Sign language, meditation, volleyball and musical theatre just as important as academic subjects says new principal at Boston Spa Academy

The new headteacher at a Leeds academy school says that cultural and life experiences are just as important to pupils as traditional subjects and grades.

By Emma Ryan
Wednesday, 9th March 2022, 4:30 am

Since taking the principal's role at Boston Spa Academy at the beginning of the year, Peter Hollywood, who was vice principal from September 2020, says well-rounded students with life skills and resilience are the traits that they are trying to develop and instil in their 1500 students before they leave for the world of work or further education.

As well as break and lunch clubs there are now 80 after school clubs and sessions which cover pretty much everything from sign language to spoken languages, public speaking, musical theatre, debate and meditation.

They were re-launched in September after COVID regulations put them on the backburner and the principal says that students have returned to school with a renewed enthusiasm.

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A level students Phoebe Cook, James Tucker, and Emma Dodsworth with Principal, Peter Hollywood at Boston Spa Academy.

"They feel a renewed gratitude for what school gives them, whether that is routine and structure, or knowledge and wisdom that will give them.”

Rowing, karate and volleyball are as much part of the sports offering as football, rugby or cricket and this year, with 170 students taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh award, it makes Boston Spa the second biggest provider of the scheme in West Yorkshire.

Mr Hollywood said: “We offer 80 (extra-curricular sessions) per week which is phenomenal. When you look at the uptake, it is wonderful, students are really embracing it. I believe it far exceeds any offer that a state school has in the local area and, I would say nationally.

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Since taking the principal's role at Boston Spa Academy at the beginning of the year, Peter Hollywood, who was vice principal from September 2020, says well-rounded students with life skills and resilience are the traits that they are trying to develop and instil in the 1500 students.

The enrichment programme that has been implemented at Boston Spa, and the House programme that is set to be re-introduced with vigour are key focuses of Mr Hollywood, along with

The Performing Arts Centre and links with Opera North and The Northern School of Contemporary Dance and trips and experiences, such as the opportunity to visit China and Trinidad.

He explained: "For me it is really important that we are developing students who are strong, confident, holistic and follow passions for things outside of the classroom. It is important that we support students in terms of well-being and having life-long skills to develop themselves into people who are employable and have skills to be resilient.

"We are trying to make sure that there are sufficient systems in place that will allow us a greater focus on some of the areas that are really important to us and make sure there is well-being and support in place."

Enrichment is also one of the ways in which Boston Spa, part of The GORSE Academies Trust, wants to compete with other schools in the locality to make it the number one choice for families.

Students across the year groups do community events and charity events to teach about social responsibility.

Boston Spa differs from other GORSE academies in that is is situated in a more affluent area of north Leeds where as others were purposely located in deprived and challenging communities in order to improve outcomes and opportunities for young people.

Mr Hollywood added: "We have a number of villages in the locality which form a community which is probably more affluent than others. A driver for the school is making sure that families send their children to their local school. With the exceptional provision we are serving more and more of the local community.”

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