Students at Ashcroft Technology Academy in south-west London have just begun their new term and are looking forward to yet another year of high achievement in 2012.
I am immensely proud of the accomplishments of this splendid educational establishment, which is currently enjoying its fifth year as a successful academy. It is a state secondary school, with a special emphasis on technology, operated within the academy programme.
The academy was scrutinised by Ofsted, the official body for inspecting schools, in 2010 and was judged to be “outstanding overall”. The intake of the academy is typical of an inner-city school being multi-ethnic and with twice the national average of Free School Meal (FSM) students.
The academy, which has 1,185 mixed students aged 11 to 18, has a mission “to prepare young people for living, learning and working in the future”.
Results at GCSE level show that over the past five years students have surpassed their targets by a significant margin.
Last year 71% of students gained five or more A* to C grades, including English and mathematics, compared with a national average of 58%. Incidentally, the figure for the academy would be 70% if vocational courses were not included which shows that vocational qualifications are not being used to inflate artificially the “headline” GCSE figure.
Last year the Coalition Government introduced the “pupil premium” in order to try to address the low percentage of students on Free School Meals (FSM) who achieve five or more A*to C grades including English and mathematics. Nationally, just 27% of such students achieve this measure. However, at Ashcroft Technology Academy, 63% of the FSM students achieved this measure in 2011.
At A Level, 30% of grades to academy students were awarded A or A* with an average points score per student of 844 (English average: 733) and an average point score per entry of 228 (English average: 215). These results show that the academy is not only performing well in comparison with other British schools, but it is also strongly placed on the international stage – the top Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings for Shanghai, Korea and Finland broadly compare with the academy’s results.
I am delighted to sponsor Ashcroft Technology Academy. I have supported various educational causes for more than two decades because I believe in the value of a sound education and the opportunities it provides for bright, young, hard-working youngsters.
The forerunner to Ashcroft Technology Academy was ADT City Technology College, which was named after my former company and which was founded in September 1991. It was one of fifteen city technology colleges opened between 1989 and 1995.
ADT College transformed itself into Ashcroft Technology Academy in 2007. Marcus Barker, its principal for the past five years, cites several critical parameters upon which he believes the academy’s success is based: the high expectations of all students and a set of core routines that are relentlessly focused upon. These include swift, decisive and strict discipline which is implemented without fear or favour, a willingness to take the best ideas and actions from tradition and to integrate them into a pioneering curriculum, and a willingness to respond quickly and efficiently to the need for change and modernisation.
The independence afforded to the academy gives it certain advantages too. For example, it has been able to introduce a salary bonus system for staff attendance. In 2010-11, 45% of teachers had no days off through illness and, as a result, received a 2% gross addition to their salary.
The academy could expect student attendance to be around 92.5% for its FSM band of students. However, last year attendance was considerably above the national average reaching 95.2%. Indeed, 147 students in years 7 through to 11 did not take a single day off through illness.
In 2010, too, the academy introduced the International Baccalaureate to sixth form students. This was a deliberate move to offer the best students an excellent choice of qualifications at sixth form level. Soon, the academy will be introducing Latin as an option for some of its best linguists.
Further use of the academy’s independence is being employed by shortening Key Stage 3 to just two years. This means that students take their options early and are able to start their GCSEs in year 9.
I have no doubt that the academy, which underwent a multi-million pound refurbishment programme ending in 2010, will continue to thrive through the commitment of its staff and its students. I have no doubt too that the academy is thoroughly deserving of the numerous accolades that have been heaped upon it in recent years.
* Anyone wanting to know more about the academy and its results should visit the Ashcroft Technology Academy website.