04 Sep 2009 01:00:00.000
A milestone in The University of Nottingham's plan to improve the educational achievements of local children will be marked on Friday September 4 2009 with the opening of the Nottingham University Samworth Academy (NUSA) - the country's first 'university academy'.
Wearing their distinctive new black and green uniform, 150 year seven pupils will be introduced to their new surroundings along with 50 year 12s, who will be attending the new sixth form. The rest of the pupils will start at the academy the following Monday.
Nottingham University Samworth Academy opens its doors on the site of the refurbished William Sharp School in the shadow of the brand-new £24m building which is under construction and due for completion in September 2010. Once the new facility is complete the academy will be home to 950 pupils.
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NUSA will serve the Bilborough area of Nottingham — an area of dwindling educational achievement with one of the lowest rates of participation in higher education in the country.
Professor Di Birch, Academy Project Director, said: “A university academy should be a school in which obstacles to achievement are anticipated and overcome, as well as a place where learning is fun and brings its own rewards. We know we can turn the tide. With support from the university in every aspect of its working life, from governance to after-school clubs, from master classes to one-to-one support for literacy, NUSA is confident of success.”
David Harris, NUSA's Principal, has a strong vision of what the partnership with the University can offer. He said: “What sets our academy apart from others connected to a university is the level of commitment on both sides to forge a very special partnership. I am humbled by the enthusiasm shown by so many University colleagues to become involved in the academy. Whichever department of the University I have spoken to it hasn't taken long before the benefit for the young people of Bilborough has come into the conversation.”
NUSA's admissions policy ensures that local children have priority, so that success will not be achieved simply by changing the 'social mix' of the school. The ambitious development plan focuses on achieving nationally acceptable standards of literacy and numeracy at GCSE from 2010. Sixth formers will be admitted for the first time, studying for vocational as well as academic qualifications to reduce the numbers of young people who drop out of education. The University will be involved in developing apprenticeship and work placement schemes as well as supporting those who aim to go to university.
Vital support from the University's School of Education ensures that NUSA's thinking is up-to-the-minute, with senior NUSA staff enrolled on specialist development programmes. Alan Dewar's role as Vice-Principal includes building research and knowledge transfer links with the University. Among the school governors will be Olympic Gold medallist and Nottingham graduate Tim Brabants.
The NUSA curriculum includes special 'themed' days, when regular lessons are suspended in favour of exciting hands-on activities and children will work alongside University staff and students. There will be a special emphasis on Health and Science (NUSA's specialism) as well as on citizenship and personal development. Successful pilot schemes in the run-up to the opening have included a visit to main campus by 140 11-year-olds to study Earth and Space — the first time many of the children had been to the University, but certainly not the last.
Professor Karen Cox, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Access and Community Relations, said: “NUSA has the future of the young people of Bilborough at its heart, and it has the potential to transform the opportunities available to thousands of pupils in the years to come. It is about giving them the very best start in life, and inspiring them to get the most out of their education. Our vision is that a leading international university like Nottingham will no longer be out of reach for young people going to school just a few miles away.”
NUSA is a joint venture between the University and local businessman David Samworth, who is also co-sponsoring two other local academies. While the sponsors bring their knowledge and vision to the academy, the Government's contribution includes a new £24m building. Due to open in 2010, it includes a university-style lecture theatre and a stunning central 'street' in which exhibitions and performances can take place.
David Samworth said: “It has been a pleasure to work with such a highly regarded partner as The University of Nottingham in the development of this wonderful new academy for Bilborough. I believe that everyone has a right to a high quality education and my family and I are delighted to lend our financial support, our academy experience and the family name to another marvellous academy initiative in the East Midlands. I have no doubt that this academy will not only greatly enhance opportunities for local children but also bring significant benefits to the wider community.”
More information on NUSA can be found at www.nusa.org.uk
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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 100 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THE) World University Rankings.
More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to RAE 2008, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as 'world-leading' or 'internationally excellent'. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranks the University 7th in the UK by research power. In 27 subject areas, the University features in the UK Top Ten, with 14 of those in the Top Five.
The University provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's “only truly global university”, it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation — School of Pharmacy), and was named 'Entrepreneurial University of the Year' at the Times Higher Education Awards 2008.
Nottingham was designated as a Science City in 2005 in recognition of its rich scientific heritage, industrial base and role as a leading research centre. Nottingham has since embarked on a wide range of business, property, knowledge transfer and educational initiatives in order to build on its growing reputation as an international centre of scientific excellence. The University of Nottingham is a partner in Nottingham: the Science City.
Photocall: A number of 'first day' pupils and some of the senior pupils will be available for interviews and photographs at 11:30am, Friday September 4 2009, Nottingham University Samworth Academy, Bramhall Road, Bilborough, Nottingham NG8 4HY.