A Bradford secondary school, which was celebrating last month after becoming the first of its kind to be labelled ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted, is continuing in its quest to ‘keep improving’.
Dixons Trinity Academy, set up by the Dixons Academy Trust, opened in September 2012 and has since become the first secondary academy free school in the country to receive the education inspector’s top honour.
Located on Trinity Road, it serves some of the city’s most deprived areas with half of the attending pupils living in Bradford’s five poorest wards.
Yet, since opening their doors, the school has received nothing but praise for their innovative teaching methods which have helped children excel above many people’s expectations.
Principal and Future Leader, Mr Luke Sparkes, explained how the current teaching methods in the school are reflective of a different culture which helps students thrive in their environment.
“Our school culture is modelled on what I saw in New York,” he explained.
“Excellent teaching is central but we put lots of work into building a joyful school culture and this is clear in every class and dominates daily school-wide celebrations.”
Across the school premises, large mission statements are visible which act as ‘motivation tools’ for staff and students.
Mr Sparkes added that his aim is to ensure every pupil, whom leaves Dixons Trinity Academy in Year 13, can go on to ‘whatever university degree they want’ or a ‘top end apprenticeship scheme’.
“We only want the very best for every single one of these children,” he explained.
“In our open days, we don’t show children around the school, we take them over to Leeds University to show them where they can be with hard work, if they are willing to climb that mountain.
“When the students are in their first year, we take all of them to Oxford or Cambridge University. Other schools may do this with a selection of ‘gifted’ pupils, but we take everyone in the year because it is our aim to give every child the chance to attend one of these top universities.”
Currently only Year 7 and 8 are operating at the school with a new year group introduced every September until the school reaches full capacity.
Mr Sparkes added that he did feel that the school was performing extremely well before the Ofsted inspection, and subsequent report was published, and found it hard to keep the news from the pupils.
“When we first heard of the ‘Outstanding’ award we couldn’t even tell the students because we had to wait for Ofsted to make the official announcement,” he said.
“When we finally did they were overjoyed and there was a couple of tears shed by our teaching staff. Without the fantastic, dedicated staff we have here, it wouldn’t have been possible so they deserve a lot of plaudits as well as the students.”
The ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted report mentioned that teaching is of a ‘consistently high quality’ and the curriculum ensures that ‘students achieve highly and rapidly develop the personal skills and qualities needed for success’.’
Following a visit to Dixons Trinity Academy, Schools Minister Lord Nash, added: “It was a pleasure to visit Dixons Trinity Academy and I congratulate the staff and pupils on the publication of their Outstanding Ofsted report.
“I was very impressed by the innovative policies they have put in place which are underpinned by a constant drive to achieve the best for every child.
“I am delighted that my Department has been able to support the vision of the Dixons Academy Trust and the Principal Luke Sparkes in setting up a school that demands and delivers excellence for all.
“I am also delighted that Luke himself is a product of the Future Leaders programme and, therefore, part of a growing network of leaders improving challenging schools across England.”