Birmingham’s Poet Laureate and Young Poet Laureate along with West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, will be amongst those joining pupils as Birmingham’s oldest education institution takes over one of the city’s newer schools.
The landmark event on Thursday October 10th – DAY ONE – will see Balaam Wood School in Frankley become part of one of the UK’s most highly respected academy trusts in England and part of the renowned The Schools of King Edward VI Foundation in Birmingham which dates back to the 16th century.
Renamed King Edward VI Balaam Wood Academy, the co-educational secondary school is located in what has been described as a ‘forgotten corner’ of Birmingham. It opened in 1980, part of a municipal housing development of more than 3,000 homes built by the city in the 1970s.
The school’s latest Ofsted inspection said the proportion of disadvantaged pupils at the school is well above average and the school’s deprivation indicator is twice the national average.
Now, the governors, staff and Trust are setting their sights on continuing and rapidly accelerating Balaam Wood’s journey of school improvement through an ambitious programme that will see it extend its partnerships with the local community and widening its links with the rest of Birmingham to provide greater opportunities for pupils.
“Our intention is to better serve the community of Frankley and neighbouring areas and to significantly improve the prospects of pupils at the school. We are adopting an approach that will see us developing the excellent links that have already been made with the local community, working with local primary schools to ensure their children can progress to a school with a reputation for academic and extra-curricular development,” said Heath Monk, Executive Director of the Schools of King Edward VI in Birmingham.
“Our vision is to enable Birmingham to become the best place to be educated in the country. Our support for schools such as Balaam Wood will bring additional opportunities to communities that face employment and economic challenges and is a demonstration of our commitment to supporting children from all backgrounds in Birmingham to reach their full potential. All our schools provide a caring environment that enables each child to develop and thrive. The staff and pupils at Balaam Wood are so enthusiastic and we very much look forward to working with them.”
DAY ONE is a celebration of the admittance of King Edward VI Balaam Wood Academy to the Trust. It included performances by the school’s own pupils, visiting groups, a specially commissioned poem by Birmingham’s Poet Laureate Richard O’Brien, a performance by Birmingham’s Young Poet Laureate, 15 years-old Aliyah Begum (who attends King Edward VI High School) and the official re-naming by West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street – a former pupil of King Edward’s School.
King Edward VI Balaam Wood Academy is the ninth school to join the Trust that already includes Aston, Camp Hill Boys, Camp Hill Girls, Five Ways, Handsworth School for Girls, Handsworth Grammar School for Boys, Handsworth Wood Girls’ Academy and Sheldon Heath.
Damian McGarvey, Headteacher at King Edward VI Balaam Wood, who was previously deputy-head and knows the community well, said: “I am very excited to start our journey with King Edward VI Academy Trust. Our school wants all our pupils to develop a ‘can do’ attitude, to be confident, adaptable, resilient and independent. Each pupil should be able to reach their learning potential in a healthy, safe environment through an enjoyable, stimulating and challenging curriculum.”
Amongst the initiatives being developed for Balaam Wood Academy are cross-school collaboration and engagement with the other schools in the Foundation to enable pupils at King Edward VI Balaam Wood Academy to participate and see life in other parts of Birmingham. In addition to the close partnership with King Edward VI Five Ways in Bartley Green, located just a few miles from Balaam Wood, pupils will also participate in academic, sports, artistic and cultural programmes across the Trust.
In addition, The Schools of King Edward VI Foundation’s patronage of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce is to be used to forge relationships with business, the professional community and employers. Birmingham-based charity Services For Education, whose music service is one of the largest in the UK and which already teaches music to 36,000 Birmingham youngsters, has also been commissioned to deliver a programme to enable pupils and the local community to learn to play music and sing in community and school choirs.