It has to be said, it’s an exciting time for all school staff and children, with summer upon us and time to take a much-needed break. But this summer is extra-exciting for the community of one school in south west Birmingham!

This September, Balaam Wood School in Frankley will become the ninth school in the King Edward VI Academy Trust group of schools.

Balaam Wood will be one of three comprehensive schools with a non-selective admission policy in the Trust, the other six being grammar schools.

As part of the Trust, Balaam Wood will have the support of one of Birmingham’s oldest institutions: the King Edward VI Foundation. The Foundation has its origins in King Edward’s School which was founded in 1552.

With the school’s new signage going up today (Tuesday 23rd July), Balaam Wood headteacher Damian McGarvey is looking forward to the opportunities he believes this will bring and answered a few questions on the move.

Headteacher Damian McGarvey

How long have you been working with the King Edward VI Academy Trust?

“We were approached over a year ago and since then there has been a tremendous amount of work that has been done behind the scenes which is required before we can officially be known as King Edward VI Balaam Wood Academy.

“I would like to personally thank Heath Monk the Executive Director and his team at the Foundation Office for the support they have shown me, my staff and more importantly the pupils.

“We are very excited.”

What will it mean for the children of the school and for the wider community?

“By having the support of the fantastic people who work in the Foundation Office, we (that is myself and my dedicated team of teachers, support staff, office staff and other essential workers) can focus on working to obtain the best possible outcomes for the pupils in this area.

“This feels like a new beginning for the school and we can’t wait for “Day 1” to arrive.

“It will also provide opportunities for the school to engage with the other King Edward VI schools in the Trust and some of our pupils have already had very pleasant and beneficial visits to King Edward VI Five Ways who are only a short distance away.

“The school will also be looking to develop community initiatives and we will continue to build on the successes we have had in this respect.”

Are the pupils excited?

“The pupils are excited, everyone in the school is excited, and I am very excited about the future for this school.

“We recently took a group of pupils to the Foundation Office in Edgbaston where they were able to ask questions to the Executive Director and members of his team. They were fascinated to be sitting in the very impressive boardroom at the Foundation Office where they were surrounded by the history of the organisation and its schools.

“Heath Monk explained to them that this charity was originally created to educate the children of Birmingham whatever their background and that he and his team were committed to making Birmingham the best place to be educated in the UK.

“We cannot wait to be a part of that and to start creating our own unique bits of King Edward VI Balaam Wood Academy history.

New signage being installed | Photo @BalaamWood

“One of my students asked Heath “What do you think about Mr McGarvey?” and his reply will stay with me forever. He said that I was ferociously proud to be the Head of Balaam Wood School, which, is so true. I am determined to offer my students more opportunities and enrichment activities as we begin to collaborate with the wider King Edward VI “family” of schools.

“Whilst we are enjoying our summer break there will be some external and internal changes to signage around the school and I am looking forward to coming back with all my staff and to welcoming every pupil into the school. It will give us all tremendous pleasure to see all of our boys and girls wearing their new King Edward VI Balaam Wood Academy blazer.”

Will you be looking to increase numbers of children attending the school?

“The school currently has 380 pupils, but it has the capacity for that to be increased to 450+. My team and colleagues at the Foundation Office are keen to visit local primary schools in the area to speak to Headteachers and parents about the new opportunities we can offer.”

For more information, visit the Schools of King Edward VI website or the King Edward VI Balaam Wood Academy website

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