I feel very privileged to be the Principal of Southway and each day that I walk around our school, I feel extremely proud of the way staff and students work together.
At Southway the relationships between all colleagues and between staff and students, is extremely special. It is the strength of these relationships that make Southway the amazing provision that it is. There is a very strong feeling of trust throughout all stakeholders; everyone works together with a determination to raise aspirations and create positive futures.
Having completed my post-graduate training at Central School of Speech & Drama, I started my career teaching Drama in schools in and around London where I undertook both Head of Department and pastoral roles; it was then that I decided that pastoral care was the direction my career would take. Since relocating to Leeds 20 years ago, I have spent my career teaching in South Leeds. ( I actually taught Drama in the hall at Southway when it was part of Merlyn Rees High School!) I have worked for the Rodillian Multi Academy Trust for 9 years now, firstly as behaviour lead at the Rodillian Academy, and later progressing to leading teaching and learning as Deputy Headteacher. As part of my time at Rodillian I have provided behaviour consultancy to schools, both within Leeds and across the country, taking a leading role in all the school improvement conferences we ran.
I have always relished making a difference for those students who need something different; those students who often struggle to engage with a traditional mainstream curriculum and require additional support to help them succeed and secure outcomes that will support them in later life. When the position of Principal at Southway became available, I recognised that here was an opportunity to really make a difference with those students who need it most.
The Rodillian Multi Academy Trust is the sole shareholder in the company called Southway. Southway is an Independent School, which provides alternative provision and education for students at KS3 and KS4. Students who not only struggle with conventional education or, due to particular challenging and often traumatic events in their lives, often need a period of time in an alternate setting. Many of the students who join Southway have been excluded from their mainstream school and perceive that they have failed. The staff at Southway are committed to building positive relationships and promoting resilience in all students so that they have the opportunity to re-engage with education, take ownership of their lives, the choices that they make and ultimately succeed. Our Resilience lessons are central to our Key Stage 3 curriculum; they challenge student mind-set and teach students how to take positives from their mistakes and how to learn from failure. Southway is testament to the fact that even the most challenging and complex students can reach their full potential, and achieve academic success. A significant majority of our Key Stage 3 students successfully re-engage with mainstream schools which is a credit to the way our staff work with students and their families. We have extremely high aspirations for our young people and we strive to give them the education and life skills they will need to move on to the next stage of their life. Every single member of staff at Southway is fully committed to raising the aspirations of every single student who in turn work towards achieving meaningful qualifications that will lead to relevant next steps and Post-16 pathways. Over the last six years Southway is very proud to report that we have had no NEETs.
Southway provides alternative provision for the Trust academies and a range of schools from across Leeds and neighbouring authorities. We are situated in a ‘My Space’ building, equipped with six classrooms as well as a fully equipped recording studio and media suite, sports facilities and large outdoor spaces which can support learning. We have developed links with a local gym where our students train with qualified gym staff. They also deliver boxing sessions regularly to our students on site.
We have a dedicated Multi-Agency Team and two SENDCO’s on site. Each student is provided with a Key Worker who liaises with the student and their family, mainstream school and any other relevant agencies. This provides wrap-around support, ensuring every child has the opportunity to achieve their full potential.
Southway is, quite simply, a unique school, an amazing alternative provision which allows students to reset, rebuild and succeed. If you are interested in being part of this exciting and innovative educational setting, then please contact me directly and I will be more than happy to facilitate a visit.