The Farnley Academy

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by The Farnley Academy's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from The Farnley Academy is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Principal Chris Stokes
The Farnley Academy
The Farnley Academy, part of The GORSE Academies
Trust, TGAT, is a high-performing, Ofsted “outstanding”
secondary school in Leeds. Principal Chris Stokes joined
in 2018 and has overseen a period in which the academy has
moved forward at pace and built upon a solid foundation. Chris
The Parliamentary Review
about the key areas that have
been most pertinent in the school’s recent journey: the power
of partnership, positive discipline, a challenging curriculum and
the student experience.
Having worked in education for just over a decade, I have always found the best
way to engage students and motivate colleagues is to create a shared vision, one
which is widely understood and relevant to everyone in the school community.
When I joined in March 2018, it was clear that the academy was ready for the next
stage of its journey, a journey that would see it become an academy in the top one
per cent of all secondary schools in the country.
Through collaboration with all members of the school community, we established
a set of criteria, ranging from the number of students studying a foreign language,
to engagement in extracurricular activities. One year on, we are well on our way to
achieving the criteria set and our goal. Staff, students and parents are all proud of
their school and work collectively to deliver an excellent education for all students.
The power of partnership
Our work is underpinned by our work with TGAT. Partnership is at our centre and
we benefit from the ideas and thinking of others within the trust. TGAT is a local
»Principal: Chris Stokes
»Founded in 2012
»Based in Leeds
»Type of school: Secondary
»No. of students: 1,313
»No. of staff: 160
The Farnley Academy
Highlighting best practice
trust with all 12 organisations located
in the Leeds area. As a result, our staff
are able to frequently come together
to share ideas and develop next-level
thinking. Whether you are a principal
or a newly qualified teacher, you can
guarantee that there are a number of
colleagues you can rely on for support.
For the 11 to 16 sector of our trust,
our Executive Principal Leanne Griffiths
expertly co-ordinates and develops
our work and serves as the conduit
through which great ideas are shared.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach
to running a school, though, and all
academies have their ownidentity.
We always seek to innovate, develop
and challenge the norm, and our
success is driven by our humility.
We do not believe that we hold all
the answers, but we do believe that
collectively, through both internal
and external dialogue, we can
respond to our challenges. Being an
“outstanding” World Class School
does not mean that the job is done. In
fact, the expectation often brings an
even greater challenge. We rigorously
review and challenge every aspect of
our own practice while continually
seeking to improve on what we
already have in place.
Positive discipline
There is no doubt that one of the most
important aspects of our work is our
behaviour systems and pastoral care.
Positive discipline is a system built on
the power of consistency. Students
know that no matter who the adult is
that they are working with, the same
expectations will apply. As is suggested
in the name, it is driven bypositivity.
We seek every opportunity throughout
the school year to reward excellent
behaviours and attitudes to learning.
Of course, as with all behaviour
systems, poor behaviours are
challenged robustly, but thanks to
well-understood boundaries and
genuine mutual respect among all
members of our school community,
these are few and far between. At
the end of each academic year, the
school holds its prize presentation
evening. Students, staff, parents
and governors come together to
celebrate the achievements from the
year. As a school, we make a big
deal of this event and ensure that
the students involved feel proud of
A challenging curriculum
Our curriculum is deliberately very
challenging. We do not seek to offer
courses that will maximise our Progress
8 score; instead, we offer a curriculum
that is broad, diverse and matches
the needs of all our students. At Key
Stage 3, students are immersed in the
full spectrum of theory and practical
subjects, with the intention of giving
them the opportunity to discover
what they enjoy and explore what
they might want to pursue further at
The Key Stage 4 curriculum is geared
up to support students in applying for
Teaching at the academy
Partnership is
at our centre
and we
benefit from
the ideas and
thinking of
others within
the trust
the highest-calibre post-16 colleges.
We offer a strong portfolio of GCSE
subjects that seek to challenge
students and ensure that they get
the opportunity to personalise their
education. By offering a challenging
curriculum, we have found that our
students work harder across all of
their subjects; this is reflected in our
GCSE outcomes, which are consistently
above the national average.
The student experience
We have looked in detail at the
journey of our children through a
typical day and have sought to make
improvements. This has come in many
forms, including a refurbished canteen,
newly carpeted areas, investment in
tailored exercise books and a renewed
focus on excursions. Student leadership
drives the decisions that we make
about the student experience and our
student council has much to be proud
of in terms of what they have brought
into being for their peers.
This academic year, we launched
a new attendance strategy which
focused on students that have either
100 per cent or over 97 per cent
attendance. Being part of the 100 per
cent attendance club is highly sought
after with the business-supported
rewards including theme park trips
and helicopter rides. Each member
of the 100 per cent attendance club
wears a badge that signifies their
place within the club. The badge gives
them access to not only the large
attendance rewards, but also smaller
pop-up events and priority queue in
the canteen. Equally, those with over
97 per cent attendance also receive
a number of rewards throughout the
year. We have found that offering
small, frequent rewards, topped up
with larger termly rewards keeps
students far more engaged with our
attendance strategy.
We are proud of our students’
hard work and achievements but
we will never be complacent. An
“outstanding” judgement from Ofsted
and a designtation as a world class
school was an important milestone
in our journey, but it doesn’t signify
the end. We will continue to work to
ensure that every child receives a first-
class education and that at the end
of year 11 they receive a passport to
achieve their dreams, no matter what
they might be.
We are proud
of our
students’ hard
work and
but we will
never be
Under the leadership of CEO Sir
John Townsley, TGAT emphasises
simple values: outstanding
behaviour in classrooms, around
school and in the community;
high academic expectations;
and enjoyment of learning
and extracurricular activities.
With seven “outstanding”
judgements from Ofsted, TGAT
delivers world-class education
to more than 6,000 students
in some of the most deprived
communities in thecountry.
The senior leadership

This article was sponsored by The Farnley Academy. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss

Even by the standards of the day –this has been one of the most exciting and unpredictable years in British politics.

The leadership election we’ve just seen marks a huge moment in our country’s history. This government is taking a decisive new direction, embracing the opportunities of Brexit and preparing our country to flourish outside the EU.

As international trade secretary, I’ll be driving forward work on the free trade agreements that are going to be a priority for the government. Free trade isn’t just an abstract concept bandied around by technocrats. It is crucial for a strong economy and for the ability of families to make ends meet. Free trade benefits people in every part of our country, as British firms export to new markets and people doing the weekly shop have access to a wider choice of goods at lower prices.

The essence of free trade is in the title: freedom. It’s about giving people the power to exchange their goods without heavy government taxation or interference. Commerce and free exchange are the engine room of prosperity and social mobility. I’m determined to tackle the forces who want to hold that back.

One of my priorities is agreeing an exciting new free trade deal with the US, building on the great relationship between our two countries and the Prime Minister and US President. But I’ll also be talking to other partners including New Zealand, Australia and fast-growing Asian markets.

And with the EU too, we want a friendly and constructive relationship, as constitutional equals, and as friends and partners in facing the challenges that lie ahead – a relationship based on a deep free trade agreement. Our country produces some of the world’s most successful exports, and the opportunity to bring these to the rest of the world should make us all excited about the future. It is this excitement, optimism and ambition which I believe will come to define this government.

For too long now, we have been told Britain isn’t big or important enough to survive outside the EU – that we have to accept a deal that reflects our reduced circumstances. I say that’s rubbish. With the right policies in place, we can be the most competitive, free-thinking, prosperous nation on Earth exporting to the world and leading in new developments like AI. To do that, we’ll give the brilliant next generation of entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed. Since 2015, there has been a staggering 85 per cent rise in the number of businesses set up by 18 to 24 year olds – twice the level set up by the same age group in France and Germany. We’ll help them flourish by championing enterprise, cutting taxes and making regulation flexible and responsive to their needs.

As we do that, we’ll level up and unite all parts of the UK with great transport links, fibre broadband in every home and proper school funding, so everyone shares in our country’s success.

2019 has been the year of brewing economic and political revolution. 2020 will be the year when a revitalised Conservative government turbo charges the economy, boosts prospects for people across the country, and catapults Britain back to the forefront of the world stage.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss
Secretary of State for International Development