Remember the beginning of PE lessons, when the teams were being chosen and there were always players no one wanted to select?
A decade ago, the struggling Bristol secondary schools in Hengrove and Shirehampton were the two left at the end looking sheepishly at the ground. Efforts were being made to turn them into academies - but no sponsor would take them on.
That is, until Oasis stepped forward, investing in their communities and restoring belief among teachers, students and families.
Now Hengrove, once dubbed “the worst school in the worst local authority in England” has been transformed into the popular and oversubscribed Oasis Academy John Williams, where last summer GCSE students secured record results.
Meanwhile, Oasis Academy Brightstowe, which replaced the former Portway School, saw an impressive turnaround that led to it being rated the most improved secondary in the country in 2012. Improvements have continued, with an increasing proportion of students scoring top-grade results and going on to achieve highly at A-level and university.
There’s a similar story across Oasis’s schools locally and nationally; success that doesn’t happen overnight, but is steady and sustained improvement built on the right foundations. We are extremely proud that 72 per cent of our academies that have been inspected are now judged by Ofsted to be ‘Good’ or ’Outstanding’, compared with 48 per cent eighteen months ago.
Oasis has eight academies in Bristol, run by a close-knit team of school leaders who support one another to drive up standards, sharing ideas and holding each other to account. Five of our six academies inspected so far are rated as ‘Good’. Much of that improvement is down to the hard work and dedication of our students, staff and leaders with the support of their parents, but we also draw on - and contribute to - the strengths of wider education networks. We want the best for every child, and so we reach out to other schools, both within our Oasis “family” and beyond.
Our school leaders play an active part in leading learning through - among others - the head teachers’ groups, the Bristol Learning City, the West of England Local Education Partnership and PIXL. We are also proud to be developing a new generation of principals through participation in organisations such as Ambition School Leadership.
The National Schools Commissioner Sir David Carter and the Regional Schools Commissioner Rebecca Clark - both of whom are former Bristol academy principals - are determined to develop this “system leadership”, in which skilled educators can make a difference to children outside their own schools. Their moral purpose, which we share, is that all children, whatever their background, are entitled to an excellent education.
Oasis has no intention of slowing down. We are determined that each of our communities should have a ‘Good’ or better school of which they can be proud. And, most importantly, we will not let any child be left on the sidelines.
Matt Butler, Regional Director South West (Secondary)