2 - 5 year plan
Since joining Dixons Unity as principal in January 2023. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with an incredible team and start building on the foundations of our 2 – 5-year plan. As part of our continual drive to engage with the communities we serve, I want to share some of our thinking and work to date with you.
Our 2 – 5-year plan is ambitious for all our students and staff:
- We want to support all our students to achieve a Progress 8 score of +1.
- We want Dixons Unity to be the school of choice for staff and students.
- We want Dixons Unity to be a community hub to support families in the local area.
- We want Dixons Unity to be a capacity giver to our trust and be a model for turnaround schools.
This plan is made up of a series of 12 – 18-month projects, and we are in the process of implementing a number of these.
We have a lot of work to do, but we are passionate about the work. And while our plan extends to five years, we expect to see impact along the way through our project work. Some of this work requires us to challenge ourselves and admit that not all of what we have established in the past has worked in the way we had hoped. We have learnt a lot and implemented these learnings into our next phase of development. We know that creating a culture of support and ensuring we have a clear purpose, so that teachers can teach, and students can learn, is vital to our success.
I want to discuss some of the ways we are prioritising the goals of our five-year plan and ensuring that all our students and staff are supported at Dixons Unity.
We know that our responsibilities as an education provider extend beyond the classroom and what’s taught in it. Our school is centered around our community, and we are committed to supporting our community and ensuring it is engaged in the work we do.
We began a parent steering group in February 2023, to actively seek out community voices for change. So far, this has led to multiple changes including adding more choice in uniform and methods of communication. One of the initiatives this steering group is involved in is our Unity Community, a community support program which runs every Friday between 8:30am – 10am and provides a community café, food pantry, uniform swap shop and much more. This also doubles as a drop-in session where families can discuss any concerns directly with me and other members of the leadership team.
We’ve seen how welcome these initiatives are in the community, with a high number of people participating and attending. This only reinforces our drive to centre ourselves at the heart of our community and actively encourage feedback, as well as provide much needed support to our families in the current cost of living crisis.
A rich curriculum
Ultimately, we want our students to leave Dixons Unity with results that will open doors for them in life. We know that to do this, we need to provide them with a diverse education that matches the breadth of the national curriculum. Students continue to study the arts, history, and geography until the end of Year 9. In the next academic year, our art classes will have a stronger focus on 3D design, and we will re-introduce food and nutrition as a next year as part of our new ‘Health’ curriculum.
Our curriculum is taken from some of the best schools in our trust and is carefully sequenced to ensure that the most important knowledge is recapped more frequently. To support retrieval practice, every lesson starts with a ‘learn now’ activity to help students recap knowledge from the previous lesson, last cycle and last year.
Morning Meetings are carefully crafted and focus on the recall of powerful knowledge through brain dumps and quizzing.
Supporting our most vulnerable students
We want Dixons Unity to be the choice of school for every student and our classrooms are always centered around our most vulnerable students. That doesn’t mean we lower our academic expectations for vulnerable students - we do not. All our students study the same curriculum; our wave one strategies that support our most vulnerable students, e.g., chunking, and dual coding, are implemented as part of our core pedagogy for our students.
We include our students in the creation of strategies, and we implement these with rigor. We increasingly involve families in the review process.
We know that our students benefit most when school is a calm and purposeful environment. Our intervention room provides a drop in space for vulnerable students and our wellbeing hub provides a plethora of internal and external interventions, as required.
Supporting our staff
We want our staff to love coming to work every day. The benefits of being part of a trust means our staff have access to a wealth of resources to support their wellbeing, including regular coaching and access to counselling and other support services.
At Dixons Unity, none of our staff meetings take place outside of the school day. Our focus on feedback, not marking, means our teachers are not spending hours writing laborious comments on books but are still providing valuable feedback that is acted upon by students and in turn moves learning forward.
We are proud of our senior leadership and pastoral team who are always available to support on call. We know that strong leadership defines a strong culture, and we are certain that we have the right people on our team to ensure the culture at Dixons Unity is one of joy, collaboration, and support.
There is lots we want to achieve at Dixons Unity. We know we are not perfect, but we are trying to get better each day with a clear set of goals. We know that when we succeed as a school, our students, staff, and communities thrive.
I would welcome a chat with any families who wish to discuss our plans as an academy or find out more about why we do what we do, and more importantly, the impact of this. Our door is open every Friday at the Unity Community for a drop in, or you can email us at email@example.com to arrange.