The Fermain Academy in Macclesfield has achieved Flagship School status.
A Structured and Positive Learning Experience
The Fermain Academy is an Alternative Provision free school with superb state of the art facilities for students aged 13-16. It is a safe place of learning for those who, for whatever reason, have become disengaged from mainstream education. Students are guaranteed a structured and positive learning experience and an outstanding dedicated team who is able to provide emotional support in a safe and supportive environment, evidence of which I have seen and experienced on numerous occasions. The following core principles run through everything that happens at the Academy and that all staff wholeheartedly follow, and I can attest to from this review and previous reviews. They provide a supportive environment to allow all students to learn and develop in their own way to reach their full potential. They prepare students for reintegration into mainstream education, where it is appropriate to do so, they improve each student’s behaviour and attitudes towards their peers and adults, they reinforce each student’s self-esteem, self-confidence and integrity and they re-engage the disengaged.
Supporting, Engaging and Raising Aspirations
The staff work tirelessly to support students who have struggled with conventional education, working very hard to support, engage and raise the aspirations of each of their students. The Academy takes students from all over Cheshire East and beyond who have been through varying struggles in a mainstream school and all have individual needs. Many of these students are at risk of permanent exclusion and some come after being at a PRU. Almost all students have a persistent record of absence from their respective schools and consequently have not been diagnosed with a range of additional needs such as Autism, Attachment, Dyslexia or ADHD. The Academy recognises and understands that stronger partnership work is required to ensure that such student receives the support that they need. In fact, it is the hard work and the ethos of the Academy to ‘Engage the Disengaged’ and their understanding of how to ensure that each student has their confidence and self-esteem rebuilt, so that over time they become mature and responsible members of the school and the local community that ensures success and lays secure foundations for their students’ futures. Teachers continue to have the highest expectations of their students who are part of the ‘Fermain Family’ and provide superb nurture, care, support and an education that enables them to make rapid progress, that provides them with the stretch and challenge to achieve their full potential that has previously been denied them.
Sources of Evidence
Discussions with key members of staff was extremely useful in confirming that the School continues to successfully address all 8 elements of the IQM award. During the online review numerous meetings were held with staff to discuss key aspects of the school and its inclusivity that was supported by documentary evidence to enhance and underpin discussions. This included both factual written information/evidence and photographic evidence showing staff and pupils involved in learning and a wide variety of activities that allowed a remote and highly positive picture of the school to be seen.
The initial meetings were with the Outgoing Deputy Headteacher who is the Headteacher at the new Axis Academy opening in September 2020. The Headteacher and newly appointed Deputy Headteacher looked at changes in staffing over the last twelve months and how the school has moved forward since the last review in terms of inclusion and included a thorough review that looked at, and reviewed, progress on their COE Action Plan over the last twelve months, how they have been able to continue providing education for pupils during lockdown, a discussion about how progress had been limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic and also looked ahead to discuss the proposed Flagship Project for 2020–21.
Showcasing Superb Inclusivity
Further meetings during the day continued to demonstrate the school’s superb inclusivity and, although I wasn’t able to talk to students, I was able to see them in action being taught, learning and involved in extra-curricular activities through the wealth of information provided by the school in terms of pictorial evidence, video and from the school’s website. Staff actively and passionately engaged in meetings to discuss in depth the review of the previous action plan and to talk about how they had met each target or, in some cases, for a variety of valid reasons, had not and would therefore need to carry them over to the next year.
Supporting Students’ Well-Being
Over the course of the review I was able to hold interesting and involved discussions with several members of staff that focused on elements of the Action Plan from last year. These included discussions about the trip to Berlin in November and the in-depth planning that went in to organising the highly successful trip for 10 students and four staff, who visited key sights such as the Brandenburg Gate, The TV Tower, Monument to the Jews and Checkpoint Charlie. I was also able to talk to several staff members about interventions put in place to support students who struggle with certain aspects of the curriculum and also Emotional Health and Well-being interventions to support students’ well-being.
Interventions are tailored to, and bespoke to, meet the individual needs of the students who staff are working with at any point in time. This was highlighted during a phone conversation with a parent who asked to speak to me to discuss her son’s educational journey prior to attending the Academy and she spoke glowingly of the extremely positive changes that had altered his life in the relatively short time he had attended including being able to access the trip to Berlin that he would not have been able to access at his previous schools. She was extremely supportive of the school, as prior to attending, her son had been ‘written off’ and now through their superb inclusive ethos and practice he has a place at College in September and has a part time job. These are opportunities he would never have had if he had not been able to attend The Fermain Academy. A superb praise for their work with him and as a matter of course everyone who comes through their door, that is replicated with most of the students they work with each year.
Inclusive Ethos, Care, Nurture and Support
The thorough online review of The Fermain Academy underlined their superb inclusive ethos, care, nurture and support that are at the heart of their approach to teaching and supporting the students in their care and was talked about and discussed openly and implicitly with all stakeholders during the day. The Academy clearly has inclusion embedded in the very fabric of the school, where students are encouraged to reach their full potential no matter their starting points. This is a setting that is constantly and consistently looking at ways to develop for the benefit of their learning community with a mutual respect and care that is evident across the staff body and a fantastic rapport between the staff and pupils that, although not seen during this review, has been evident in previous reviews. Everyone involved with the Fermain Academy should be extremely proud of what they achieve with their students and the emphasis placed on ensuring everyone is nurtured and included.
Find out more about the IQM Inclusive School Award
If your school is interested in obtaining the IQM Inclusive School Award or you wish to talk to a member of the IQM team please telephone:
028 7127 7857 (9.00 am to 5.00 pm)
or email: firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
Want more information on the IQM Award? Click here to request your free IQM information pack.