THE ACADEMY AT A GLANCE
- A member of the Aldridge Education multi-academy trust
- 11 – 16 co-educational school
- Capacity for 1,200 students
- £24 million facilities investment completed in 2012
- Engineering specialism
Darwen Vale’s original predecessor school, Darwen Higher Grade School, was opened 1894 and in 1929 became Darwen Grammar School. The school moved to its current location in 1938 and continued until 1972 when, under the reorganisation of the education system across the country, it became Darwen Vale High School. The school was named a specialist Engineering College under the 2002 Specialist Schools Programme in England.
The present school buildings were opened in 2012 following a £24million revamp under the Building Schools for the Future programme. The site had been closed for two years while large sections of the original structure were demolished and rebuilt. The existing front of the building was retained and cleaned up to keep the character of the old Grammar School. During the rebuilding process the school was relocated to the vacant former site of Darwen Moorland High School.
The school has strong links to its community, a focus on a providing a safe, secure and caring environment, and a clear vision of looking forward whilst building on the strong traditions of the previous schools.
In December 2013 the Department for Education (DfE) issued an Academy Order on the school naming Aldridge Education as its preferred sponsor and established an Interim Executive Board (IEB) to replace the Governing Body following the recommendation of Ofsted that an external review of governance be undertaken. Aldridge Education was asked by DfE to lead the tendering process to undertake the public consultation after the IEB made a decision to focus its energies on supporting the school’s drive for improvement.
The consultation was undertaken by an independent third party, Local Dialogue, between March and May 2014. Following the report in June 2014 the DfE confirmed the Academy conversion. The conversion was completed and Darwen Vale High School became an academy sponsored by Aldridge Education in December 2014.
David Hallam took up the position of Acting Headteacher in September 2016, succeeding Mrs Fiona Jack on her retirement. Mrs Jack had joined Darwen Vale in January 2012 and had been confirmed as the Academy’s Principal upon conversion.
Mr Hallam said, “We aim to deliver learning that truly equips our pupils for their future. In addition to setting high targets for academic success, we also bring together modern, technical approaches that provide our students with new experiences in preparation for the lives ahead of them.”
In January 2017 it was announced that Matthew Little will be succeeding Mrs Jack as permanent Principal from the 1st of June.
Since conversion to academy status the school has shown a strong improvement in GCSE results. The overall percentage of students obtaining 5 + GCSEs at A*-C EM* was up by 14% points to 52% with a significant rise in the numbers of passes at the top A* and A grades.
STEM and engineering continue to be priorities for the school going forward.