Penrice Academy opened in the early 1960’s as a secondary modern school based on a projected need for 450 students. During the 1970’s it became comprehensive and then began to establish a reputation for good teaching, high levels of pastoral care and imaginative and forward thinking leadership. We became a Community Academy in the 1990’s to reflect the broader range of community activities and to reinforce the ethos that we were interested in lifelong learning. In 2011 we converted to an Academy and within the same month were designated as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted, in March 2014 following re-inspection we were again designated as ‘Outstanding’. We have now also been designated as one of the first of the new Teaching Schools – one of only four in southwest England. From September 2013 we are re-named as Penrice Academy.
In 1997 we were designated a Language Academy under the then new specialist schools programme. We have been one of the earliest and most successful Language Academys and achieve very high outcomes for students in up to six languages as well as a widespread programme of teacher training in languages for primary and secondary schools. The focus on internationalism and the centrality of language learning remains at the heart of the Academy vision.
In recent years we have been designated a Leading Edge school, achieved Artsmark Gold, the International School’s Award at Gold level Phase 3 Healthy School’s Award. The Academy now has over 1,350 students, many from outside the designated catchment area and is heavily oversubscribed.
St Austell is a major town within Cornwall and the largest urban area although in more populous counties it would be described as a small town. In recent years the largest local employer, a manufacturer of China Clay, has been shrinking its operation and the town has been forced to diversify into other areas such as light engineering, production and warehousing. Unemployment is above the Cornish average and the town has a number of other indicators such as teenage pregnancy, ill health, drug and alcohol abuse, offending rates which indicate a degree of social challenge. The town is in receipt of European funding to re-develop and diversify its industrial base and there is a high level of loyalty and pride by local people in their community. The current structure plan for Cornwall shows St Austell continuing to grow as well as developing a new ‘eco Town’ in the surrounding countryside.
Our students want to learn and respond well to positive teaching and praise. Results and value added are both above average and the Academy has an extensive range of cultural and sporting achievements to its name. The ethos of the Academy is student centred and students have a voice in decision making and staff selection. Our rigorous staff selection procedures pay particular attention to the need to protect children and prospective employees will be asked to prove their work history, qualifications and suitability to work with children.
We are particularly proud of our record as an international school, with most of Year 8 having a residential experience somewhere in Europe, a programme of exchanges and staff and students visiting in recent years countries as far away as India, China and Kenya. We also have visits and stays from students and staff in those countries which add to the rich mix of experiences our students receive.
The Academy is set in very extensive grounds and is well equipped. We continue to invest in ICT and have increased the number of laptops and Apple Macs each year to further enhance the teaching of graphic media and communication. Every student has now been issued with an iPad Mini and all teachers with an iPad.
The curriculum offer is very wide with over thirty subjects offered at GCSE/BTEC including some seventeen in after Academy hours. There are opportunities to do a number of vocational and applied courses. There are three 100-minute lessons a day.
We are a centre for training teachers and will usually have about thirty trainees during the course of the year; with many doing School Direct through our Teaching School provision. Our Teaching School priorities are to develop the new professionalism required by support staff, leadership training and enhancing classroom performance and becoming a major centre for ITT. We take the professional development of our staff very seriously and have an extensive programme of support and guidance as well as in house training and induction. We also take the well-being of our staff very seriously
Penrice works closely with its ten partner primary schools and the three local secondary schools. We are outward looking and always interested in collaborative networking in order to improve the quality of the teaching and learning experience. We have excellent links with both FE Academys in Cornwall, particularly Cornwall Academy St Austell which is situated close to us.
We have extensive use of the Academy campus by community groups and a good range of extra-curricular activities. The Academy opens to students at 8am and supervises students until at least 4.00pm with many voluntary activities going on later.
This is a very happy Academy and staff enjoy working here. Our mission is for both staff and students to wake up in the morning and look forward to coming to work. We are also committed to raising standards and ensuring our young people have a wide, morally grounded, enriching education.