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Secondary / KS3 and KS4

Schools Minister and local MP visit Ashwood Academy

Maria Miller MP and Nick Gibb are pictured outside of the Austen Academy building.

Schools Minister, Nick Gibb MP and MP for Basingstoke, Maria Miller enjoyed a visit Catch22’s Ashwood Academy – meeting staff and pupils to see teaching in practice and learn about what pupils enjoy most about the school.

The MPs were complimentary about the improvements to the school made by Catch22 and the students spoke of how they felt Ashwood provided a friendly atmosphere and how they were enjoying it more than their previous schools.

Two of our pupils then interviewed the MPs about what got them into politics, what the Government can do to help the school, and whether they think there’s a problem with a lack of after school activities in the area.

Maria Miller said she wanted to be become an MP to change what she saw as a ‘real unfairness’, when it came to accessing education. And Nick Gibb said that having ‘strong opinions’ was one of the main reasons why he got into politics. He said he was keen to ensure that the standard of education pupils are receiving is high – but also that the building is in good condition.

The MPs then asked the pupils about what they’d like to see improved at the school and the town more generally – and their career aspirations.

Dave Moran, Catch22’s Executive Principal for the South West, said:

“It’s great to have such high profile MPs visit the Academy and talk to pupils. They were certainly impressed with what they saw – and there was a real enthusiasm for what we’re doing and for looking at how we can improve even further. The pupils were excellent and it was a great opportunity for them to speak to policy makers who have real influence in terms of future investment.”

Schools’ Minister Nick Gibb commented:

“Ashwood Academy is an alternative provision setting that is ensuring that children who have struggled at their secondary school are given a second chance in a smaller school, with classes of just 8 students. There is a real determination to ensure all students leave school with those vital core academic skills in place, particularly in Maths and English.

Maria added:

“The visit to Ashwood Academy demonstrated the benefits of a nurturing Alternative Provision offer. Catch 22 has made a huge difference to the school which is now rated as “Good” by Ofsted. It was clear to see the opportunities offered to pupils by placing them in a small nurturing environment with clear expectations. I was struck by a comment one of the pupils made saying that classes felt like a family. I was delighted that the Minister could visit Ashwood Academy and look forward to seeing the school go from strength to strength.”

The Ashwood Academy is part of the Catch22 Multi Academies Trust (MAT), which focuses on learners who benefit from small, supportive learning environments, either in special schools or alternative provision (AP). These are generally for students at risk of exclusion or who have already been permanently excluded from mainstream education, and for students who are emotionally vulnerable. Catch22 also provides social, emotional, and mental health (SEMH) education for students with an Educational Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

The Ashwood Academy opened in September 2014 as Catch22’s first academy.