Academy Principal Mr Williams celebrated the commitment students had shown to their studies and subsequent success, saying ‘We are immensely proud of our students. They demonstrated a strong work ethic and showed great resilience, responding well to new initiatives and high expectations from their teachers, who have also been fantastic and have been prepared to go the extra mile. We are equally pleased with the significant improvement in progress for English and Maths, and the improved A*- C grades in 17 other subject areas’.
However, this is just the starting point for the Academy as Mr Williams went on to explain ‘We are extremely proud of these results and so pleased that we can share them with the many people who have helped and supported the Academy this year. Much of this success is down to the dedication, commitment and quality of our teachers and teaching assistants. However, we know we must be unrelenting in our efforts to improve teaching and learning and the overall quality of provision. Our real challenge is to see these results improve year on year, with increased levels of progress and even better outcomes for our students.’
The strong improvement in academic results for English students also brought a 23% improvement in students making their expected progress, above national figures. Mrs Hartley, Subject Leader for English, beamed as students shared their exam results with her in the Atrium.
Mrs Hartley praised the resilience and commitment of students and staff, saying ‘The English Department are absolutely thrilled with the results for both English Language and English Literature. The grades received demonstrate the students’ hard work and determination to succeed; they’ve really ‘bought in’ to the after school, holiday and Saturday sessions, giving up their time in an effort to produce such wonderful grades. I am particularly impressed with those students who did not give up after the November exams and who persevered to achieve higher grades in the Summer exams.’
So many students on Results Day praised the overwhelming support of the Maths Department and programme of additional group and one-to-one revision sessions they ran. Time and again students gave examples of how the support they had received had made the difference to them making progress and achieving higher grade results, explaining that their final year in Maths seemed like a shared experience between students and staff.
Members of the Maths Department were with students at the final stage of the exam process - discovering the results of all the hard work. Mr Jones, Subject Leader for Maths ‘What an amazing set of results!! All credit has to be given to the students, they have been absolutely fantastic. The commitment and hard work they have put in has been rewarded. The Maths Department could not be prouder of our awesome students.’
Impressive results for students taking Computer Science were also a highlight with 86% of students securing a higher grade result. Students praised teachers for the enthusiasm and motivation to get them ready for the final exams. Mrs Bustos, Subject Leader for Computing ‘Once again, the computing department are delighted with such an outstanding set of results at GCSE. Computer Science and ICT managed an overall pass rate of 100%, with ICT achieving 85% A* - C grades up from 79% in 2015.’
Mrs Bustos went on to add ‘We are particularly excited about the success of our Computer Science pupils. This was the first cohort to undertake the GCSE qualification and the course had its many challenges. However, with a lot of hard work, determination and perseverance, we managed in our first year of teaching Computer Science achieve 86% A*- C! Both pupils and staff worked incredibly hard over the past 2 years and can feel very proud of such a wonderful achievement.’
When reflecting on what factors and initiatives had made the difference to results this year, Vice Principal Dr Riach felt that there was a fundamental shift in the year group in their final year. Dr Riach explained ‘The students bought into the idea that they could succeed, and understood what it would feel like to succeed, and the staff were there to work with them as a team.’
He went on to say ‘We used the early entry English results and Mock Exams to emphasise the need to prepare for exams early by giving out results through a formal ‘results day’ format. The aim was to highlight how it felt to succeed and also what it could feel like to fail. I believe that this played a part in focusing students on wanting to succeed, and in helping us achieve the best results we ever had in Maths and English.’
Assistant Vice Principal Mr Stopher added ‘At the same time we stopped issuing ‘predicted grades’ and gave them their actual results based on where the student would be if the Mock Exam result had been their GCSE exam. This helped the students to know where they were at in the build up to their final exams.’
Mrs English, Achievement Director for Year 11, picked up on the theme of many comments being made by students when she shared her view on the progress made by students in the year group ‘There was a great rapport between staff and students this year that helped to build trust and a team working mentality in the year group. It was clear to the students that they weren’t on their own, but they had a team supporting them to succeed.’
Dr Riach agreed with this view ‘There was definitely more team working between staff and students, but also between students. I remember one day where students had a revision day for Maths and English, but when it came to the end of the day so many students stayed behind to keep going into the evening. The additional sessions we ran with the students over the year actually became a lot of fun, and we had more students turning up than had originally signed up!’
However both Dr Riach and Mr Stopher felt that there was a fundamental difference focus towards building a strong mentality this year, supported by the arrival of Mr Williams. Dr Riach reflected ‘I feel it is important to note the arrival of our new Principal and the direction and resources he brought into the Academy. For example, our involvement with the PiXL Partnership led to both students and staff gaining access to a new level of support which has helped to raise standards and aspirations.’
Mr Stopher went on to explain ‘The PiXL events were so important in raising aspirations. We took students to national and regional events that celebrated student success, to show them what is possible. It took the emphasis away from ‘grades’ to highlighting what success could mean to their future lives and careers.’
Dr Riach agreed and added ‘I felt that last year our conversations with students were not just about bluntly ‘working harder’. Our partnership with PiXL enabled us to personalise conversations with students specifically targeted the areas needing development within the classroom. This really helped the teaching staff to pitch their support to the individual need of the students and the level or ability they were at.’
With visitors commenting that Felixstowe Academy’s Results Day was ‘one of the most positive and happy’ Results Days they had been too, we would like to congratulate students and wish them the very best in the next stage of their education journey!