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Why we are all in this together

By Herald Express  |  Posted: December 13, 2012

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IT IS SAFE to say, up until this point in time, Torquay Academy and Torquay Boys’ Grammar School – two rivalling schools – have always boasted their differences.

But change is only natural: time and development have witnessed these two establishments increasingly working together in partnership with the aim to achieve the highest standard of education possible within the Bay.

In the words of Torquay Academy's Principal, Gill Battye, the partnership entails '…two independent schools, working in two different ways but working together ensuring the best opportunities for all'.

If you were to ask anyone about the state of Audley Park's old school site in Cricketfield Road, the current site of Torquay Academy, you would almost certainly get a negative reaction. In fact, Roy Pike, headmaster of Torquay Boys', clearly expressed his previous concerns saying,"'The old building was in a bad state."

Yet a spark of luck in the form of £28million Government money guaranteed the school a significant boost in esteem, prompting both a new build and a new start.

Gill Battye, head of Torquay Academy, recently reminded us that the reconstruction wasn't the only improvement saying: "The teaching has improved along with 21st century learning."

Now with the vision of collaboration between the schools being firmly in place – what's the point of it all?

It became clear while speaking to both Roy Pike and Gill Battye that the advantages of collaboration are bold: a mix of qualifications and courses on offer, along with a diverse number of staff equipped with skills to support young people.

Roy Pike reminded us of the partnership's origins: "It all started when some of our staff went down to the Academy to broaden their own skills, teaching a range of student abilities."

So looking back, it seems the intentions of the alliance remain stable.

But Mr Pike reiterated the complications of the partnership: "Don't think it was absolutely simple. A lot of people disapproved. Convincing people of the advantages was the hardest part."

James Jefferson, a student at Torquay Academy and a member of the Peer Herald team, said of the partnership: "As a pupil of Torquay Academy, I myself and other pupils were very excited as well as very inquisitive about the partnership between the two schools.

" Being a pupil since 2008 I have seen TCC, now Torquay Academy, move forward immensely to what it is now: an inspiring place to be with lots of opportunity and lots of hope for the future.

"Both schools value the partnership in different ways and both set of learners gain great benefits from having the collaboration.

"Already I have seen the sharing between the teachers and the shared use between the use of facilities; giving us excellent opportunities and experiences.

"I believe the new sixth form will go from strength to strength and once again bring the two 'unique' schools closer together, but like with all good things, they take time."

So what can we expect from the future?

Both Roy Pike and Gill Battye expressed a desire to build the bond between schools, suggesting countless ideas for consideration; a joint sixth form, shared Business Enterprise days and family links were just a few highlighted.

Where the partnership goes from here is a matter of serious consideration – only time and the co-operation of not only staff, but also students and parents from both schools will lead this subtly developed collaboration in a direction offering as Gill Battye puts it 'something for everyone'.

But for now both schools work continue to work hard to realise this vision in its fullest form.

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