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County STEM Academy
a campus of the
Bury St Edmunds All-Through Trust

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who will be able to attend the STEM Academy?

Some students for the new school will come from within the All Through Trust. However, this initiative is designed to serve families across West Suffolk and indeed beyond. Students outside the Trust are therefore very welcome to join County STEM in Year 9 or Year 12. Students not already in our Trust may want to explore our middle phase as the simplest, smoothest transfer into the STEM Academy at year 9. Our middle campuses are based at Horringer Court and Westley. You can find out about these on this website.

How will children know which path to follow at 13?

Most children do have a very strong idea by aged 13, which route they feel will suit them and the beauty of this system is children can move between the traditional County Upper and the new STEM academy. The majority of the children will have been in the Trust for at least four years before moving on to the upper phase. We will know them very well and will be able to offer guidance. However, the STEM Academy is open to any student to apply from the start of year 9. Every student who is considering the STEM route will be offered personalised advice from the companies who are working with us.

Our STEM Academy will enable students to experience all of the following areas: Computing, Energy Supply, Engineering (Aeronautical, Electrical, Electronic, Mechanical, Nuclear), Food Science, Health and Life Sciences (including veterinary science), Media Production, Product Design and Sports Science. This will keep their options broad up until specialisation in the sixth form.

Will any children be made to follow one route or the other?

Definitely not. The beauty of this model is that all the students are members of one Trust. The number across the two upper phase campuses can vary by up to twenty in any year and we are confident that all children can get their route of choice. The admissions criteria for both routes are identical.

What if my child feels they have made the wrong choice?

This is another real advantage of our all-through school. At age 13, 14, 16 and at the end of each term in year 9, pupils will be able to swap routes if, after careful consideration by everyone, it is agreed to be the right thing. They will be able to swap from either route to the other.

Will children on both pathways really be part of the same Trust?

Yes, absolutely. The Trust Board will set the ethos, policies and uniform. All the clubs, activities and school journeys will be for Trust pupils. Some curriculum activities will be appropriate to both and will involve shared groups. Some teachers will be employed to work on both campuses. Both sets of students will be working towards the same core group of qualifications. This is one of the reasons why the Department for Education is so excited by our project.

Will it matter which middle campus my child attends?

No. All pupils at any middle phase campus will be considered equally for both routes and the STEM Academy is open to pupils not already in the Trust. Anyway, as set out in the answer to question 2 above, we are confident that every child will get the route they want.

How will teachers be trained?

The Trust is a Teaching School Alliance for the whole age range from 4-18. It trains teachers for all age groups including maths and science teachers in partnership with the University of East Anglia. The UEA is a major supporter of our plans and believes that giving trainee teachers experience across both routes of the upper phase of our Trust is the way forward. As a Teaching School, the Science Learning Partnership for Suffolk and Norfolk, the Lead School for the Institute of Physics in the region and the Computing at School hub for the area, we will also be able to offer continuous professional development to existing teachers.

How many places will there be?

  • In 2020, 110 students can be admitted into Year 9 and Year 12
  • In 2021, 110 students can be admitted into year 9 and 100 into Year 12, so that the academy has students in years 9, 10, 12 and 13
  • In 2022 the Academy should be full with 110 in each of years 9,10 and 11 and 200 across the sixth form (Year 12 and Year 13).

How do I apply?

Application to the STEM Academy will be open to anyone in year 8 in the 2019/20 academic year whether they are already in the Trust or not. There is a link direct to the policy here. You may find it useful to read the full information about the process for applying to Trust schools on the Trust admissions page which will give details on the STEM process once applications can be made.