UCL News


Formal opening of UCL Academy

19 March 2013

A unique partnership between a school and one of the world's leading universities is being celebrated today at the formal opening of the UCL Academy, the first school in England to have a university as a sole sponsor.

UCL academy

UCL Academy is adopting a radical approach to learning that will give school students opportunities to learn from world-leading researchers and follow a curriculum designed in collaboration with UCL. Regular exchange of ideas and teaching and learning practice between the two institutions will promote academic excellence and increasingly break down the boundaries between secondary and higher education.

The UCL Academy opened in September 2012 with 180 students in Foundation (Year 7) and 125 students in Level 3 (Year 12). It will reach its full capacity of 1,150 students by the autumn of 2016. Some of the exciting features of the new School include:

  • A curriculum that allows students to work through levels at their own pace, with different age groups studying together;
  • Students and teachers will not be tied to one classroom. Each floor at the school has a superstudio, a long room with a central tiered amphitheatre-style learning space and space on either side for various learning activities. The space has been designed to enable classroom group learning, project-based and pair work or independent study as appropriate;
  • All staff and students at the Academy study Mandarin, reinforcing the school's ethos as a community of learners;
  • The Academy houses an engineering science suite, which includes workshop spaces and labs designed to give students the experience of being engineers
  • Following a trial this year, all of the academy's students will spend the start of their new school career studying at UCL, making full use of the university's lecture theatres, libraries and laboratories;
  • UCL academics have already given lectures at the Academy, while Academy staff have been given UCL library access and there are proposals for them to meet the relevant UCL academic staff on an annual basis to assist in the development of one another's curriculum.

UCL Academy represents a unique opportunity to blur the boundaries between secondary and higher education, as we each look to learn from what the other does well.

UCL Academy Principal Geraldine Davies

UCL Vice Provost Professor Michael Worton said: "UCL is the only university in the country to have taken the step of becoming the sole sponsor of an academy because it believes that in sharing facilities and expertise and in providing support to teachers and pupils, it can bring about a fundamental improvement in the educational experience of pupils in the school and beyond. By working with the UCL Academy, UCL aspires not just to feed into and support the school, but to learn from the experience in such a way that it will influence the university's own approach to teaching and learning."

UCL Academy Principal Geraldine Davies said: "UCL Academy represents a unique opportunity to blur the boundaries between secondary and higher education, as we each look to learn from what the other does well. 

Over time, interactions such as a lecture or teaching session led by a UCL academic, a group visit of Academy students to experience university life at UCL, or a theatre performance directed by UCL student volunteers and acted by Academy students, will underline our two institutions' shared values. "

Lord Andrew Adonis, former Schools Minister, said: "UCL Academy is one of the best and most innovative institutions to have been set up within the English education system in recent years. It enshrines a wholly new form of partnership between a leading university and a state school, with the university taking full responsibility for governance, leadership and curriculum. I pay tribute to Malcolm Grant and his brilliant team at UCL for creating the Academy. And to Geraldine Davies and her leadership team for making it such an outstanding success. UCL Academy is the future of English education and it works."

Interview with UCL Academy Principal Geraldine Davies (recorded Spring 2012)

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UCL Academy