For one school in Bristol, Snowdon Village, results day is not simply about academic achievement but celebrating the achievements of pupils who have shown up and exceeded all expectations. Many of the pupils who arrive at the Bristol Futures Academy site in Year Ten have been excluded from mainstream schools and in some cases been out of school for several years previously.
For the staff of what has become the first school in Bristol to achieve Trauma Informed Status, building resilience and positive relationships comes before academic achievements. Many of the Year 11 2022 cohort will go on to study vocational qualifications or take apprenticeships.
The staff work hard to secure a college place for each student and said that 100 percent of their pupils have a ‘destination’ lined up. They keep in touch with pupils when they leave and found out today that one of their ex-pupils has secured a place at Bath Spa University.
Although the news of the first pupil in the school to get a university place is one that is being celebrated at Snowdon Village, for many of the pupils, simply attending school and doing the exams are achievements. The teachers at the school measure the pupil’s success on how far they have come on their journey, rather than their grades.
Ace Dukes, who received her GCSE results today, is really looking forward to starting college in September. She is grateful for the support she has received from the teachers at the school which means despite her difficulties, she is now emotionally ready to commit to college and fulfil her dreams of eventually working at Snowdon Village herself.
Ace struggled at school and was excluded, she didn’t feel listened to or supported by teachers in her mainstream school in Bristol. She had dealt with immense challenges, especially over the last year when she was put into care which forced her to move house three times.
Ace Dukes said: “It’s been a journey and I’m nervous about my results because I didn’t have much of an education in my old school and during Covid I didn’t have any education, they didn’t even send me work or anything.
“As soon as I made Year Seven I dipped. I was such a good person and then I just dipped half way through because I was really struggling.
“Year Eight, I got excluded, I kept skipping class, I was not a good student at all. At this point all the teachers were telling me I was going to mess up my GCSE’s but that didn’t work for me because my needs were not being met.
“When I came to this school I had a really bad attitude, I was like the black sheep, nobody spoke to me and I didn’t speak to anyone. I used to break doors, I used to slam them and scream the place down if things didn’t go my way.
“As the months went on I started getting more help, I went into care and [one of the teachers] sat with me when I got a call telling me that I was going into care. It was a massive roller coaster, I had no clothes, no toothbrush and I was practically homeless, living with my boyfriend and his family at the time, all I had was a bus ticket with me to get to school and back.”
“They found me a placement that was nearby with [a carer] who was lovely and supported me until the end of July  and then I went into a new home and I didn’t have anything better in August which sent me into year 11 in a really bad state, I was very depressed. As it happened I got more and more support from the school.
“It’s been a roller coaster of a year, I’ve had my ups and downs like everyone but I’m really excited to go to college. I want to go into childcare only for the reason that I want to apply to work in Snowdon Village.
“Not all the teachers know what it’s like to be taken out of a mainstream school from all your friends and be pushed into a PRU with other kids that have the exact same attitude as you, it’s just a school of trouble. I can talk to the students because I know what it’s like, I can relate in a way.”
Harvey, who studied at Digitech believes that the support he received at the school has set him up for success. The ex-student who has recently secured a place at Bath Spa University, visited the school today to share his good news.
He said: “I built personal connections with a few teachers who I felt really cared for me and that made the difference and allowed me to excel in my education rather than failing. It felt like nobody listened [at my previous school].”
Principal, Alex Davies said: “It’s been a really proud day for us at Snowdon Village, we’ve had 35 year 11 students picking up their results and all the staff are really proud of what they’ve achieved. It’s been a really turbulent time for students in education generally with the pandemic.
“Our students have shown real resilience at coming in, turning up for their exams and we’ve seen the highest attendance which is great. We keep in touch with the children when they leave Snowdon Village, we have a policy where we say our door is always open. We have really strong relationships and almost all students who leave come back in September to let us know how they’re getting on.”
Vice-Principal, Kay Sarpong said: “I always have a sleepless night the day before the results because I yearn for them to do so well, not just on the academic side but reflective of their journey. It’s nice to see them pick up the envelopes with beaming smiles on their faces knowing that whatever the outcome, they’ve done it and they’ve got a place to go to as a next destination.”