A short post on my way back from the RSA Academy.
My regular reader and hammer of progressives, 'OldAndrew', won't like it but, as well as core necessities like standards, discipline, and safety, what I most prize in a school is:
a) What I call - for want of a better phrase - 'modern student centred learning' (such as that provided by the best Opening Minds schools)
b) It should be an intelligent community which fosters the habits of good citizenship.
Which is why I always get a buzz from the RSA Academy. Not only are the exam results improving but exclusions and allegations of bullying are falling (the latter more or less to zero). The pupils - largely drawn from a working class community with limited parental educational attainment - are also enjoying amazing enrichment opportunities, including educational trips to South Africa and the USA, and visitors flocking in; in the last couple of weeks alone, some of our eminent RDIs have put on inspirational sessions to explain the work they do in their respective fields of design.
There is also a splendid Student Parliament. Not only has this overseen the successful policy to eradicate bullying but it has done great work with pupils from feeder primary schools. The new dimension we heard about today was student awards to teachers, developed by students, voted on by students and awarded by students. What a brilliant idea.
No wonder the most common feedback from Academy parents (most of whom went to the predecessor school) is 'I wish it had been like this when I was a kid!'
After 10 years, RSA Academies officially closed its activities on 31 March 2022. In that time the project has engaged some 15,000 children and young people. Read this retrospective analysis of the project from Colin Hopkins.
A recent workshop with RSA Fellows provided invaluable insight into the key concerns and opportunities facing cultural education workers and employers.