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Principal Letter 30th October 2017

Dear Parent/Carer,
I write to thank you for your support during our first half term as Great Academy Ashton. The students have been exceptionally wise in their understanding of the opportunity the rebrand gives us to show that we are a GREAT community, with ambitious, dignified and well-mannered students at the centre of all we do.

Some highlights for you include the recent Halloween disco for Y7 and 8; students were exemplary and had lots of fun. Y11 have completed their Geography Field Trip at Salford Quays and many are already attending after school revision – the recent Revision Skills session saw 80 students come and have a go at active strategies to help them prepare for their exams – the GAA Cross-Country club is up and running (literally!) and our extensive Duke of Edinburgh scheme has begun already too. Our cadets have already represented us beautifully at lots of events and I am inundated with requests for their attendance on outdoor courses – all of which give them vital skills for life and opportunities to explore their own plans for their future.

I must make special reference to the GAA 24 hour football event though, led by Ben Smith, our MUFoundation Hub Officer, which raised over £1600 for Believe and Achieve Tameside. Staff and students, with friends from the MUFoundation, kept the game going (in full competitive flow!) for 24 hours non-stop – a massive achievement and a sign that we can all go further than we think sometimes, especially when we are all working together for a common cause.

We have also had our first monitoring visit from our partners at OFSTED, whose job is to challenge us to make sure we are making continuous improvements in our provision for the young people of this great community. I am very pleased to say that the findings are positive, and the next areas for development are those we have identified ourselves and are planning for. If you would like to look at the record of the visit, please go to our website: gaa.org.uk/ofsted

Moving forward – Y11 have their PPEs (mock exams) this half term, if your child is in Y11, please help them prepare by ensuring a quiet workspace, reminding them regularly that revision is best in frequent bursts with rest in between – and encouraging them to attend our extra sessions. This is also college application time, do keep an eye on their progress with this so they meet deadlines and are thinking ahead.
Y9 are going to start thinking about futures this half term too, with a focus on Careers and further study routes before they consider their GCSE options after Christmas. You can help by talking with your child about which areas they are interested in and exploring with them whether they think they are looking at applying to university in a few years or considering work/apprenticeship options. They may not know yet – but starting to consider it is always better than leaving it too late.

Attendance and important changes – all reward trips will be linked to attendance and punctuality. All absences need to be followed up with a note in the planner or letter to the Attendance team. Should your child need to go home ill from school, for the wellbeing and safety of your child they will need collecting by a parent/carer or other adult family member. From the start of the next term, we will no longer be authorising absence for minor ailments. Please also use the Attendance Team Email: Attendance@gaa.org.uk.
This year so far: Target 96%

If you are a parent in KS4 you will receive your child’s assessment information (all students receive a termly update but for Y10 and 11 there is also a mid-term report) – if you have any questions about this, please get in touch with us and we will be happy to help. Remember that assessment information is changing to a continuous numerical system for all students nationally and we do know this can be confusing, so please ask if you are unsure about anything.

Finally – can I say that the overwhelming majority of GAA students have behaved beautifully this half term and they deserve your praise. There are some who are making rapid improvements and they too deserve our respect. For the minority who are struggling – it is important that we all work together to ensure we are holding them to account for poor behaviour; if you know your child is not being co-operative or disrupts others, please make sure you are supporting us as we try to give them every chance to improve. We cannot tolerate the learning of the majority being disrupted by a few, so do support the sanctions we use to deliver a consequence when students have let us down.
Enjoy your half term – we are looking forward to seeing all GAA students back on November 6th at the usual time. In the meantime, why not follow us on twitter? @gaAshton_news

Yours Sincerely
Jenny Langley

Principal

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