David Nieper Academy

Reflections on the journey of David Nieper Academy

Posted by: Laura Hammond

Tue 15th November 2022

By headteacher Dr Kathryn Hobbs

What a journey!

David Nieper Academy opened its doors on September 1, 2016. We had, at that time, only 344 pupils 11-16 and were still in our original 1939 buildings which were sadly in a very dilapidated state.

Under the sponsorship of David Nieper Ltd we put in place our new academy name, logo and our very smart new uniform. The uniform consisted of our blue blazer and dark grey trousers/skirt and was the very first thing that was commented on by members of the public as we opened, with pupils looking very smart as they arrived at school.

And so the work to rebuild the reputation, results and pride of our school began.

We introduced our co-curricula programme on a Wednesday afternoon, whereby all staff were invited to offer an alternative activity during our tutor time. It was lovely to see the whole academy taking part in a range of different and unusual activities.

I also set the challenge of aiming to ensure that every pupil at the academy is offered the opportunity to go to London at least once during their time with us. This set the tone for all of our work. What activities were open to us? How could we take part? How could we offer the opportunity to the maximum number of pupils?

Not long after we opened, we met with Rev Julian Penfold to discuss if we could use St Martin’s Church for a whole academy Christmas carol service. Rev Penfold has since become a very valued member of our team, taking on the role of academy chaplain and supporting pupils and staff in many ways.

It was Julian who mentioned that the academy would be welcome to take part in the Alfreton Town Remembrance Parade and so began our involvement in this important moment of annual reflection for the whole town. It was a great a moment of pride to take part in the parade in 2016 with a group of our Year 11 student leaders, who were then able to lay a wreath on behalf of the academy. We have continued with this tradition and took part in our seventh Remembrance Parade just this last weekend.

We did plan for a Christmas carol service at St Martin’s Church. I really wasn’t sure how getting over 400 of us to the church and back and joining together for the service would be received. I did not need to worry! We had planned the walk through town with military precision and the pupils did us proud. The long line of David Nieper Academy pupils walking so smartly and proudly through Alfreton was a joy to behold and generated a lot of comments from member of the public and the businesses that we walked past.

The carol service afforded us the first opportunity that we had for us all being able to join together at a single event as an academy community. I was so proud. The behaviour of everyone was exemplary – and I was particularly delighted to hear that the pupils and staff at David Nieper Academy can sing! Our final singing of ‘We wish you a Merry Christmas’ was a joy to hear.

We returned to the academy to a wonderful Christmas dinner, complete with Christmas music and crackers. This event may have led to my now frequent comment that we don’t do anything ordinary at David Nieper Academy – we aim for amazing! Our carol service and Christmas dinner now have to take place over two services to fit everyone in, however, the tradition started in 2016 and now continues each year.

February 2017 saw our next amazing adventure when we closed a day early at February half term to allow staff to finish packing up all of our belongings to move into our brand new school buildings.

Over the half term break the 1,600 packing crates were moved across and staff returned to the mammoth task of unpacking and getting the school ready for the pupils to return. We opened only two days later at 8.30am on the Wednesday morning and welcomed our now growing pupil body to the building.

It would be fair to say that the whole building felt sterile and unloved, one pupil commented “it looks like a hospital”! After nearly six years in the building, it now looks a lot more lived in and absolutely looks and feels like a school.

Fast forward to 2022, our pupil population is now at 780 including our Sixth Form, which now has 60 students with a growing range of A Level and BTEC Level 3 courses on offer. Our year groups are now hugely oversubscribed year on year, and our results in all subjects are going from strength to strength at both GCSE and Sixth Form.

We were delighted to welcome Ofsted in September this year to visit our academy. The outcome of ‘good’ in all areas was testimony to the hard work and determination of our sponsor, trustees, governors, staff, pupils and parents. Thank you to everyone for your help and support and for trusting us to lead and develop the academy.

Everyday we aim to live up to our motto of Aspire, Endeavour, and Succeed. What a journey!

David Nieper Academy declared ‘good’ by Ofsted in all areas