Academy. Furthermore, we encourage students to take part in the many and varied extra-curricular opportunities on offer.”

This is the school’s first Ofsted inspection since opening as an academy in 2016 and Ofsted commended the University of Brighton Academies Trust and the academy’s Local Board in providing: ‘Rigorous oversight of standards, safeguarding and finances. School leaders benefit from good-quality guidance given by key staff from the multi-academy Trust. The school’s rapid progress is a direct result of the support and challenge given to leaders by the Trust.’

Dr John Smith, Chief Executive, University of Brighton Academies Trust, said: "I whole-heartedly congratulate The Burgess Hill Academy on achieving Good across all areas of inspection. I note Ofsted’s recognition that pupils are proud of their school and show considerable willingness to ‘have a go’. The pupils’ growing academic, musical, sporting and dramatic successes all illustrate that enthusiasm and drive. This result is confirmation that both The Burgess Hill Academy and the University of Brighton Academies Trust are meeting our ambitions to deliver excellent education and improve the lives of children across Sussex.”

The Ofsted report also notes of The Burgess Hill Academy:

  *   Results show pupils’ progress in English, mathematics and a range of other subjects was in line with, or, as in the case of humanities, better than that seen nationally in 2018.

  *   Pupils are well prepared for their next steps. Almost all pupils go on to appropriate destinations and courses at local colleges and apprenticeship providers.

  *   Leaders have acted with determination to bring about significant improvements in the quality of teaching, learning and assessment since the school became an academy.

  *   Staff help pupils to be resilient and resourceful and relationships between staff and pupils are cordial and warm.

*   Pupils in all year groups display very positive attitudes to their school and their learning and seize the many opportunities the school provides for them to develop their interests and aptitudes.

Visit The Burgess Hill Academy website

“Maybe next time I visit I will be a university student!”
24 April 2019

One of the big advantages of being a pupil at one of the 15 schools that are part of the University of Brighton Academies Trust is the links to the University. There are many ways the connections work for pupils – their teachers get the benefits of training and mentoring support with a School of Education that is rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted, and the pupils have opportunities to get a flavour of university life.

In April the School of Education at the University of Brighton hosted a visit by a group of 12- and 13-year olds from The Hastings Academy. Ruby, 13, describes how her day went:

  “It was a great experience to explore the Falmer Campus. Each group got a tour of the campus which helped us see what it would be like if we ever came to the University. After the tour, we did a question challenge and were given a prospectus which showed the courses on offer.”

Every year students from both Trust Primary and Secondary schools are encouraged to visit the University as part of the Widening Participation programme run by the university in partnership with local schools. The scheme’s aim is to encourage students from a wide range of backgrounds to consider the possibility of going to university.

Younger visitors get to know Professor C Gull, the animated creation of University of Brighton alumni, author and illustrator, Chris Riddell OBE. As a former Children’s Laureate, Costa prize-winning author (for his series, Goth Girl ), and political cartoonist for The Economist and The Times, Chris is a strong example of where a (Brighton) university education can take you.

Professor C Gull is used in a number of ways to promote the University’s social and community work, raising awareness of higher education and its benefits.  

Ruby concludes that her day has been productive and useful: “After lunch we did an engineering challenge.   We made a bridge to see which one was the best.   After that activity we were allowed to ask lots of questions.   The literature we were given helped me understand a lot more about the courses.   We had a great experience and the people who showed us around were great, the student ambassadors were super helpful.  

“I hope to visit again, maybe next time as a university student!”  

‘Nurturing’ Baird Primary Academy achieves prestigious national award
12 April 2019

A local Hastings school has made history in winning a prestigious education award for the first time.


The Baird Primary Academy school, part of the University of Brighton Academies Trust, was presented with the prestigious Marjorie Boxall Quality Mark Award for their outstanding nurturing environment and inclusive provision, by local MP Amber Rudd.


It is the first time a school in Hastings has received the award and only the second occasion that a school in East Sussex has achieved it. 


The accolade is awarded by national charity Nurture UK to schools that demonstrate outstanding practice in supporting a range of pupil needs in their school nurture groups. Nurture groups are in-school, teacher-led groups that help children overcome barriers in their social and emotional learning to enable them to thrive.


Amber Rudd said:


“I am delighted that The Baird’s good work has been recognised.


It is the first time a school in Hastings has achieved this award and demonstrates the care and commitment of a school that encourages our children to aspire for and achieve success. High quality, nurturing relationships enable confident learning.”


Since the inception of the award scheme in 2007 only around 100 schools across the UK have achieved this recognition of elevated standards of trust, acceptance and self-value that help pupils meet the social and intellectual demands of school life.


Carly Welch, Principal of the Baird Primary Academy said: “The achievement of the Marjorie Boxall Quality Mark Award is significant recognition of the hard work, dedication and determination of both staff and pupils at The Baird. We are extremely proud of this achievement and the difference that our fantastic nurture provision makes to pupils across the academy.’ 


Nurtureuk Chief Executive Kevin Kibble said: “The Baird Primary Academy has evidenced its success in running an outstanding Nurture Group, and the beneficiaries of their hard work every day are the children attending the school, their families and the wider community. Our standards to achieve this award are exacting and many congratulations are due to the staff and pupils at the school for all their hard work.”

Trust launches teaching Internships for Summer 2019
25 March 2019

The University of Brighton Academies Trust in partnership with the University of Brighton has launched its 2019 teaching internships for high-calibre science, technology, engineering and mathematics undergraduates considering a career in mathematics or physics teaching.  

Ten interns will earn £1,200 during four weeks based in a Sussex-based secondary school: The Burgess Hill Academy, The Hastings Academy, The St Leonards Academy or Downlands Community School.  

Designed to provide a broad experience of teaching, interns receive support and guidance from a school-based mentor and spend time in classrooms; working alongside experienced teachers, gaining insights into different teacher training programmes, co-planning and delivering lessons.  

Interns also spend up to two days studying the principles of learning and teaching and key contemporary issues in education at the University’s School of Education - rated by Ofsted as outstanding for all its initial teacher training programmes. Combined with visits from University lecturers this mirrors the support provided to trainee teachers.  

Paul Degg, Director of Teacher Recruitment at the University of Brighton Academies Trust said: “The STEM teaching internships provide students with valuable experience and insight into how a school operates and life as a teacher so that they can make an informed decision about a career in teaching. Feedback from our 2018 cohort is overwhelmingly positive. I’m delighted to say that three students have already applied for a teaching training programme, and more intend to do so.”

Interested students are encouraged to find out more on our  internships page  and meet us at pop-up information sessions during March and April.  

Applications are requested by Friday 10 May 2019.

Find our more about our teaching internships

Schools at the heart of initiatives to boost literacy in the digital age
14 February 2019
Silverdale launches literacy hub
25 January 2019

On a day that reflected broad opportunities to boost literacy in the digital age, University of Brighton Academies Trust schools were at the heart of two separate initiatives led by Google and the National Literacy Trust. 

Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, and MP for Hastings and Rye, attended both events. She said of the work of the Trust:

“It has been wonderful to visit the schools today and to see at first hand the University of Brighton Academies Trust’s good work in Hastings. On a day promoting traditional literacy with the launch of the Hastings Literacy Hub at Silverdale Primary Academy it was also great to see digital literacy at the forefront too, with a wonderful Google facilitated workshop linking the tech pioneer with The Hastings Academy.”

Silverdale Primary Academy was the morning focus for ‘Get Hastings Reading’, a new literacy hub, led by The National Literacy Trust and the Hastings Opportunity Area, backed by the Department for Education. Over the next ten years, local schools, businesses and cultural organisations will collaborate to deliver events and opportunities to raise awareness of the importance of literacy. 

The Rt Hon Amber Rudd cut the ribbon to open the revamped Silverdale library, complete with its own ‘treehouse’ reading area, and then read Ted Hughes’ Iron Man to a group of pupils.

“I’m proud of everyone here and delighted to help celebrate reading by opening this library,” said Ms Rudd, who asked the pupils if they preferred digital tablets or books. 
“Both!” came the enthusiastic reply. “Whatever the format, my advice to you is to get reading!”

Of the longer-term goals of the initiative she added to the assembled local press and community representatives: 
“We need to look to the future, being part of an Opportunity Area means collaborating and all playing a part in this as parents, carers and teachers. This way we will build truly sustainable development for our community.”

Jonathan Morris, Silverdale Principal, introduced the MP to the school’s playful ‘Ninja’ characters, cartoon figures, each with attributes aimed at helping inspire, boost and guide children. 
“We want to be aspirational and ambitious and we want to keep getting better. We expect everyone to help create a place where we can all thrive and enjoy being together,” Mr Morris said.
By the time the Rt Hon Amber Rudd left Silverdale she had accepted Mr Morris’s invitation to become a ‘Ninja’ ambassador on behalf of the school. 

Internet citizens at The Hastings Academy

The next stop took Ms Rudd, accompanied by Dr John Smith, Chief Executive of the University of Brighton Academies Trust, to The Hastings Academy, where they met Principal Hilary Morawska and a visiting team from Google. 

Ms Morawska outlined why the partnership with Google was so important:
“We are delighted to have been chosen by Google as this will help our pupils get the digital literacy they need. It will help them break out of those bubbles – whether emotional or negative – and realise that they have rights in digital space. We hope it will help empower them to make better choices.”

Having observed the enthusiastic participation of pupils at the workshop, Amber Rudd addressed the pupils taking part:
“Sometimes it is hard to be resilient against the negatives – and hate –  out there online. The first line of defence is each of you. And because of the scale and speed of digital communication, governments are struggling to keep up and can make wrong moves. 
“How can we help you all make the right decisions? This Google-hosted workshop is a good example of building tech that improves people’s lives. I have two kids and I’m aware of how difficult it is for them. Thank you to Google and The Hastings Academy for helping build resilience and knowledge in digital citizenship.”

What, a workshop participant asked, helped Amber Rudd stay resilient?
“Know what’s important to you. If you think your priorities are right you have a strength, and that will help you get on with what you believe in. That’s what makes you stronger.”

Dr John Smith, Chief Executive of the Trust, said of the two linked events: 
“It was inspiring to see such a wide age span of pupils at Trust schools all engaging so enthusiastically and knowledgeably with literacy. The world is changing so quickly and to help our children participate and thrive they need to be literate. That might start with traditional books but it quickly evolves into the digital sphere and I was heartened to see our work bridging gaps, explaining rights and creating opportunities like this. My thanks to the Rt Hon Amber Rudd for joining us on this special day to celebrate this good work.”

‘Nurturing’ Baird Primary Academy achieves Ofsted Good
08 February 2019

The Baird Primary Academy has received a Good rating from the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted).

Ofsted noted its nurturing environment, where pupils told inspectors they felt “safe and well cared for.” The positive Ofsted findings also acknowledge a clear culture to protect children, build well-being, and foster strong bonds between pupils, staff, parents and carers.

The Baird Primary Academy Principal, Carly Welch , said: “The positive assessment marks a period of significant improvement and change for the school.

“This is a gratifying acknowledgement for our whole school community. Our pupils, staff, local board members, parents and carers have worked together with passion and dedication. Together, we are creating a safe, inclusive environment, steeped in mutual respect. We place children’s needs at the heart of our work. It is their nurture, well-being and aspirations that drive the school’s ethos. I am delighted that most parents who spoke to inspectors noted that the school had improved dramatically in the past two years.”

Ofsted noted staff who ‘have a wonderful rapport with the children, who respond well to adults’ questioning and conversation. Parents who spoke to inspectors were very positive about the start their children have made at the school.’

The Ofsted report also notes of The Baird Primary Academy:

  • Great strides have been made to improve the learning culture since the last full inspection [two years ago].
  • Children behave well because expectations are high, and staff have established good routines. The safety and welfare of children are given the highest priority.
  • The teaching of phonics (letters and the sounds they represent) is a strength.
  • Pupils are growing in confidence as the quality of their education improves.
  • Teachers have created a learning environment that is stimulating and appealing for children. Enticing role play opportunities, such as campfire in the bear cave, provide children with exciting opportunities to develop their imagination and communication skills.

The Baird Primary Academy joined the University of Brighton Academies Trust, sponsored by the University of Brighton, in 2014. 

The role of the Trust is also commended: “Those in positions of governance know the school well. School leaders benefit from good-quality guidance given by key staff from the multi-academy trust. The school’s rapid progress is a direct result of the support and challenge given to leaders by the Trust.”

Dr John Smith, Chief Executive, University of Brighton Academies Trust, said: "I whole-heartedly congratulate The Baird on this Good judgement. I note with pride Ofsted’s recognition that pastoral care is a particular strength and the well-being of pupils is given the highest priority. Since the school joined the Trust it has been steadily striving to meet the needs of its community and uplift their Ofsted result. This result is confirmation that both The Baird Primary Academy and the University of Brighton Academies Trust are meeting our ambitions to deliver excellent education for the children of Sussex and to ensure all children reach their full potential.”

Visit The Baird Primary Academy website