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View from the classroom


View from the classroom A


t The Ruth Gorse Academy in Leeds, Rebekah Taylor is one of the country’s


youngest principals. Opened in September 2014, The Ruth Gorse Academy will be moving to a new £23m, purpose-built facility in 2016. She explains the benefits of being part of


The GORSE Academies Trust and why the academy chose to open two years before the new build will be ready.


Tell us about The Ruth Gorse Academy The Ruth Gorse Academy opened its doors in September 2014 to 95, year 7 students.


In


September this year (2015), this will grow to 285. By 2016, when we move in, the academy will be home to 550 students. It will then grow to 1,500 over the forthcoming years. As part of The GORSE Academies Trust, our


driving energy is focused on creating exceptional schools in deprived areas of Leeds. The Ruth Gorse Academy is one of three


academies in the trust created to inspire children from disadvantaged or challenging backgrounds build belief that their future is full of possibility


with the help of an outstanding education. At the moment we are teaching in temporary


classrooms in the grounds of The Morley Academy while a new £23m facility is being built on Black Bull Street in the centre of Leeds. Once fully open in 2016, The Ruth Gorse


Academy will be the closest educational facility to Leeds City Centre working with students from the south of the city. For many of our students arriving in year 7, we


find they have not mastered their fundamental foundations of learning such as their times tables or how to write effectively. Literacy is key – we believe that before students are exposed to additional languages it is essential they are able to utilise and manipulate the core foundations of learning such as spelling and grammar. At The GORSE Academies Trust, we have a


reputation for setting high standards of excellence and instigating rapid rates of improvement – standards already achieved by both The Farnley and Morley Academies which are both graded as outstanding. We want to celebrate students’ abilities and


provide an exceptional education that will inspire them to achieve.


What financial challenges do academies like The Ruth Gorse Academy face? Funding is a challenge for every school or academy and we are no different. This year has been particularly austere receiving the funding associated with 95 students. True to our principles, the first cohort at The


Ruth Gorse Academy includes a significant percentage (79%) of students who are in receipt of pupil premium monies - significantly higher than the national average of 30%. One of the challenges we have faced this year


20 www.education-today.co.uk


has been how we spend our funding, ensuring there is no gap between the performance of pupil premium students and others. We have used this money to remove the barriers that these students often face by providing free transport to and from school, a wide range of compulsory enrichment activities, free uniform and slow-burning sustainable food. Being based at The Morley Academy means we


are able to access facilities that would have been a significant expense to us, such as dining. Sharing facilities and teaching resources have made a huge difference, for example the use of hybrid teachers allows us to access subject- specific professionals. The partner academies and The GORSE


Academies Trust Board are exceedingly supportive. It is through the size of the Trust that we are able to recruit and retain exceptional colleagues such as our financial director who provides guidance and support.


You are currently based in the grounds of The Morley Academy, how does the relationship work? The wellbeing of students is at the heart of The GORSE Academies Trust so we openly share knowledge and facilities, resulting in an exceptionally positive relationship between staff, students and the community. We have welcomed GCSE students from across


the Trust into The Ruth Gorse Academy to support our year 7 students on key topics such as SMSC (spiritual, moral, social and cultural). We recently hosted our own version of Question Time with five councillors from the local Morley area. Liaising and collaborating with these two external sources provides positive role models for students and develops communication skills.


April 2015


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