|Headteacher's Previous Messages|
Added/Edited on the 09/07/2018
We began the week by welcoming our new staff to the academy for their 2-day induction and then hosting an evening for the parents/carers of our new Year 7 cohort ahead of their own induction days on Tuesday and Wednesday. I am delighted to report that the Year 6 students were polite, courteous and well-behaved during their visit and engaged with all activities and lessons with huge levels of enthusiasm. My thanks to those parents/carers who have taken the time to provide some very positive feedback and I am delighted to share the following email which was received from a Year 6 teacher at one of our feeder schools, “Students came back to class today full of excitement and we spent a good hour talking about their experiences. I was impressed with how much they had completed in just two days. One student managed to explain the whole experiment she took part in and used so many scientific words it was a joy to listen. One highlight for them all was the lunch canteen; they were mesmerised with the choice. “
Year 10 were out of the academy during this week on work experience; reports from visiting staff have indicated that the vast majority of students have found the experience highly worthwhile whether this was to confirm career choices or to help develop key employability skills and personal qualities. Mrs Hills, their new Head of Year, looks forward to welcoming them back during an assembly on Monday to continue with their GCSE studies, success in which will provide the keys to unlock future career opportunities.
An additional feature of this past week was our annual ‘Arts Festival’ which began with the joint MFL/History trip to Normandy and a visit from ‘Teaching Talons’ and then culminated with our collapsed day on Friday which included a wide variety of trips and activities including pond digging, Indian dancing, producing a time capsule, code breaking and trip to Thorpe Park, to name but a few.
We also held a uniform sizing day which proved popular with students and parents, enabling them to take advantage of the 10% ‘early bird’ discount which runs until August 6th. There will be a further opportunity this Wednesday, please contact enquiries if you have any queries about this event.
A further highlight of the week was the Year 11 Prom, held at the Burgess Hall in St Ives. We were highly impressed by the elaborate forms of transport which delivered the students to the venue. The students then proceeded to enjoy a fantastic evening and were a credit to themselves by the manner in which they celebrated the end of their GCSE studies and final exams. My thanks to all staff who supported the event and those parents/carers who also made the journey to take photos of this precious memory.
Elsewhere, the Science department enjoyed a successful visit to the ‘Big Bang Fair’ whilst the Geographers visited the Royal Russell School in Croydon, where their Head of Geology, Martin Tanner, presented us with his entire collection of specimens as well as valuable field and lab equipment. Martin is retiring after 36 years teaching Geology and sadly his department is closing. Staff were delighted, however, that our two new GCSE Geology groups and A Level class will be able to benefit so much from this very generous donation. Over the course of his career, Mr Tanner has sent more than 100 students to university to study Geology; at Longsands, we hope to use the fantastic resources to emulate his success. The Tomlinson Brown Trust, an Earth Science Education charity of which he is a trustee, have also been very generous in donating £1000 to contribute to the purchase of further Geology resources and bursaries for trips. We're really excited to start making the most of all of this support for Geology at Longsands.
I would like to add that they are also a credit to staff and parents/carers.
Added/Edited on the 02/07/2018
With the sun blazing down on Monday, we quickly made the decision to allow students to wear shorts and many took us up on the offer; we have extended this into next week and politely request that parents/carers support this decision by ensuring that their children attend in PE shorts and no other varieties.
On Monday, we also welcomed students from international waters including four students from Poland who joined Year 10 buddies in lessons. We also welcomed staff and students on an exchange visit from Melkbosstrand School in South Africa. Staff and students were made to feel very welcome when we visited them last year, so we were delighted to host them on the last leg of their UK tour which has taken in Bath, Bristol, Oxford and London. Students competed in Netball and Rugby, with the latter held at St Neots Rugby Club including a post-match BBQ. Our visiting staff expressed their gratitude for the warm welcome they received from staff, students and host families and I would like to personally thank all those who supported this exchange visit; it was a huge success.
Mrs Hardwick provided highly positive feedback from the Year 12 trip to Cranedale in Yorkshire, reporting that the trip was a great success, student behaviour was excellent and much was learnt and achieved. In History, Miss Howell led an equally enjoyable and successful visit to Hampton Court.
On Wednesday, Year 8 students completed their ‘Dragons Den’ challenge by presenting to representatives from Mick George. Well done to all who took part and many congratulations to 8DAN who were announced winners in Thurday’s assembly; the form will visit ‘Kidzania’ in London on July 10th.
On Thursday, we held our annual Sports Day where, once again, the key message to all students was to participate and achieve excellence. I am delighted to report that participation rates were superb, sporting behaviour was widely evident and there was an abundance of excellence with a large number of records broken. Staff were especially impressed by the level of mutual support given by students as they cheered on the last person in the race just as much as they cheered the first person. We were also delighted by the attendance of a large number of parents and were heartened to receive the following feedback, “As a keen year 7 parent and a secondary school PE teacher I would like to say well done for a super sports day. All the children were well behaved from the start until the very end. Excellent enthusiasm from all staff and pupils. I felt very welcome and privileged that I could watch my daughter compete today. Thanks again, I hope to come again next year but my daughter may not want me to!”
Mrs Fengler has been working with our Year 10 Language Leaders who have been busy visiting local primary schools (Little Paxton, Great Paxton and Priory Juniors) teaching French and German to a range of pupils from Year 3 - 6. They did an amazing job engaging the primary learners who were buzzing with excitement. Erin, Jessica and Katy had the children singing in rounds and Gabriel, Rob and Harri led a game of “Jacques a dit” (Simon Says) to help the pupils learn the names of different sports in French. Our Language Leaders have been truly professional at all stages this year, from their independent planning of their lessons and creation of resources, to the delivery of their lessons in the classroom. They had a lot of really lovely feedback from the staff at the primary schools who were bowled over by how much some of their former pupils had blossomed now they are in Year 10 at Longsands. The Language Leaders are now looking forward to taking their teaching further in the next few weeks by teaching some new language skills to year 7 classes across the Academy.
This week, we also received the fantastic news that all three of our Arkwright applicants (Thomas Hurrell, Cliona Blackwell and Evan Marlow) have been awarded Arkwright Associate status. This means that they have been accepted as Arkwright Scholars and have been successfully matched to a Sponsor, enabling them to receive an Arkwright Engineering Scholarship commencing in September 2018. We've never had more than one student achieve this before, so to get three through is amazing. My thanks to Miss Bell and the Rotarians who kindly supported the students with the practice interviews.
On Friday, I had the pleasure of hosting a breakfast with a number of Year 10 students who acted as Kick Ash mentors and who recently visited both Little Paxton Primary and Priory Juniors to talk to Year 6 students about the dangers of smoking. The students engaged the Year 6’s brilliantly, keeping them on task and listening to their views and ideas. Two of the mentors were 'hot-seated' as different characters, giving an excellent insight into why young people might choose to smoke or choose to give up. The mentors demonstrated high expectations for behaviour and had the maturity to lead discussions well. They have been a real credit to Longsands and received highly positive comments from the Year 6 students and staff. Very well done.
I finished the week by attending the Year 11 graduation ceremony at our alternative provision, Prospect House. This is always a real highlight of the year, affording the opportunity to celebrate the successes of those students for whom mainstream education was not appropriate. I am always struck by the strength of the relationships that have developed between the students and staff at this provision which confirms my belief that all students are capable of demonstrating good character and achieving success if they receive the appropriate level of support.
Added/Edited on the 25/06/2018
As internal and external exams, for students in all key stages, entered their final full week, there have been a number of events which have enabled staff and students to celebrate success and have some fun.
We firstly began the week by welcoming back staff and 62 students from the final Bronze Duke of Edinburgh weekend; Mr Dickerson reported that, “…behaviour was excellent. I would like to thank the 6 members of staff who gave up their weekend to make it possible, especially Miss Furlonger and Mr Smy who have attended 40 trips between them!” Later in the week, our Year 12 Geography students departed for Cranedale in Yorkshire for a two-day stay whilst targeted students in Years 10 and 12 visited Cambridge Regional College and the Careers Show in Peterborough, respectively.
On Thursday, I was privileged to be asked to open the annual PE Awards Ceremony which was very well attended by students and their families. The evening affords the PE staff the opportunity to recognise the excellent attitudes and high participation rates demonstrated by so many of our students within this discipline as well as their achievements in a wide range of sports. We were delighted to welcome back Sam Squires, an ex-student who has recently been awarded a professional contract by Cambridge United. Thank-you to all those parents/carers who support their child(ren) in this area and for their attendance on Thursday; it was lovely to receive the following feedback from a number of parents, following the event:
“We just wanted to express our enormous gratitude following this evenings Sports Awards. The emphasis that Longsands places on sport is appreciated greatly in our family…our daughter is given the time and space to develop this passion and that it is recognised and appreciated so highly by your staff; this enables her to maintain the mental stability to achieve as well as she does in non-sport related areas.”
“Many congratulations to the staff for a wonderful evening and for their constant enthusiasm and high quality teaching. Long may it continue.”
“Just wanted to say thank you for a really lovely evening last night, it was a great celebration of all the amazing talent that the children have. I think what you guys do as teachers is fantastic and the encouragement and support you provide for these kids is brilliant...I just wanted to say that I really appreciate what you all do, and know that you will go above and beyond to help these kids achieve their dreams, or help them get through stressful times in their lives.”
Friday saw a zombie invasion infest the academy! Students in Year 8 enhanced their scientific learning by engaging with our annual ‘Forensics Day’ which this year challenged them to investigate and survive a zombie plague. My thanks to Joseph Barratt who was instrumental in putting together an excellent video which set the scene and the challenge; follow this link to see for yourself: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1gqwjA33WkNBVtN_2gGbLKu1Dn8YzjAN_It was a subsequent pleasure to then visit the lessons when the students were applying their scientific knowledge and skills to identify which staff had been infected and with the ‘Solanum virus’ and survive the invasion.
Friday also saw sixth form students and staff come together to celebrate the end of Year 13 exams and support the Cystic Fibrosis charity, a cause very close to the hearts of our sixth formers. Year 12 students joined the ‘Wear it Yellow’ campaign and held a cake sale which showcased some impressive baking skills! A raffle was held for one particular individual cake which wouldn't look out of place in the 'Bake Off'!
Meanwhile, Year 13 held a ‘Summer Ball’ which was led and managed by the students themselves and held in and around the Sixth Form Centre from 6-10pm. With the weather on our side, this proved to be a lovely event and the perfect end to their exams and time at the SNSFC as they embark on the next chapter of their lives. My thanks to all staff, students and members of the local community who supported this event whether this be with raffle prizes, the barbecue, ice cream van, live music from ‘Red September’ and the highly popular inflatables which attracted as much attention from the staff as the students!
Lastly, at the time of writing this update, I have just arrived back from visiting the staff and students taking part in the 24-hour bikeathon which ran from 12:30pm on Friday. I am hugely impressed by the energy and commitment shown by all who took part in this worthy cause raising money for charity; despite the peddling and lack of sleep, students and staff were still enthusiastic and positive when I left them this morning!
As I routinely report, your children are a source of pride and inspiration and I thank-you for your own continued support to ensure they are the best that they can be.
Added/Edited on the 18/06/2018
Since returning from the half term break, I have enjoyed meeting with a number of students who perfectly represent our core purpose and values. I enjoyed a breakfast with the Year 9 students who took part in the Regional Final of the Magistrates Mock Trial Competition in May. It was fascinating to hear of the team’s success in both prosecution and defence, only finishing runners-up to a school in terms of overall points scored. It was a pleasure to meet with them and express how proud we all are of their hard work and subsequent achievements.
I also had the privilege of joining the first meeting of our new cohort of Prefects, led by Mr Owen, Mrs Hills (Head of Year 11 from September) and Miss Saunders (KS4 Student Voice Co-ordinator). This group will play a key role in providing a genuine voice and input into the experience of the Year 11 cohort as well as the wider academy. We look forward to working in partnership with them to support our work to continually improve our academy.
This past week also saw us supporting two national events. The first of these was Wednesday’s ‘Stand Up to Bullying’ day; to support this initiative students across different Year groups, led by our Prefects, came together to take a collective stand against all forms of bullying. The students have produced posters and a video to raise awareness for Anti-Bullying, explaining the differences between being an upstander or a bystander. This has been shared across all tutor groups and can be viewed by following this link: https://youtu.be/-1ulx52d9Hg. Secondly, we joined the minute silence on Thursday as we paused to remember, and show our respect to, the victims of the Grenfell fire and the families coming to terms with their loss.
I am sure that you do not need me to tell you that the World Cup has started! As is tradition at Longsands, each Tutor group in KS3 has been randomly assigned a country being represented at the tournament and are asked to decorate their form room in the colours and culture of that country/team. This not only provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate their interests and talents whilst having some fun but also develops their understanding and appreciation of foreign cultures. To get the ball rolling (apologies for dreadful pun), Friday saw tutor groups taking part in a World Cup Quiz during afternoon registration; this provided 32 picture clues for each participating world cup country. A prize was waiting for the first form to complete the quiz and send all of the correct answers to Mr Lampett; very well done to 8AFI who managed to get their answers in by 1:07!
Please, therefore, be ready for requests for ideas, flags, football kits, colours, food, clothing or famous people from your child’s allotted country; your support, as ever, is much appreciated. In the week beginning July 2nd, the KS3 team and myself will visit participating form rooms and judge an overall winner.
On Friday, parents/carers received a letter regarding our new uniform from September which is to be phased-in by Easter 2019. This applies to all students except the new Year 7 cohort and the current Year 10 (see details in letter). I will be clarifying this message with students in assemblies during this coming week to ensure all are aware of our expectations, especially regarding shoes which are compulsory for ALL students from September. Your support in ensuring that your children are ready to learn in September is much appreciated; please contact the relevant Key Stage team if you have any queries regarding this matter. Please also be aware that we will communicate soon regarding ‘sizing days’ on 2nd and 11th July.
As we enter this week, I am mindful that students in Years 11 and 13 will have completed their external exams by Friday. With children of my own in each of these cohorts, I am very aware of the hard work needed for students to achieve their best and the pressure that is consequently felt. We have all been hugely impressed by the calm, confident and purposeful manner in which the vast majority of students have approached these exams and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all parents/carers for the vital role you have played in ensuring that your children are well prepared for their exams.
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’!