June 16, 2024

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Inside Staffordshire’s most popular secondary school

2 min read

The de Ferrers Academy is the largest school in Burton, teaching more than 2,000 pupils. And it has recently been declared the most popular in Staffordshire, with 394 parents putting it down as the first choice for their children – more than any other in the county.

In September, it will teach 820 pupils – alongside 1,178 at its Trent Campus. Its sixth form, in Waterloo Street, has had 330 applications for 250 spaces for September. StaffordshireLive was allowed access to the secondary school’s Dove campus, where a reporter set out to discover just why the school is so sought after.

Asked what she believes makes the school tick, head teacher Kathy Hardy said: “It’s the relationships that we have, even though it’s such a big school. We work hard to live by our values and we stand by them too.

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“There is a lot of enthusiasm and the children make it tick. We are one big de Ferrers family.”

Year 7 and 8 students are housed at Dove, away from the Year 9, 10 and 11 students at Trent. Staffordshire Live met with the Year 7 pupils at Dove who were chosen to panel the campus’ Student Voice.

They represent their classmates in suggesting ways the school can improve. They have proudly managed to bring in healthier lunch options and more rewards for good work.

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And being on the forum has boosted their confidence. As our reporter spoke to the Student Voice members, a sign hung above them carrying the school’s motto – ‘Work hard, be kind, choose wisely’.

Aside from their school work, pupils have access to everything from badminton to drama; the Cadet force to science clubs; creative writing to Duke of Edinburgh.

They have also been successful in football, rugby and cricket, with the Year 8 girls crowned county football champions. Pupils are also well rested during a 50-minute lunch break, which they can spend outside or in the school’s library and learning centre.



The de Ferrers Academy is the largest school in Burton, boasting more than 2,000 pupils and has recently been declared the most popular in Staffordshire with the highest number of first-choice applications. Staffordshire Live spoke to staff and children and had a tour round to find out just why the school is so sought-after.
Asked what she believes makes the school 'tick', head teacher Kathy Hardy said: "It's the relationships that we have, even though it's such a big school. We work hard to live by our values and we stand by them too.
"There is a lot of enthusiasm and the children make it tick. We are one big de Ferrers family."
Staffordshire Live took a tour around the secondary school's Dove campus which has 816 pupils which will rise to 820 in September. The school also maintains its Trent campus with 1,105 students which will rise to 1,178.
Its sixth form, in Waterloo Street, has had 330 applications for 250 spaces for September.
The separation of the Year 7 and 8 students in Dove to the Year 9, 10 and 11 students in Trent which has allowed the pupils to safely stay within their own buildings without having to cross the road between lessons.
Pictured: Members of Student Voice who took Staffordshire Live on a tour
Pupils at the school.

Every student is given an iPad when they start – which proved even more useful for home learning during lockdown. Career advice from a host of professionals is available – among them are a Formula 1 mechanic, a rapper, a ballet dance, an actor, a vet, a paediatric nurse, several teachers and a crime scene investigator.

And it is not only pupils who are given the tools to succeed, as maths teacher Matthew Fletcher explained. Despite living in Nottingham, he has no plans to move closer to home, citing the school’s use of technology as one of the reasons he applied to work there.

He said: “I really enjoy it here. I’ve not even looked at any other vacancies. Every day is a challenge here and is really rewarding.

“Children are fascinating and every day will be different. When I get home, I know I’ve made a difference.”

Mr Fletcher is one of 138 teaching staff, including Mrs Hardy. The head, who has been in charge at the academy since 2019, calls news of its overwhelming popularity “hugely flattering”.

She said: “Families still want to join us. We have a great working relationship with other heads.



head teacher
Head teacher Kathy Hardy.

“Our children are really enthusiastic. We make sure we work hard to live by our values. We have non-teaching staff and pastoral staff, so teachers can teach and leaders can lead.”

“As well as Student Voice, the school also has a staff equalities committee and a student equalities committee, which look at LGBTQ and faith issues. Teachers are also open to continued professional development, supported in any additional work they wish to do – for example, studying for their masters.”

As it prepares to welcome a big influx of new students in September, de Ferrers has refurbished its library, opened a new fitness suite – courtesy of former pupil and Olympic boxing champion Frazer Clarke – and is launching a new automatic number plate recognition system for added security around the school.

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