Welcome to our first ever news roundup from the Aspirations Academies Trust, a group of 16 academies in the South of England, including seven in Dorset.

This time, we catch up with Bovington Academy, where 16 pupils joined volunteers and soldiers from Bovington Garrison to help Little Troopers; we find out how the first 100 days have been at the new Livingstone Academy in Bournemouth; and we learn how the generosity of a local businesswoman has boosted Christmas at Portland’s Atlantic Academy.

It’s a wrap! Bovington Academy pupils parcel up Christmas for Little Troopers!

Sixteen pupils from Bovington Academy joined volunteers and soldiers from Bovington Garrison this week to help military charity, Little Troopers, pack 2,500 special Christmas boxes for children who have a parent in the British Armed Forces deployed overseas this Christmas.

Staff at Bovington Academy, which serves the families stationed at the nearby military base, know how challenging this time of year can be for children whose parents can’t share in a traditional family Christmas.

“When a parent is deployed it is naturally upsetting,” says Principal, Sara White.  “We know at first hand the impact separation can have on children. As a school we are able to offer expert support and pastoral care and our Listening Ear project means there is always a compassionate adult listener for children who are feeling anxious about a parent who’s away. The Little Troopers’ Christmas Smiles boxes are a great way of making Christmas special in spite of the separation.”

The Dorset volunteers spent eight hours packing the boxes which they filled with supporting resources from Little Troopers, as well as Christmas treats and goodies including hot chocolate, reindeer food and Santa hats.

Louise Fetigan, founder of Little Troopers, comments: “A huge thank you to everyone who joined us in Bovington. Christmas is a really hard time for children to be separated from a parent and our aim is to bring Christmas Smiles to thousands of military children this December and help them to feel special and supported.”

Siblings from Bovington Academy, Charlie (8), Dottie (7) and Pollie (6) whose Dad serves in the Royal Navy and won’t be home this Christmas, enjoyed making their contribution:

“I really liked filling the boxes,” said Dottie, “they’re for children like me. My daddy is away and we won’t see him over Christmas and sometimes I feel sad.”

The Little Troopers Christmas Smiles boxes have been made possible thanks to funding from the Veterans’ Foundation, Pinnacle Family Services, RUK Advanced Systems and Day One People.

David Shaw, CEO of the Veterans’ Foundation, commented: “We are delighted to support this fabulous initiative which will bring smiles and happiness to military children this Christmas.”


Livingstone Academy: the first one hundred days

Bournemouth’s much publicised new all-through academy for 4 – 19 year olds opened its doors fully for the first time in September and has since gone from strength to strength. As Livingstone Academy reaches the end of its first term, Principal, Loren Tharme, reflects on the school’s first one hundred days.

“It’s been fantastic,” he says, “with the school really coming together and setting its direction. And of course, it’s wonderful to finally be using the new building!”

The ‘new building’ referred to is a state-of-the-art design from Chichester-based Noviun Architects. In an ambitious project led by leading construction group, Kier, the eye-catching new building sits alongside Bournemouth’s Grade II Listed former Coroners Court which was refurbished, and the former Magistrates Court which was completely remodelled.

“It’s a truly inspiring learning environment,” says Loren, “embracing the traditional and the modern, which is very much what we’re about.”

Operated by Aspirations Academies Trust, the pioneering school has been developed in partnership with Sir Ian Livingstone, founder of Games Workshop, and places transdisciplinary learning at the heart of the curriculum, along with an emphasis on digital skills.

Sir Ian joined staff and invited guests earlier in the term for its official launch which included a tour of the buildings, a drama staged in the courtroom, and demonstrations of digital and virtual reality learning.

“This is a school that will build on children’s natural curiosity and inspire them to learn and to use their creativity to change the world,” said Sir Ian. “I have long believed in digital-making and the power of play, bringing the principles of games-based, and project-based learning into the school curriculum.”

Sir Ian’s vision has been embraced by the school’s leadership:

“Inspiring digital creators rather than consumers is what we hope to achieve here,” explains Loren. “Being able to devise our curriculum from scratch to include the sort of real world, transdisciplinary learning which is at the heart of Aspirations education, is a wonderful opportunity. We have implemented new ways of doing things which we hope will provide examples of innovation other schools beyond the trust could follow.”

Sharing leadership of Livingstone Academy is Executive Principal, Natasha Ullah who also oversees the running of Magna Academy in Poole:

“The highlight of this term has been establishing our new Year 7 model. It has combined what I believe to be the best of Primary and Secondary provision. Students have a class teacher that knows them well but still have the chance to use specialist areas and equipment such as computing and Science labs. In year 7 we already have students applying their learning and demonstrating great skill as digital creators.”

Sir Ian will be returning to Livingstone Academy in January to give the inaugural Livingstone Lecture, after which he will participate in a Q&A session with students from across the sixteen Aspirations Academies via live stream.


Donated tree helps Atlantic Academy enjoy Christmas!

Thanks to the generosity of local businesswoman, Sally Shearn, pupils at Atlantic Academy, Portland, are enjoying the sight and smell of Christmas at the heart of their school.

Sally, who runs the New Star Inn in Fortuneswell, and husband Matthew who owns Island Laundry, responded to a plea from the school’s PTA for a real Christmas tree:

“I saw on Facebook that they were looking for a tree,” explains Sally, “and I thought we could do something to help. I have two children at Atlantic Academy –  in year eight and year 11 – and two grandchildren there too. The school is part of the local community and that’s important to me.”

The seven foot Nordic Fir was supplied by The Bus Shelter, a charity supporting local rough sleepers:

“I have a friend who works with them,” says Sally, “so I knew that if I bought it from them, the proceeds would go to an excellent local charity, so it was a win-win!”

Emma Powell, Year three teacher and PTA liaison at Atlantic Academy, is delighted:

“We’re so grateful to Sally for her generosity. The tree is standing in a central point in the school, providing a festive backdrop for all the seasonal activities we have going on. The children are really enjoying the atmosphere and making decorations for it!”

Following Covid, a new PTA was formed and the organisation is making a significant contribution to the life of the school:

“The PTA has put together a huge calendar of enriching opportunities for our students, both inside and outside of the school. Along with them, people like Sally are the backbone of Atlantic Academy and we couldn’t do without their support. Of course, we’re always looking for volunteers to join us!”

For more information or to volunteer to join the PTA contact: epowell@atlantic-aspirations.org


Founded in 2011 by former Head Teachers Steve Kenning and Paula Kenning with education pioneer Dr. Russ Quaglia, the Trust aims to use technology and modern pedagogies to give children the knowledge, skills and mindsets to achieve excellence in a fast-changing world.

Aspirations Academies Trust oversees 16 academies in the south of England, (including 7 in Dorset) educating more than 9,000 young people from ages 2 to 18. We are committed to providing all students with the opportunity to succeed, regardless of their background.

All Aspirations academies combine traditional qualifications with a curriculum rich in power skills such as problem solving, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.

We are always looking to partner with local businesses to develop our Aspirations Employability programme which focuses on developing work readiness skills. If you’re interested or would like to know more, please get in touch: info@aspirationsacademies.org


This article was published on DorsetBizNews.