Coastal schools are failing, says report

The Northumberland Church of England Academy in Ashington.'Picture by Jane Coltman
The Northumberland Church of England Academy in Ashington.'Picture by Jane Coltman
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A Northumberland headteacher is fighting a new report that claims schools near the coast are failing to give their students a good education.

A new report suggests that schools in coastal towns frequently fail to provie a good education because of geographical isolation and industrial decline.

At Northumberland CofE Academy, headteacher Andrew Day is working against this trend, and has raised local expectations of the school and its students.

This year, the school achieved its best results and more than half of the academy’s most recent leavers gained university places, compared with 27 per cent four years ago.

Andrew said: “Some of our students come from families with four generations out of work. In 2012 the largest employer in the community, a mining company, shut down.

“We’ve had high-profile visitors – members of the royal family, eminent politicians and sportspeople.

“Their visits show the children that people care and want them to succeed.

“We raise aspiration through trips abroad, celebrations of student successes and visits to universities – recently three Year 9s went to Edinburgh and all returned wanting to become astrophysicists.”

Heath Monk, CEO of The Future Leaders Trust, a charity that trains headteachers to lead schools in challenging circumstances, said: “Many schools in coastal towns face struggles that are different from those of our inner-cities, including long distances from cultural centres, fewer employment opportunities and smaller pools for recruitment.

“The consequences for young people are much the same: a narrowing of opportunity and a diminution of choice that damages lives and communities.

“Exceptional headteachers, including many who have joined the Talented Leaders programme and are part of our network, are changing this.

“We need to find more of these leaders, and I want to hear from any deputy head or headteacher who believes they are ready to make a difference in schools like these.”

Deputy heads and head teachers can apply for Talented Leaders before 11 December by visiting www.future-leaders.org.uk/talentedleaders