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Dear Parent/Guardian,

I am writing to you to inform you that I have opened a consultation with staff and their union representatives on changing the staffing structure at Samuel Ward Academy.

In the last few years, the Samuel Ward Academy Trust has provided increased funds to Samuel Ward Academy to support its growth through increased pupil numbers. Due to increased pressures on funding, this has now become unsustainable.

Samuel Ward Academy is no longer increasing the size of year groups coming into the school. As with many schools and academy trusts, it is a challenging financial climate and very difficult decisions need to be made. It is therefore necessary to make some reductions in the number of staff at the school.

I have begun discussions with staff and trade unions and will work with the affected staff to look at all the alternative options, including any potential opportunities within Samuel Ward Academy Trust.

I want to reassure parents and students of Samuel Ward Academy that this decision won’t affect the standard of education they are receiving.

The school is having to make some difficult decisions, but is looking to make sure that sufficient money is spent on resources in the classroom and that we continue to provide a broad and rounded academic curriculum, which includes a commitment to music and the arts, and a full range of GCSE options while giving students the same level of support that they have always been used to.

I would also like to inform you that we are working on the school moving to a more traditional three-year key stage 3. This means students currently in Year 8 will now not be required to narrow their curriculum through option choices for another year. They will benefit from the full range of subjects offered by a key stage 3 curriculum to allow more time to be sure about the choices they make for their examination subjects.

This is a model that works very successfully in a number of schools across the country and is used by the two schools in the Trust with the highest progress figures in 2017. In a paper entitled ‘HMCI’s commentary: recent primary and secondary curriculum research’ (published 11 October 2017), Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, commented on the trend of some schools moving to a shortened key stage 3 and explains the problematic outcome of narrowing the curriculum at an early stage.

I am committed to a broad curriculum with the love of learning embedded and not just being focused on teaching to the ‘test’ which can be a motivation of shortening key stage 3 to two years.

This is a time of uncertainty for the staff and we are committed to supporting them through this period, and working closely with their trade union representatives. I will keep parents informed of the outcomes of staffing changes, most of which will take place at Easter.

Yours Faithfully,

Mark Neild, Headteacher, Samuel Ward Academy