Ipswich Academy, formerly Holywells High School, is based in an
area with a high proportion of low income households. The academy
is run by the Learning Schools Trust, which also sponsors two other
secondary schools in London.
Although the xl programme has been running at
the Academy for the past six years, the sponsors were so impressed
by the life-changing influence it has on the confidence and
ambition of students that they decided to massively expand it,
meaning that three clubs now run per year group instead of one.
“The xl programme is so successful because it
teaches all aspects of life skills rather than just one single
area, covering vital topics such as teamwork, business and
preparation for the world of work,” said Mal Akhlak, Applied
Curriculum Manager at Ipswich Academy. “It has been hugely
successful in empowering young people who often come from very
difficult backgrounds, equipping them with the coping skills and
tools required to be successful in the wider world.”
Highlights of the Ipswich Academy xl programme
have included a six week fire safety course and a driving course,
which included a theory test and practical lesson. Young people
have also embarked on several fundraising projects, including
running a school disco and setting up a monthly car wash as a
Chloe is an example of a student who has made
huge progress since she started the programme. She came into The
Prince’s Trust xl club at the start of year 10 with extremely low
confidence, not believing that she was good at anything and
wouldn’t even consider her future. At the start of the car wash
project Chloe was very quiet and would mainly observe other team
members, however when it was decided to turn the car wash into a
profit-making business, the students allocated roles and chose her
as company Director. The fact her peers had voted for her gave her
an enormous boost of confidence and she embraced the role with
enthusiasm, taking her role seriously and making sure that
standards were of the highest quality.
Previously Chloe was predicted Es and Fs in
her GCSEs and hadn’t made plans for the future, however as a result
of taking part in the programme she now has a good chance of
getting Cs in all key subjects and has been accepted into the sixth
form. She was also recently recognised by The Trust for her
dedication to learning and progress.
“The fact that the xl clubs are student-led
gives young people like Chloe a voice and shows them they are being
listened to. It demonstrates that all people are of equal
importance and that their opinions are highly valuable, no matter
what their background or age,” said Mal Akhlak.
After taking part in the programme, young
people’s attendance and attitude has picked up significantly,
meaning that students have the confidence to contribute to other
areas of the Academy community.
A good example of this is Nasir Uddin who was
on the verge of permanent exclusion for disruptive behaviour. After
taking part in teambuilding exercises he was able to view things
differently and understand that he needed to co-operate with others
to achieve goals. This led to a huge behaviour shift - so much so
that he was recently awarded the title of Prefect by the very same
Head of Year who had previously said he faced permanent exclusion
if his behaviour did not change.
“Taking part in the programme has led to a
noticeable increase in confidence, self awareness and personal
skills among the students,” said Mal. “However the biggest impact
is increased personal aspiration. Our xl students have low
expectations when they first start, however the skills they learn
give them the self-belief to go on to bigger and better things.
Rather than leaving school without any prospects, as the majority
of them would have done before participating, 95% of our xl
students go on to Further Education and training.”
The xl programme has made such an impact on
Ipswich Academy that it is now used as a scaffold to deliver
various subjects within their learning framework and the scheme of
work is available for young people to access via an innovative
online portal system. The programme is now also included in the
student options booklet, meaning that young people can actively
choose to follow the xl pathway.