How Trinity Academy Leeds, the city's newest secondary school is closing the education, crime and health gaps facing young people

The principal of the newest secondary school in Leeds greets every pupil into school each morning and again on the way out each evening.

By Emma Ryan
Wednesday, 8th December 2021, 4:45 am
Updated Wednesday, 8th December 2021, 6:26 am

Kat Cafferky also knows each pupil by name at her school and after a few minutes of watching her at work the sense that this is 'her' school is evident.

Trinity Academy Leeds opened to a brand new, and first, cohort of 240 year 7 pupils. It is part of the Trinity Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) which started with its first school in Halifax in 2010 with the mission to revolutionise the quality of secondary teaching and learning in the area after a decade of underperformance and exclusion.

Trinity MAT now has one sixth form, four secondary and three primary academies with Trinity Academy Leeds one of two secondaries that opened this year.

Principal at Trinity Academy Leeds, Kat Cafferky.

With an increase in primary school pupils, the local authority needed an education provider to fill the gap and Trinity MAT saw off fierce competition to seal the bid.

Ms Cafferky, senior vice-principal at one of the MAT's other schools, Trinity Academy Cathedral in Wakefield, was appointed as principal - but it wasn't just a case of waiting for the build to be finished so she could step into her brand new office.

From setting out her vision for the school ethos, writing a curriculum, to picking paint colours and working on site with contractors, she spent two years from the idea to the first day living and breathing Trinity Academy Leeds.

She said: "The school has to reflect the vision of the leader that runs it and that is a real passion to make a difference and close that gap. Historically, young people in east Leeds do worse than peers from other areas - in every government statistic, not just education, but in health and crime figures for this area.

Interpretations of Picasso in an art lesson at Trinity Academy Leeds, watched over by principal Kat Cafferky.

"My bid was about taking the best of the procedures of the family of schools that I am from, not doing some things that I have seen, and giving a voice. That is what the young people of east Leeds need."

A snapshot of an afternoon in Trinity Academy Leeds, on Torre Road near Burmantofts, will show you an art class with pupils creating their own versions of a Picasso; the study of Gothic literature in English; the use of equations in science (on an entire floor dedicated to STEM subjects); and dance routines inspired by Matthew Bourne's choreography of The Nutcracker.

The school building is brand new, as is everything inside it, purpose built, sleek, there are sports courts outside and a school library in the making as well as an auditorium.

There are 46 languages spoke within the school and 56 feeder schools. It is also a school, where the bright lights of the city can be seen from the grounds, but is also operating in an area where families can't afford to buy the school uniform and reliance on foodbanks is high.

Maths teacher Benjamin Fox, with year 7 students at the newly opened Trinity Academy in Leeds.

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She says Trinity Academy Leeds is also giving access to experiences away from text books that many of its current and future students may not have otherwise.

"There are barriers to learning for students. Some are academic, some are social, some have been exacerbated by the pandemic. We have a tried and tested curriculum and a real focus on taking instruction, have teachers who are aligned with our mission. This is more than just a school, this is about having a job to do and having to close that gap.

"Our behaviour policy and the opportunities we have is giving them that extra and receiving quality for five to six hours. We close that gap by the culture of our school."

Pictured Year 7 girls playing football on the outdoor all weather pitch at Trinity Academy Leeds which is on the outskirts of Leeds City Centre.

In the new year, Trinity Academy Leeds will start recruiting its next round of teachers. By the time the school is operating at capacity it will have 1200 pupils and already there are 400 plus applications for next year's intake of year 7s.

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