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Three year transformation

Posted: 6th February 2018

A school is celebrating a three-year journey of transformation.

Since joining the Burnt Mill Academy Trust (BMAT) in February 2015, Forest Hall School, in Stansted, has seen student numbers rise, GCSE results improve and strong relationships within the community formed.

Radical changes including the introduction of Saturday school, launch of holiday revision clubs and 100-minute lessons are among the tools used to turn around the reputation and achievements of the school.

It now forms part of the north Essex hub of the Trust, alongside the Magna Carta Primary Academy which was opened under its wing.

Stephen Hehir, executive head of the hub and former head of school at Forest Hall, said: “What a three years it has been!

“I am extremely pleased to say Forest Hall School is going from strength to strength. I look forward to many more successes and seeing Forest Hall transform into a world class school.”

The school is proud –

· of a leap in student numbers. Year 7, 8 and 9 are almost full, with 200 more students in the school than three years ago

· of its improved GCSE results. Last year, 61 per cent of students achieved higher grades in English and maths, which is well above the national average.

· to offer a wide range of GCSE subjects. The partnership with BMAT enables the school to offer computer science, sociology, photography, French and Spanish – subjects out of reach of most small schools.

· to offer Key Stage 3 students free music tuition to help develop a passion and talent early

· to have personal, social and health education back on the curriculum taught by specialist teachers to ensure students develop vital life skills

· of its relationships with local businesses and the community so students can become active citizens. The termly collapsed timetable day sees students carry out community work, while the relationship with Stansted Airport gives students real career opportunities

· of its wide range of enrichment clubs, from 8am until 5.20pm on week days, plus Saturday school and holiday revision

· the quality of teaching has improved, with many Good and Outstanding teachers now in place and benefiting from links with BMAT

Mr Hehir, who works closely with head of school Anna Myatt at Forest Hall, said: “Parents, carers and students now attend Forest Hall because they want to. They want to be taught by the best teachers who will go above and beyond; teachers who will spend their weekends and holidays in school to support them to achieve their dreams.

“Students are leaving Forest Hall with the right qualifications to help them to compete with others for sixth form and college courses and apprenticeships. Our students are now better prepared than ever to enter the next stage of the learning journey, plus they have the belief they can be successful.”

Mrs Myatt, who has been within BMAT schools since 2001, said: “We are now building on the successes Stephen Hehir achieved as head of school previously. This is an exciting opportunity to work with young people in the north Essex hub, while developing links with other BMAT schools.

“We now have more students than ever before at Forest Hall. That is down to our improving exam grades and because parents appreciate the extra work that is going on with their children, including extra interventions, study clubs and Saturday school. They are getting to know the school through our open days and via our close links with Magna Carta Primary.”

Helena Mills CBE, BMAT CEO, said: “It has been fantastic to see the work Stephen and his team have done to turn around a school where children once didn’t make good progress or achieve great GCSEs. Forest Hall is now a school where children have adults who believe they can achieve great things.”

What others say…

Mrs Whitmell, parent

“The drive, commitment and dedication to giving every student every opportunity over the past three years has been second to none.

“The rise in results is indicative of the improvements in teaching and learning and strong leadership. Students are challenged and have ownership of their own learning.

Parents are listened to and their views are actively sought, plus the school works well as a part of the community.”

Peter James, Stansted Business Forum chairman

“The Stansted Business Forum has, in the past, tried to include Forest Hall School. With a new head and a new outlook, we have been involved in many ways supporting Forest Hall.

“As a forum, we salute Stephen and his team.”

Tavia Hampton, Year 10, Forest Hall School

“I was thankful when Mr Hehir arrived. We are a lot smarter now in our uniforms and staff care about us and know who we are. That helps me to achieve, as does the holiday club which I attend for my Spanish.”

Omar Mate, deputy head boy, Year 11, Forest Hall School

“I feel Saturday school has helped me to prepare for my exams and to improve my grades. I think it is a good idea.

“Assemblies have also changed; they are now focused on relevant topics for the month, such as bullying or history. We get something out of them.”

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