Lucy Wardle, Deputy Headtecher at Oldbury Academy
Lucy Wardle
Deputy Headteacher at Oldbury Academy

Keeping on top of our school’s long-term development

Almost half of Oldbury Academy's 1,500 pupils receive free school meals – more than double the national average.

Deputy Headteacher Lucy Wardle first heard about Teach First when working at a previous school, before joining her current post in the West Midlands. Over the last two years, the secondary school has made drastic improvements to standards and routines in their classrooms (one of which is Dedicated Improvement and Reflection Time (DIRT)). Teach First trainee teachers, Lucy says, have helped them navigate a lot of the new curriculum changes.

We spoke to her about the impact of the new trainee teachers at Oldbury Academy and the quality of other training they’ve received through our partnership.

"The one word that springs to mind when I think about the trainees is 'bright'. You don’t have to worry about their academic abilities and you can tell from the very beginning that they want to make a real difference to the lives of the children they teach.

"They’re always keen to be involved and regularly share examples of the educational research they’ve learned as part of the Training Programme. One of our recent trainees is already developing a strong understanding of staff wellbeing and has become an important member of our whole school wellbeing group for the faculty."

You can tell from the very beginning that [trainees] want to make a real difference to the lives of the children they teach.

Alongside the Training Programme, Teach First also gives schools access to a range of high-quality training for new teachers and existing leaders.

"We’ve been invigorated by the training we’ve received," says Lucy. "Having a training partner who can take care of everything is a real bonus. With school resources and capacity as they are, getting extra support has helped us keep on top of our long-term development as a school." 

We also spoke with Assistant Headteacher Danielle Payne. She talked in detail about the leadership training they’ve received and how it’s helped Oldbury Academy develop their careers provision for pupils.

“After a former colleague left, there was no one at the school with the relevant experience to become our appointed Careers Leader," says Danielle. "That’s why I decided to enrol us as part of the Careers Leader programme - to help someone grow into the role."

We've been invigorated by the training we've received. 

What first attracted Oldbury Academy to the programme was how well each learning module fitted with their needs, according to Danielle. Schools get a mix of face-to-face and online learning that helps staff find the right balance between working independently and learning from others.

"Joining the Careers Leader programme has definitely paid off for us," says Danielle. "It’s helped our staff develop a clear action plan for careers at the school. We now have a strategy for each year group, including mapping the purpose and progression for our pupils."

It’s not just about the direct support, Danielle continues, but the opportunity to connect with other institutions. The Careers Leader programme helps create informal networks with schools and businesses across the local area, making the most of shared opportunities and best practice.

"We’ve gained a great deal of experience from working alongside multi academy trusts and schools in different contexts," says Danielle. "It’s hugely enriched the careers education for our pupils and I’d highly recommend the programme to other schools."

To find out more about long-term recruitment and leadership training solutions for your school, get in touch with our team.

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