Consultation – Proposed change of lower age limit and closure of sixth form at The Rural Enterprise Academy

The Rural Enterprise Academy first opened on the Rodbaston campus of South Staffordshire College in September 2012.  It was developed with a clear vision:  to create a new and exciting free school that enables young people to gain a broad education with traditional and essential qualifications such as English, Maths and Science, together with the opportunity to link learning, wherever possible, to rural enterprise, environmental sustainability and land-based subjects.  The vision is to bring about a positive impact on the lives of students, rural communities and rural and environmental industries across Staffordshire and beyond.

The Academy became part of Penk Valley Academy Trust in August 2019.  It is working closely through the Trust with Wolgarston High School and Penkridge Middle School to help make this vision a reality.

We propose to change The Rural Enterprise Academy from a 13-18 to an 11-16 school for the following reasons:

  • We are in an area where there are both two tier and three tier systems operating. Currently a significant number of parents apply to join the middle schools at the start of Year 7 from primary schools, in order to access the start of their children’s secondary education. This will provide greater choice by providing a two tier option to go alongside the existing three tier offer of Middle / High.
  • Creating an additional 60 Year 7 and 8 school places at the Rural Enterprise Academy will reduce pressure on places at Penkridge Middle School.
  • It will increase the opportunities for students who are interested in rural enterprise. A newly designed bespoke Key Stage 3 curriculum will meet the needs of some children right at the start of their secondary journey.
  • It will increase choice and diversity for parents. In particular, there is clearly a demand from parents in the wider area for a small secondary school.  As the Rural Enterprise Academy is a small two form entry school, this proposed change will provide an important new choice for the area.
  • It will increase the viability of the Rural Enterprise Academy. Operating a two form entry secondary school from Year 9 does not provide the economies of scale necessary. Since the school was established in 2012 it has never been able to recruit more than 45-60 pupils each year. An additional 120 pupils (Year 7 and 8) will enable the school to be fully sustainable in the long term.
  • Additional Year 7 capacity from 2021 will help support local provision for the additional children that will be living in the area due to the significant house building scheduled over the next decade.
  • The Rural Enterprise Academy Sixth Form has never been viable. The most students that completed A Levels in one year was just six.  It has had no sixth form students for the past two years.  There are high quality sixth form providers nearby, which have space to educate all students applying from the Rural Enterprise Academy.  The school is on the same site as South Staffs College and Stafford College is within eight miles, ensuring students can access a large range of academic and vocational courses and apprenticeships.

The Rural Enterprise Academy is undertaking a consultation exercise to seek the views of interested stakeholders including the Local Authority, parents and other schools. Interested parties are asked to consider the above proposal and then respond to the proposal.

The proposal:  That the Rural Enterprise Academy changes its existing arrangements by lowering the minimum age of admission to The Rural Enterprise Academy from 13 (Year 9) to 11 (Year 7), and  by closing the sixth form, thus becoming an 11-16 academy.

Please note: There are no plans to increase the admission number at the Academy but rather that pre 16 students be spread across five, as opposed to the current three, year groups.

We welcome your views.  There are a number of ways in which you can make your views known to us:

  1. Email us at enquiries@ruralenterpriseacademy.com
  2. Telephone 01785 333360
  3. Write to us at:
    The Rural Enterprise Academy
    Rodbaston
    Penkridge
    Staffordshire
    ST19 5PH
  4. We are holding a public meeting at the Rural Enterprise Academy, on Wednesday 15th January 2020 starting at 6.00pm. You are invited to attend, ask any questions you might have and express your views.
  5. The consultation closes on 31st January 2020.