‘A tree filled with angels, bright angelic wings bespangling every bough like stars’ William Blake saw in a dream when he was nine years old. The third school in focus, Angel Oak Academy, took its name from the vision that occurred in its area.
An outstanding Ofsted report was written about Angel Oak Academy, a center of excellence and a head of the STEP Academy Trust, after their initial inspection in 2017. Since then, they have upheld high standards in leadership and management, teaching, student growth, and academic results. All of this was accomplished in the diverse area of, Peckham, a gritty borough in London.
This has been accomplished through the idea of a “cultural capital,” which encourages students to engage in various environments in order to increase both their knowledge base and their level of confidence. So how does the present leadership group, led by Alun Evans, work with different faculty members and students on a daily basis to foster this successful environment?
Wellbeing among students
Angel Oak Academy has made a conscious effort to build an inclusive culture during school hours. Due to initiatives like offering halal options for school meals, 47% of children now qualify for free meals. In acknowledgment of their dedication to racial equality, Angel Oak Academy has received the silver Race and Conscious Equality (RACE) charter mark.
Additionally, the school joined the Mathematics Mastery partnership, which aims to increase pupils’ comprehension. Tom Garry, a former deputy head at the school, said: “We talk a lot about valuing mistakes and our children are quite resilient as a result. Each lesson starts off in a very accessible way and the fact that children can succeed, means they want to keep going. When children make mistakes, we take time to discuss what we can learn from them. The message is that getting it wrong is all part of learning.”
This mindset is further reinforced by one of the numerous ways used at the school, known as the greater depth approach, which promotes working hard and views no one student as more gifted, talented, or remarkable than another.
Students help local food banks, raise money for BBC Children in Need, and even hold cake sales to promote a local cause as part of character-building activities that are an important part of the learning process. This is due to the fact that generosity doesn’t just start at home, but also at school, which some pupils may view as a second home.
How is the school assisting teachers to feel supported and be able to keep up?
Wellbeing among staff
Angel Oak Academy’s admiration of both instructors and administrative staff is its exceptional quality. Students are urged to express gratitude to school personnel for their work supporting their education. One such instance involved a display of artwork honoring local heroes, in which students named a member of the faculty as their hero. Additionally, parents who support the school and the pupils are treated with respect.
Teachers participate in a Mathematics Mastery Program to assist them in efficiently teaching mathematics, but this program goes beyond maths. Teachers learn how to teach phonics in literacy programs, which will improve students’ English speaking and writing abilities.
Parents receive childcare training as part of the early years’ provision strategy for the younger students. If teachers want to continue their professional education, the school will encourage and support them. These efforts pay off in the form of academic success in students.
The standard classroom setup is the same as at all other schools, however, Angel Oak Academy has made efforts to alter the experience by employing a number of different teaching strategies, mainly through out-of-school activities. Concert performances, nature hikes, and even art exhibitions at a local art gallery have made knowledge learned in a formal classroom more memorable by enabling students to see the applications of what they have learned.
Their strategy produced outstanding outcomes, placing the school in the top 10% of the nation for English, writing, and arithmetic. Their KS2 average score for Reading in 2019 was 105 (compared to the national average of 101.81), while the maths KS2 average score was 107 (national average – 102.15). This was in spite of the fact that 46% of students do not speak English as a first language.
Use of Edtech
Angel Oak has actively worked to include technology into their pupils’ learning because they see the potential influence it may have in their growth. While the use of televisions and smartboards may be commonplace now, all teachers at Angel Oak regularly utilize the quiz platform Kahoot to test their students on what they are being taught, because the regular assessment has become an essential component of their learning.
Just as importantly students are taught how to use electronics securely both inside and outside of school.
The school’s aim is to invest in each student’s personal, intellectual, and cultural experiences in order to ensure that they move on from Angel Oak Academy with a variety of experiences and knowledge that will enable them to interact academically, intellectually, and socially in all facets of society.
William Blake was right, according to what the school has done; in Peckham, there is a tree covered in angels that sparkle more brilliantly than stars.
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