St George's Academy
|Motto||Aiming High to Achieve Excellence for All|
|Type||Comprehensive secondary school and Academy|
|Principal||Wayne Birks BA(Hons) MA|
|Chairman of the Governors||Graham Arnold|
|DfE URN||136044 Tables|
|Students||2,220 (February 2015)|
|Website||St George's Academy|
St George's Academy is a co-educational comprehensive secondary school based in the English market town of Sleaford in Lincolnshire, with a satellite school at nearby Ruskington. Its origins date to 1908, when Sleaford Council School opened at Church Lane to meet the growing demand for elementary education in the town. After the Education Act 1944, the senior department became a secondary modern. A second school building was constructed at Westholme in the 1950s and expanded in 1983, allowing the Church Lane site to close; to mark the occasion, it was renamed St George's School. After it became grant-maintained, the school received a Technology specialism, became a Technology College in 1994 and later converted to Foundation status. Coteland's School in Ruskington federated with St George's in 2007; they merged to form the Academy in 2010.
The Sleaford school opened with a capacity for 600 pupils in 1908, but St George's had 2,220 on roll across both sites in 2015, of which 374 attended the Sixth Form; the Ruskington site, with roughly 350 pupils, makes up a small proportion of the total. Pupils generally sit examinations for ten General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) qualifications in Year Eleven (aged 15–16), and they have a choice of three or four A-levels in the sixth form, which is part of the Sleaford Joint Sixth Form consortium. In 2013, 88% of pupils achieved five GCSEs at grade A*-C and 51% achieved that including English and mathematics. An Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) inspection in 2012 graded St George's Academy as "good" in every category.
- 1 School structure
- 2 History
- 3 Curriculum
- 4 Sites and property
- 5 Headteachers
- 6 References
- 7 External links
St George's Academy is a state-run comprehensive secondary school and Sixth Form serving pupils aged between 11 and 18. The school has obtained specialist status in mathematics and computing. It is run across two sites: one at Westholme, Sleaford, and the other in Ruskington, where approximately 350 pupils attend. The school is co-educational and has a maximum capacity of 2,500 pupils; as of January 2014, there are 2,220 pupils on roll: 1,175 boys and 1,045 girls. 11.2% of these pupils receive free school meals.
St George's opened as an Academy in 2010, meaning that it receives funding directly from central government rather than a local education authority, and is run by a trust on behalf of the government; until 2010, sponsors were required to provide at least £2m towards a new Academy. St George's is sponsored by the University of Lincoln and run by St George's Academy Trust.
St George's can admit up to 380 pupils annually. Upon admission, pupils are allocated a mixed ability form, where they are registered, taught Life Skills and have access to pastoral support from their tutors. For all other lessons, pupils are setted by ability. Each year group has a progress manager with responsibility for the students in that year. Since the Education Act 2002, years 7, 8 and 9 have been grouped into Key Stage 3 and years 10 and 11 into Key Stage 4, which co-ordinates how the National Curriculum is taught. At St George's, a manager is assigned to each Key Stage for pastoral support.
Before the conversion to Academy status, the school uniform consisted of a navy blue blazer with the school emblem sewn on, a white shirt, navy blue tie and dark grey trousers (girls could wear plain blue skirts) for all pupils in years 7−10; year 11 pupils could wear a dark blue jumper, shirt and grey trousers. Since 2010, girls no longer wear ties, and must wear a revere collar blouse. Dark grey trousers or a pleated dark grey skirt are available for girls to wear; boys have dark grey trousers. All pupils wear a blue blazer, but those in Key Stage 3 have bright blue piping on their lapels; shirts are white until Year 11, when thin blue stripes are worn.
St George's has a capacity for 450 pupils in the Sixth Form and can admit up to 50 people from outside the Academy. Along with Carre's Grammar School, St George's is part of the Sleaford Joint Sixth Form, which was founded in 1983 and included Kesteven and Sleaford High School until it withdrew in 2010. It provides a common timetable across both sites and allows for pupils to choose from A-Level options offered at both schools. Pupils may apply to be based at either school, where their pastoral and tutorial activities take place. Pupils are required meet minimum grade requirements for their subject choices and may have interviews to revise offers where appropriate. The Sixth Form has been based in the Arnold Centre since 2012. Sixth Formers are not required to wear school uniform, but must wear business-like attire, namely a lounge suit for boys, including a tie, and a business suit for girls, with either full-length trousers, or a knee-length skirt or dress.
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the British Government made elementary education compulsory and gradually empowered local government to ensure children were educated. The Forster Act 1870 required Local School Boards to establish schools for all children aged 5 to 12; the Education Act 1902 consolidated these boards into larger local education authorities (LEAs) and allowed them to subsidise elementary schools with finances raised from local rate-payers.
Alongside Carre's Grammar School, Sleaford and Kesteven High School for Girls and Alvey's Endowed and National School, Sleaford had four elementary schools by 1905: two Wesleyan (one was for infants), one Catholic and one infants school. The construction of the Bass and Co. maltings at Mareham Lane (1901−1906) and the Rauceby Asylum (1897−1902) contributed to an increase in Sleaford's population and Inspectors found that the schools could not accommodate every child in the town. Owing to debts, the Wesleyan schools could not afford the required enlargements and the elementary schoolmasters opted for Kesteven County Council to take responsibility. The Council built a schoolhouse on Church Lane at the cost of £11,500, which opened as Sleaford Council School on 4 May 1908. The staff and pupils at the Wesleyan schools were transferred there; its first headmaster was H. H. Godfrey, who had been master at the Wesleyan school. Built with a capacity of 600 pupils, 280 were on roll when teaching commenced.
The school was an elementary school with an infants' department. From 1880, elementary schools provided children aged 5 to 12 with an education in the "three Rs": reading, writing and arithmetic, alongside optional subjects such as needlework or history. In 1918, the Fisher Act raised the leaving age to 14, which led to schools developing junior and senior departments, and the Hadow Reports of 1926 and 1931 recommended this practice be adopted nationally; when H. H. Godfrey retired in 1931, A. R. N. Rooksby succeeded him as headmaster at Sleaford Council Senior School. By the 1940s, the infant and senior schools operated separately on the same site.
Secondary Modern and new site
The Education Act 1944 made secondary education available to all children up to the age of 15; a 'tripartite system' of secondary schools was established to provide curricula based on aptitude and ability: grammar schools for "academic" pupils, secondary moderns for practical studies, and technical schools for science and engineering. Pupils were allocated to them depending on their score in the eleven-plus examination. Sleaford Senior County School became a secondary modern in 1946; the County Council announced in May 1947 that the Infants' School would close and the Senior school would be allocated £50,000 for adaptions as part of its conversion into a secondary modern for boys. The school would use parkland at Westholme for playing fields, where a separate secondary modern for girls would be constructed and the High School rebuilt. In 1957 the Secondary Education Sub-Committee amended the plans so that a new mixed secondary modern school be built on Westholme to replace the Church Lane school, which would become a further education college. The school would be allocated over 18 acres of the parkland. By 1960, a new school building at Westholme had opened but Sleaford Secondary Modern was now split between there and the Church Lane site.
The educational opportunities for secondary modern pupils were severely limited compared to those at grammar schools, prompting criticism of the selection system; grammar schools and the eleven plus were also criticised for being biased towards middle-class families. A reluctance to improve secondary moderns or expand grammar schools under the Conservatives prompted the Labour Government to issue Circular 10/65 in 1965 which requested local education authorities convert to a comprehensive system. In 1971, Sleaford parents voted in favour of comprehensive education, but rejected the Council's proposals. New plans were unveiled in 1973: the High School and the Secondary Modern sites were to become mixed 11-16 schools and Carre's would become a Sixth Form College. Parents voted for the plans (1,199 to 628), albeit with a 50% turnout. The County Council approved them, but allowed governors a veto. Following negotiations with governors at Carre's, the scheme was revised in 1974 so that Carre's and the High School became 11-18 schools; the secondary modern would be closed, Westholme absorbed by the High School and the Church Lane site by Carre's.
Despite support from most staff and all three headteachers, the new Lincolnshire County Council voted to return the scheme for further consultation in January 1975, a moved the Sleaford Standard called "politically motivated". Two of the leading opponents, Cllrs Eric Fairchild and Reg Brealey, were governors at the secondary modern and Brealey was a former pupil. He proposed a three-school system, arguing it offered more choice: the secondary modern would be consolidated at Westholme as a single-site 11-16 school; Carre's and the High School would operate Sixth Forms. Fairchild argued that this would be more popular and cheaper. After the Government ordered the Council to submit a comprehensive proposal in 1977, it voted to submit the three-school system, which had become popular with parents and was championed by Brealey, who had become chairman of the Governors. But, the Labour Education Secretary, Shirley Williams, dismissed the proposals in 1978 on grounds that the Sixth Forms would be too small. The council then voted against the two-school system again.
St George's: rebuilding, growth and specialist status
In the 1979 general election, a Conservative government came to power and the Council shifted focus towards retaining Grammar Schools where they still existed and improving schools where work had been put on hold during the comprehensive debate; despite 90% of English councils adopting comprehensive education, Lincolnshire had resisted. In 1979, the schools sub-committee recommended that the Westholme site be rebuilt. By December, the Council had approved the consolidation of the school at Westholme, but the catchment area was decreased to protect the smaller schools at Billingborough and Billinghay, causing controversy amongst parents in affected areas and governors at the school. A new block was built at Westholme between 1981 and 1983, allowing the Church Lane site to close in 1983−4. Reg Brealey donated £250,000 in 1982 towards the establishment of a languages centre, which opened in 1985. To commemorate the new buildings and the end of the dual-site format, the Board of Governors voted to adopt a new name: St George's School, which came into effect from September 1984. A new badge, to be worn on pupil's blazers, was designed by pupil Stephen Robinson: it featured a gold sword atop a red dragon on a blue shield, bordered with gold, all above a scroll with the motto Loyalty.
By 1991, St George's was grant-maintained; in 1992, it was awarded Technology School status, which was accompanied by a Government grant of £500,000 and a gift of £250,000 made by Reg Brealey; these contributed to the construction of a Science and Technology block, which opened in 1994. Sponsored by Brealey, St George's was one of the first schools designated a Technology College (a specialist school) in England in February 1994, a status renewed in 1997. More extensions followed: an English block in 1994, a library with art and physics classrooms in 1997, a sports hall in 2001, and a science block in 2005. In 2000, the Technology College status was renewed for the second time and the school received the Schools Curriculum and Sportsmark awards and was recognised as the 10th most improved specialist school in the country. After the abolition of grant-maintained status in 1998, St George's converted to a Foundation School.
Federation, merger and conversion to an Academy
St George's became federated with Lafford High School in Billinghay and Aveland High School in Billingborough in 2005 and 2006 respectively. A plan to merge them into an Academy was announced the following year; Coteland's School in Ruskington was allowed to opt-in. When David Veal retired as headteacher of Coteland's in 2007, the school joined the federation; with that, Paul Watson became executive head of all four schools. Despite improvements, the village schools were performing below the national average and Aveland was one of the lowest performing schools academically in Lincolnshire. The County Council began consulting parents in 2008 about closing Lafford due to falling numbers. Parents complained that Watson had lost "passion" for the school and that St George's "cherry-picked" the most able pupils. After a heated meeting with them in 2008, Watson resigned as Principal at Lafford and the school closed in 2010.
The first Academy plans outlined a £24 million grant for rebuilding Aveland and refurbishing Lafford. Despite a delay in 2008, the scheme was revived the following year: the three remaining schools would merge and up to £40 million of funds were being considered to pay for the redevelopment of each site. A feasibility report indicated that Aveland was not sustainable due to falling enrolment and would have to close; instead the remaining two sites would be redeveloped with £20 million of Government funding. The scheme was approved and, on 4 January 2010, St George's combined with Coteland's and Aveland to become St George's Academy. As planned, September 2012 saw the Billingborough site close and the remaining pupils transfer to the other sites. Along with a new IT system, the oldest part of the Sleaford site was demolished and the main block built in its place, while new science and IT blocks were added; the original post-war buildings at the Ruskington site were pulled down and a new school built.
Key Stages 3 and 4
As of 2014, the school follows the National Curriculum in Years 7-11 and offers a range of GCSEs (national exams taken by pupils aged 14–16) and A-Levels (national exams taken by pupils aged 16–18). The school has no affiliation with a particular religious denomination, but religious education is given throughout the school, and pupils may opt to take the subject as part of their GCSE course. Although morning assemblies take place and are Christian in nature, they are non-denominational; in some cases, local clergy attend as guest speakers. Pupils participate in a number of educational visits throughout their school career and Year 10 pupils are offered the opportunity to participate in a work experience programme, which usually lasts for two-weeks.
For Key Stage 3 pupils, the curriculum comprises English, mathematics, science, technology, a modern foreign language, art, Information and Communications Technology (ICT), geography, history, religious education (RE), physical education (PE), and a life skills programme, incorporating citizenship, sex and relationships education and personal and social education. The school offers French, Spanish and German as foreign languages and, in Year 8, pupils take a second language to supplement the one studied in Year 7. The use of ICT is central to all teaching and is taught as a subject in Key Stage 3.
In Key Stage 4 (Years 10 and 11), pupils study a core curriculum comprising English, mathematics, science, PE, RE and citizenship. They are required to take GCSEs in English, mathematics and science, alongside two option blocks, plus either a modern foreign language or a vocational course. English Language is taught in Year 10 and Literature the following year. Mathematics in taken by all pupils; they may opt-in for a GCSE in Statistics in Year 10, and the most able pupils may take Further Maths at GCSE in Year 11. Science courses are based on ability; pupils may study for three separate science qualifications, a dual or single award in Science or BTEC Applied Science. pupils may choose a modern foreign language (French, Spanish or German), a humanity (history or geography), computing or separate sciences (biology, chemistry and physics) for their options as part of the English Baccalaureate. Additionally, the school offers six technology courses at GCSE (electronics, food technology, graphics, product design, resistant materials and textiles), as well as art and design, drama, music, PE, RE and child development GCSE qualifications. Vocational courses are also offered at Level 2, including applied business, construction, engineering, health and social care, ICT, music, performing arts, and travel and tourism. Pupils also participate in work-related learning.
The majority of pupils take four A-levels subjects in Year 12, with most choosing to focus on three in Year 13. The Joint Sixth Form allows pupils to choose from 63 vocational or academic subjects including: art and photography (separate A-Level or BTEC options), applied Science, biology, bricklaying, business (A-Level or BTEC), childcare, carpentry, chemistry, computing or ICT (A-Level or BTEC), drama or performing arts (A-Level or BTEC), electronics, engineering, English (language and/or literature), film or media studies, French, German, geography, government and politics, health and social care, history, hospitality and catering, law, mathematics and further mathematics, music (A-Level or BTEC), philosophy and ethics, psychology, physical education or sport (A-Level or BTEC), physics, product Design, public Services, light vehicle maintenance, Spanish, sociology, travel and tourism, and work skills.
In 2013, 88% of pupils achieved five GCSEs at grade A*-C and 51% achieved that including English and Maths, the thirty-fourth highest percentage in the county (out of ninety-six). Figures for the 2010/11 cohort show that 84% of pupils continue in education after leaving Year 11, with 45% carrying on to Sixth Form, 33% going into Further Education and 6% participating in an apprenticeship programme. In 2013, 50% of pupils achieved at least three A-Levels at grades A*-E and 4% achieved at least three A-Levels at a minimum of AAB grades including at least two "facilitating subjects"; the average point score per pupil was 660.4 and the average grade per entry was a D+.
School clubs and societies include singing and drama clubs, chess club, sports clubs, film club and computer games club. A student council system is in place which acts as a forum between pupils and staff; elected representatives of each year group attend fortnightly, pupil-run meetings to discuss school policies with staff. On the Ruskington site, a pupil-run Interact Club, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Sleaford and Kesteven, coordinates charitable and community work in the school. The school newspaper club produces an annual newsletter and the school takes part in the BBC School Report day. Badminton, association football, volleyball, trampolining and gymnastics clubs are run every week at the Academy. The physical education department runs Inter-House sports competitions and co-ordinates school rugby, association football, basketball, boccia and netball teams. The music department hosts a junior and senior choir, swing band, Woodwind ensemble, Samba group and Vocal groups; the music rehearsal rooms can be booked for band practice. Pupils can audition for parts in the school's annual musical production and summer cabaret. For a fee, pupils may take up music lessons taught by tutors at the school. The school has supported music students in local and regional music festivals.
Sites and property
Church Lane, Sleaford (1908−1984)
The site at Church Lane was acquired at a cost of £900 in c. 1908; it was undeveloped when the previous Ordnance Survey map was completed in 1905. The schoolhouse was constructed to the plans of Mr Dunne of Lincoln by the contractors Messrs Wright and Son, also of Lincoln, who secured the contract for £7,442. The school building had entrances for girls and boys, who were taught separately in six classrooms; the assembly hall was 62 feet by 28 feet with a domed ceiling. An infants' department consisted of three classrooms, while a workshop and kitchen were housed in separate buildings.
When teaching was transferred to the Westholme site in 1984, the original schoolhouse was demolished. The Infants' School buildings survived until the early 2000s, when they were also torn down to make way for the new buildings of its successor, Church Lane Primary School.
Westholme, Sleaford (1957−present)
Westholme House was designed by Charles Kirk the younger and built by his firm Kirk and Parry in c. 1849. The Gothic stone mansion, off Westgate, is situated in grounds spanning 32 acres (as of 2011). The Victorian buildings also include a stable-block, which Sir Nikolaus Pevsner called "charming", and two Tudor-style lodges. Initially occupied by Kirk's business partner Thomas Parry, the businessman and Liberal politician Samuel Pattinson lived at the house from at least 1924 until his death in 1942. His wife, Betsy Sharpley Pattinson, died the same year and their trustees auctioned off the furniture at Westholme in 1944. During World War II, the grounds were occupied by the War Department, but by 1945 Kesteven County Council had acquired the land and planned to use it for educational purposes. In 1957, the Council proposed a new mixed secondary modern school building on the site and, by 1960, the new building housed Sleaford Secondary Modern, which operated there and at the Church Lane premises.
A new block at Westholme was constructed from 1981 to 1983 at the cost of £1 million. It included a gymnasium, changing facilities, and music, technology and domestic science classrooms. A civic centre opened in the main building with conference rooms and a bar which could be hired out. Run by a committee of Town Councillors, school governors and the headmaster, the centre could also let out the school hall and gymnasium to the public. A languages centre, partially funded by Reg Brealey, opened in 1985. Fitted with a satellite dish that could pick up signals from Russia, the centre housed a computer laboratory and classrooms; a local reporter described it as "probably the most advanced in the country" at the time its designs were released to the public. In 1994, science, technology and English blocks opened followed by a library and art centre in 1997. A second sports hall was completed in 2001 and the block was extended in 2003 to include ICT classrooms; science and construction blocks were completed in 2005 and a childcare centre in 2008.
The school's conversion to an Academy included a £20 million grant, which funded renovations and improvements around the site and the construction of the Arnold Centre, which opened in 2012 and included a new hall, Sixth Form centre, library, drama studio and classrooms.
The Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire, the Earl of Ancaster, opened Billingborough County Secondary Modern School in 1963. On 11 acres of playing ground, including tennis courts, the steel-framed building was constructed by Messrs. Fosters of Grantham under the supervision of J. W. H. Barnes, county architect. It housed an assembly hall and dining space, gymnasium and a three-storey classroom block alongside workshops for practical subjects. Following the closure of the Billingborough site, the buildings were demolished in 2014.
In 1947, Kesteven County Council outlined its 15 year plan for secondary education, which included the construction of a new secondary modern school at Ruskington. The buildings were completed in the 1950s and teaching commenced at Ruskington Secondary Modern School in 1956; the buildings were officially opened by Sir John Wolfenden, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Reading, the following year. Built on a nine-acre site at a cost of £100,658, the new school buildings consisted of a three-storey teaching block and a gymnasium, assembly/dining hall, library and greenhouse. The buildings were built around a prefabricated steel frame and modular concrete blocks clad in brick. Much of the site was devoted to playing fields, which were supplemented by eight grass tennis courts and playground.
These buildings were demolished in 2012 and work began on a new school as part of the Academy development plans. A hall and classrooms were completed in January 2015 as the first phase of the rebuiling; work on the second phase, which is planned to include vocational classrooms and a technology suite, began two months later.
The first headmaster at Sleaford Council School was H. H. Godfrey, who had been schoolmaster at the Weslyan school on Westgate since the 1890s. His successor, A. R. N. Rooksby, had taught in Grantham, a background not dissimilar to the third headmaster, F. A. Speechley. Appointed in 1973, John Hodgson was the first university-educated headteacher of the school. All four remained in the role for at least twenty years, with Hodgson being the longest serving at 25 years. Upon retirement, he was succeeded by Paul Watson, who had previously served at two Lincolnshire schools before his appointment; he formally used the title "principal" instead of headteacher. He was at St George's for 15 years until he retired and gave way to Wayne Birks, in 2014.
|1908–1931||Henry Hilton Godfrey||Born in 1870 in Luton, Bedfordshire, Godfrey was the son of Solomon, a hat manufacturer. Educated in Luton and at Westminster Training College, he was master of the mixed Weslyan School on Westgate by 1896. He was a scoutmaster, a Methodist Circuit Secretary and Chairman of the Sleaford County Library Association. He died in 1956.|||
|1931–1952||Arthur Richard Newton Rooksby||Rooksby was born in 1888, the son of Richard Newton Rooksby, a schoolmaster, and his wife, Harriett Elizabeth née Hunter. Educated at Grantham, and the Training College at Peterborough, he served as a commissioned officer in the First World War. He was involved in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and then taught at Peterborough and the Castlegate School in Grantham before his headship in Sleaford commenced. A keen gardener, he was a Fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society. He died at Grantham in 1975.|||
|1952–1972||Frank Alfred Speechley||Educated at the King's School, Grantham, he trained as a teacher at Isleworth, and taught at Nottingham and Grantham before he was enlisted into the Royal Air Force during World War Two. He became headmaster at the Grantham Technical Institute in 1946 and Huntingtower Road School in 1947, before his appointment at Sleaford. Appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1949, he served as Deputy Chairman of the Grantham Borough Magistrates.|||
|1973–1998||John Charles Hodgson||Born in Stockton-on-Tees, Hodgson was educated at Darlington and graduated from Durham University with a BA in Classics. He qualified as a teacher in 1957 and taught at Stockton Grammar School and the Freyense Comprehensive School in Basildon; he became acting head at several schools in Huddersfield before taking up his post in Sleaford.|||
|1998–2014||Paul F. Watson||Educated at Nottingham and Leicester Universities, Watson then taught in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. He helped to establish the Lincoln School of Science and Technology and was appointed its deputy headteacher in 1992, before he was seconded to Middlefield School in Gainsborough as acting deputy headteacher; he eventually became the school's head.|||
|2014–present||Wayne Birks||Birks was appointed headteacher at Ramsey Abbey School in 2001 and remained in that role until it merged with Ailwyn School in 2006; he then served as headteacher of the new school, Abbey College, until joining St George's.|||
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