Students attending the RSA Academy in Tipton will from benefit from a new state-of-the-art £35m building. And to kick off the celebrations, the RSA's President, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh will be making a return visit to the school.
Designed by architects the John McAslan Partnership, the building is the first to be built around the RSA's Opening Minds curriculum, with large classrooms that provide flexibility of space. Built by Willmott Dixon the school has suites of four classrooms which can be closed (to use individually) or opened up (to facilitate team teaching).
The RSA Academy opened in September 2008 and has since made tremendous progress. In August 2010 the academy received record exam results with 95 percent of students getting 5 A* - C grade GCSEs and a Contextual Value Added (CVA) figure of 1042 at Key Stage 4 (putting it amongst the top 10 percent of schools nationally for value added).
Michael Gernon, Academy Principal, said: 'It is a great privilege to welcome Prince Philip back to Tipton. We moved into the new building in September and the students have been looking forward to today since then. Our motto is 'transforming learning, transforming lives' and our results show that we are beginning to do this. Our first cohort of post – 16 students all achieved their first choice university places in the summer and our Opening Minds curriculum is proving to be a great success. We have a lot to celebrate today.'
Head Boy, Aidan Smith, met The Duke of Edinburgh 2 years ago said: 'This is a great day for Tipton. We thought it was amazing when Prince Philip came 2 years ago but it's even better that he is coming back.'
The RSA Academy continues to lead the way in developing the RSA's innovative curriculum framework 'Opening Minds' in which young people are encouraged to develop life skills or 'competences' alongside traditional curriculum content. Its 1100 students develop the skills of working with others, managing complex and challenging situations as well as learning more about themselves and their environment. Students at the Academy have two lessons per day, each lasting for three hours, and twice each week they have 'Enrichment' – when they can choose from a wide range of activities, including 'Grow your own' (on the Academy's allotments), Chinese for Beginners, Digital Photography, cycling proficiency, as well as a wide range of sports. Post-16 students study for the International Baccalaureate (IB).
Chair of Governors, Sir Mike Tomlinson, believes that the IB provides students with the perfect preparation for university. 'The IB is a broadly based course of study and its international focus means that students are very well prepared for life in the 21st century.'
The Academy hopes to play a major role in the economic and social regeneration of Tipton by providing the area's young people with opportunities for both educational achievement and instilling in them greater social awareness and a sense of responsibility towards their local community.