Whitley Abbey Community School, a business and enterprise college based in Coventry, is to become the first member of a new RSA Family of Academies that share best practice, work for school improvement and promote social justice in education.
Rated 'outstanding' by Ofsted, Whitley Abbey has been using the RSA's Opening Minds (OM) curriculum for four years and is training other schools that are interested in gaining OM accreditation.
Head-teacher Lorraine Allen, who has been involved in the development of the OM curriculum framework since its inception, said:
"We've had really good feedback from parents about how Opening Minds has helped students to settle into school life and develop their skills. We've also had verification from Ofsted about how exciting, challenging and engaging it is, and how well it prepares students for Key Stage Four."
"Having decided to convert to academy status, we were keen to have the RSA as a lead partner, as we have a common interest in promoting social justice and improving excellence in education. We look forward to sharing our expertise with other schools, locally and nationally."
Lorraine is a National Leader of Education with strong school improvement experience, and Whitley Academy will be at the heart of the RSA's school improvement ambitions. The RSA will continue to liaise with individual schools and the Department for Education to expand the family of RSA Academies.
Commenting on the project, RSA Director of Education, Professor Becky Francis said:
"The RSA seeks to work with schools in areas of disadvantage, and participating schools will subscribe to a progressive, socially just ethos. This will include working to narrow the socio-economic attainment gap, sharing best practice with local schools and promoting the interests of all students in the area."
Whitley Academy follows the 2008 launch of the Tipton based RSA Academy. Since opening the RSA Academy has exceeded many expectations, with the proportion of pupils gaining five A* to C grades at GCSE, including in Maths and English, rising from 29 per cent to 45 per cent. The RSA Academy introduced state of the art buildings designed especially to facilitate the teaching of Opening Minds, innovative working practices, and wide-ranging extra-curricular activities to inspire the Academy's students.
The RSA's education team will continue to invite other 'outstanding' schools to become RSA Academies and encourage them to partner or sponsor struggling schools in their local area in order to drive up educational attainment.