There are smiling faces all round at The Victory Academy in Chatham, after a remarkable set of GCSE results marked a fifth successive year of improvements at the school.
The school, which caters for many students from disadvantaged backgrounds, has been on a remarkable journey over the last five years. In 2013, just a quarter of students achieved five A*- C GCSEs including English and Maths. Today that has risen to 44%.
Progress has been particularly outstanding in the Maths department, which is led by Rakesh Vashisht, named the best Maths teacher in Medway at last year’s Kent Teacher of the Year Awards.
41% of pupils at the school are on Free School Meals, typically seen as an indicator of disadvantage. But staff and students refuse to see this as a barrier to success.
The “Progress 8” score – which measures improvement from Year 7 across eight subjects, including key academic subjects – is provisionally 0.3. That equates to each student achieving on average almost a third of a grade better per subject than they had been expected to achieve when they joined. Remarkably, students on Free School Meals provisionally achieved better than their peers at 0.39. Students with English as an Additional Language have a provisional P8 of 0.87
Individual success stories include Kristian Hricko, who will be staying at the Victory to study A levels in Chemistry, Sociology and Philosophy. Kristian joined the Academy in Year 7 after moving from Slovakia, with a reading age of 7 years old. But work ethic and commitment to his studies resulted in 1 A*, 1 A, 4 Bs and 2 C grade GCSEs.
Kristian has also been working within the academy as a young interpreter and has worked alongside the Community Liaison Officer on many community wide events with the Slovak community in Chatham. His parents planned to move him back to Slovakia before the GCSEs, but he persuaded them to stay in the UK so he could continue his education. He plans to go to university and ultimately pursue a career in medicine or science.
Mandy Gage, Principal at the Victory Academy, said:
“Today represents a significant surge forward in the voyage of the Victory Academy. We are proud of our place in the Chatham community, and see no reason why socio-economic disadvantage should stand in the way of academic excellence.
“I am delighted about our relentless and impressive improvement, which is testament to a passionate and dedicated crew of staff, and our talented students, who have shown great work ethic and commitment in their determination to improve their life chances.”