Theatre, conference and awards: all the latest news from Aspirations Academies Trust!

By Staff Reporter [email protected]

Published: March 12, 2024 | Updated: 12th March 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 find out how more than 100 students enjoyed a special theatre performance; we learn how students from across Dorset found their voice at the annual Student Voice conference; and we see how Magna students performed at the national finals of the Aspiration Employability Diploma Awards.



More than 100 students aged 14 – 18 enjoyed a very special performance recently when acclaimed theatre company, Splendid Productions came to Budmouth Academy with their production of Gogol’s The Government Inspector.

A satirical prod at politics, privilege and corruption, the play prompts questions about fear, social hierarchy and the abuse of power.

Performers Cordelia Stevenson, Brooke Camilleri Agius and Holly Wright conjured a town full of characters through the skilful physical characterisation which has become a feature of the company’s work.

Following the one hour interactive performance, fifty drama students participated in workshops exploring physical storytelling and the creative reinterpretation of familiar tales.

Assistant Director of Sixth Form and Performing Arts teacher, Kate Sheppard commented: “We’re thrilled to be welcoming Splendid back to Budmouth. We love the physical theatre they produce which is audience centred and based in Brecht.

“The workshop is so valuable for the students who are taking GCSE Drama and A level Theatre Studies and they’ll be able to use their evaluations of the performance in their exams.”

“The students have really thrown themselves into it,” explained Cordelia, “they’ve been really playful and it’s been great to see so many different year groups working together.”

“They’ve been very receptive to the work,” added Brooke, “this is an opportunity for them to express who they are and discover more about themselves.

“They’re also developing their social and communication skills and their spatial awareness and coordination.”

Year 13 student Charles Westlake who will be taking up a place at Bristol School of Acting following his A levels, was inspired by the day’s work: “It’s the first live piece by Splendid that I’ve seen and I was blown away by the performance! I’ve learned a lot which will help my own practice in the future.”

Other students were equally enthusiastic. GCSE student Jocelyn Clark felt it would benefit her exam work: “I’ve loved it! I have to play similar characters in my GCSE piece so it was very helpful.”

Fellow Year 11 pupil Sophie Teague could see the relevance of The Government Inspector to today’s political landscape: “I thought the performance was so professional and interesting for the audience. It made me think about the lies politicians tell!”

“It’s been a great visit and I’m pleased so many students were able to be involved,” said Kate. “Theatre in education has a valuable role to play in schools and Splendid, who were nominated for an Olivier award last year, are a top drawer company. Our students have seen high quality performance work today.”



More than sixty students from the seven schools operated by Aspirations Academies Trust in Dorset gathered at Jewell Academy in Bournemouth recently for their annual Student Voice conference.

Led by Director of Student Leadership and Engagement, Andy David, student leadership teams comprising pupils from Year 2 to Year 13 shared ideas and experiences and participated in activities designed to encourage critical thinking around issues of concern to current students.

Regional CEO of Aspirations Academies Trust, David Herbert explained the purpose of the conference: “Student voice is everything in the trust; we empower our students to improve their own schools and to set the priorities for the development of student voice across the sixteen schools in the Aspirations family.

“Each year we bring pupils from the region together to share the good practice from their own academies and to think about how they can shape future change.”

Presentations included a range of ideas, from a recycling scheme devised by pupils at Jewell Academy which would ensure pens and other stationery items didn’t go to landfill, to an initiative to raise the profile of girls in leadership from Atlantic Academy, Portland.

The positive benefits of student leadership were widely spoken of. At the end of the event the students were able to reflect on the day’s gains:

“It was interesting to see lots of people from other schools. We can take ideas from other schools to help improve ours” – Ava, Yr 8 Atlantic Academy

“We learnt about what we can improve in our school which is completely new so now we have lots of ideas” – Aya, Yr 8 Livingstone Academy

Youngest attendee (Amelia, Yr 2 Jewell) and oldest (Amelia Yr 13 Magna)

“I really enjoyed the presentations. I got to see how other schools did things and the things they changed. As Head Girl you have to take on a lot of responsibility but honestly, it is so much fun” – Zara, Yr 6 Bovington Academy

“I liked giving the tour of Jewell and I like being a leader! I love doing jobs” – Amelia, Yr 2 Jewell Academy

President of the Magna Academy student leadership team and member of the Trust’s student council, Year 13 pupil Amelia Dibben added, “Change can happen more quickly and benefit more students on a wider scale when you are ambitious about developing student leadership.”

To hear more about the ways student leadership works within Aspirations Academies Trust listen here:



Teams from five academies gathered at Aspirations Academies Trust Headquarters in west London recently for the national finals of the Aspirations Employability Diploma Awards.

The Aspiration Employability Diploma scheme was devised by Aspirations Academies Trust to develop workplace skills through project work with local businesses.

Employers pose real world problems for teams in each school to solve. Following stringent judging within the academies, the best projects progress to the finals.

“Employability skills are key to future success,” explains Managing Director of Aspirations Academies Trust, Steve Kenning.

“Students at Aspirations academies are offered opportunities to develop skills of communication, collaboration, leadership, problem solving, project management and presentation – all essential in the workplace.”

The winning team from Park Academy had worked on a project with SCS Railways to reduce the carbon emissions associated with HS2 site works.

Runners up were Evie Wetherell, Amie Tiller and Karolina Legacinskaite from Magna Academy in Poole who had worked on a project to enhance emergency management, with a specific focus on dam collapse in Brazil and communications.

Dr Jeffery Quaye OBE, National Director of Education and Standards for Aspirations Academies Trust led the judging: “I was delighted to witness the high quality presentation and critical thinking demonstrated in this competition.

“The students used the skills gained through their AED lessons to confidently tackle problems with innovation.”

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