WLA’s Business Manager overjoyed to receive MBE

Stephen Lester – was recently presented with an exceptional award for his dedication to education and he could not be more delighted.


An award like this is only given to those who show the most outstanding service to their community, so it is no surprise that our business manager, Stephen Lester, was recently awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List of 2018.


Mr Lester said that he did not receive the news until mid-May, a week after the letter had been delivered to his old address, where he lived 2 years ago. When he received a phone call from the Cabinet Office, he was very confused – he told me his thoughts at the time: “What have I got to do with the Cabinet Office?” When finding out the good news, Mr Lester was “really chuffed. It was so unexpected and such a surprise.”


Upon receiving the news, he could not tell anyone straight away – “I was walking around the academy smiling all day and no one knew why.” He could, however, tell his close family who he said were very proud of him. They had told him “no one in the family has ever received something like this.”


Mr Lester made the decision to completely change his career 11 years ago, and over a decade of dedication to being a managing director has clearly paid off – he worked in two other schools before he began working at West Lakes Academy, three years ago, and the academy has surely grown and improved in the past few years, which could not have happened without his work in the school.


Mr Lester is also involved in the Education and Skills Funding Agency Academies Finance and Assurance Steering Group, which looks into improving the systems and procedures of academies all over the country and delivering benefits to the Department for Education. As well as this, he is chairman of one of three sub groups under the steering group. He was nominated for the award by a fellow member of the Department for Education.


Mr Lester says he will find out the date and venue for receiving his award as well as who will present it to him in a couple of months. In July or August, he will travel there to accept the award where he is allowed to bring 3 guests – his wife and two children.


West Lakes Academy’s Principal, Mr Johnson said: ‘He’s such a humble and unassuming chap but a tremendous asset to the education system across the entire country and we’re all delighted that he works at West Lakes Academy! I am honoured to work so closely with him.’


Everyone at the academy – both staff and students alike – is extremely proud of our Business Manager for this tremendous achievement.


Written by,

Emily Cockbain

Social Media Influencer


West Lakes Academy pupils shout ‘This is me!’

On Monday May 14 2018 at morning break students and teachers brought the academy to life with a surprise flash mob using the hit song, ‘This is me’ from the iconic show The Greatest Showman.

The flash mob began with a small group of students declaring ‘This is me’ to the camera, leading in to an impressive vocal performance from two Year 9 boys – Rhys Roberts and Haydan Small. It continued with over fifty students dancing, filling the main entrance of the academy. The choreography was inspired by the film and was led by Post-16 students Hannah Burgess, Hannah Coulthard and Beth Walker.

The inspiring performance served to deliver a beautiful message to students, telling them to be confident and believe in themselves, especially those about to begin their exams. The video, which was released on the academy’s Facebook page, has been enthusiastically received by the wider Facebook community. At the time of writing, the post has received over 40k views, 750 shares and over 1,500 supportive and emotive comments. We are stunned by the response, exceedingly grateful and overwhelmed by all of the amazing feedback.

Beth Walker said ‘Leading up to the flash mob, everything was so exciting, especially as it was a huge secret. I think that it is so important to shed some positive light and just have fun, especially leading up to exam season! The reaction from both the academy and the community is overwhelming and I am so proud of the outcome!!’

Hannah Burgess: ‘Honestly, I was nervous originally. It takes a lot of effort and dedication to bring such a talent-infused routine together – but after six weeks it paid off. I am so proud and thankful to every student and staff member who participated and enjoyed being a part of the flash mob. It’s amazing how one group of individuals can come together over time to unite as a team and express how proud we are of ourselves and each other for being true to our identities. I’m also shocked about the amount of people who have seen, liked and shared our video across social media.’

Mrs Sunter, who coordinated the whole event, commented, ‘I am so proud of everyone who played their part, from those watching to those involved. The support of this positive message wouldn’t be possible without all of them. I completely feel full of pride and humbled to be part of team WLA.’

T & L Bulletin May 2018

In the latest edition of our fabulous T&L magazine, Changing Lives are loads of useful tips and tricks from a wide range of staff in this term’s edition. Highlights include tips on differentiating for our weakest students from Nic Robinson, easy methods of extending our most able students from Rebecca Graham, and examples of how to use technology to help support revision from Barry.


Click here to view the latest edition.

West Lakes Academy nationally recognised as transforming educational practice

West Lakes Academy has recently achieved accreditation for transforming practice under SSAT’s Framework for Exceptional Education. The Framework for Exceptional Education is a self-review and planning tool incorporating SSAT’s 30 years of experience in school improvement. Co-developed with a group of high-performing schools and reviewed by leading academics, the framework supports schools in quality-assuring their work and sharing effective practice.

To achieve accreditation as transforming in practice, West Lakes Academy was reviewed by another high-performing school and an independent moderator from SSAT. SSAT’s Chief Executive, Sue Williamson comments “for a school to be accredited for transforming practice is a real credit to their team and the quality of the work that they are doing.”

Egremont Town Councillors and Copeland Waste Team visit Student Council

The Student Council was delighted to receive a visit from Egremont Town Councillors and Copeland’s Waste Team on April 20 2018.

Councillors spoke to our student council about engaging the community more in enhancing the town of Egremont for its residents.

Students emphasised their interest in reducing the impact of waste and increasing recycling across the academy.  The discussions gave a greater understanding of the steps that Copeland is taking and the students look forward to further meetings to make a significant difference in our recycling planning and implementation”

The meeting ended with an invitation to visit both Egremont Town Council and Copeland Borough Council to meet other Councillors and the mayor.

Easter Rewards Day

On Tuesday 27th March over 300 students from Years 7-13 were invited to our Easter celebrations. The performance hall was decorated with spring flowers and chocolate eggs. Students enjoyed taking part and celebrating their success with their teachers, Academy’s Leadership Group and Governors.

Miss Relph, Assistant Principal, commented “We love rewarding our students for their hard work and for celebrating their success across our five values of appreciation, achievement, freedom, resilience and respect. Students loved being part of the day and celebrating with their peers”

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World Down’s Syndrome Day at West Lakes Academy

West Lakes Academy has been celebrating World Down’s Syndrome Day (WDSD). Grant Tebay, Learning Support Assistant at the academy, helped to organise the day. He said “we wanted to help raise awareness and help others understand more about Down’s Syndrome and to do this we’ve had to #RockOurSocks. Students and staff at the school have worn their funky bright colourful socks in order to promote conversation and explain to others why Trisomy 21 is celebrated on the 21st of March.

Layton Telford, a Year 7 student, said “I am really happy that people have worn their colourful and wild socks today. It makes me feel nice that my friends want to help me raise awareness about Down’s Syndrome”. Layton’s sister, Ashton Telford, Year 10, said “it’s important that we celebrate WDSD because we need to raise awareness. Layton is a massive part of my life and has helped make me who I am today. I think it’s amazing to see everybody at West Lakes Academy treat Layton no differently to anybody else”. “ Maddison Hewer and Tegan Pattinson added “It’s so important that people can see individuals with special needs achieve, it makes me feel really emotional!”

Students and staff have enjoyed celebrating today. Grant added “we’ve had fun and some very strange looks about our socks!”

T & L Bulletin February 2018

 This term’s T&L magazine focuses on the many brilliant and inspiring ideas shared by staff during our TeachMeet earlier this term. Definitely one not to miss!

T&L Magazine February 2018


Talented students at West Lakes Academy were rewarded for their hard work and effort at the annual year 13 awards evening on Thursday February 1st when students, parents, staff and governors celebrated together at Whitehaven Golf Club.

The students’ hard work and commitment to their studies were acknowledged and praised as over 25 awards were given out. The awards included: services to the academy, overcoming adversity and excelling in subject areas.

Rachel Denwood, Pastoral Head of Sixth Form commented that, “We held the event to celebrate the year 13 successes over the past 18 months, it’s great to see students, parents and staff gathered together to award the hard working students. This year we had lots of students attend to celebrate with their peers, which was fantastic and showed the community and family spirit we have within the Sixth Form. It was a fantastic night and a real opportunity to reward the students and celebrate their success, there were some truly inspirational speeches made about a number a students and it was an emotional night. This year we had past students who came to celebrate with their peers and this highlighted the importance of celebrating success. It was also fantastic to have Eli Hughes, another ex-pupil playing the piano.”

Guests enjoyed a lovely two course meal before the wining students were presented with their awards. Award winners included Joseph Dugdale who won awards for his Geography and Sport studies, as well as Emma Hartley who won awards for her Media studies and the Governors’ Award.