Archive for the ‘News’ Category

The value of school partnership

Posted on: February 11th, 2014 by Merchants' Academy No Comments

The value of school partnership

There should be a meeting of minds, rather than money, for independent and state schools, say head teachers Rod Mackinnon and Anne Burrell

It is a challenge commonly posed to independent schools that they should do more to share their riches with counterparts in the state-funded sector; Sir Michael Wilshaw, the Chief Inspector of Schools, picked up the refrain most noticeably in October last year at the HMC conference.

Last week, Secretary of State, Michael Gove, reignited the debate from a slightly different perspective, championing the raising of the bar in the state sectorand setting out his vision for an educational landscape in which schools of all types are indistinguishable on the basis of their funding streams.

Two Bristol head teachers who have forged a very successful partnership across the funding divide, agree that reducing the debate to a stark financial equation of rich vs poor is at best inaccurate and, at worst, unambitious, patronising and politicised.

Instead, Rod Mackinnon, Head of Bristol Grammar School and Anne Burrell, Principal of the Merchants’ Academy make the case for a meeting of minds, rather than money, and the sharing of excellent practice wherever it may be found.

Rod Mackinnon

“As independent schools, we are used to, albeit weary of, responding to accusations of elitism and hoarding of wealth. What is often forgotten, however, is that, for us, our very existence rests on meeting the expectations of those who pay the fees”.

“Whilst state schools would no doubt argue the same, the sanctions imposed if they fail to please their paymasters are rarely as stark or as immediate as ours. In fact, state schools that are failing have money thrown at them; for us it is the opposite as parents quickly withdraw”.

“So, yes, the business models are very different but, in my experience of teaching in both independent and state funded schools, I have rarely found that it is money but rather attitude that hampers flourishing partnerships between schools”.

“The assumption is that it is the tight fisted independents unwilling to share what they have, however, I have come up against more than one state schoolteacher who is simply unwilling in principle to engage with colleagues in the independent sector. The politicised mindset of many means it can never be a two-way conversation.

“It’s encouraging that, rather than bashing independent schools again, the Secretary of State has this week laid down the gauntlet to those state schools that are not willing to engage with what’s on offer and ask them why”.

“Of course, we in the independent sector are not blind to our privileges: there is no doubt that we are shielded from routine political changes and have more freedom to chart a course that suits our aims and ethos”.

“It would be absurd to suggest we didn’t want to see that same freedom available to colleagues in the state-funded sector, but that scenario is reliant on the depoliticisation of state education such that Government is empowered to set strategic goals and professional educators, not Ministers, enabled to focus on the details of execution in a particular context”.

“In my view, Michael Gove could still do more to change conditions for state schools to make that possible.”

Anne Burrell

“I agree that attitude is central and we have made it a cornerstone of our strategy here to reach out to the best sources of expertise and resource wherever they may be found – and that may mean other schools, businesses, charities and higher education establishments”.

“The key to making it work is not simply forcing a school deemed to be rich to marry up with one deemed to be struggling and leave them to get on with it. One needs to identify the need in a school (and it is not the case that the only need exists in the ‘poor relation’) and find the right partner to help them meet that need”.

“It may be surprising for some state-funded schools or academies to know that they have something to offer the independents – and for the independents to consider accepting it”.

“Big Government changes seem to dominate the agenda for many state school teachers nowadays and there is not the space there was when I started out in teaching for discussion of the detail and sharing of experience at a local or regional level”.

“The demise of the LEA has also meant the disappearance of those natural networks of support, advice and encouragement among teachers in similar fields. Schools are having to forge those relationships more intentionally now and seek out the support that’s right for them”.

“In our case, that manifests itself in links with schools such as BGS but also with the University of Bristol, businesses in the city and charities including our own sponsoring body, the Society of Merchant Venturers. But those relationships haven’t appeared overnight, nor are they arbitrary”.

“The organisations we partner with are the ones where we find examples of the excellence we want to promote, or where just the very process of talking and sharing bears fruit for both parties.

“As in all things, relationship is crucial. No one wants to be seen as the poor relation – but if it’s presented as a two-way exchange, who wouldn’t want to sign up?”


97% parent approval rate

Posted on: February 5th, 2014 by Merchants' Academy No Comments

Merchants’ Academy is proud to receive the support of its parents. Recently, our parents rated the school in a number of areas. Find out how parents view the school below.

For more information, please contact Mr Waldron.

Parent survey

My child is taught well at this school 97%
My child feels safe at this school 96%
My child is well looked after at this school 94%
My child is happy at school 93%
My child makes good progress at this school 93%
My child receives regular homework 93%
I receive valuable information from the school about my child’s progress 92%
I would recommend this school to another family 91%
This school makes sure its students are well behaved 88%
This school is well led and managed 87%
This school responds well to any concerns I raise 87%
This school deals effectively with bullying 77%

Merchants’ Academy is the 31st most improved school in England.

Posted on: January 24th, 2014 by Merchants' Academy No Comments

Released today by the Department for Education were the league tables for the 100 most improved state schools in England. It reveals the GCSE and equivalent results for examinations taken at all types of schools in summer 2013.

The school table is ranked according to the percentage of pupils who gained five or more A* to C grades including English and maths in their GCSEs and equivalent qualifications in 2010 and then in 2013.

Schools are ranked by the size of their improvement over this period.

Merchants’ Academy ranked 31st with 25% in 2010 and rising to 51% in  2013, giving the Academy a 26% increase over a 3 year period.

To read the full report please follow this link:

Merchants’ Academy comes second in league table

Posted on: January 24th, 2014 by Merchants' Academy No Comments



The official school league tables released by the Department for Education on Thursday revealed 52.3 per cent of Bristol pupils were awarded five or more GCSEs at grade A* to C including English and maths.

Bristol Post reported:

“Merchants’ Academy in Withywood saw its proportion of students awarded five or more good GCSEs rocket from 40 per cent in 2012 to 51 per cent last year. Four years ago it was one of the weakest schools in Bristol, with a lowly 25 per cent. The school also recorded the second highest result in the Bristol area based on its “value added” score, which measures progress made by its pupils between the ages of 11 and 16″.

Mr Short Vice Principal said: “For us it’s about moving all the students forward, whether they are high achievers or low achievers and adding that value. Our results show all students, regardless of their point of entry and background, are achieving and making progress.”

To read the whole article please follow the link:

Merry Christmas from Sixth Form

Posted on: December 17th, 2013 by Merchants' Academy No Comments

This week the Sixth Form celebrated Christmas and all they have achieved together this year, so far.  The Sixth Formers worked together and showed their community spirit by decorating the Sixth Form centre festively, with tinsel and two Christmas trees.

We also went out to ‘Cosmos’ in Clifton for a huge celebratory dinner together.  Mr Keough and Lisa alternated between savoury and sweet plates for their choice of menu, and some of the hearty year 12 boys managed to squeeze in more than 6 plates of food – we got our money’s worth!

From all the Sixth Form, but especially our festive elves, we wish all the Academy a very Happy Christmas.

No mobile phones

Posted on: December 16th, 2013 by Merchants' Academy No Comments

Last day of term

Posted on: December 13th, 2013 by Merchants' Academy No Comments

The Academy closes on Friday 20th December 2013.

The Academy will close  to students  at 12.30pm on Friday 20th December 2013. Please make arrangements for your child and note that there will be no lunch service on this day. Those students eligible for a free school meal will be able to collect a packed lunch at break time.

Football coach needed

Posted on: December 3rd, 2013 by Merchants' Academy No Comments

Are you a parent with a football coaching qualification?

We are looking for qualified parents to help us out with our co-curricular football training and/or fixtures on Wednesday afternoons.

If you are interested, please contact Mr Waldron or Mr Reed or phone 0117 301 5000.


Posted on: September 28th, 2013 by wordadmin No Comments

Improved again in 2013

Posted on: September 11th, 2013 by Merchants' Academy No Comments