Biz Extra

Read all the latest news from Aspirations Academies Trust and find out about the great work going on in our schools!

By Sam Fraser [email protected]

Published: February 12, 2024 | Updated: 12th February 2024

Welcome to another news roundup from the Aspirations Academies Trust, a group of 16 academies in the South of England, including seven in Dorset.

This time, we check in with Livingstone Academy in Bournemouth, who recently welcomed the Co-founder of Games Workshop, Sir Ian Livingstone OBE; we hear about a conference on behaviour hosted by the student leadership team at Budmouth Academy, Weymouth; and we chat with the stars of Beauty and the Beast Jr, this year’s annual show at Magna Academy in Poole.

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Sir Ian Livingstone Delivers Inaugural Lecture at Livingstone Academy Bournemouth

Co-founder of Games Workshop and leading entrepreneur, Sir Ian Livingstone, OBE, visited Livingstone Academy Bournemouth recently to deliver the inaugural ‘Livingstone Lecture’ to students and invited guests.

In a hybrid event which saw his presentation, ‘Living the Dream,’ streamed live to other schools within Aspirations Academies Trust, and to an online audience, Sir Ian spoke about the decisions which had determined his success, and his role in shaping the interactive fiction and fantasy gaming landscape.

Bournemouth’s newest school, operated by Aspirations Academies Trust, is named in honour of Sir Ian whose idea it was to establish a school with digital learning at its heart. The all-through school is now one of the most oversubscribed in Dorset.

“Our curriculum is driven by applied learning,” explains Principal, Loren Tharme. “We want to encourage our students to become digital creators rather than consumers and that’s where our values and Sir Ian’s align.”

“I was delighted to share my experiences of a lifelong career in the games industry,” commented Ian, “both the highs and the lows, stressing the importance of not being afraid of failure as people learn from their mistakes. The students were very engaged and asked amazing questions following the talk. Hopefully I helped inspire them to find their element and become a success in whatever they choose to do.”

From left – Matt Desmier, James Pomeroy, Sir Ian Livingstone, Prof Christos Gatzidis, Prof Fred Charles and Loren Tharme

Also present in the audience were lecturers from Bournemouth University’s Faculty of Science and Technology. The university is keen to further its work with the school, devising programmes around Esports and gaming. Jerry Whitton is the university’s School Liaison Coordinator:

“At Bournemouth University, we are proud of our partnership with Livingstone Academy, united by our belief in the transformative power of education. We are inspired by the dedication of Livingstone Academy’s staff and students and look forward to furthering our collaborative efforts to make a positive impact on education and beyond.”

Sir Ian’s lecture was warmly received by Livingstone students who had lots of questions for him and who clearly enjoyed hearing about the evolution of games like Warhammer and Dungeon and Dragons.

“It was great to see how engaged the students were with what Ian had to say,” said Loren. “It was inspiring to hear his story and to hear him encourage our pupils to tap into their own creative potential and forge their own paths.”

“Sir Ian’s visit has been incredibly motivating,” added Executive Principal Natash Ullah. “His words have not only fuelled a passion for creativity and innovation in our students, but have also reaffirmed the values of perseverance and resilience that lie at the heart of our academy.”

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Budmouth Academy Students Lead Conference on Behaviour

At the end of January a contingent of students from Budmouth Academy, Weymouth, along with principals and leaders from Aspirations Academies Trust, journeyed to Plymouth to attend a conference at Plymouth Marjon University.

The university has partnered with the trust to provide Initial Teacher Education and invited the Budmouth student leadership team to the conference focusing on behaviour. The Year 11 students gave a presentation for an audience of more than 300 education students entitled ‘Creating a Culture for Positive Behaviour.’

“Aspirations Academies Trust places a strong emphasis on its values of self-worth, engagement and purpose to shape positive behaviour,” says Andy David, Director of Student Leadership and Engagement for Aspirations Academies Trust, “and we were very proud to see our students speak about their experiences and how they could be applied to other education settings. New teachers face many challenges in this area. Our students offered insight into why students behave for some staff but not others.”

Sixth Form President Josh Hallett said, ‘It was an amazing experience for me. I am very fortunate to have been given opportunities like these and I am very grateful. I would like to be a teacher so this gave me a unique insight into the life of a student at a university that specialises in teaching degrees. It was a very inspiring day and has motivated me to do well in my A Level exams.”

The school party was given a tour of the university by Dean of the School of Education, Professor Gary Kinchin, who commented, “Having the Budmouth Academy students there was very powerful, and we witnessed some really authentic and impactful conversations between them and our trainees. There was a lot of positive feedback at the end of the day and we are very grateful for their contributions.”

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Meet two Belles and their Beast!

A grey February was brightened by students at Magna Academy, Poole, as they staged their annual show just before half term. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr, featured a cast of more than forty pupils directed by teachers Lynsey Webb, Kate Giles and Rachel Connor, ably supported by a strong backstage and design crew.

An adaptation of the classic tale of the young woman held captive by a monstrous Beast who breaks his curse through love and understanding to reveal the handsome prince beneath, the role of Belle was shared between Year 9 students Lucy Montgomery and Sophie Neam, while Beast was played by Sam Duddington in Year 11. Here they share their thoughts about performing.

Sam:

We first auditioned back in June, so we’ve been rehearsing for a term and a half. This is my second lead role – I played Shrek last year – and I’m definitely feeling more confident this time around.

This is a transformation story and I’ve really enjoyed the journey of the character of the Beast. It’s interesting to go from really horrible to actually quite nice, thanks to Belle! I’ve got GCSEs this summer and it’s been great to have a break away from all the revision and just do something I really love.

Favourite performer: Ryan Reynolds

Lucy:

I am excited and a bit nervous to be playing Belle! It’s been great fun working with all my friends at Magna and to have more responsibility; last year I played the Gingerbread Man in Shrek. When I first saw the Beauty and the Beast script I did wonder how I’d ever learn it all, but it’s got easier!

I’ve been attending Strictly Stage Theatre School, taking singing lessons since I was six and would love to be involved in performing arts when I’m older.

Favourite performer: I love Meryl Streep’s work (but my dad sings songs from musical theatre in the shower and he’s quite good too!)

Sophie:

I love playing Belle although there has been so much to learn on top of everything else in and out of school. I think Lucy and I play Belle quite differently; we both bring something of ourselves to the role. I’ve never had a main role before but over the last two years my voice has improved so much. Being around people like Sam and Lucy has really helped me raise my game.

I also attend Strictly Stage Theatre School and Orchard Dance Academy. I feel very lucky to be at Magna where there’s such an emphasis on performing arts and great facilities.

Favourite performer: Margot Robbie for screen and Hannah Lowther from Six the Musical

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Founded in 2011 by former Head Teachers Steve Kenning and Paula Kenning with education pioneer Dr. Russ Quaglia, Aspirations Academies Trust aims to use technology and modern pedagogies to give children the knowledge, skills and mindsets to achieve excellence in a fast-changing world.

The Trust oversees 16 academies in the south of England (including 7 in Dorset), educating more than 9,000 young people from ages 2 to 18. We are committed to providing all students with the opportunity to succeed, regardless of their background.

All Aspirations academies combine traditional qualifications with a curriculum rich in power skills such as problem solving, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.

We are always looking to partner with local businesses to develop our Aspirations Employability programme which focuses on developing work readiness skills. If you’re interested or would like to know more, please get in touch: [email protected]

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