Principal Letter June 2017

Dear Parent/Carer,

5th June 2017

I want to thank you all for the warm welcome you have given me, and the huge support you have given to the staff and the students during a very challenging half term.

As many of you have told me during meetings, parents’ evenings or in telephone calls, there is much we can do to improve our provision and communication — especially with you — but there is also much that we do well and I know all the staff are proud that we have such a supportive community. In particular, I want you to know how impressed I have been with the maturity, loyalty and solidarity that our students have shown repeatedly since
Easter. They have more than met my expectations of them in terms of their respect for some uniquely challenging events and I am very proud of all of them.

The overwhelming majority of students here behave well all the time and I have made it a focus so far this term that we ensure we are not excessively harsh for minor and “normal” errors — something the vast majority of parents have been wholly supportive of, including in insisting your children complete sanctions or take responsibility for their actions.

However, there are a minority of students who are making more serious errors of judgement, or making too many of them and it is important we do not allow those behaviours to detract from others’ learning, social time or good reputation. Examples of behaviours I am concerned about are smoking, poor behaviour at the gate at the end of the day (which tarnishes all of us), defiance of reasonable expectations (for example completing work, being polite, being on time) or refusal to attend lessons. None of these behaviours are acceptable in any school because they cause such disturbance for those who are choosing to conduct themselves well.

If your son/daughter is caught smoking, there will be an exclusion and an automatic referral for smoking cessation intervention — and even for those in groups where others are smoking, there will be sanctions as those groups create spaces other students don’t want to go into; that is not the environment any of us want for our children. If students are disturbing others at our gates or on their way home, truanting, or being defiant, there will be sanctions applied, as at any school — and I ask for the support of all parents in making sure the students understand that there are consequences for poor behaviours or bad manners.

Homework and Information on Learning:
Many of you have told me that you would like to see an increase in the amount of homework set, and that you want more information from us about how to support your child’s learning. I will make this a priority for us this half term and ensure that we have thought in detailabout how to plan our year from September to give more opportunities for you to receive the information from us that you need.

The School Day:
Many have also described the difficulties created by the early finish on Wednesdays, so from September this will change. We will revert to a normal school day for all five days of the week, with the same start and finish times on Wednesday as on the rest of the week. This will be amended on the website shortly.

A message for Parents of VI Form students:
While we do not yet have any further information on the status of the VI Form provision, we continue to provide 1-1 advice for all our VI Form students. If you are a parent of a student in Y12, advice and guidance meetings for them are underway, but if you would like to come in as a family to discuss the options for next year together, please get in touch to book an appointment with me or one of the senior team.

A Message for Parents of Yll:
Year 11 have conducted themselves well throughout the exam season so far — please remember to plan time for them to do things other than revision. Equally, while they often seem grown-up at this point, this is their first and most intensive external exam period and they need us to ensure they prepare well and are disciplined in the use of their time. They have made great use of the extra sessions we have put on for them in the lead up to each exam, but they do need to practise working alone too — you can help by insisting they do some independent work at home, providing tea and biscuits and telling them that the only thing that matters is that they can look back with no regrets and know they did all they could. Many are choosing to revise at home in between exams now — but please take the advice of their teachers on this; if they say they need them in for those last minute sessions, please support us and send them in.

For Parents of students in Y7-10:
Shortly Y11 will leave us and we will prepare to admit another Y7 in September. We will be reminding students of our expectations of their good conduct as they effectively “move up a year” and Y10 will start to receive information about their upcoming examination year with us by the end of this month.

I am reviewing the many suggestions I have received from parents, students and staff (some I have referred to above and we have already begun to act on). I will prioritise all suggestions so that we can plan well for a new start in September and ensure that we make our academy a place to be proud of—this last half term will be about improving the culture and atmosphere in our academy so that it becomes a place where all students can thrive and are happy. In the meantime, if you have any additional questions or comments, please get in touch.

Finally, I want to end as I began — by thanking you all for helping us create the right expectations and boundaries for the young people at our academy.

Yours faithfully

Mrs J Langley
Interim Principal