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An ambitious commitment to sixth form education will see four schools join forces and provide free iPads to all post-16 students.

Under the ‘Unity Sixth’ umbrella, sixth form students at St Edward’s Academy in Romford, Thomas Gainsborough School in Great Cornard, Haverhill Community Sixth Form and Felixstowe School will benefit from a shared curriculum including presentation and lectures given by renowned speakers from business, politics and the arts.

The post-16 arm of Unity Schools Partnership will also offer all sixth form students and teachers an iPad from September 2024, for use at both school and home.

Stephen Astley, executive director of education at Unity, said: “We are hugely excited to launch Unity Sixth and its supra curriculum from September 2024.

“By the quartet of sixth forms joining forces, we believe we can offer an enhanced and enriched experience for our students as well as the very best of shared resources, teaching skills and assessment models to drive outcomes.”

The Children’s Commissioner for England, Dame Rachel de Sousa, has enthusiastically committed to help launch these lectures.

Reaction to the partnership…

Jodie Hassan, headteacher at St Edward’s Academy, said, “We are incredibly proud to be launching this world class provision for our sixth form students.

“The use of iPads throughout the taught, extra and supra curriculum will ensure our students are upskilled to be future ready. 

“The supra curriculum offer will ensure our young people have access to speakers and resources comparable to any of the top schools in the country. 

“We are extremely grateful to be part of Unity Schools Partnership as our membership has enabled us to access this outstanding provision.”

Helen Yapp, headteacher at Thomas Gainsborough School, said, “As a growing and successful Sixth Form, we are eager to ensure that all our students receive every advantage and support we can give them to enable them to achieve their potential. I am proud that our Trust is committed to the use of technology to enhance and deepen the knowledge and the experience of our students and staff.”

Emma Wilson-Downes, Headteacher at Felixstowe School, said, “This will give our sixth forms the opportunity to take the very best from each setting and really capitalise on this for the benefit of us all as a family of sixth forms.

As Unity Sixth, we know we are stronger together and this is an exciting phase in the development of this provision for our post-16 students.

“By providing iPads to students both at school and at home, Unity Sixth is ensuring that learning continues beyond the classroom, fostering independent and flexible learning environments. 

“With access to cutting-edge technology and a collaborative network, students will be well-prepared to excel academically and embrace the opportunities that lie ahead.

“Alongside the supra curricular offer, which will allow students to network and link with those outside our town and the wider world, this will encourage them to explore new avenues of knowledge and personal growth and inspire them to influence others as they take that step into adult life.”

Andy Hunter, headteacher at Samuel Ward Academy, said: “We have had a record number of applications to the sixth form this year and we are still interviewing prospective students this week.

“We have never had so much interest from students at other schools and we are delighted that they will be benefitting from a shared curriculum and resources as part of Unity Sixth.”

Vanessa Whitcombe, headteacher at Castle Manor Academy, said: “This is an exciting development for Haverhill Community Sixth Form and our students.

“The opportunities to learn better by learning together are enormous and we are very excited about the future for our students.”