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Herons' moor students, classroom photo

What Are Academies?

We understand that with all the different guidance available, it can be a little confusing if you’re unfamiliar with academies and academisation.

We believe that academies are an exciting opportunity for schools and all their students. They offer more opportunities to work together to bring about school improvement and better outcomes for students at all phases of education.

So, why is an academy different?

Whereas in the past all state schools came under the control of the local education authority, an academy is a school that is funded directly by central government, and is therefore independent of the local authority (LA).

This independence grants academies more power to run the school how they see fit – which is a great opportunity for schools whose needs aren’t being met by the LA. This includes deciding term times, the length of the school day, the ability to develop their own curriculum and to prioritise where to spend their money. Ultimately being an academy means more flexibility and autonomy.

The majority of academies are part of multi-academy trusts (MATs), like Inspirational Futures Trust (IFT). These trusts provide support and advice for academies, including expertise in specialist areas, such as budgeting.

Won’t my child’s school lose its identity in a MAT?

Absolutely not, especially not as part of IFT. Each academy that is part of our Trust still maintains its individuality, having its own headteacher and governing board.

Ultimately, a lot of the power still remains with the school, more so than schools under LA control. The role of the MAT is providing their expertise to each individual academy based on their needs and aims.

Having multiple academies under one trust provides a unique opportunity to also receive advice from other academies and share successes.

We celebrate the individuality of all our academies and want them to achieve outstanding, so we are here to support them in any way that they need.

BFA official opening, Bristol Futures Academy

Bristol Futures Academy Holds Official Opening Ceremony

A new alternative education provision in Bristol has held its official grand opening.

Bristol Futures Academy (BFA), based in the Barton Hill area, held its official opening ceremony on 8 December with the Lord Mayor of Bristol cutting the ribbon.

The ceremony saw attendees from Bristol City Council, local schools and the Inspirational Futures Trust (IFT), a multi-academy trust (MAT) which sponsors BFA.

BFA is a specialist provision for 14-16 year olds in the Bristol area who find mainstream school challenging. They provide personalised programmes of study centred on the needs of each individual student using a specialist delivery model developed with IFT and its sponsor, Weston College.

The Academy equips students with the skills for re-integration into a mainstream provision or progression onto post 16 study, apprenticeships or another pathway.

BFA has been open and teaching students since September, however had no official ceremony to mark the occasion. Caroline Down, Principal of BFA, said: “BFA is a really exciting provision, supporting the needs of the most vulnerable learners in Bristol. It’s brilliant to finally have an official event to celebrate the opening of the Academy.

“We believe all young people are entitled to an inspiring and engaging education which will enable them to achieve meaningful futures, and strive to transform the lives of the students at BFA.”

Inspirational futures trust, BFA bristol futures academy, principal, staff, governors

New Bristol Futures Academy announces location and governors

The location and governors for the new Bristol Futures Academy (BFA) have been announced.

The free school for pupils aged 14 to 16 will be situated in a refurbished former Victorian school building owned by Bristol City Council in Beam Street, Barton Hill.

The governors will be Ishmael Velasco, Paul Taylor, Sadia Anderson, Jacqui Ford, Caroline Down, Poku Pipem Osei and Jane Taylor.

Principal Designate Caroline Down said: “This building was originally built as a school in Victorian times, and most recently has been used by Bristol City Council’s Hospital Education Service, which provides teaching for pupils with medical needs that mean they are unable to attend school.

“It seems very appropriate that it will now be the setting for a new approach to learning for pupils who have been referred after finding it difficult to engage with the education system.”

Ishmael Velasco, BFA chair of governors said: “Every single child has immense potential’ but not every child can or needs to reach it walking the exact same route.

“I am honoured to be part of launching the BFA.  It will provide new routes for those for whom the standard school approach is not working. It will bring an outstanding team of professionals who will be able to think of each child individually and provide the support and innovation that helps them find ways to succeed educationally and as individuals.

“This is a unique opportunity for the community, for parents and above all, for the pupils who will experience it.”

BFA is part of the multi-academy trust, Inspirational Futures Trust, Jacqui Ford, CEO of the Trust, said: “The Inspirational Futures Trust believes that all students should have the opportunity to succeed, progress and meet future challenges by receiving high quality teaching and learning.

“We are very excited to be opening Bristol Futures Academy as an alternative provision in Beam Street, Barton Hill and we are looking forward to forging new partnerships with the local community and other education providers.”

BFA will open in September 2016, following a refurbishment that will take place between January and August 2016, which will create teaching space, workshops, administration areas, and a kitchen and dining room.

The Hospital Education Services team which presently works from Beam Street is to move to newly-refurbished premises

The Inspirational Futures Trust has worked with Bristol City Council and its recently-established City Learning Partnership to create an education model using an approach successfully pioneered by Weston College.

Specialist staff will work with pupils on an individual basis to develop personal programmes and strategies aimed at enabling them to re-engage with education.

In the first phase, BFA will have 30 pupils and this will rise to 100 pupils as the provision develops. All pupils will be referred to the school by the local authority or educational establishments, within some attending full-time and others on a part-time basis.

Inspirational futures trust, BFA bristol futures academy, principal, staff

New free school for children with behavioural issues to open in Bristol

A new school for children with behavioural issues is set to open in September this year.

The free school, known as Bristol Futures Academy (BFA), will be situated in a refurbished former Victorian school building in Beam Street, Barton Hill.

The council-owned building will house around 100 pupils aged between 14 and 16 years old, and is aimed at helping children who find mainstream education challenging.

The new school will be headed up by former acting headteacher of City Academy, Caroline Down, who has spent more than 25 years as a teaching – 18 of which at City.

CAROLINE, BFA Bristol Futures Academy, principal

Principal announced for new Bristol Futures Academy

Caroline Down has been appointed as the first principal of the new Bristol Futures Academy (BFA), which will open in the 2015/16 academic year.

BFA will be a free school in East Central Bristol for pupils aged 14 to 16, and will provide an innovative approach to learning for those who find mainstream education challenging.

Mrs Down was born in Bristol and has been teaching for 25 years, of which more than 18 were spent at the City Academy in Bristol, where she was Senior Vice Principal and was most recently Acting Principal.

She said: “BFA is an exciting and unique proposition.  It will offer young people who have been unable to engage in mainstream provision the opportunity to be successful and to move forward with confidence.

“Students will be involved in planning their own programme, working with specialist advisors to ensure progress. We will offer an alternative curriculum and a range of activities and programmes to enable young people to re-engage with education.

“I am really excited and honoured to be appointed as Principal of BFA and remain committed to the education of all young people within their community.”

BFA is part of the Inspirational Futures Trust, which is sponsored by Weston College. The Trust have worked with Bristol City Council and its recently-established City Learning Partnership to create an education model that helps serve the community.

The approach to learning at BFA will be based upon the successful model developed by Weston College, which was named College of the Year and Overall FE Provider of the Year at the 2015 TES Awards, and was named as ‘Outstanding’ at its most recent Ofsted inspection.

Each pupil will be allocated an appropriate specialist who will work with them to develop and track their personalised programme and will also engage with parents and carers, mainstream education providers and local authorities, plus other providers and employers.

Dr Paul Phillips OBE, Weston College Principal and Chief Executive, said: “We believe that all young people are entitled to an inspiring and engaging education which will enable them to aspire to and achieve meaningful and productive futures, both in terms of careers and in personal independence and an ability to make a positive contribution to society.”

Jacqui Ford, Chief Executive of the Inspirational Futures Trust and Vice Principal at Weston College, added: “All students can and should leave education well prepared for their life ahead academically, personally, emotionally and professionally. Inspirational Futures Trust and I are committed to providing excellence for all students.”

In the first phase, BFA will have 25 pupils aged between 14 and 16, and this will rise to 100 pupils as the provision develops. All pupils will be referred to the school by the local authority or educational establishments.

The curriculum will enable pupils to gain academic and vocational qualifications, and will aim to prepare pupils for life beyond school and for the world of work. Group sizes will be small to allow for personalised learning, and each pupil will have regular individual sessions with their personal advisor to work on personal targets and strategies.

The location of BFA will be in East Central Bristol, and will be announced at a later date.