Students choose name for town’s new co-educational academy

Ark Alexandra Academy is the name that’s been chosen for the co-educational school that will result from the merger of William Parker and Helenswood.

Yvonne Powell, Executive Principal of Ark William Parker and Ark Helenswood schools, announced the name today saying that it was chosen by student council members at both schools, the name comes from the neighbouring Alexandra Park, located in the heart of Hastings.

Presenting the new name that they had chosen, Student Council members said: “We wanted a name which was reflective of the locality of both schools, and which represents the local community and history of the area. Alexandra Park was opened in 1882 and two lime trees were planted in the park to represent a new beginning and local growth.  We feel that this is symbolic of the new journey and the fresh start for our school.”

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The William Parker site of the new Ark Alexandra Academy.

The students were keen to honour the legacy of the current school names and therefore they will be retained as site names: the lower school will be the Helenswood site and the upper school will be the William Parker site.

The students are also looking at ‘house’ names in the new pastoral structure which will represent people who were born or who lived in Hastings and whose work has been influential and highly regarded locally, nationally and internationally.

The combined sixth form will be renamed Ark Alexandra Academy Sixth Form.

Ms Powell said: “I am pleased that after a mature and serious discussion the students have chosen a name associated with such a beautiful local park. As a co-educational school, Ark Alexandra Academy has seen an increase in interest and applications from parents of Year 6 children. We are looking forward to welcoming parents and children to the school.”

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One of the Helenswood sites that will be part of the new Ark Alexandra Academy.

Stephanie Newman, Principal of William Parker said: “The heritage of both schools is important to us. I am pleased we are keeping the connection to the existing school names. We are looking forward to welcoming alumni and the local community to celebrations of William Parker’s 400th anniversary later this year.”

The new bursary award programme for Sports and Performing arts, which were launched at the end of last year, will also take the name of the current schools: the Helenswood Performing Arts bursary and the William Parker Sports bursary.

These bursaries will be awarded in the coming weeks to students who demonstrate a dedication to their specialism.

Ark Alexandra Academy will open in September this year and will combine a rigorous academic curriculum with an emphasis on sport and the performing arts. Consultation with staff on a new staff structure has started and will run until early March.

To help students get used to a move from single sex to co-educational classes they are being provided with site tours and joint sports and arts activities. In February information sessions and site tours will be held for current and prospective parents.

Ark is one of the country’s top-performing academy networks. It includes a total of 38 schools in Birmingham, Hastings, London and Portsmouth that are responsible for educating more than 26,000 students. Ark says its aim is to create ‘outstanding’ schools that give every pupil, regardless of their background, the opportunity to go to university or pursue the career of their choice.

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