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.