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By Trust News
Posted: 17/07/2024

Aquila Turns 10!

Trust of 16 Kent primary schools celebrates 10 years A school trust with more than 4,000 pupils across Kent has celebrated its 10th anniversary with a service at All Saints Church in Maidstone. Since 2014, Aquila, the Diocese of Canterbury Academies Trust, has grown from just one primary school, Archbishop Courtenay Primary, to 16 across the county. The school trust has built up a successful reputation for rapidly improving schools, ensuring they reflect their local communities and have strong relationships with them. Two Aquila schools are in the top 1% of primary schools for their Key Stage Two results, one of which had previously been named as one of the one of the worst schools in Kent before joining the trust. The trust works closely with Canterbury Christ Church University to ensure it is informed by the latest research on what works best in the classroom. To mark Aquila’s 10th year, each of its 16 schools put forward 10 pupils to sing in a choir of 160 young voices at All Saints Church last week. Aquila’s schools’ music leaders selected the songs. Each school also produced a piece of art for the church’s gallery. The church was filled with invited guests, parents, pupils, ex-pupils and teachers joined in the celebrations, with the pupils leading the majority of the services and giving readings. The Bishop of Dover, Rose Hudson-Wilkin, blessed the congregation and all the schools. Annie Wiles, who has been Chief Executive Officer of Aquila since 2015, said she was “incredibly proud” of all the schools in the trust and “privileged to work alongside committed and inspirational staff and children”. “We have had many successes and I know the next 10 years will see many more. We are committed to ensuring our schools work together, share their strengths and provide a great education for every pupil. “Our schools design their coverage of the curriculum to provide challenging and exciting learning experiences in a caring and nurturing environment, which is based on our strong values. We want our schools to serve their unique local communities, developing links with churches, each other and wider networks enabling staff and pupils to flourish. Through developing leadership at all levels, we want the pupils in our schools to become happy, successful, well-rounded individuals who develop into lifelong learners.” Andrew Gould, one of Aquila’s trustees, said: “The children were amazing, their singing, their confident reading and their behaviour were a credit to their families, teachers and the schools.”
By School News
Posted: 15/07/2024

Sandwich Infant School Win £15,000 Competition

6 Year Old Pupil Wins £15,000 for Primary School Six year old Jemima has won £15,000 for Sandwich Infant School by winning a competition to design a school for the future. Jemima entered a national competition to come up with a design for an “exciting and creative sustainable school of the future”. In Jemima’s imaginary school of the future, the roof would double up as a classroom for outside lessons, honey and food would be grown on school grounds and pupils would each have litter-pickers and would ride bikes to create electricity. “In my imaginary school, we will learn to be kind because when you are kind, you look after the planet and try to save it,” Jemima said in her competition entry. The competition, Get Set for Positive Energy, is run by British Gas, Team GB and Paralympics GB. It was held to help young people understand the role we can all play to save energy and create a greener future. Paralympic 100m champion Thomas Young and former Team GB 100m sprinter Ashley Nelson presented Jemima with the £15,000 cheque for her school. Leanne Bennett, Headteacher of Sandwich Infant School, praised Jemima’s “incredible design” and said the school was “absolutely thrilled” to receive the funds. The school is considering spending the money on LED lighting or double glazing. “We are also thinking about which of Jemima’s ideas we can implement at Sandwich Infant School,” Ms Bennett said. Sandwich Infant School is part of Aquila, the Diocese of Canterbury Academies Trust. To listen to Jemima's interview on Radio Kent click here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/live:bbc_radio_kent  (10:52-10:57)
By School News
Posted: 12/06/2024

Aquila pupil aged 11 makes five years progress in four months

A pupil at one of Aquila, the Diocese of Canterbury Academies Trust, schools has made an astonishing five years’ progress in his reading in just four months. Luke Rogers, 11, went from reading only 143 words per minute to a fluent 309 words per minute in only 16 weeks after his school, St Clement's Church of England Primary School in Leysdown, adopted a new approach for some pupils. The school experimented with Reading Plus, a programme that encourages healthy competition among pupils and uses AI to improve reading fluency.  The primary school already has a strong emphasis on reading, with a dedicated daily time for pupils to read each day and reading challenges and competitions over the holidays.  Kelly Lockwood, St Clement’s Headteacher, said Luke had “worked his socks off” and was “a model of persistence for his classmates”. She said the 11-year-old, whose favourite author is David Walliams, is “highly motivated, persistent and has an excellent work ethic”. She said the school had found a number of its pupils were highly motivated by the Reading Plus programme “because it seems to provide a different approach to reading, which has helped some of our more reluctant readers, as well as those who were already enjoying a good book”. “Luke really wanted to be top of the leaderboard in reading,” she said. Gemma Rogers, Luke’s mum, said her son now has “much more enthusiasm for reading, especially with the friendly competition between him and his classmates about who can read the most words”. “It has really increased his motivation and his reading ability.  We are very proud of him and his dedication to his reading," she said.
By School News
Posted: 29/04/2024

Ofsted inspectors say Kent junior school is 'rapidly improving'

Ofsted inspectors say Kent junior school is 'rapidly improving' A Kent junior school has been judged 'outstanding' for its pupils’ personal development and 'good' in all other areas. Ofsted inspectors visited St Laurence in Thanet Church of England Junior Academy in Ramsgate last month. The school, whose pupils are aged seven to 11, was previously judged 'good' overall in 2018. The inspectors said that since a new leadership team took over, the school has been on a 'rapidly improving trajectory', with 'much achieved in a relatively short period of time'. In their report, which has just been published, the inspectors found the school’s governors and the academy trust that the school is part of - Aquila, The Diocese of Canterbury Academies Trust - have played a 'significant [role] in supporting leaders at all levels to improve the school'. “Large-scale changes in the way mathematics is taught and how pupils who struggle to read are supported is proving effective,” the inspectors said. “The significance of this is clear to see … it is impacting positively on the wider curriculum and helping to build the confidence and resilience of pupils, the large majority of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds.” The inspectors described pupils’ personal development as “strong”. “This does not happen by happy coincidence,” they said. “Much of this work is based on the reality of pupils’ everyday lives and mitigates the challenges they face outside of school.” The inspectors had some suggestions of how the school could further improve, including by continuing to raise expectations of what pupils can achieve and by continuing to reduce absence rates. Sarah Graham, the school’s Headteacher, said: “St Laurence in Thanet offers a supportive, inclusive, nurturing and inspiring learning environment where children are encouraged through an aspirational and engaging curriculum to develop their knowledge, skills and character. It’s a privilege to work here.” Annie Wiles, Chief Executive Officer of Aquila, The Diocese of Canterbury Academies Trust, said the school’s improvement was “down to the hard work, enthusiasm and experience of its inspirational team”.
By School News
Posted: 26/03/2024

Schools Minister praises two schools in our Trust for exceptional results

Schools Minister praises two schools in our trust for exceptional results The Schools Minister Damian Hinds has praised two Kent primaries in Aquila, Diocese of Canterbury Academies Trust for being in the country’s top 1% for reading, writing and maths. Hinds sent letters of congratulations to Charing Church of England Primary School, which is near Ashford, and Temple Ewell Church of England Primary School, in Brookside, for their “very high standards of achievement”. Both schools are part of Aquila, The Diocese of Canterbury Academies Trust. Some 16 primary schools across Kent are part of the trust. At Charing, 100% of pupils in Year 6 have reached - or exceeded - expected standards in reading, writing and maths, while 94% have at Temple Ewell. In his letter, Hinds said: “The government wants to ensure that every child has the fluency in reading, writing and mathematics necessary to prepare them for a successful secondary education and beyond, which is why I was delighted to see your results. “Thank you for your work in continuing the drive towards higher academic standards, and congratulations again to you and your staff for your commitment and success.” Annie Wiles, CEO of Aquila, The Diocese of Canterbury Academies Trust, said: “Our schools provide exceptional learning experiences and we are so proud of Charing and Temple Ewell for this achievement. “Our schools design their coverage of the curriculum to provide challenging and exciting learning experiences in a caring and nurturing environment which is based on our strong Christian values.” Angela Matthews, Headteacher of Temple Ewell, said: “These results have been achieved through a tireless and unwavering focus on ensuring that each and every child receives an outstanding education, and by providing a rich and varied curriculum that enables pupils to progress and achieve their very best, whilst still retaining a thirst for knowledge and an enjoyment and love of learning.” Tom Bird, Charing’s Headteacher, said: “This is testament to the hard work and dedication of our wonderful pupils and our caring and committed staff. “Every child in our school is valued and we have a supportive, nurturing team to make sure that each one of them feels supported and happy at our school.”
By School News
Posted: 21/03/2024

Inspectors praise Kent school where 'pupils greet everyone with a smile'

Ofsted inspectors have heaped praise on a Kent primary school for being a “caring and kind community” where “pupils greet everyone with a smile”. Inspectors visited St Georges Church of England Primary in Sheerness last month. The school has retained its overall ‘Good’ rating in its latest Ofsted inspection, but it has been upgraded to ‘Outstanding’ for the behaviour and attitudes of its pupils and its leadership and management. Inspectors said the school, which is part of Aquila, the Diocese of Canterbury Academies Trust, was “welcoming and inclusive”. “Pupils are proud ambassadors … and show impeccable manners, politely welcoming all, as they open doors and greet everyone with a smile,” the inspectors said. “They speak with delight and enthusiasm about how much leaders and staff care about them. If they have any worries, help is never far away.” Ofsted praised the curriculum, which they said had been “designed with precise knowledge from early years to Year 6”. “Pupils become confident mathematicians, writers, and scientists as they move through the school,” the inspectors said. They added that the school had taken “robust action” to improve achievements in maths and writing after results were weaker than the national average last year. The inspectors also said the school’s leaders were “inspirational, compassionate and successful, always leading by example”. “They embody the school values every day, showing deep care for pupils, families and staff.” Howard Fisher, St Georges’ Headteacher, said: “We pride ourselves on providing a caring, happy and positive atmosphere for all our children to fulfil their potential and grow in self-confidence and respect for the people and environment around them. “We agree with Ofsted that our pupils greet everyone with a smile - it’s part of what makes working at the school so rewarding.” Annie Wiles, Chief Executive Officer of Aquila, the Diocese of Canterbury Academies Trust, said: “Ofsted has rightly acknowledged that St Georges is a highly successful school and that is down to the hard work, commitment and excellent leadership of the school’s community.” Click here for the OFSTED report.