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‘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

Ninja Warrior TV star wins Silverdale Primary Academy Ultimate Ninja award
14 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!

“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