UK’s First Rural Enterprise Academy Gets ‘Good’ Grade from Ofsted
The Rural Enterprise Academy, the UK’s first and only free school dedicated to the land-based sector, has received a major boost with a ‘Good’ rating from its Ofsted report in its Overall Effectiveness summary and also in every major category from Achievement of Pupils and Quality of Teaching to Behaviour and Safety of Pupils and Leadership and Management.
The Academy, which shares a 180-hectare parkland site with South Staffordshire College, prides itself on creating a ‘family’ atmosphere with teaching that delivers a unique blend of academic subjects alongside land-based qualifications. Parents of 14 – 18 year olds looking for a career path into the rural or enterprise sectors or on to university and college will be particularly interested to learn that teaching in both English and Business Studies is considered ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted. The Academy is also commended for the guidance students get in taking their next steps in education.
School Principal Lorraine Makin is naturally delighted with the inspector’s report, drawing attention to the fact that it highlights the ‘overwhelmingly positive’ view of the school from parents and the levels of commitment and leadership shown by both Governors and Senior Staff.
“The Academy is a successful and happy place for students, where we have been able to build an environment that encourages students to create, to inspire and to lead.
Our students enjoy a range of activities that deliver a blend of academic and vocational skills, with on-site resources such as the Equine Centre, a working farm and a zoo. Being able to study Shakespeare and Pythagoras one day and help with lambing the next provides a real voyage of discovery that is both academically challenging but also richly rewarding.
Our Ofsted report spoke of the Academy Leadership Team showing a strong vision and our absolute priority is enabling the students to share fully in the opportunities that brings.”
The Academy is a state school, funded by the DfE and backed by a partnership between South Staffordshire College, acknowledged by official data as the most successful college in the area, the National Farmers Union and global sustainability business Veolia. The mix of academic, land-based and private sector skills provides a rich vein of expertise which the Academy has captured in its curriculum.
John Mercer, Regional Director at NFU said, “This is fantastic news and recognition for all the hard work that Lorraine and her team have put into establishing the rural enterprise academy since its formation. Agriculture is an exciting industry and there are many opportunities for the younger generation to forge a successful and lifelong career within the sector. The academy will play a vital role in helping inspire and train this next generation and the NFU is delighted to be associated with the academy”.
Speaking on behalf of South Staffordshire College, Chief Executive Principal Graham Morley says the Academy’s success is something that will be built on over the next few years.
“There was interest in the model of education proposed by the Academy from the beginning. For example, Radio 4’s flagship rural programme ‘Farming Today’ chose the Academy to present a feature on education in the Rural Sector.
At South Staffordshire College we’re delighted to share a site with The Academy. It has been clear from the start that Lorraine and her team have something special to offer the area’s 14 – 18 year olds. The school is still recruiting for year 10, is already opening a sixth form this September and its reputation will be further enhanced by this inspection result. As one of the original stakeholders in the Academy, it is gratifying for us to see the success of this unique approach to education.”