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James Marks Academy home page

James Marks Academy

Welcome to James Marks Academy

Head Teacher's Welcome

Thank you for taking an interest in our new website. The James Marks Academy opened to just 20 pupils, on the site of Roman Fields in Hemel Hempstead in September 2023. Our new Academy and free school joins Roman Fields and Forest House as the third provision in our small trust.

The JMA (James Marks Academy) site is currently in the construction phase and scheduled to be delivered in August 2024 and ready to open just one month later, in time for the new academic year. At the point of delivery, the 20 JMA pupils and colleagues will be transferred to their new state-of-the-art home in Welwyn, and joined by an additional 15 pupils. In 2025 the roll will increase further to 50 pupils before reaching capacity in 2026 at 60.

The first intake for the JMA will include pupils in years 7 and 8 and 12. In year 2 the JMA will support pupils in years 7, 8, 9, 12 and 13 adding additional year groups following this, so we support pupils across all secondary phases.

Please note, because this is a brand new free school we will not have an Ofsted report available to share with you until the beginning of the third year of opening. I would like to re-assure you however, that our small ethical Trust has the expertise and commitment to ensure the JMA is equal to our other successful provisions.

In 2024, when the new building opens a new Headteacher will be appointed to Roman Fields (at this point I would have led the school for over a decade) so I can move with the JMA pupils and experienced colleagues to our new school as its Headteacher in these early formative years. I will of course, as a very ‘hands on’ Executive Head continues to be actively involved in all our provisions. 

When HCC originally wrote their bid for the free school which was obviously successful and received the DfE approval -leaders clearly outlined their priorities for the proposed school which we, as a small Trust, have worked with the DfE to meet this brief. HCC had three major priorities-

  • 1. To increase quality SEN provision within the LA, to support their residents and families
  • 2. To address a gap in provision for ‘those pupils with ASC and SEMH needs for whom a traditional SEMH school would be inappropriate as a result of the intended cohorts’ high anxiety, communication and mental health needs’.
  • 3. To even out the current in-balance through the provision of a school in the East that is similar to Roman Fields in the West

We have worked hard to provide this and this is not only reflected in the copious amounts of planning we have done in advance of opening, but also in the building itself. The DfE have worked with us on every stage of the design process so the layout/ provision within the school and grounds is very different than you would see in a traditional SEMH school and reflective of the highly anxious cohort the JMA is designed to support.

HCC comments in the original brief for the JMA, describing the intended cohort

HCC wrote in their specification in 2019 when they approached the DfE for funding ‘there is a gap in provision for those pupils with ASC or a social communication difficulty, higher academic ability, but significant anxiety, mental health issues, and gaps in their education and associated underachievement’. Adding ‘a school with a designation for complex needs, as identified above is required as these pupils do not fit well within an SEMH provision, due to the nature of their needs. The impact of combining typical SEMH pupils and this group is that pupils' anxiety increases, which impacts on their school and attendance a progress.’ This clearly outlines the profile of the pupils the school is designed to serve. 


We strive to create an environment where each individual can flourish irrespective of their previous difficulties. We take a holistic approach to developing our pupils from support for families, to bespoke educational programmes leading to successful onward transition.

Our success is built on a genuine collaborative partnership between Members, Trustees, staff, SEN professionals, parents/carers and our pupils; a partnership that has high aspirations for all and places the pupils in our care at the heart of every decision. Visitors to our current sites, Roman Fields Academy and Forest House, are immediately struck by the respectful, calm and considerate atmosphere, which mirrors the pride and commitment both our staff and pupils have in our community. Trust, mutual respect and the delivery of quality first teaching and holistic support are key to building the kind of relationships that have driven our early success at the Roman Fields Academy, which has been replicated at Forest House.  We have every intention of ensuring the James Marks Academy delivers the same vision and ethos.

Roman Fields was rated as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted in January 2019. Please read the report, as we feel it accurately reflects our school.

In 2023 Roman Fields was awarded ‘Specialist Advanced’ by the National Autistic Society following a comprehensive review of our practice.

Please read both reports as I feel the comments from the assessor, parents and pupils accurately reflect the committed colleagues I am privileged to work alongside.


Is simply, ‘ambitious for those with diverse needs’. We are proud of the fact that Ofsted and NAS recognise our ‘never give up attitude’ and ‘child centred approach’. This is a universal principle, shared by all our dedicated colleagues, some of whom are now able to access the next step in their careers within our growing trust. Which means we retain these quality practitioners in Hertfordshire, and a greater number of vulnerable pupils and their families will benefit from their expertise. Our intention is to share our knowledge and experience within the county by continuing to forge strong partnerships with local schools, colleges and business. Colleagues within the trust are therefore ready and willing to embrace this change and replicate the practice we have developed at RFA over many years, and Forest House more recently.


Unlock a positive future for all our pupils and their families, by building strong relationships, enabling pupils to believe and value themselves, and have high expectations

To ensures all pupil needs are understood and shared with interested stakeholders, and identify when these needs evolve and change and adapt our approach to meet declining, or emerging needs.

Provide a holistic education that allows pupils with mental health issues to recognise their difficulties and develop coping strategies that will enable them to view their own needs ‘not as a disability, but as a different ability’

Provide bespoke timetables, developed to meet each individual’s SEN.

Ensures that academic challenge and social & emotional support hold equal value to optimise the opportunities for long term success

Ensure core values are intrinsically interwoven in our practice

Ensure all pupils transition successfully from us and develop into successful happy and economically active adults.

Collaborative closely with a wide range of professionals, schools and colleges to share good practice and experience, thus supporting Herts to achieve our shared goal of providing high quality special education locally

"...this outstanding school is continuously improving."

"The local authority correctly judges the school’s performance as outstanding."- OFSTED 2019


The flexible and creative nature of our provisions allows us to re-engage and motivate pupils, placing them on bespoke timetables that build on their strengths and interests and provide access to  accreditation from a variety of awarding bodies. We offer functional skills, vocational qualifications, GCSE and A Level. Please see our examination results (from our partner schools) as we are very proud of our pupils and their achievements.


Referrals to the JMA are made via the SEN provision panel. 

"Pupils’ specific needs and difficulties are carefully addressed through personalised plans. As a result, their outcomes are outstanding." _ OFSTED 2019


  • Aspiration
  • Respect
  • Community
  • Integrity


British Values should be at the centre of everything that we do within schools.

British Values are at the core of our offer.  We support the DfE guidance which states that schools should, "create and enforce a clear and rigorous expectation on all schools to promote the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.’ At the JMA, these values are reinforced regularly in the following ways:


Opportunities such as the School Council allow our pupils to have a say in what we do on a day-to-day basis. For example, they are able to vote on key issues such as how rewards are used within the provision. In subjects such as PSHE and Self Knowledge, they learn about our democratic system and are encouraged to use their own voices to offer opinion.


Through our PSHE and Life Skills curriculum, pupils are educated about the laws that must be followed in our society. Key areas are covered such as how laws govern and protect us, the responsibilities that this involves and the consequences when laws are broken. Our pupils are encouraged to engage with the public, through regular trips and visits and, as a result, understand the correct and appropriate ways to conduct themselves in such situations.


The JMA is a safe and supportive environment which allows pupils to feel valued and make individual choices. Staff help them to make safe choices through our PSHE and mentoring programme, where students receive guidance on e-safety, safe behaviours and relationships. Pupils are given the freedom to make a wide range of choices, such as attending enrichment activities and trips during school holidays.


Respect is at the heart of all we do.  We actively promote respect, so that our pupils understand that it underpins the framework of a tolerant and inclusive society.  We expect all staff, visitors and pupils to treat each other with respect in all their interactions.  Through our Autism Enrichment Programme, pupils are encouraged to engage with, and respect people from different backgrounds.


The JMA is an environment where pupils are encouraged to learn from each other by sharing and celebrating their different faiths and cultures. For example, through sharing their experiences and beliefs with each other during our shared lunchtime and registration time. RS and PSHE lessons help pupils to make sense of the multifaceted and multicultural world we live in, increasing their knowledge in a safe environment where they can ask questions and challenge misconceptions leading to a more tolerant and inclusive school.

Large print and paper copies of all information on this website can be obtained by contacting Mandy Crow or the school office.

James Marks Academy home page

James Marks


Contact Us

Roman Fields
11 Box Lane
Hemel Hempstead