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Academy 360 Mini Police reporting for duty

Academy 360 Mini Police with Superintendent Steve Heatley

Enthusiastic young constables from Sunderland’s Academy 360 Primary School are the latest recruits to join Northumbria Police.

The ten pupils are now officially ‘Mini Police’ – given their own uniforms and working with officers to learn more about the wide and varied demands of policing.

Superintendent Steve Heatley, part of the command team for policing in Sunderland and South Tyneside, presented the young constables with their uniforms and ID badges at a ceremony in the school hall in front of pupils, family and friends.

Academy 360 is the first Sunderland school to join Northumbria Police’s trailblazing Mini Police programme to engage children from a young age, increase their awareness of what police do and promote good citizenship.

The pupils will have the opportunity to work with local police and volunteer police cadets in the community, accompanying them to events, visiting police stations and learning about the support police bring to local people.

The pupils – aged nine and ten – will be instantly recognisable wearing their specially commissioned caps, waterproof jackets and Hi-Vis vests.

Academy 360’s Mini Police are: Riley MacNicol, Regan Metcalf, Callie Bewick, Keaton Young, Paige Solomon, Prince Okpoji, Chloe Dickson, Jimmy Sloanes-Graham, Kiah Johnson and Marley Robson.

Supt Heatley said: “I’m really proud to come here to meet with Sunderland’s first Mini Police.

“These children have been selected by their teachers and peer groups for their interest and enthusiasm and will now go forward and encourage other children to be Mini Police in their areas.

“Our Mini Police constables will go to events and activities with our police officers, meeting people in the community – their police badge will give them more confidence and stature.

“They will represent Northumbria Police at events such as Sunderland Airshow and the Tall Ships next year as police officers would do. The scheme encourages good behaviour, awareness and safety.”

The Mini Police scheme will now be rolled out across other schools in Sunderland.

Ruth Steckles, Academy 360 co-ordinator and Primary School Welfare Manager, said: “We are proud and privileged to be accepted onto the Mini Police scheme.

“The aim of the project is to create a fun and interactive volunteering opportunity for children.

“Through positive interaction children will develop and maintain a trust in the police. We hope that this gives our students a confident voice and an enjoyable experience associated with policing.”

Silver awards beckon for Excelsior explorers

Excelsior explorers tackling the Lake District hills

Navigating the rolling hills and deep valleys of the Lake District was the challenge for Excelsior College explorers on a dry run preparing for their Duke of Edinburgh’s Silver Award.

A 30-mile trek from St John’s in the Vale through to Applethwaite in the Lake District tested the resilience, leadership and teamwork of the nine students over three days.

Ian Stonehouse, Progress Tutor and Excelsior Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Manager, led the students who seized the opportunity to refine their outdoor skills, such as map reading, in time for their silver awards qualifying expedition at the end of this month.

Exclesior Academy has around 40 students in training for Duke of Edinburgh’s bronze, silver and gold awards.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards are the world’s leading youth achievement award. For the past seven decades, they have inspired and transformed the lives of millions of young people from all walks of life.

It provides volunteering and physical activities, life skills and expeditions – and achieving a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is a passport to a brighter future, highly valued by employers and universities alike.

The Excelsior students in training for their silver award, who camped out each night after a gruelling Lake District trek, are: Rene Kotlar, James Stephenson, Farhad Ali, Lee Ashley, John Morris, Mark Kinyanjui, Andrea Arcana, Virginia Correia and Mohammad Nazary. Progress Tutor Anna Wallbanks helped lead the expedition.

“Our students get a real sense of achievement , getting to go somewhere they have never been before, going out in the country to learn skills they have never tried before,” said Ian.

“It’s great for us to see people who may not be natural leaders becoming leaders, they gain communication skills and begin to act as one by helping each other pitch tents or carry heavy ruck sacks.

“Their confidence grows as they question others and work together to take bearings of their current position against where they want to be.

“This group was outstanding. They were amazing, possibly the best group we have ever had with regards to organisation and navigation.

“They are in with a great chance of getting their silver awards. They had to traverse through old river beds, up steep hills and along an old Roman road which really tested them and brought out new skills and self-confidence.”

Apprenticeships with home building giant for James and Thomas

Thomas Young (left) and James Tams (fourth right) ready to start work as apprentices for Keepmoat Homes

Former Excelsior College students James Tams and Thomas Young are taking their first steps into the world of work this week as apprentices with leading UK home builder Keepmoat Homes.

They started as an apprentice bricklayer and joiner respectively working on The Rise development – a £265m regeneration of the Scotswood area of Newcastle’s west end being led by the New Tyne West Development Company – a joint venture comprising Keepmoat, Newcastle City Council and Barratt Homes.

The opportunity to begin their careers with one of the construction industry’s biggest names is the reward for the local lads who worked hard under the guidance of teacher Joe Temple and his team in Excelsior Academy’s Laidlaw Construction Training Centre.

Teachers and specialist trainers deliver two-year City and Guilds Construction Skills courses to Year 12 and 13 Excelsior College students in a bid to give them the best possible start to their working lives.

James and Thomas were inspired to strive for apprenticeships with Keepmoat Homes after a visit by Geoff Scott, Keepmoat Homes’ Community Engagement and Investment Manager.

Geoff said: “When Keepmoat got involved at The Rise we said that we wanted to work with local schools to ensure young people in the area could benefit from the proposed investment. Our work with Excelsior Academy is an excellent example of us delivering on that promise. These students weren’t given an apprenticeship, they have worked hard for it.

“Both James and Thomas have good CVs, they gave good interviews and they are both worthy of their positions on the Scotswood scheme and can look ahead to a bright future in the construction industry.

“The industry is short of skilled tradespeople at the moment. The potential is there for them to be promoted through Keepmoat Homes or through one of the sub-contractor businesses that we work with on site.”

Joe, Excelsior Academy Subject Development Leader of Engineering and Construction, said: “We have made sure there is as much engagement with employers as possible during our construction skills course.

“We worked with the New Tyne West Development Company to make sure our students gained as much experience as possible which prepares them for industry.

“James has a two-year apprenticeship as a bricklayer while Thomas will be working as a carpenter doing site joinery, both for Keepmoat Homes.

“The potential is there that if they do well they will be kept on in full-time employment by the company. It’s testament to their hard work and the suitability of the qualifications that we deliver here that they have seized this opportunity to work for a great company, one of the country’s biggest house builders.”

The first phase of The Rise scheme offers a collection of unique two, three and four bedroom homes in the heart of Newcastle. The eco-friendly designs are built to take advantage of the sloped site, with many properties having stunning views across the River Tyne.

Excelsior Academy sponsor Lord Laidlaw officially opened the Laidlaw Construction Training Centre in the school as part of its ever-growing programme of support to help pupils find their job of choice.

Students are taught brick laying, block work, carpentry and joinery skills which are all in high demand in a fast-growing construction sector.

Newcastle’s largest primary joins Laidlaw Schools Trust

Academy pupils welcome Westgate Hill Primary into LST with Principal Karl Ellerbrook and LST Chief Executive Jane Spence

A Newcastle primary school educating nearly 750 pupils from one of the country’s most ethnically diverse communities has joined the Laidlaw Schools Trust (LST).

Westgate Hill Primary Academy in Arthur’s Hill is the latest school to join the growing trust which now supports six academies in Newcastle and Sunderland.

Laidlaw Schools Trust academies educate a total of 4,000 children in some of the most socially and economically challenged areas of the North East.

Westgate Hill Primary is situated in the heart of the community in the west end of the city with its own unique identity. For 92% of its pupils, English is a second language.

Principal Karl Ellerbrook and his team of 77 teachers and teaching assistants are working hard to deliver the best possible education for the pupils aged three to 11.

Staff are focused on raising standards and achievement through a strong emphasis on reading and maths.

The Newcastle primary has been a fixture in the local area since 1898, with its own grounds and gardens surrounded by the terraced streets of Arthur’s Hill near St James’ Park.

“Our diversity brings a brilliant mix into our school of a strong work ethic and feeling from our families that they expect children to do their best and fulfil their potential,” said Karl, who joined Westgate Hill one year ago.

“We are right in the middle of the community. We are very lucky in that we have excellent outdoor space and state-of-the-art facilities which is a very good starting point to build an improving school.

“We were impressed by LST because of the opportunities they could bring to the children of Arthur’s Hill, that we couldn’t previously offer them. In particular, we liked Lord Laidlaw’s focus on giving children from deprived communities life-changing opportunities to discover more about themselves and achieve what they want to in their lives.

“We are focusing on the key principles of raising results in reading and maths. Staff are determined that children will access that knowledge not just through ‘talk and chalk’, but by providing opportunities to switch children on to learning.”

Westgate Hill draws its pupils from Arthur’s Hill, Fenham, Elswick and Benwell and is a feeder school for the LST’s Excelsior Academy.

Jane Spence, LST Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted to welcome Westgate Hill into the Laidlaw Schools Trust family – it makes perfect sense as a feeder school for Excelsior Academy serving the same communities in the west end of Newcastle.

“We are really looking forward to working with Karl and his staff to raise standards and give Westgate Hill pupils the best possible start to their school lives.”

In 2008, Lord Laidlaw set up the Laidlaw Schools Trust to give young people in disadvantaged areas of the North East life chances they otherwise would not have.

He invests his own finance in improving trust academy facilities and providing extra-curricular activities.

The LST educates 4,000 children in six North East schools – Excelsior Academy, Thomas Walling, Atkinson Road and Westgate Hill Primary Academies in Newcastle and Academy 360 and South Hylton Primary Academy in Sunderland.

Record exam success at Academy 360

Natalie White celebrates GCSE success

Hard-working pupils are celebrating record GCSE success at Sunderland’s Academy 360, rising to the challenge of new maths and English exams and excelling in science.

In maths 55% of students achieved a secure pass under the new grading system and in English 46% – an improvement on last year’s figures despite the removal of coursework from the final mark.

A total of 36% of pupils achieved five GCSE passes at A* to C grade with maths and English at grade 4+.

Science passes at A* to C more than doubled last year’s pass rate. Other highlights include a 95% pass rate for pupils taking PE, with GCSE passes at hospitality rising from 41% last year to 79%.

Academy 360’s A* to C grade GCSE pass rate has leapt by more than 20% since 2015 – the result of higher expectations and a strong focus on achievement.

“We are very pleased that the hard work of our students and teachers has paid off with our best ever results,” said Academy 360 Principal Rachel Donohue.

“Our results confirm that Academy 360 is continuing to significantly improve as we narrow the gap with the national average.

“Teachers are relentless in establishing a culture of higher expectations, our students have achieved exceptionally well under a very challenging assessment framework and I am proud of their efforts.”

Included in Academy 360’s exam roll of honour are Corey Burlinson who gained three A* GCSEs, a maths grade 8, English Language grade 6, four GCSE Bs and a C pass.

Natalie White achieved a maths grade 7, English Language and English Literature grade 5s, one A*, one A, three Bs and two Cs.

Corey, who is going to study at Sunderland College, said: “I’m going to do further maths, physics and English at A Level and I’m keen to pursue a career as an accountant.

“Academy 360 has made a lot of investment into pupils and is trying to improve the academy’s reputation as a whole and it’s working.”

Natalie said: “I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved, I’ve done better than I thought. I’m particularly pleased with my English result.”