Ash pearce - Labour Church Ward Councillor
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Ward School News

Ward School News

JMA receive Ofsted praise

Reading’s John Madejski Academy has been praised by Ofsted in a recently published inspection report.

Following a visit in January, Ofsted’s inspectors noted that “the academy is improving” and identified many areas of progress at the secondary school.

Camilla Thornalley, principal at John Madejski Academy, said: “There has been no better time for young people at JMA. We are undergoing a rapid rate of growth and improvement, which is underscored by feedback we are receiving from pupils, parents, and the wider community.”

Among the ongoing improvements highlighted by Ofsted was the relationship between staff and students, with the report reading: “pupils feel safe and well supported”. It also states that: “pupils and staff get along well together and there is a friendly feeling to the school.”

John Madejski Academy offers both girls’ and boys’ elite sports performance programmes in conjunction with Reading Rockets basketball and Reading Football Club. These initiatives are commended in the report, which reads: “Pupils on elite sports programmes appreciate the opportunity they have to develop into high-level athletes.”

The programmes also received support from a parent, who is quoted in the report as saying: “my child’s confidence has grown and both his academic and sports progress shows.”

The report marks Ofsted’s first visit to John Madejski Academy since the school joined The White Horse Federation multi-academy trust in February 2018.

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Something good is happening in South Reading’s schools

The GCSE results were out this week, a nerve wracking but most often, ultimately rewarding time for our young people. It is the culmination of years of hard work from students, parents and teachers. At our two secondary schools in South Reading, we saw some impressive results.

At Reading Girls, they recorded their best EVER results. Progress 8 score was 0.89 meaning the girls achieved almost a grade better than their targets on average. This included 74% of students getting grade 4-9 in English and Maths, with 58% 5-9 in those subjects.

Down the road at JMA particularly impressive results (Grade 9-4 or equivalent) were achieved in Performing Arts with (100%). Physics, with (94%) and 12% of students achieving a Grade 9 ( only the top 4% of students in the country achieve this grade, it is higher than an A*). Catering (71%), Music (77%), Sport (89%), Business (89%), Biology (71%), Chemistry (76%) and Media (83%).

Good things are happening at our two secondary schools in South Reading, lead brilliantly by Jon Gargan at Reading Girls and Camilla Thornalley at JMA. Why don’t you pay a visit to see the great work for yourself?

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Education round up

There has been good news for two of our Education institutions in Church Ward recently. Ridgeway Primary School on Hillbrow received a Good Ofsted rating, fully deserved after the great work of the staff lead by Head teacher Jacky Steele. The report found the school good in all areas and particularly praised pupils relish in reading for pleasure. Huge congratulations to all!

Congratulations also to Barry Wren and his team at New Directions Adult education service located on Northumberland Avenue who also recently received a Good Ofsted rating. The report said learners benefit from high quality careers information, advice and guidance to help them.

There was also a farewell to one of South Reading’s education institutions. John Cosgrove had been head at Christ The King School on Northumberland Avenue for over a decade, helping countless numbers of children get the best start to their educational career through his dedication to inclusivity, passion for education and determination. A well earned retirement awaits!

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JMA confirms its sixth form will continue

Ashley outside of JMA.

JMA Principal Laura Ellener has confirmed that JMA will continue to provide sixth form education to students of South Reading. Ashley recently asked the lead Cllr for education at a Full Council meeting:

Can the Lead Councillor for Education update us on the rumoured possibility that the John Madejski Academy in South Reading is considering the restructure and redundancy programme that would lead to the sixth form being “mothballed” ?

REPLY by Councillor Jones Lead Councillor for Education.

The John Madejski Academy is managed by the White Horse Federation Trust, a multi academy trust based in Swindon.

It has recently emerged that the trust has being considering a range of options to reduce costs. These include “mothballing” the sixth form and ending the academy’s elite sporting programme – a notable strength of the school which has been singled out for praise by Ofsted. Over the last few months, they have been working to plan the very best future for the school.

Despite the serious financial situation facing the academy, the Trust has confirmed that, with support from the government, JMA is going to be able to continue to offer education from 11 through to 18.
Their ambition is to ensure that over the coming months and years, they build on the good recent improvements to enable students to thrive from 11-16. They are also committed to work on enhancing the range of choices for students from 16 to 18 to study a range of academic, vocational, and sport-based education.

The Trust has confirmed its view that JMA’s role in the local community is of vital importance.
Any significant change to provision in the future will involve wide consultation with all stakeholders and, as a Council, we will clearly be central to these consultations due to our statutory responsibilities for pupil place planning.

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JMA to team up with White Horse Federation

This month, one of South Reading’s secondary schools found a new sponsor in the White horse foundation. As an academy school, John Madejski academy is not run by the local authority but a multi academy trust who over see numerous schools in the area.

Laura Ellener, the principal, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for all of the students families and staff at JMA, and will further accelerate our progress to becoming outstanding. “TWHF’s ambitions and values closely align with our own and so this collaboration was an obvious choice.

“We are looking forward to becoming part of TWHF family, continuing to create an exceptional educational community and achieving all the possibilities and opportunities that this will bring.”

TWHF currently supports 20 primary, secondary and special schools across Oxfordshire, Swindon, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. JMA will be its first venture in Berkshire. There website can be found below:

Our Schools

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Ashley becomes Chair of Governors at Ridgeway

In September last year I became the Chair of Governors at Ridgeway and wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself and my background.
My background and experience have both long been in education. I have been a teaching assistant in the past, and have been a teacher at a secondary school for ten years now. Further to this I am a local Councillor for Church Ward and sit on the ACE committee (which includes the education work of the Council) as Vice-Chair. In the last year I have visited and spoken to the Head teachers of our two most local secondary schools, John Madejski Academy and Reading Girls School in an attempt to aid improvement, and help bridge the transition gap.

I will have been a Governor at Ridgeway for 5 years this summer, and it has been a greatly rewarding experience. I have been on various committees to help oversee standards, and I have had particular responsibility for Pupil Premium monitoring. During my time as a Governor we have helped oversee the impressive expansion of the school and its buildings, curriculum overhaul and the appointment of our new head Ms Steele.

I have visited the school on many occasions to see the pupils and staff in action, and have always left impressed and full of pride. There are obviously always challenges and areas for improvement and I am working with the Head teacher to help implement the post- Ofsted action plan for school improvement. Budgets need to be fit for any future changes and, looking forward, pupil numbers and development in South Reading are ever-changing and contribute to the challenge we face.
I am always looking to hear parent’s views and opinions on the school and its future, so if you ever wish to contact me, please email or call on the contact details below.
Ashley Pearce

Chair of Governors


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JMA- “A rapid process of transformation”-Ofsted.

Ashley outside of JMA.

“Leaders have created a calm and orderly environment. Pupils treat each other with respect”-JMA Ofsted report.

It was the above quote from John Madejski academies latest Ofsted report that resonated with me most after just having visited the school and impressive new head Laura Ellener. As a teacher myself, Ward Coucnillor for many of JMA’s students and Chair of Governors of nearby Ridgeway Primary, I was delighted at the recent Ofsted report that showed great improvement. Work to do, but on the right track with the right people.

As soon as you walk through the gates you notice how calm and quiet the school is, there is clearly a purposeful atmosphere. The reception was warm and welcoming (always a good indicator of a school!) & I was met by the Principal Laura Ellener. The Principal brings with her a dedicated team driven by improving the school. A tour of the premises demonstrated some wonderful facilities including a pristine sixth form block, excellent sporting and ICT facilities. The classrooms I dropped into had an excellent learning culture and engaged students.

The school has been through many different guises and changes throughout the years but I am convinced it is finally on the right path. A strong Governing body including two head teachers, a new trust about to lend its support, local collaboration with the Whitley Excellence Cluster and a driven senior leadership team has seen this rapid process of transformation that Ofsted has noted. Hopefully Ofsted will be back in a couple of years to note even further improvement.

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John Madejski academy shows rapid improvement

South Reading secondary school the John Madejski academy has undergone a rapid improvement in standards in the last year, Schools regulator Ofsted have said. The school continues its journey to an outstanding school and is now out of special measures. The staff team lead by Principal Laura Ellener have shown great determination and spirit to keep the school improving. More can be read on the schools website

New Ofsted grading for JMA after “rapid process of transformation”

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New Directions reopens in Whitley

Mayor Rose Williams opening the new facility by JMA.

Ofsted rated good adult education centre new directions reopened its doors after a quarter of a million pound refurbished. The new site is next to John Madejski academy on Northumberland Avenue and will now again being providing a range of courses to help adults learn. More can be read here.

*Photo courtesy of The Whitley Pump.

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Good bye and thank you to Primary heads


Two of our Primary school head teachers in South Reading have recently retired after many years service in our schools. Charlie Clare after many years dedicated service heading up Geoffrey Field Junior took a hugely deserved retirement. As well as Charlie, Madelaine Cosgrove retired after overseeing The Ridgeway school expansion in recent years. We wish them the best of luck and rest in their future endeavours.

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Sure Start Whitley rated Outstanding

A Sure Start centre in Whitley that gives children a secure start in life has been rated as outstanding in its latest Ofsted report. It’s these Sure Start centres that Labour introduced that help close the gaps in society and that are under threat from Tory party cuts. The centre was praised for its safeguarding procedures and relationship with parents. A huge congratulations to all involved. More can be read about the report here:

SureStart Whitley maintain their ‘Good’ Ofsted Judgement

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Whitley Excellence cluster school Council meet Cllr Pearce

New block at Reading girls school

Cllr Pearce was delighted to be a guest at the latest WEC schools Council meeting held at the new building of Reading Girls school. The impressive new building held host to students from Geoffrey Field, Ridgeway, Chirst the King, New Christchurch and of course Reading Girls. Students from age ranges of 7-16 shared their views on their role models, local facilities, transport, education and the state of school meals! They also quizzed Cllr Pearce on his idols and the local library. A big thank you to everyone involved, a great show case for the young people of Whitley.

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Conservative Cuts threatens Schools Success

Schools in Reading are improving, but this progress is now at risk with big cuts in central government grants about to be handed down by the Tory Government. The number of GCSE passes at Grade A*-C, including English and Maths has risen, Reading retains its top spot in the national table of ‘A’ Level achievement and Reading’s primary school children are performing above the national average.
There is significant improvement in outcomes for students at Key Stage 2 (Primary), Key stage 4 (GCSE) and Key Stage 5 (A Level) in 2016. In particular: 64.1% of students achieved A*-C in both English and Mathematics, the Attainment 8 progress figures ranks Reading at 39th out of 152 Local Authorities and Reading’s key stage 2 results ranks us at 50th out of 152 local authorities compared to 103rd last year.
But these improvements are at risk, with the Local Government Association warning that the Tory Government intend to cut the £450 million budget covering school improvement work to just £50 million later this year. In addition, schools are facing massive cuts to their budgets with some schools in Reading facing a cut of up to £920 per pupil, which could fund 18 teachers. Reading’s MPs consistently vote for these cuts, they must now stand up for Reading’s schools and demand that no school in Reading faces a cut to its funding.

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Ridgeway primary new building official opening

Ridgeway Primary school will be celebrating its official opening this Friday with a visit from Tony Jones the lead member for Education. The schools expansion demonstrates the Council’s commitment to excellent school facilities in the borough and in South Reading in particular. Ridgeway holds a special place in Cllr Ashley Pearce’s heart, as a Governor at the school for the past 3 years he has helped oversee the expansion. More detail about the opening can be read here.

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Students receive A level results

Young people in Reading received their A level results yesterday with Reading students results as a whole being in line with the national average. Locally at JMA 50% of students received A*-B grades and 75% received A-C grades. Well done to all! More can be read from the Get Reading site here.

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Reading key stage 2 results above the national average

PUPILS in Reading achieved results above the national average in this year’s tests for 11-year-olds for the first time in ten years.
The tests taken in May 2016 by Year 6 pupils are the first to assess the new and more challenging national curriculum which was introduced in September 2014.
In the 2016 results, 54.4% of Year 6 pupils in Reading reached the new expected standard in the combined measure of the reading, writing and mathematics tests. This is higher than the national average of 53%.
This is the first time in over 10 years that Reading pupils in Year 6 have risen above the national average in the combined score, which is a critical measure in relation to the government’s floor standards.
Attainment by Reading pupils in writing was 75.8%, above the national percentage at 74%. In the reading test 65% of pupils achieved the expected standard, compared with 66% nationally. In the mathematics test, 67.7% of pupils achieved the standard compared with 70% nationally. In the grammar, punctuation and spelling 74.7% of pupils reached the expected standard compared to 74% nationally.
Councillor Tony Jones, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Education, said:
“I’m particularly pleased for the children and staff, within all schools and academies, who have worked in close partnership to achieve results which are above the national average.
“While not being complacent or thinking this is high enough, it is important to note this is the best overall results for Year 6 Reading children in 10 years, in terms of the national picture. This puts those children who have done well in a good position as they start their secondary education.
“I would like to congratulate all pupils and their families on their individual achievements.”
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