Frequently Asked Questions

You'll be able to find the answers to all your questions in the FAQs below. If your question hasn't been answered then please contact us and we'll be delighted to respond.

» Academies and Multi-Academy Trusts

What is an Academy School and how is it different?
Academies are publicly funded, non-fee charging independent schools that are not managed by a local authority.

Academies have greater freedoms and flexibility than maintained schools. They can set pay and conditions for their staff and also change the length of their terms and structure of the school day. Academies don’t have to follow the national curriculum and can decide what students study, which allows greater personalisation of the curriculum for students.

A key difference is that they are funded directly by central government, instead of receiving their funds via a local authority. They also have more freedom to spend the money local authorities currently spend on their behalf.

Some academies have sponsors such as businesses, universities, other schools, faith groups or voluntary groups. Sponsors are responsible for improving the performance of their schools.

What is a multi-academy trust?
A multi-academy trust is the most formal type of collaborative structure available for academies. It has an overall governing body that runs the Trust, with each school also having its own governing body which is represented within the multi-academy trust.

The schools' governing bodies operate subject to the control of the multi-academy trust, which has ultimate responsibility for the running of the individual academies. The multi-academy trust is accountable and responsible for the performance of each of the academies in the chain and may delegate its decision-making powers to the governing boards of the individual academies if it wishes.

The multi-academy trust enters into a master funding agreement with the Secretary of State for Education and funding is allocated to each individual academy via a supplemental agreement between each academy and the Secretary of State for Education.

The multi-academy trust retains an element of each academy budget centrally, which it can use to make purchases (such as shared services) on behalf of the academies under its control. Due to economies of scale, multi-academy trusts can often negotiate contracts and services that achieve better value for money than if the academies negotiated these individually.

Where a multi-academy trust structure is used, the academies' staff are employed by one employer, the multi- academy trust. This enables staff resources to be moved more easily between the academies. As the multi-academy trust is a single entity, it is envisaged that schools can achieve strong collaboration and drive up standards by providing a consistent strategy and vision across a group of schools working together.

How are academies funded?
Academies are funded direct from central government according to the number of students and other factors.  The money comes straight to the school.

» Bedford College Academies Trust

What is Bedford College Academies Trust?

Bedford College Academies Trust (BCAT) was established to develop and provide the highest quality education to local young people. The specific aim is to deliver world-class education and skills to the communities we serve.

BCAT sees itself as part of a local family of schools and academies and will normally only consider sponsoring institutions if they wish to be sponsored by us. Our commitment to Bedfordshire means that we are fully focussed on this area alone, meaning that all of our resources are locally available at all times.

BCAT has gone from strength to strength since its creation in 2013, with an impressive track record of success. BCAT and its sponsors have created three of the four largest 16 to 18 institutions in the county; helped to create Bedford’s first Academy and first Free School; turned around the results of the county’s only UTC and acted as founding Chair of the North Bedfordshire Schools Trust, one of the largest and most successful in the country, comprising 19 primary and secondary schools. BCAT sponsors a new secondary academy and a new primary school, opening in September 2017.

What are BCAT's mission and vision?

The BCAT mission is to support students to achieve their absolute best whatever their ability or background. We aim to:

  1. Work collaboratively to deliver an inclusive and outstanding education to all students, thereby driving up local standards.
  2. Maximise social mobility and life chances, through the highest expectations of and aspirations for all students.
  3. Encourage and support a range of high performing and distinctive educational establishments for local communities.

What are BCAT's values?

  • Pupil and Parent Focus

We seek to work with families to achieve a high quality learning experience for every pupil

  • High Performance

We strive for consistently high levels of performance in all aspects of our work.

  • Respect Openness and Honesty

We will treat everyone with respect, encourage openness and honesty and recognise each other’s contribution and achievements.

You can find out more on the BCAT website.

» The Curriculum

What will my son/daughter study?
Wixams Academy provides new, different and exciting opportunities for learning by delivering a high quality and balanced curriculum for our pupils. We concentrate on providing a rigorous and academic experience for every pupil.

At pre-16, pupils will concentrate on core academic subjects such as English, humanities, computing, languages, maths and science.  Literacy and numeracy will be prioritised and fully embedded throughout both the Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 curriculum ensuring that all pupils are equipped with the basic building blocks for learning.

What will the Academy specialise in?
The Academy will specialise in science technologies (including veterinary science), information technologies and creative technologies. These will allow pupils to develop the qualifications and skills required for higher education at top universities and careers in rapidly growing industries the modern world.

How will sport be incorporated into the curriculum?
PE will be taught in all year groups. All pupils will also be encouraged to participate in sporting activities, clubs and teams as part of enrichment. Sporting opportunities will continue into Sixth Form through clubs, school teams and links to local sports teams.

If my child is language focused, what languages will you offer?
We will offer French and Spanish initially, but if there is sufficient demand for other languages, these will be considered. Depending upon parental and pupil feedback, we may also offer additional languages as part of enrichment.

If my child is performance arts focused, what will you offer?
Dance, drama and music will be taught in years 7 to 9, with those subjects also offered at GCSE level, subject to demand. Performing Arts clubs will also be offered as part of our rich enrichment programme.

What are the timings of the school day, including clubs?

Time

Activity

Notes

8.15am-8.40am

Breakfast Club

Optional

8.40am-09.00am

Form Time or Assembly

 

9.05am-10.05am

Lesson 1

 

10.10am-11.10am

Lesson 2

 

11.10am-11.25am

Morning Break

 

11.30am-12.30pm

Lesson 3

 

12.30pm-1.30pm

Lunch Break/clubs

 

1.35pm-2.35pm

Lesson 4

 

2.40pm-3.40pm

Lesson 5

 

3.45pm-4.15pm

Prep/Homework

Compulsory twice per week

3.45pm-5.30pm

Clubs, Activities and Individual Study

Optional

How much Homework will my child get in Year 7?
You will read differing reports on the benefits of homework on pupil progress. However, most research suggests that quality rather than quantity, time to do work well, and connection and relevance to the work in class are some of the most important features of good homework.

Your child will receive a detailed Homework Timetable in September and we plan to set all work on our special Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), so you can access it at any time.

Work will vary in nature and duration according to subject and what children are studying, but an indication follows:

Subject

Maximum Time

Frequency

Maths

1 hour

Weekly

English

1 hour

Weekly

Science

45 minutes

Weekly

Languages

30 minutes

Weekly

History

30 minutes

Weekly

Geography

30 minutes

Weekly

Computing

30 minutes

Fortnightly

RE & Citizenship

30 minutes

Fortnightly

Music & Drama (rotation)

30 minutes

Fortnightly

Art

30 minutes

Fortnightly

Technology

30 minutes

Fortnightly

PE & Dance (rotation)

30 minutes

Fortnightly

What form class and teaching groups will my child be in?
Every pupil will have their own tutor group and form tutor. We will endeavour to ensure that your child has at least one existing friend in this group.

Some lessons will be taught in this tutor group in Year 7. Other subjects will require different groupings. It is possible that Maths will be streamed in Year 7.

» Applications/Entry

We are now taking direct applications for pupils to join our Year 7 in September 2017. 

» Find out more and apply

» Uniform

Will there be a uniform?
There will be a Wixams Academy uniform as we believe pupils need to be smartly presented. It will be available to purchase locally at reasonable prices. 

We are currently consulting with parents and pupils on what this will look like and details and pictures will appear on this website soon.

» Student Experience & Facilities

How big will class sizes be?
Class sizes will be different for different subjects. We anticipate the average class size for pre-16 year groups to be 25-28 and in years 12 and 13 (sixth form) around 15-20.

What will be available before and after school as I am a working parent?
The Academy will provide formal teaching from 8.40am to 3.40pm each day. Breakfast and after school clubs and activities will be provided from 8.15am to 5.30pm.

During lunch breaks where will students go?
The new building will include a dining hall, library, relaxation areas, playground, nature areas and specialist activity areas.

Hot lunches and/or vegetarian choices?
The dining room and kitchens will be fully equipped to provide a full range of hot and cold foods, catering for all pupils.

Holidays – will they be different to that of the local authority?
The Academy will operate to the same academic year timetable as other schools in Bedford Borough.

How will you deal with under performance?
A major benefit of being a small school is that each individual student will be known to all staff.  Any under- performance will be identified at an early state and intervention strategies implemented to address the issue.  Upon accepting an offer of a place at the Academy, parents will be given the contact details of their child’s tutor who will stay closely in touch to raise any concerns about a pupil’s wellbeing or performance as soon as it arises.

How will you make learning interesting?
The Academy will only employ committed, enthusiastic and outstanding teachers.  We have already had many exciting and talented teachers contact us regarding jobs at the Academy, and as such we are confident that the staff we appoint will be extremely strong. Teaching will be delivered in a variety of ways, with top quality resources in the new school buildings, aimed at making learning inspirational, effective and enjoyable.

How will you deal with under-performing teachers?
It is hoped that this situation will not arise.  However, a full range of policies and procedures will be developed to respond to any under-performance.

Will discipline be a focus?
The Academy believes in the importance of discipline both within and outside the school to maintain and maximise all learning opportunities.  This will be achieved through our high expectations of all members of the academy, an ethos of trust and responsibility, a highly trained staff team, an engaging and challenging curriculum and a clear and consistent behaviour policy. 

What facilities will the Academy have?
We are fortunate to be opening in a brand-new purpose built school. All facilities and resources will therefore be new and state-of-the-art.

We have just selected our ICT partner to provide us with over £500,000 of computer equipment over 5 years. This will mean that your child has access to the most modern and powerful devices, including high-end PCs, Macs, 3D Printers, Music Technology equipment and portable devices.

We aim to provide each student with a personal laptop for school work. This will essentially be their own device and we will have an Agreed Usage Policy.

Specialist areas include: Sports Hall and Activity Studio; Drained pitches and MUGAs; 5 specialist Science labs; a Sixth Form suite; a Learning Support and Student Support suite; an open plan Library/Learning Resource Centre; a 3D design studio, open plan onto a Mac design suite; Technology area; Music room and practice rooms; Art room; Assembly Hall, suitable for performances; modern Dining Hall; large grounds with plenty of space for future expansion and growth.

Would we need to buy books or any other educational supplies for our child?
As in other local schools, students will need to provide their own stationery.  All other resources will be provided. 

Which teachers will be in place for September?
We will have seven specialist teachers in place for September. They will all teach their specialist subjects and some teachers with suitable experience will teach more than one subject in the first year. By Year 8 the teaching staff will increase to over 20.

We are currently receiving applications for an Assistant Principal and expect very high calibre applicants. We will also fill key positions in Maths, English and Student support this year. All subject areas will be covered by outstanding teachers when your child begins with us.

We will inform you about each appointment as soon as we possibly can.

What student trips are planned for the year?
Enhancing study by taking students into different environments will be an important part of learning at Wixams Academy. We plan to run at least one curriculum trip per subject, sports fixtures and an optional Residential Activity course for the whole year group.

As the Academy grows, we want to expand the range of curriculum and optional trips and visits available, including foreign visits, ski trips etc.

» Student Support

My child has special education needs.  How can I be confident that they will be given the level of support, attention and care they require?
The Academies Act 2010 requires academies to follow the same statutory framework for special needs as local authority schools.  We will receive funding for children with statements of special education needs (and Education Health Care Plans) in the same way, whether we are an academy or local authority school.

Where children have special needs, but do not have a statement, once again, academies are required to have regard for the Code of Practice on SEN, in exactly the same way as local authority schools.

Who will be responsible for deciding if a student needs an Education Health Care Plan?
The Academy’s specialist SENCO, working closely with parents, will decide whether to apply for a Education Health Care Plan (EHCP).

The Local Authority would retain the responsibility for determining EHCPs, and would decide whether the school is nominated on a pupil's EHCP. The Academy would then plan and provide for pupils with EHCPs.

Will my child be able to access free school meals?
Yes, subject to meeting the normal criteria set out by the Local Authority. We can help you with this.

What help will my child receive if they have specific learning requirements?
Upon starting at the Academy, every child will have their specific needs assessed and an individual learning plan will be drawn up as a result.  Where extra support is needed for their learning we will, in discussion with you, put this in place.

What help will my child receive if they are struggling with a subject?
We have built significant flexibility into the Academy’s timetable to ensure that pupils and staff have the time to catch-up, reinforce or extend their learning in subjects. Also, there will be after school support where students can do supervised study beyond the school day.

What’s your bullying policy?
The Academy has an anti-bullying policy authorised by the Trust and strictly enforced by all staff.

What pastoral care will be available?
There will be a skilled pastoral team to support all pupils. Each pupil will have their own personal tutor. 

» Location

Where will the Academy be located?
Our new school will be at the heart of the community, sitting within large grounds in Wixams, close to what will be the centre of the village. We will offer enviable modern facilities to ensure all learners have the best educational experience possible.

What is the catchment area of the Academy?
There is no catchment area – the Academy is open to all pupils regardless of where they live and we expect to attract pupils from right across Bedford Borough and parts of Central Bedfordshire.

If the Academy is oversubscribed then the oversubscription criteria will be applied.

How will my son/daughter get to the Academy?
Wixams is situated on the A6 with easy road access to Bedford, Luton and surrounding areas. It is served by bus route 81 from Luton, Barton, Silsoe, Clophill, Wilstead and Wixams. 

We encourage our pupils to walk or ride bicycles to the Academy. We will have wide walkways and cycle paths leading up to the school, with plenty of safe cycle storage.

In addition, we will be providing two subsidised minibus services which will collect from all of the main areas that our applications have come from including: Wilstead, Elstow, Cotton End, Shortstown, Cardington, London Rd, Kempston, Great Denham, Houghton Conquest.

We will adapt services to have pick-up points as close to as many families as possible, whilst maintaining an efficient service.

Buses will be dedicated for Wixams Academy students only. They will cost £5 per week return, but will be free to children entitled to Free School Meals.

Buses will arrive at school at 8.30am and will leave at 3.50pm (except the two ‘Prep days’, when they will leave at 4.20pm). This will mean that families will have to arrange their own transport for children staying to clubs until 5.30pm. More details will be available soon.

Will the building be ready for September 2017?
We will have the Ground Floor released to us in September, with the First and Second Floors handed over in December. The Principal is very confident that the school will be ready. He visits the site four times per month, one of these being an independently audited Progress Review Meeting. These reviews allow us to check the project is on schedule every four weeks. We are well on track.

We are lucky that the £15m build project is actually being run by Bedford Borough Council and therefore they have confirmed that they will utilise their resources to release a suitable building for us, should it become apparent that the school will not be ready. We do not anticipate this being required.

» Question?

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