Workington Academy is celebrating a new high in student numbers with a record intake set to join its roll this year.

The school is again oversubscribed in Year 7 for September 2021 and looks set to offer places to an additional 40 children. It’s the sixth year of entry form growth in succession for the Cumbria Education Trust (CET) academy, having expanded by 138% since launching in 2015.

Places for September are not confirmed until March, but the academy has had to seek the permission of the CET board to accommodate a new high of 248 Year 7 pupils whose families selected it as their first choice secondary school.

Delighted Headteacher Des Bird said the rising numbers were testament to the hard work that has gone in to improving the school.

He said: “We are realising the vision of Workington Academy being a strong school for the community of Workington.

“The day-to-day provision at the academy has improved markedly over the past few years.  The staffing is strong and stable, the teaching is excellent and the links with our primary schools are very positive. The fact we get students to their intended destinations at either 16 or 18 gives parents the confidence to choose Workington Academy.

“Our students feel happy, safe and enjoy our wide range of extra-curricular clubs and trips, as well as the wide curriculum offer in lessons.  We care about our students as individuals and it’s a much calmer, friendlier, more purposeful environment than it was.”

Overall, the academy has grown from 788 students in 2018 to 1,015 this year, an increase of 29%.

The soaring numbers have brought investment. The dining hall has just been extended to improve catering facilities and bring in a new menu. There’s additional ICT equipment, a fitness suite will be opened once coronavirus restrictions have passed and there are also plans for an all-weather, multi-sport pitch at the Stainburn Road school.

Staffing has increased with the recruitment of specialist staff in maths, science, English, modern foreign languages, design technology and ICT. Further recruitment of teaching and non-teaching staff is expected to meet the latest increase in pupil numbers.

Mr Bird added: “We are more popular with teachers as well as students. We’ve recruited in difficult areas – like maths and modern foreign languages. We also have links with the University of Cumbria and other training providers, so we are involved in teacher training. Career opportunities to progress within the trust are attractive.”

The trust’s CEO Lorrayne Hughes said: “The growth in popularity is extremely rewarding for all concerned with the academy. We started with just over 100 Year 7 Pupils for 2015 and to grow so rapidly in just six years is a real cause for celebration.

“We are pleased and proud the Workington community places its confidence in us to provide a quality education for their children. We must continue to justify that trust by delivering and continuing to improve all aspects of the academy.”

Tracy Stainton, Chair of the academy’s Local Advisory Board governing body, said: “It’s testament to the teaching and leadership at the academy that it has grown to be first choice for so many families in Workington.

“What people like is the school aspires for its young people both academically and for the all-round person. It has an excellent reputation in the community for its wider curriculum and the breadth of its clubs, activities and trips that help build young people’s skills and confidence.”

Progress at Key stage 5 (sixth form) in 2018/19 was the best in the history of the school or its predecessors.

In September, Workington and fellow CET secondary, The Whitehaven Academy, joined forces to launch the West Coast Sixth Form which offers 32 post-16 course options across the two campuses.