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As the new Principal at Barnsley Academy in September 2020, I am delighted to welcome you to the school. Some people will already know me from my previous role here at the Academy and others I will be meeting for the first time this academic year. I am excited and privileged by the prospect of being Principal of such an amazing school with which I feel such an affiliation and I am so looking forward to carrying on working with our fantastic students as we further secure our Good Ofsted judgement and begin the next part of our journey to being an outstanding school.

The immediate challenges are a little different to those I envisaged back at the start of 2020, when the world was a very different place and education had a very different focus. However, I know that working together as a school alongside the local community we can overcome the challenges sent our way by Covid-19 and give all Barnsley Academy students the best education possible and the best level of support. Change and adaptability regarding the way we work is inevitable but as we are so determined and resilient we can, and will, overcome the barriers put in our path by the pandemic and do all we possibly can to keep all children safe following Government Guidance.

We are rated as a Good school by Ofsted and our Progress 8 score has been steadily rising year upon year to ensure we are making above average progress for every one of our students. We continue to raise academic standards every year to ensure students are achieving above and beyond targets and although we have some ‘catching-up’ to do following lockdown, we insist on only the highest levels of achievement for our students and we will be working relentlessly to ensure this happens – even more so this year.

As an Academy, we are non-apologetic about our high standards and expectations and our robust  and consistent ‘Disruption-free Behaviour Policy’ has been extremely successful in ensuring all staff can teach and all students can learn without interruptions or unnecessary distractions. The enforcement of this policy will continue throughout 2020/21 and beyond as I believe a disruption-free school is a happy and successful school providing an environment conducive to ensuring students thrive and grow and can focus and feel confident in everything they do.  

Finally, I will mention the impressive support we offer students here at the Academy through teams of experienced and talented individuals who are committed to ensuring all needs of our students are met. Whether it be SEN or safeguarding, Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) or any other concern a child may have which is a barrier to their learning - we will help and assist in whatever way we can. We are a truly child-centred school and we are always driven by the needs of children who are at the heart of everything we do.

So, as you can probably see, we have a lot to feel proud about – a dedicated team of staff who are passionate about what they do and fantastic students who feel supported and are happy to come to school, who enjoy their learning and ‘are tolerant and accepting of the world outside, who relish opportunities to help others and are very accepting of others’ as per our Ofsted report January 2020.

Without a doubt this has already been quite a year for all of us in many ways and will continue to be so for a while yet, but I feel privileged to be leading the school and working within this community and my one single aim this year is to ensure every student is supported and encouraged to achieve and progress in a happy and safe environment, where learning is challenging, enjoyable and rewarding for all.

I look forward to working with you all as we take our next steps to being an Outstanding School.

Sara Wildes


With Barnsley Academy being part of one of the leading school groups in the country, we offer unrivalled career development opportunities and support to ensure you achieve your ambitions. If you'd prefer flexible working, we'll try to accommodate it; if you need to relocate for this role, we can provide financial assistance; and if you're currently based overseas, we'll help with your transition back to the UK. Furthermore, you could be eligible for health care cover and full or part funded CPD during your first year.

United Learning

By joining Barnsley Academy you will also become part of United Learning - a unique group of independent and state schools working together to bring out the best in everyone.

Our vision is to provide excellent education, which prepares young people to progress in learning and to make a success of their lives. United Learning focuses sharply on the evidence of what makes it more likely that young people will succeed, and applies that to classroom practice, to continue to learn and develop the schools. It is a priority to provide teachers with excellent professional support and development, so that every child receives an excellent experience.

The approach is underpinned by a sense of moral purpose and commitment to doing what is right for children and young people, supporting colleagues to achieve excellence and acting with integrity in all our dealings within and beyond the organisation, in the interests of young people everywhere.

The development programmes offer access to tailor-made training no matter your career stage, alongside unrivalled opportunities for your career development across both the maintained and independent sectors. The Performance and Development Reviews encompass personal aspiration, impact on pupil achievement and identification of continuous professional development and training that is right for you and your future.

You can find out more about working for United Learning by visiting our Careers site.

The school is part of United Learning. United Learning comprises: UCST (Registered in England No: 2780748. Charity No. 1016538) and ULT (Registered in England No. 4439859. An Exempt Charity). Companies limited by guarantee. VAT number 834 8515 12.
Registered address: United Learning, Worldwide House, Thorpe Wood, Peterborough, PE3 6SB. Tel: 01832 864 444

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