|Headteacher's Previous Messages|
Added/Edited on the 12/03/2018
As we entered this past week, our focus shifted towards Year 11 as they began their second set of mock exams which will continue into this coming week. Whilst these exams share similarities with those sat in December, the process involved is markedly different with students receiving a much more guided experience which aims to develop their exam technique and confidence ahead of the real exams which are fast approaching. As such, the levels achieved in these Walking Talking Mocks are very much in the shadow of the experience itself and the review process which is conducted afterwards. In order to support your child, I would urge parents/carers to discuss with them their preparations, whether they were able to answer all questions in the time allowed and the feedback they have received; acting on this now will be invaluable in helping them maximise their final outcomes in the summer.
Mrs Chilton has challenged students in Year 10, and staff, to a ‘Touch Typing Competition’ which requires all participants to copy text from the screen as fast as they can as they are scored on their words per minute and accuracy. Students are free to improve their score outside of these sessions with the aim being to encourage them to enhance their skills; there are also opportunities for students to train on the website. Winners will be announced on Friday 16th March with the best performing tutor group winning a pizza party and the three top performing students from the year group receiving a £25 Amazon voucher. As someone who types with two fingers, I wish everyone the very best of luck!
It was great to see so many parents/carers of our Year 10 students on Wednesday as they met with staff to discuss the progress which their children are making on their GCSE courses. We were delighted with the level of attendance and positive feedback we received; many thanks to all who attended.
We were also pleased to welcome author Alex Scarrow to the academy on Wednesday after the snow interrupted our plans last week. Students in Year 8 met with Alex who shared his experiences of novel writing and ran workshops to help students develop their own creative writing skills. He reported very favourable on the engagement and conduct of your children.
On the trips front, students on the ‘Intensive Literacy’ course enjoyed a visit to the Fitzwilliam Museum on Thursday whilst we waved farewell to Mrs Sparrow and a small group of year 13 students as they set-off for Estonia and the Erasmus biotechnology conference. On Saturday, Mrs Howell will be taking 14 Year 9 students to the Crown Court for a magistrate’s mock trial competition; good luck to all involved, I will update you further next week.
Finally, it has been a source of considerable pleasure to receive updates on so many students who are enjoying and achieving in a range of disciplines both within and outside of the academy. This has included Joseph Barratt, Gary Evans, Lucy Wood, Charlotte and Harry Boston and Scarlet Thompson to name but a few. In addition to celebrating their successes on social media, we are also planning to create displays around the academy with the intention of inspiring others to dream big and work hard. We receive information from a range of sources including parents, friends and the students themselves so please do contact us at the academy if you also feel that your child has achieved something which you wish to share with us, it does not have to be connected to a school activity. Your children give us all so many reasons to be proud of them.
Added/Edited on the 05/03/2018
This week has, for many, been dominated by the weather and I would like to take this opportunity to say thank-you to all parents/carers who have worked with us to ensure that their children have maintained their attendance at school and not let the conditions interrupt their learning. A decision on whether to remain open during adverse weather conditions is driven by safety considerations, both with regard to travelling conditions for staff and students as well as the safety of the site. In common with many schools, keeping an ageing building operating always poses a challenge in extreme weather conditions and this week has not been without its issues! I am very grateful to our site team who have worked tirelessly to maintain our site and ensure we have been able to remain open.
In light of the conditions, we have also been impressed by the manner in which students have conducted themselves, especially at breaks and lunchtimes when they have clearly enjoyed the snow but in a manner which has not adversely affected others. Learning walks by senior staff have largely reported that lessons have remained calm and focussed.
Whilst sporting fixtures have had to be cancelled, a number of other events have continued this week including the Year 13 Geology trip to Lulworth Cove in Dorset which departed on Wednesday and returned safely on Friday. My thanks to Miss Rose and Mr Dickerson for leading this visit who, on Saturday, reported, “We made it home safely yesterday after a really long and slow journey that started with us having to dig the bus out! After some heroic snow driving from Mr Dickerson, we made it back at about 8:30pm. The students were very patient and helpful and an absolute credit to the school; we are really proud of them.”
On Wednesday, we heard the great news that Year 11 students Tom Hurrell, Cliona Blackwell and Evan Marlow, who have completed an application form and sat an Arkwright Scholarship exam, have been invited to an interview at Cambridge University in the last week of term. We are incredibly proud of their achievement to date and wish them well for the interviews; my thanks also to Miss Bell, Emily Jack and Matthew Cossins who are supporting them through the process.
On Wednesday, we also welcomed 200 students and their parents/carers to the Year 12 Future Pathways information evening which focussed on non-university pathways such as apprenticeships and the world of work; many thanks to all who attended.
On Thursday, we acknowledged ‘World Book Day’ with Mr Seymour leading assemblies, tutors running a quiz and Mr Hynes (Librarian) handing out 600 free books at lunchtime on Friday. Unfortunately, author Alex Scarrow was unable to make the journey due to the snowy conditions so will be visiting students next week.
Also on Thursday, Mrs Andrews and Mrs Rose took 30 Year 10 students from across the Trust to Wadham College Aspiration Day in Oxford. This proved to be a fantastic opportunity for students at the start of their GCSE studies to gain an insight to university life; staff reported that they were exemplary ambassadors of the Academy, even holding their own when debating with a Law Fellow!
Lastly, we were humbled by the kindness shown by all students who supported Chelsie Gilmore (7PRR) and friends who ran cake stalls during breaktime on Wednesday to Friday in order to raise money to support family member, Ethan, who is fighting cancer. The girls, supported by Chelsea’s mum, Miss Redmond and Miss Bingham, got off to a fantastic start, raising £109.50 on Wednesday alone. The final total was an amazing £415; many thanks to all who baked and bought.
If you are a parent/carer of a Year 9 student, please be reminded that Wednesday 7th March is the deadline for the GCSE options form.
Added/Edited on the 26/02/2018
After welcoming back students and staff from successful trips over half term to Poland (RE) and Austria (ski trip), it was heartwarming to then receive the following feedback from a parent of a Year 8 student who visited The National Holocaust Centre and Museum in Newark on Wednesday: “I just wanted to email to say what a fantastic day my daughter had on her school trip yesterday. She talked non-stop when she got home about how much she learnt and how valuable it had been to have the experience of talking to a "holocaust survivor". It truly gave her a valuable lesson about the terrible events that happened and also gave her some time to reflect and make her realise how lucky children are today. Thank you again.”
In staff briefing on Friday, Mr Nunnery also gave the following feedback from the trip: “115 Year 8 students met with a 90 years-old Polish holocaust survivor who talked to them about his experiences. At 11 years old he worked in a labour camp, spent 18 months in an orphanage in a Jewish ghetto and lost 81 members of his family. Whilst at Birkenau, he was lined up as Dr Josef Mengele was making selections for his surgical experiments; he noticed what appeared to be happening and switched queues, a move which saved his life. He joined a transit to Czechoslovakia after which he was lifted to Britain where he has lived ever since.
He reported that, after working at the museum for 21 years, the students he spoke to from Longsands were the most engaged he had ever met; they were a true credit to themselves and the Academy.”
On Wednesday, students in Year 11 also listened to the experiences of someone who had experienced and overcome significant challenges in his life. John Hoskison was once a well-known and respected professional golfer who made a fateful decision which resulted in him spending 3 years in prison. John has since been touring schools, universities and young offenders’ institutions, sharing his experiences and the lessons he has learnt. As is commonplace, our students listened respectfully to his story and the guidance he gave concerning risk taking behaviour and having the resilience to accomplish goals and ambitions. John’s final words of advice were to ‘work hard and be nice to people’ which echo the academy’s own core values. He was also highly complementary of the conduct of your children and the respect they showed him.
Elsewhere this week, Mrs Sparrow took a number of Year 7 students to the Lego Mindstorm competition where the students competed against 6 others schools and came away with a certificate; well done to all those who took part.
Year 9 students and their parents/carers have been busy attending GCSE options interviews whilst those Year 11 students who have indicated that they would like to join the St Neots Sixth Form next year, attended their own options interviews with the sixth form team. We have been impressed with the level of engagement in both of these processes by students and parents alike, thank-you.
Congratulation to Emily Jack who has been invited to speak on a panel at the ‘Making A Difference: Women in Leadership’ conference on the 10th of March; very well done Emily.
Congratulations also to the students who enjoyed success in the 500-word story competition; the 4 winners won Amazon vouchers and their work will soon be on display in the English corridor. During this coming week, students and staff will acknowledge World Book Day (Thursday 1st March) which is the focus of assemblies led by Mr Seymour and Mr Willis as well as form activities. Author Alex Scarrow will be joining us on Wednesday to speak with students and free books will be issued in the Ritchie Hall at break time.
Lastly, many thanks to the 734 parents/carers who have already signed up for the ‘SIMS Parent App’ which provides live data on your child(ren); Mrs Jarvis will be issuing a reminder this coming Friday for those who still wish to engage with this app but have not yet done so.
Added/Edited on the 12/02/2018
A key message to students during the final week of this half term has been the need to pause and reflect on the power of words, both written and spoken, in terms of the positive and negative impact they can have on others. This message has been delivered through our ‘Pause for Thought’, which, this week, focused on Holocaust Memorial Day and this year's theme, the ‘Power of Words’, and has included assemblies and form-based activities. In addition, we also promoted Safer Internet day’ (Tuesday 6th February) which aims to promote safe and healthy use of the internet and social media. Students in Year 7 were set a scavenger hunt on Monday where 4 students from each tutor group followed e-safety related clues to questions around the academy. The two winning tutor groups were AAK & BMM who enjoyed a pizza party during lunch on Tuesday; well done to all who took part. Parents are invited to read our Facebook post on ‘net awareness’ if they would like advice and guidance on how to keep their children safe and happy online.
A significant number of other trips and events have also taken place this week. On Monday evening, Year 10/11 students who study Dance at Stageworks performed in front of family and friends as part of their examination whilst, on Thursday, students studying Visual Arts also presented an exhibition of their work; well done to all and many thanks to those who lent their support.
On Monday, the History department took Year 13 students to an exhibition of Soviet art in Cambridge whilst Classics students enjoyed a trip to the theatre to watch an Aristophanes play (a comic playwright of Ancient Athens). On Wednesday, Year 11 students visited Cambridge for a ‘Poetry Live’ event to support their English studies. On Thursday, we bade farewell to students in Years 8-11 as they departed for Poland with the RE department and, on Friday, waved off students and staff headed for Austria to enjoy a week of skiing.
It has been a proud moment for Year 13 student, Melissa Quail, who received the results of her participation in recent UKMT maths challenges where she came 7th overall and is now the joint top girl in the UK. As a result, she has been invited to be part of the UK team at the European Girls’ Mathematical Olympiad in Florence, in April; I am sure that you will agree that this is a truly remarkable achievement. Our Police Cadets enjoyed a similar level of pride as they took part is a ‘passing out’ ceremony on Thursday; these students are our first cohort to have taken part in this scheme and we are delighted that they have engaged with it so positively.
Personally, I have enjoyed meeting a number of key stakeholders during this past week. This has included 18 parents who, on Wednesday, joined me to discuss our proposed new uniform; many thanks to those who attended, your valued feedback will be presented at the next governing body meeting where final decisions will be made regarding the uniform itself as well as its launch. I also had the pleasure of meeting students in Years 7-9 at a series of breakfasts where I was able to congratulate them on their outstanding learning habits which has resulted in them enjoying and achieving; this was also a valuable opportunity to discuss their views on our academy and identify areas where we can make improvements to support students’ learning environment.
On Friday, we said a fond farewell to our Chinese visitors who have been with us for the past fortnight. The students have integrated seamlessly into academy life and have impressed all with their work ethic, politeness and good manners. It has been a delight to watch and listen to students sharing aspects of their respective cultures and, in a world which, at times, seems increasingly divided, this has been a source of considerable inspiration and hope. Lyn, a member of the visiting staff, expressed her thanks to staff for their patience with the Chinese students and commented on the good behaviour of Longsands students as well as the warm welcome extended by the host families and the student buddies. I cannot thank all those who supported our guests enough; your hospitality has ensured that the students had a great experience in the UK.
Added/Edited on the 05/02/2018
A particularly busy week began with us welcoming 20 Chinese students and two members of staff to Longsands Academy. Having already visited Cambridge on Sunday, the students were met by their Year 8 & 9 buddies during period 1 before continuing their experiences of the UK and life in an English school. They have since integrated seamlessly into lessons and general academy life and are polite and courteous to all they encounter; we look forward to sharing our cultures further during this coming week.
At the start of this week, we also launched an Alumni with the aim of building a community of ex-students who may wish to share their journeys since leaving us to not only inspire our current students but to also potentially act as mentors, provide work experience opportunities and assist with our general careers guidance; many thanks to all those who have already responded.
On Monday, I also had the pleasure of providing lunch for the Year 8 boys’ football squad who have achieved so much in the National Cup and who conduct, team spirit and work ethic has been an inspiration to us all.
Following Holocaust Memorial Day on Saturday 26th January, Mr Willis and Mr Owen have been busy delivering assemblies under the banner of this year's theme, the ‘Power of Words’; these have been very emotional presentations which appear to have had a significant impact on students and will continue into this week. Follow-up activities taking place during form time will ask students to consider how their words, including those used on social media, can have both a positive and negative impact on people's lives.
Wednesday felt like a week in a day with numerous events and activities taking place. Firstly, the ‘Young Ideas Factory’ was launched to Year 8 students by representatives from Mick George who are leading and sponsoring the event. The students’ journey can be followed on the Longsands and Mick George’s own social media sites (https://www.facebook.com/YoungIdeasFactory), please do take a look.
Meanwhile, Year 11 listened to a truly inspirational presentation by Steve from ‘Learning Performance’ which promoted independent revision strategies to support exam preparation. Later in the evening, we were delighted that so many parents/carers were also able to attend a similar session which focused on support which they themselves could provide in conjunction with that offered by the academy. Later in the week, a number of targeted students also had a guidance interview with a specialist advisor from the local authority to support their post-16 choices. Our combined efforts can only have a positive impact on the learning and final outcomes of your children.
Whilst Years 7 & 8 received their second Progress Review of the year, our current and prospective sixth form students were busy receiving a number of key updates. Year 13 received their mock results following exams sat at the start of the term, providing a timely indicator of potential exam performance and a motivator to step-up to achieve even more. In the evening, parents/carers of our Year 12 ‘Access to A Level’ students joined staff for subject consultation meetings. The St Neots Football Club, a key provider of opportunities for students studying at the St Neots Sixth Form, presented to a number of Year 11 students from Longsands, Ernulf and other schools across the region on scholarships available during the coming academic year.
On Thursday, 24 students in Years 10 and 11 took part in the UK Maths Challenge (UKMT) where one question asked them to work out the total value of all the new £5 notes the Bank of England printed and another to work out the number of claps per second achieved by the American man who holds the record for number of claps per minute (1020!). We look forward to receiving the results in the near future.
Finally, a letter was sent to all parents of students in Years 7-10 with initial responses to the valuable feedback we have received from parents/carers and students about our proposed new uniform. Our next steps are to meet with any parents/carers who wish to join me on Wednesday of this coming week before all feedback is presented to the governing body where final decisions will be made; this will be communicated soon after the half term break.
As I have the pleasure of stating so often, your children continue to be a source of considerable pride and we thank-you for your continued support.