Principal Making Positive Change

Since the arrival of Principal David Waugh in January 2021, the school has been focused on transforming the life chances of the young people they serve. Great Academy Ashton believes...
Written by Andrew Thewell, 16th September 2022

Since the arrival of Principal David Waugh in January 2021, the school has been focused on transforming the life chances of the young people they serve. Great Academy Ashton believes in providing students with the best outcomes, the best possible experiences and the greatest level of celebration and participation in every aspect of school life

Recent external reviews have shown that students are confident in the knowledge that their teachers will do everything within their power to ensure they succeed.  Students understand that they need to work hard, be resilient and are driven in their approach to their studies.

Success can be seen in the recent attendance rates for this last academic year, running at 3% above the national rate.  The school is highly oversubscribed with over 450 applicants for its 270 annual places.  Alongside these successes, the school has seen significant increases in student engagement in extra-curricular activities and their personal values curriculum.

As a lead school for the Department of Education Behaviour Hub initiative, Great Academy Ashton is working alongside Tameside and North-West schools to embed a values-based learning experience. The school’s vision is to provide students with an exciting curriculum, linked to opportunities that inspire them through the Arts, Sports, STEM and hundreds of other initiatives giving them the tools to flourish.

Central to these activities is the partnership with the Manchester United Foundation, which uses the power of football and Manchester United to help young people make positive choices in their lives. Physical and mental health, social well-being and employability initiatives are integral to the success of the Great Academy Aston student.   

Teachers instil a drive and ambition that inspires every child to fulfil their potential by creating opportunities for lifelong learning and ensuring that their time within the classrooms is only the beginning of their journey. Students are equipped with a love of learning that will provide them with the skills to contribute to their world whether it be locally, nationally or globally.   

Programmes start in years 5 and 6 with the Excel Academy which supports local primary school children with high-level English, Science and Maths tuition and subsequently helps their transition to learning at secondary school. Current students are regular finalists in national competitions such as the Deloitte Five Million Futures Initiative and the Princes Trust Regional Enterprise Contest.

Underpinning the school’s approach are the GREAT Values, which are aligned with Great Academies Education Trust, which supports the academy. The values of being Genuine, Respectful, showing Excellence, Achieving highly in line with the best students in the country, and doing that Together, as the Great Academy Ashton family, ultimately are what these values mean to everyone who is involved. 

Over 1300 young people and 160 staff contribute to the success of the school. Great Academy Ashton is blessed with its specialist staff with all subject areas being led and delivered by highly qualified, experienced specialists.  The school has an extensive support structure of Year Managers, Year Leaders, Welfare Officers, Counsellors, Learning Support Assistants, an Emotional Health and Well Being Officer and dedicated support staff who provide wrap-around care for children, families and the local community. 

The school has the following strengths:

  • Students benefit from strong teaching across a wide range of subjects and year groups. As a result, Students currently on roll make much stronger progress than in the past.
  • A great number of teaching staff are external examiners at both GCSE and A-Level, bringing that experience into the classroom to support exam preparation at key stage 4.
  • Leaders create a positive, welcoming culture where all students are welcomed and encouraged to do their best.
  • 2021-22 academic year has seen the best attendance rates ever across the school despite the challenges of Covid19.
  • The school is highly inclusive. Vulnerable students are well looked after and leaders ensure that their needs are met so that they can reach their full potential.
  • Governance is strong. Governors have an accurate view of the strengths of the school. They hold leaders firmly to account and place the best interests of students at the centre of all they do.
  • Students feel safe in school. Parents, carers and staff agree. The strong programme of spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) education contributes to this.