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
Darwen Vale’s original predecessor school, Darwen Higher Grade School, was opened in 1894 and became Darwen Grammar School in 1929. 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.
In December 2013, following an Ofsted inspection that graded the school Inadequate, the Department for Education (DfE) issued an Academy Order on the school naming Aldridge Education as its preferred sponsor. The conversion was completed and Darwen Vale High School became an academy sponsored by Aldridge Education in December 2014.
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.
Matthew Little took up the position of Principal in June 2017, succeeding David Hallam who had been acting as Interim Principal following the retirement of Mrs Fiona Jack at the end of the 2015/16 academic year. In December 2017, in its first Ofsted inspection since being graded Inadequate in 2013 the school was graded Requires Improvement. The Inspectors praised recent improvements at the school, stating: ‘The new principal has taken swift action to strengthen senior leadership and to begin to resolve legacy issues.’ They highlighted that the leadership team ‘lead with drive and determination’ and ‘are having a positive effect on the quality of provision.’
Mr Little said: “The inspection was very thorough and fair, and the report is an accurate reflection of where the school has got to in its improvement journey. We are determined to deliver the highest standard of education for all of our students. The Inspectors have laid out a clear route for us becoming Good and then Outstanding. I believe that with the right people and support now in place we have a springboard to achieve that in the near future.”
Since conversion to academy status the school has shown a strong improvement in GCSE results. In 2017 Vale saw a particularly strong performance in English, where 65% of students achieved the new Government Benchmark Grade 9-4 and nearly half (49.2%) gained the new Grade 5 or above, which is considered a strong pass.