Case study: St Mary’s Catholic Academy, Blackpool

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Giving high-achieving disadvantaged children an opportunity to advance as they move from primary to secondary school.

We were incredibly excited to receive the green light to go ahead with our project. Young people in Blackpool face many challenges and getting the transition from primary to secondary right is vital to overcoming them. This funding is going to allow us to implement some innovative strategies, which we think will improve the progress of our pupils, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Simon Eccles Headteacher, St Mary’s Catholic Academy

The big idea

Building stronger relationships between primary and secondary school teachers and providing mentoring, parental engagement, access to school trips and university and careers advice for children as they move between schools.

Why it’s needed

Many of the most able disadvantaged children are left feeling uninspired at secondary school because their abilities are not stretched enough. They are often re-taught the things they learnt at primary school and get used to performing below their capabilities. Because of this, a high proportion leave school without good qualifications.

In Blackpool, where this project is based, disadvantaged children are left more than two years behind better-off children when they finish their GCSEs. This leaves them without the skills they need to achieve their potential in life.

How it works

Secondary school teachers are buddied up with primary school teachers to help them understand the abilities of individual students. High achieving children are then invited to attend a week-long summer school between primary and secondary school, giving them access to advanced learning opportunities English, maths and science. Plus, they have the chance to take part in masterclasses focused on resilience, communication and team work to help them develop their social and emotional skills. Throughout the project their parents are invited to one-to-one meetings with teachers to discuss their child’s progress and are provided with support to help motivate their child at home.

As they move to secondary school, children continue to attend the masterclasses and are paired up with older high-achieving students. They provide support with homework, study skills and dealing with social issues. Children also have the chance to go on school trips, are given access to specialist careers advice, and visit local employers to discover job opportunities. Plus, they also visit universities to explore higher education. Parents are engaged at each step of the way through meetings with teachers. They also receive texts and postcards with updates about their child’s progress.

The impact

By giving children opportunities to advance in their learning, St Mary’s Catholic Academy is hoping to support more high achieving disadvantaged children across Blackpool to succeed when they move from primary to secondary school.

  • 180 children will benefit from this project
  • As a research school, St Mary’s wants to share its learning with many other schools across the North West.