|Headteacher's Previous Messages|
Added/Edited on the 11/06/2018
As we returned from a welcome break in the exam season, the week has been dominated by feedback from external stakeholders in our academy. Most notably was the publication of the final Ofsted letter following their inspection of the academy on May 15th and which was sent home to all parents/carers on Friday. The key headline was that Longsands Academy continues to be officially rated as a ‘good’ school which, in a challenging educational environment, is a testament to the commitment, hard work and passion of the all involved in supporting our young people through the secondary stage of their lives.
The letter highlights much of the good work which is on-going at the academy to ensure our core purpose is a lived reality and that students of all abilities and backgrounds enjoy and achieve during their time with us. The section entitled ‘Inspection Findings’ (pages 3-4) highlights the improvements which are being made to move the academy forward and acknowledges the impact which this is already having on students’ learning and progress. Mr Howard, the HMI, also highlights those areas for improvement which have been a focus of our work during this past academic year and will continue to be key priorities in 2018/19; these are detailed on page 5.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those parents/carers who engaged with the inspection and communicated their appreciation of the education their children are receiving at the academy; I was similarly pleased to read that this view was expressed by the vast majority of students spoken to by the inspection team.
Acknowledgement of the work of the academy in supporting your children provides a welcome lift for staff and I was touched by the following feedback which I received during this past week and which highlights so much of what we value. “I just wanted to write to you to commend all staff who have taught my daughter during Key Stage 3 and to say how pleased we are of her success. I also want to thank her form tutor who has done an extremely good job in supporting my daughter through this time. Rising from the bottom set in Maths to now the mid-upper levels, we cannot be happier and are extremely proud of how hard she has worked. Also to hear this week that she got 37/40 in her Geography end of year exam was fantastic news. We have talked deeply about what helps this success and we are in no doubt that it’s related to the way your teachers motivate and inspire our daughter. There’s a very clear correlation between how interesting a teacher makes lessons and connects with her so that she’s engaged and ready to learn. It’s also about the children’s mental health and happiness and she has a lovely group of wonderful friends for which I am so thankful. I’d like you to personally extend our thanks to all of Gaby’s teachers and I’d like to wish them a really restful and well deserved break over Summer. I hope that seeing children enjoy and achieve is enough to give your teachers a sense of pride, because it should be. A very big thank you.“
This feedback perfectly sums up all we are striving to achieve at the academy to ensure that students of all backgrounds and abilities enjoy the best possible learning, experience and outcomes from a wide range of disciplines and opportunities within both the formal and extra-curricular curriculum. I would like to thank all parents/carers for their continued support and confirm that, yes, I have now watched ‘The Greatest Showman’!
Added/Edited on the 21/05/2018
Our week began with a phone call from Ofsted, one we have been expecting since September! Ahead of their visit on Tuesday, I was firstly impressed by the manner in which staff and students at the academy snapped into action, listening carefully to key messages about what to expect the following day. Due to our current ‘good’ rating, the visit by three inspectors was, initially, only for one day in order to test whether this rating should be maintained. I am unable to provide specific feedback at this time since the Chief Inspector’s report is due to reach me during this coming week for fact-checking before going through Ofsted’s own quality checking mechanism; the final judgement will be communicated as soon as it arrives after the half term break. At this stage, therefore, all I can say is that the inspectors did not have serious concerns with safeguarding, behaviour or academic progress to warrant returning for a second day and were able to provide some immediate feedback regarding our strengths and areas to develop further. All those children seen by inspectors, in meetings and during lesson visits, interacted in a polite and positive manner and were a credit to yourselves and the academy.
The inspection team were quick to point out that their visit should not interrupt the normal workings of the academy and, especially at this time of year, there was plenty going on. Most notably were the external exams being sat by Year 11; at this stage, I am delighted to report that students have continued with their confident and positive approach not only to the exams themselves but also the support sessions on offer. Staff have been highly impressed by the willingness of students to engage with a comprehensive package of support sessions, images of which have been shared during the week on our social media sites; many thanks for the messages of appreciation which have been posted in support.
As Year 12 made a very positive start to their end-of-year internal exams, we bid farewell and good luck to Year 13 as they began their own period of study leave before sitting A2 exams after the half term break. In a similar vein to Year 11, the students enjoyed a final assembly led by Mr Elliott where members of the Student Voice also sold tickets for the ‘Summer Ball’ taking place on the 22nd June. Students have also received details of exam support sessions during this coming week; if, as a student or parent, you have any questions concerning this, then please do contact the relevant member of staff or a member of the sixth form team. Further details can also be found on the SNSFC website: http://snsfc.org.uk/
Finally, after starting the week by welcoming back the Duke of Edinburgh team from a soggy weekend at Grafham, we ended the week by waving off the PE team as they departed for Condover Hall and the netball competition as well as students and staff taking part in the Regional Finals of the Magistrates’ Court Mock Trial, taking place on Saturday. A busy and eventful week, therefore, and, as always, much to reflect on and celebrate.
Added/Edited on the 14/05/2018
There are times when the media are quick to portray a negative picture of our children and teenagers especially. I have, therefore, been delighted to read and observe your children continue to visibly demonstrate the values and personal qualities which we promote at the academy and which you no doubt also expect at home.
I am always pleased to receive positive feedback from members of the local community, mindful that this often takes an extra effort than communicating feedback of a less positive nature. During this week, we were contacted by a member of the public who wanted to say how polite and helpful a number of students were in helping her retrieve her puppies who had run into the water chasing ducks! Seeing her upset and struggling to get them back, two groups of girls stopped to help and managed to retrieve the dogs for her; Ms Fiddy wanted to express her thanks and say how nice they all were.
Secondly, we also received the following feedback this week, “I just wanted to let you know what polite students you have (you probably know that already!) I was walking my 3 year old nephew home from nursery and every single student that passed us on their bike said thank you to us for letting them pass. It was all done with a smile and very good grace. Very impressive young people.”
I do not know who these students are and would be very happy to thank them personally, if they wish to come forward. In the meantime, I have thanked the members of the public who took their time to contact us and shared these stories with staff. Feedback like this uplifts us all.
On Friday, we paused to celebrate with Year 11 as we marked the end of their formal, timetabled lessons. The day was full of emotions as students and staff took this opportunity to exchange cards, gifts, food and, most importantly, words of thanks for all that has happened to cement the highly positive relationships which were evident on the day. After spending time with their tutors, students and staff gathered in the courtyard where hoodies were proudly displayed, photos were taken and Yearbooks were feverishly signed. The day culminated in a lovely assembly where students were able to say a final thank-you, as well as a sad goodbye, to their Head of Year, Miss Furlongher, before being serenaded by staff and then receiving final words of advice and encouragement from Mr Owen. Next week, a similar day, no doubt with similar sentiments, will have taken place for Year 13 students as they step away from familiar territory and make the brave step into the world of work or further education. Witnessing the emotions that these moments trigger in students and staff alike provides a visible reminder of the importance of unconditionally positive relationships which should be a key feature of any school which aims to support students in their well-being and learning. I am heartened to be able to confidently state that this is a noticeable strength of our academy.
As I have reported so often, your children are a source of pride and inspiration and we have every reason to feel very proud of them.
Added/Edited on the 07/05/2018
Whilst maintaining our on-going support for those students taking their GCSE & A Level MFL speaking exams and preparing to take further examinations in the near future, our focus has broadened to include internal, end-of–year exams which, this week, have been sat by Year 10 as well as Year 9 maths. In order to familiarise students with Ofqual expectations and procedures, these exams are sat in the exam hall in conditions as close as possible to the real experience. Mrs Carpenter, exam invigilators and Mr Owen reported how incredibly impressed they have been with our Year 10 students who have displayed a focussed, mature and sensible attitude as well as exemplary behaviour throughout the week. We have every confidence that this positive attitude will continue into next week and hope that the students will use the Bank Holiday weekend to rest and prepare for next week. Mrs Breakspear reported that the majority of Year 9 students approached their maths exams in a similar manner and the small minority who struggled to maintain their focus and behaviour on the Tuesday successfully acted on advice and guidance during Thursday’s exam.
On Tuesday, we welcomed back Miss Rose, Mr Dickerson, Mr Magen and 38 of our Year 10 Geography students from a highly successful trip to Barcelona. Staff reported that the trip ran extremely smoothly with a real highlight being both the students’ engagement with the learning activities (such as the ‘Rivers Day’) as well as their exemplary behaviour. Students clearly enjoyed themselves, as highlighted by the following feedback from one parent: “My daughter was full of beans when I collected her last night, she clearly has had a fabulous trip with you all. I know how much time and energy these trips require from the attending teachers so I wanted to say a sincere thank you to you all for accompanying and looking after the teens on this trip. The trips always sound fantastic, I am very tempted to sign up myself!”
On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of attending a performance of ‘Blood Wedding’ by our Year 10 and 11 Drama students. Like the rest of the audience, I was instantly gripped by the work and hugely impressed by the quality of the students’ performances whether this be on the stage or behind the scenes. Very well done everyone, you have every right to feel proud of your production; my thanks to Mrs Koncewicz for leading this event.
Elsewhere this week, the Science department led a successful Year 8 trip to the National Space Centre on Tuesday whilst targeted Year 7, 8 & 9 students engaged in a number of STEM challenges and ‘quests’, led by the Technology department, on Wednesday and Friday. Well done and thank-you to all those involved. The Sixth Form were pleased to welcome a Cambridgeshire Traffic Officer and the DriveIQ safety presenters to the school site on Wednesday. Year 12 students had the valuable opportunity to ask questions about a car that had been involved in an accident. All of our year 12 students now have the opportunity to complete the online ‘DriveIQ’ course, an award-winning safety education programme.
Lastly, on Friday our focus returned to Year 11 as targeted students attended the PiXL ‘Strive for 5’ conference in London as a support to their forthcoming English exams.
At such a critical time in the school year, we are very conscious of the pressures being felt by significant numbers of students and are hugely grateful for the support being provided by parents/carers. Please do contact relevant support and subject staff if you have any specific questions or needs; our continuing partnership work will help ensure that your children achieve the very best outcomes in the summer.
Added/Edited on the 30/04/2018
After an interesting and busy week at the academy, I, once again, have the pleasure of pausing, catching breath and reflecting on all that students and staff have been able to enjoy and celebrate during the past 5 days; we are all proud to be able to share the following highlights with you.
On Monday, we welcomed back students and staff who visited the Peak District over a sunny weekend as part of the Duke of Edinburgh award. We also heard the fantastic news that staff and students’ bag-packing efforts at Tesco’s on Saturday raised over £500 towards this summer’s Tanzania trip. My thanks to all students who took part as well as Miss Furlonger, Mr Lampett and Mr Smy for their support who reported that they were overwhelmed by the generosity shown by the local community.
During this week, Year 11 students began their formal GCSE exams in Art whilst a targeted group attended a maths ‘Strive for 5’ conference in London on Friday. On Wednesday, we welcomed parents/carers of our Year 10 students to an information evening ahead of internal exams which begin this week; many thanks to all who attended, your support is a key ingredient in your child’s success.
On Monday, Miss Bingham ran a successful trip to the Raptor Foundation for students on the ‘Intensive Literacy’ (i2L) programme whilst we welcomed representatives from the ‘Shakespeare at the George’ group who presented our Performing Arts department with a cheque for £1000. This will be invested in much-needed upgrades to technical equipment. As part of the presentation, a number of students in Years 9 and 11 performed superbly in front of Year 7 and our guests; they have every right to feel proud of the quality and inventiveness of their performances.
We were also delighted to receive the news that Macy Masters and Amelia Fleming in 7KKS had been successful in the ‘Arsenal Double Club 2018 World Cup Competition’, a national competition to design a footballing activity in French. A record number of schools from across the UK entered the competition which made selecting groups extremely competitive so Macy and Amelia should feel especially proud of their achievement. They will now attend a World Cup day at the Emirates; my thanks to Miss Sebborn for her support of this venture.
Later in the week, we heard from an elated Mrs Powell who informed us that our Year 12 Young Enterprise team came away with four awards at the Young Enterprise Cambridge area final. The team won Best Trade Stand, Responsible Business Award, Best Innovation award and came runner-up in the Best Overall Company category.
The group made products using up-cycled materials, the sustainability of which particularly impressed the judges. My congratulations to all involved, further details can be found in a separate Facebook post.
On Wednesday, we were formally awarded the ‘Quality in Careers Mark’ by Jonathan Lewis, Education Service Director for Cambridgeshire & Peterborough which recognises the good work which takes place across all key stages to prepare students for life after Longsands whether that be in employment or further education. My thanks to Miss Martindale, our CEIAG co-ordinator, for her considerable efforts in leading on this successful application.
Whilst conducting a learning walk around the academy, I was proud to show Mr Lewis a range of activities taking place both in and out of the classroom, including the whole of Year 8 engaged in our annual ‘Race for Life’ in support of Cancer Research UK. He was also interested to hear of the students engaged in our ‘Boot Camp’ project which ran its final session on Wednesday with all students feeding-back positively on the impact the scheme has had on their confidence, well-being, aspirations and subsequent decision-making.
Lastly, many congratulations to Ross Biddulph in Year 13 who has secured employment at GlaxoSmithkline in Stevenage as an ‘R&D New Chemical Entity Bioassay Scientist’; Ross was quick to acknowledge the support he has received in this process, especially from Mr Ivett.