|Headteacher's Previous Messages|
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.
Added/Edited on the 29/01/2018
A focus of this week has been collating and responding to the feedback we have received following the distribution of a letter detailing our proposed new uniform for next academic year. This feedback has expressed a range of views which have been highly positive as well as providing some very helpful suggestions regarding the uniform itself and/or its introduction. A letter responding to a number of initial queries and concerns will be issued this week and will also give details of when parents/carers can meet with myself, Mr Riddick (Director of Operations) and a representative from our supplier, SWI. Alongside the governing body, we fully intend to give full consideration to all of the feedback received and work closely with all parents to arrive at a final decision which will be announced in due course. Please be aware that the proposed uniform is on display in the main school reception.
With 14 weeks to go until the first external exam for Year 11, the Key Stage 4 team have launched a reward card for students who attend revision sessions, details of which will be issued in a letter to go home this week and presented to parents/carers at the ‘Learning Performance’ presentation on Wednesday. Our joint support for students facing external exams is critical at this time of year and I hope that you will be able to join us at 7pm in the Ritchie Hall.
On Tuesday, our Year 8 footballers played in the 7th Round of National Cup, one of only 16 teams out of an original 690 who entered the competition. Whilst they were beaten by a team from St Albans, they should all feel very proud of their achievements; they have been a credit to themselves and the academy and I look forward to congratulating them formally at a lunch on Monday. My thanks to Mr Walker and all those parents who supported their son during this incredible journey.
On Wednesday we received some great news about two of our students - Robert Clark (Year 12) has been accepted on the ‘Inspiring Excellence Programme’ (a week-long residential course) for Environmental Chemistry at Villiers Park in Cambridge. In addition, we were delighted to hear that Willow Stevens in Year 9 has been invited to the ‘Children of Courage Awards’ in March to receive an award in recognition of her selfless support of her Mother. Our thanks to Mrs Davis for nominating Willow and for her continued support of this cohort of students.
Wednesday also saw us welcoming the parents/carers of our Year 9 students to subject consultation meetings, following our Options Evening last week. Once again, we were pleased with the level of engagement with this important aspect of our support for these students; many thanks to all those who attended.
This year, ‘Holocaust Memorial Day’ was held on Saturday 27th January under the banner 'The Power of Words'. During this coming week, the Academy will use this opportunity to reflect on one our central core values, ‘care and respect for self and others’. In tutor times, students will be asked to focus on how the words they use every day can be used for good. Mr Owen and Mr Willis will also be leading assemblies on this theme, exploring the impact that words had in the Holocaust and subsequent genocides, through propaganda used to incite, through slogans written in resistance and through memoirs written to record and respond to what was going on. This focus is an extension of our commitment to ensure students can make a positive contribution to school and civic life.
Lastly, we look forward to welcoming 30 Chinese students and staff who will be our guests for the next 2 weeks. Year 8 & 9 students will be acting as buddies and will formally greet their Chinese buddy during period 1 on Monday; my thanks to them for their kindness and support.
Added/Edited on the 22/01/2018
I noted with some interest the story that the BBC ran on Friday of this past week which discussed the findings of a survey of 20 000 children by the Education and Employers careers charity which asked children, aged seven to 11, in 20 countries, to draw pictures of the jobs they wanted to have when they grew up. In The UK, the findings revealed some already entrenched gender stereotypes with girls opting for careers such as teacher, vet, doctor, nurse, dancer and hairdresser whilst boys were more likely to want to have jobs such as sportsman, working in social media, police, airline pilot and mechanic. The charity concluded that young people needed to be introduced to different types of careers at an early age.
At Longsands Academy, our core purpose states our commitment to the learning and experiences of our students as well as their final outcomes. As such, our Careers, Education, Advice and Guidance (CEIAG) strategy, led by Mrs Martindale, is a key aspect of this vision. There is much good work that goes on throughout the year with a growing programme of events targeted at all year groups and all students, whatever their gender, background and aspirations. During this week, for example, all students in Year 9 met with a range of people from the world of work to discuss aspects of their chosen profession. We were delighted to welcome a range of professionals from a wide range of fields including creative & expressive arts, construction & engineering, catering, public relations and product design, many of whom challenged the stereotypes highlighted in the survey. I am delighted to report that the students engaged superbly with our guests.
At the start of the week, I had the pleasure of speaking with a Senior Lecturer from the University of Bedfordshire who is running sessions for the Royal Institution Master Classes who offer us 6-8 places each year. She is currently working with four of our Year 8 students (Jack Gunstead, Max Ruffles, Max Lubello and Jerry Williams) who are attending the master classes at Cambridge University for 5 Saturday mornings this half term. Organised by Miss Bell in our maths department, previous attendees have been Annerley Salter, Abigail Hall and Scarlet Lane. The lecturer took the time to contact me to say what a pleasure it was to work with the students, describing them as “a credit to the school, their parents and their teachers”. This is the first time we have known a lecturer to take the trouble to find out which school students are from and feedback indicating what fantastic ambassadors these students have been; very well done to you all.
Clear advice and guidance has always been a key requirement of those students approaching transition points in their lives. On Thursday, we welcomed parents/carers of our Year 9 students for a GCSE Options Information Evening to support forthcoming options interviews which are scheduled for after half term; many thanks for all those who attended, we look forward to seeing you again to discuss your children’s progress at parents’ consultation meetings this coming Wednesday.
Year 11 students have also been attending destinations meetings to support their post-16 choices whether this be A Level studies, apprenticeships, college courses or the world of work. For those wishing to attend the St Neots Sixth Form, please note that the deadline for applications is Monday 5th February with interviews calendared for the week beginning 19th February. To further support this process, the sixth form team held an information evening on Thursday to support those students who may benefit from our 'Access to A Levels' provision which is a 1-year suite of qualifications aimed to support those who wish to advance to A Level studies but have not yet quite met the entry requirements.
Other highlights from this week include the news that The Shakespeare at The George Trust have approved our application for a bursary of £1000 which Mr Griffiths now intends to invest in new radio microphones to enhance future school productions and performances. Lastly, on Friday, I had the pleasure of having breakfast with a number of Year 10 students who have demonstrated exemplary attitudes to learning across all of their subjects. I was struck by how much these young people engage with outside of the taught curriculum and the obvious enjoyment and achievement they are experiencing as a result; they are an inspiration to us all.
Weekly Message |
Added/Edited on the 15/01/2018
There has, once again, been much to praise our students for both on an individual and collective basis as they continue to enjoy and achieve in a range of disciplines within and outside of the academy.
A first for Longsands was the achievement of the Year 8 boys’ football team who played in the sixth round of the National Cup on Wednesday, away to Debenham High School from Stowmarket. At the end of normal time and a pulsating game, the score stood at 3-3 with goals from Glen McConnell, Jaiden Bell and Ciaran Pearsall. The match, therefore, went to extra time and further goals from Joe Jackson and Jaiden Bell ensured that Longsands ran out 5-3 winners. The team are now through to the last 16 in the country and we have fingers crossed for a home tie; very well done boys.
On Friday, the English Department organised a Youth Speaks competition which required both Year 8 and 9 students to present a 10 minute speech, to our partner Rotarians, on various topics, including space exploration, homelessness and body image. A huge well done all those who took part, the judges were very impressed by the quality of all of the presentations. After a close competition, the winners were Nicole Sealey, Rory Oscroft and Madeleine Humphrey with their speech on homelessness; they are through to the next round where they will be competing against other schools in the local area. Many congratulations.
During this past week, I was contacted by an exhibitor from the EDGE careers fair at Woodgreen which was attended by a number of our Year 11 and 12 students in December. The exhibitor was incredibly impressed by the young people she came into contact with and commented, “I just wanted to write and congratulate you for doing such an amazing job with your students. There were many interested in engineering, which for us (a small local engineering company) was really encouraging, especially the number of girls that were thinking of studying STEM subjects. Your children were engaged, engaging and polite; they were enthusiastic and keen to make as much use of the time they had with us.”
On an individual level, we received the fantastic news that Melissa Quail in Year 13 has been accepted by Cambridge University to study maths at Trinity; well done Melissa, it is much deserved. We were also delighted to hear from the parents of Scarlet Thompson in Year 7 who has been appearing in Jack and the Beanstalk at The Cambridge Arts Theatre. Scarlet has just completed a run of 32 performances in her first professional role after being chosen from 160 children who originally auditioned. We are all impressed by Scarlet’s energy and commitment.
In Science, we were delighted by the manner in which a small number of our students engaged with the BP Ultimate Challenge where they conducted their own experiments and edited videos, showing the process and outcomes. These videos can be seen on our Youtube channel (please follow the link on our website); I am sure that you will be equally impressed by the efforts of Amit Solanki, George Boothby, Toby Walden, Nathan Jones, Izzy Warner, Charlotte Baker and Hannah Jeff.
Elsewhere, this past week saw us welcoming parents/carers of our Year 11 students as they received feedback on recent mock performances as well as guidance on how they can support their children in responding to the results and preparing for the real exams in the summer. Many thanks to all those who attended.
Our focus now turns to Year 9 students as they make decisions about the subjects they wish to study at GCSE next year. During this week, students will be asked to reflect on their learning habits by all subject teachers (this review can be found on pages 25-35 of the logbook) and, on Wednesday, students will then receive their second Progress Review of the year which will include staff assessments of students’ attitude to learning and academic progress. On Thursday, we look forward to welcoming parents/carers to the academy for an Options Evening where general information and advice will be provided as well as the opportunity to gain some more bespoke guidance from subject representatives. This is all intended to ensure that students and parents/carers are fully informed for formal discussions at Parents’ Consultation meetings on the 24th January and then options interviews starting after half term.
As you can read, your children continue to work hard to be the best they can be and I have been struck not only by the obvious enjoyment students have taken in aspects of their learning but also the determined manner by which they have approached a range of opportunities to better themselves. I have included images showing students working in targeted groups with staff and their older peers as well as the impressive number who attended Science CREST club after school on Friday. These provide examples of how much goes on without major fanfare; as parents and staff, we have much to be proud of.
Added/Edited on the 08/01/2018
Happy New Year; it was great to welcome back students and staff to the academy after the Christmas break and I am pleased to be able to report that students have made an overwhelmingly positive start to the new term.
We returned to some fantastic news about two of our Year 11 students: Myles Robinson-Young and Christopher Ferguson who have achieved considerable success in their respective sporting disciplines of swimming and football. Both students provide a source of considerable inspiration to all members of our learning community and we wish them every success in their endeavors. Further details can be found in separate posts on our Facebook site.
In addition, Myles competed at the Winter English Nationals Swim competition in December. In total Myles achieved 1 silver and 3 bronze medals including a number of personal best times!
We also returned to an official letter of thanks from the ’Show Racism the Red Card’ organisation who wrote, “We are extremely grateful for the support that you and your organisation have shown towards our charity. This generous contribution will help us to continue the work that we do to tackle racism through anti-racism education.”
On Friday, Year 9 students listened to a presentation from Mrs Breakspear and Mr Owen which provided information and advice about the GCSE Options process. Students subsequently received an Options Booklet with a supporting letter detailing the process and key dates being sent home to parents/carers.
On Thursday, we welcomed back a number of ex-Year 13 students and their families for the formal presentation of their A Level certificates. The event also afforded the wonderful opportunity to hear about their initial experiences of work, travel and university and we were, as always, left feeling inspired by all that the young adults have gone onto achieve.
During this coming week, our current Year 13 students will begin their mock exams which provide the opportunity to assess and then develop their knowledge and skills before the summer exams.
We look forward to welcoming parents/carers of Year 11 to subject consultation meetings on Wednesday when discussions will focus around recent mock exam performance and the next steps required to further improve outcomes. Beforehand, please take the time to review your child’s self-review in each subject which can be found on pages 25 – 35 of their logbook.
Lastly, on Friday, students in key stage3 received letters inviting them to take part in the Bronze or Silver Science CREST awards; I hope that many take-up this excellent opportunity to further enjoy and achieve.