Workington Academy, part of the Cumbria Education Trust, formed in 2015, joining together two local 11-16 schools within the town and the local sixth form centre onto the same site. The two schools had both been placed into special measures in 2013, while many of our current A-level students had been on roll. Workington Academy now provides education for young people from all across the town, drawing in many students from economically deprived backgrounds and is the only 11-18 establishment in the town. The bringing together of two schools has been a challenging time, with limited space, resulting in sixth form being housed in temporary accommodation. Last academic year posed further problems with the construction of a new school building behind the existing one, causing further disruption with both the construction and later, moving into the new building.
Alongside these changes we have suffered staffing difficulties, particularly in Psychology and Applied Science which has impacted upon student outcomes at AS. Ill health still effects the Applied Science department with students still receiving the majority of lessons from a supply teacher, who is not experienced at delivering at this level. The students are supplementing their studies with additional independent study and have developed great skills in this area, as well as developing great resilience during such a difficult time, however, outcomes will not be reflective of students’ true ability in this subject.
The current qualification offer at post-16 contains a variety of both A-level and vocational courses with many students opting to combine the two. Although we only offer a limited selection of vocational courses, due to a nearby college, they are a popular choice and include, ICT, Digital Media, Children’s Learning and Play and Sport.
The majority of our current cohort all studied four subjects in year 12, completing AS exams in all but Art. This allowed our students to gain certification in one subject and continue with their strongest three. The rationale behind this was to provide robust data for students who have chosen to apply for university places while changes are still undergoing with the decoupling of AS and A2 and introduction of new specifications. Our predicted grades for A2 therefore are based on teacher assessment, taking into account the marks received at AS and any resits the student intends on taking.
In addition to the area suffering from economic deprivation many students are the first generation in their family to apply for Higher Education, with many young people seeking employment at the earliest opportunity. Low uptake of University study is compounded by the availability of apprenticeships in the area which many students feel obliged to pursue in order to reduce costs for their families.