Barry Day, the chief executive of the Greenwood Academies Trust, is a heroic figure in British education who deserves to be much better known than he is. His particular role has been to help children from deprived backgrounds in Nottingham achieve outstanding academic results.
Last week Michael Gove included in his list of the attacks on teaching, the claim that it couldn't make any difference as socio-economic factors are dominant over life chances – that academic expectations or the quality of teaching are negligible in their impact.
Mr Day's accomplishments help Mr Gove's case in repudiating such defeatism. Previously Mr Day was headmaster of Greenwood Dale School. The school was outstanding and it was allowed to take over a failing school in the city called Elliot Durham, the third worst performing school in the country in 2007. The new combined school, Nottingham Academy, had 95 per cent of pupils achieving five or more GCSEs at grades A*-C. The figure including for English and maths was 58 per cent. Back in 2007 just seven per cent of pupils at Elliot Durham School achieved five or more GCSEs at grade C or above including English and maths.
The Greenwood Academies Trust now has 21 academies across the East Midlands:
The Nottingham Academy, 3-19
The Nottingham Girls' Academy, 11-19
The Skegness Academy, 11-19
The Weston Favell Academy, in Northampton, 11-19
The Stanground Academy, in Peterborough, 11-19
The City of Derby Academy 11-16
The City of Peterborough Academy Special School, 3-19 (This is a Free
The Ingoldmells Academy, 4-11
The Houghton Regis Academy, 9-13
The Mablethorpe Primary Academy, 3-11
The Mansfield Primary Academy, 3-11
The Skegness Infant Academy, 3-7
The Skegness Junior Academy, 7-11
The Queensmead Primary Academy, 3-11
The Sunnyside Primary Academy, 4-11
The Woodvale Primary Academy, 3-11
The Kingswood Primary Academy, 3-11
The City of Peterborough Academy, 11-19 (This is a Free School project)
The Corby Primary Academy, 4-11
The Kingswood Secondary Academy, 11-19
The Skegby Junior Academy, 7-11
The City of Derby Academy opened in June. The school was previously Sinfin Community School, a council run comprehensive with poor results. The response of the teaching unions to the introduction of new management was to call a strike. The Labour council offered "vehement opposition."
Mr Day said of his approach:
We want pupils, no matter what their age or ability, to be proud to belong to the new academy and be proud of their achievements. Whatever pupils' backgrounds, we want to ensure they reach their full potential, with no limit to what they can achieve. Our aim is for pupils at the new academy to be in the best possible position to move on to a successful life beyond school – whether it is in education, training or employment….
The Duke of Edinburgh's Award is a central part of what we do. It is therefore very pleasing that Sinfin already runs a thriving award programme.
We believe in traditional values and so pupils in our academies wear a smart and affordable uniform and are expected to behave to the highest standards. We will consult pupils, staff and parents to decide what the uniform for the new academy will be. We will ensure that parents are not financially disadvantaged due to the introduction of any new uniform.
Several more schools are due to come under the wing of the Greenwood Academies Trust in the coming months.