Headteachers Letter – 24 Oct 2018

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24th October 2018


Dear Parent(s)/Carer(s)

It has been a really exciting start to the term at Shrewsbury Academy.

Lots of new initiatives were launched at the start of the term, alongside the re-affirmation of many of the schools rules and policies.

This is an overview of some of the recent goings on at the school.

Session 6
I am delighted to report that attendance to the newly introduced Session 6 has been high. Students and staff have commented on the positive effects that this programme has had on their learning. I would like to remind all students and parents that everyone is welcome to attend a Session 6, and in addition to this we will write home to require the attendance of specific students who we feel are in need of extra support.

Uniform Expectations
Ahead of the new term I did write to you to make clear the expectations on uniform and unfortunately on the first day we still had to send a large number of students home who were not in the correct uniform. It was fantastic that these teething problems were soon rectified and that we now have a school where students meet our expectations. Two weeks ago we notified parent(s)/carer(s) that we would be doing a spot check on uniform after the weekend. I was delighted that we only had six students who for various reasons presented without all of the correct uniform, and even these issues had been ironed out within an hour. I want to take the opportunity to thank you for your help with this, it is essential that we have high standards in this aspect of school life.

Mobile Phones
I took the decision to ban the use of mobile phones inside the school building from the start of September 2018, in order to bring the school in line with other successful schools around the country. The positive effect of this has been heartwarming to witness, Students have adapted really well, and there seems to be a much more social atmosphere at break and lunch times.

More frequent Progress Reports and Rapid Response Weeks
Students in Year 8 -11 will be receiving their first progress data reports just after half term and this will be part of a half termly reporting cycle that will keep parents better informed of effort and achievement levels.

Students in year 7 will receive their first progress reports after the first full term in order for the data collected to be an accurate reflection of their first term.

Once the progress reports have been issued there will follow a ‘Rapid Response’ week in school. During this week there will be a real focus on closing the gaps in learning and staff will be contacting home to seek help in addressing concerns across the curriculum.

We will endeavour to ensure that parents do not receive phone calls from up to 10 different subjects across the school, but rather, these are grouped into a few key phone calls. I would ask that you are supportive of this drive towards ensuring that your child’s academic progress is the focus of any contact we have with your during this week.

Please check your child’s planners regularly. It is a useful way to have a snapshot of any behaviour concerns and a way of communicating with form tutors. Homework is often recorded in planners, as well as being available on Doddle.

If you are struggling with the Doddle system in any sense, please notify your child’s form tutors.

Parents Advisory Council
A huge thank you to all of the nominations received for the next Parents Advisory Council. It was an absolute pleasure to receive such a high number of applicants.

There are over twenty parents who have been selected to attend the initial meeting of this group on Thursday 25th October 2018.

I look forward to sharing information regarding their work in my next letter.

Headteacher’s Lunches
I have recently had the pleasure of having lunch with students from both Year 11 and Year 8. It was brilliant to hear their views on learning, behaviour, Session 6, buildings and all manner of other issues. I look forward to the Year 7, Year 9 and Year 10 lunches in future weeks.

Behaviour is very much improved this term. Students have commented that they feel more supported that any student who distracts lessons is removed.

The number of students removed from lessons is also significantly reduced from the summer term.

The data collected clearly highlights that the vast majority of students in the school are keen to learn and we have been working hard to inspire these willing students.

We have kept the system of students being removed from lessons that we started in the summer term

Senior staff patrol the school throughout the day. If a child is removed from a lesson, they will not return to it. If they are removed from two lessons in a day they will be placed in our Isolation Unit, or sent home depending on the severity and frequency of issues arising.

We also run a system of Isolation for when students are not able to access normal lessons due to a prolonged period of poor behaviour/or more serious offences.

From the 5th November, isolation will run from 08.45am until 4.00pm Students who work to the best of their ability throughout the day will be allowed to leave at 3.00pm at the discretion of the Isolation room staff, parent(s)/carer(s) will be notified if your child is to be released early.

If a student refuses to work, or misbehaves in the Isolation unit, they will repeat the day until they meet the expectations of the Isolation room.

These measures are necessary to ensure that students who wish to learn are allowed to do so without unwanted distractions. Excluded pupils will be expected to attend a reintegration meeting in school with parent(s)/carer(s) before they can return to classes.

It has saddened me greatly that I have now permanently excluded six children from school, but please take this as a sign that my Senior Leadership Team and I are very serious about ensuring students can flourish and we will not buckle under the pressure of hard decisions in order to protect the learning environment for your children.

Use of Supply External Teachers
One of the concerns from students and parents last year was the amount of external supply teachers used in school. The rate of staff absence was high and costing the school a great deal of money and not giving students the consistency that they wished for.

I am delighted that in contrast to last year, as we approach the end of the seventh week before half term we have used just two external supply teachers for one day each, and have also managed to cover lessons predominantly with subject specialist amongst our own staff.

This is not to say that we will not hit an unfortunate spell of sickness, because all school’s do, but we are managing things more effectively.

I also want to acknowledge that there are many very talented Supply Teachers who add value to schools.

Exciting news on this front we have a planned re-vamp of the HUB at the Corndon Crescent Campus site.

The vision for this area is to turn it into a room that is multifunctional and serves the purpose of nurturing students and also promoting Independent Learning, the facility will have 28 computers, fully stocked revision material for all subjects and relevant reading / research materials for our students.

Year 7 Students
Year 7 students have settled into school life extremely well. We are really looking forward to having them all with us in January 2019.

New Partnerships
Working alongside colleagues at thriving schools and colleges is essential in order to help us become the school that we are striving to be. Many of our Head of Departments have buddied up with their equivalents at Thomas Telford School and The Hadley Learning Centre in order to develop good practice and improve examinations results.

I am also able to announce that we are about to embark on a partnership with Shrewsbury School that will see our students experience studying at their prestigious campus and being taught by some of their leading Math’s practitioners.

We are also about to start working alongside Meole Brace School to share Teaching and Learning best practice.

Future Events
In January 2019 we welcome Gary Wilson to the school, the Country’s leading expert on Boys Achievement. Gary will be presenting to staff as well as delivering an evening session to parents. Details as to how to book a place will soon be available for this event.

I am really looking forward to this week’s Talent show which promises to round off the half term on a positive note. Rehearsals for this year’s school show ‘Legally Blonde’ have started and are also promising to help us have yet another fantastic event later in the year.

I hope that all our students have an exciting half term break and that they come back to school, refreshed and ready to go until the Christmas break.

Yours sincerely

Mr J Arnold
Headteacher – Shrewsbury Academy

Posted on 24/10/2018 in ,