Dixons Academies Trust is a multi-academy trust of fourteen schools in West Yorkshire and the North West. We focus exclusively on areas of social and educational disadvantage, either by sponsoring turnaround academies to address educational failure, or by opening new free schools to meet growing demand.
Our Trust was built around the high-performing Dixons City Academy in Bradford, which opened in 1990 as one of only fifteen City Technology Colleges nationally. CTCs were the first state-funded schools independent of local authority control, a model which became the template for Labour’s academy initiative a decade later. On conversion in 2005, City adopted a second specialism, this time in the performing arts, reflecting its strong commitment and investment in this area, especially in music.
In 2009, Dixons City was invited by the DfE to take on Rhodesway School, which was at the time rated in the bottom ten schools nationally for value added and had languished in Special Measures for a record two consecutive inspections. Today, Dixons Allerton has a new building and a strong culture, includes an all-through primary element, and is now rated Good by Ofsted, its students make outstanding progress.
Always at the cutting edge, from 2012 we embraced the Free School initiative, opening Dixons Trinity and Dixons Music Primary that year and Dixons McMillan two years later. All three are graded Outstanding by Ofsted, with Dixons Trinity holding the accolade of being the first secondary free school in the country to be so. As such, it attracts many visitors nationally and internationally to learn how it achieves some of the very highest Progress 8 scores in the country for both pupil premium students and others.
From 2014 to 2016, we adopted a further three sponsored academies into the Trust. Dixons Marchbank Primary and Dixons Manningham Primary were inherited from two processor schools in special measures, and both jumped two Ofsted grades to Good in their first inspection. Both schools have gone from strength to strength, building their success from Early Years and KS1 upwards.
Dixons Kings was taken in as a struggling local free school carrying two judgements of Requires Improvement, together with difficulties in financial governance. It achieved Outstanding in its first inspection as a Dixons academy, and has achieved a strong academic performance since, fully reflecting our focus on high-value qualifications and exceptional progress, including for pupil premium students.
Our first academy in Leeds, Dixons Trinity Chapeltown, opened in temporary accommodation to Reception pupils in 2017, and its first cohort of Year 7 students a year later. It is modelled and mostly staffed from its sibling academy in Bradford and will bring exceptional education to an area poorly served in the past. It will move into its new building in the first half of 2020.
In July 2018, Dixons Cottingley joined our Trust from the former Samuel Lister Academy and later that year, we took our second step into Leeds at Dixons Unity, formerly Swallow Hill Community College. Both schools have progressed tremendously in their time with us, in spite of the challenges presented by the pandemic in 2020/21.
In 2019 we opened our Sixth Form Academy in the old Douglas Mill building in Bradford as our school-based sixth forms had become increasingly oversubscribed. Like all Dixons academies, the Sixth Form Academy is focused on high expectations, is values driven, and aims to provide an education that is second to none. It is a place for students to learn, to develop themselves as people, to work hard and to enjoy their Sixth Form experience – all the time preparing them to be successful at university or a real alternative.
Our start-ups are all graded Outstanding and our sponsored academies have all climbed at least two Ofsted grades with our backing. This gives us a solid platform from which we continue to build responsibly: our Trust will continue to expand, from over 11,000 students now to at least 20,000 by 2025. In order to achieve this, we have looked outside of West Yorkshire. In 2021 we opened two sponsored academies in Liverpool. Dixons Fazakerley and Dixons Broadgreen Academies are the founding members of our new North West hub, and plans are in place for a free school and a further sponsored turnaround academy in Manchester in the next couple of years.