Welcome to my latest blog, a chance for me to update you on what has been happening in a very busy few weeks here at Queen Elizabeth's.
We have had confirmation that now the academy has been rebrokered to DALP, Ofsted and the government recognise that we need time to embed the changes that we are putting in place. Therefore, they have nominated us as a 'fresh start school', meaning that our Ofsted rating is wiped clean and we have two years before they will return, (rather than the termly monitoring that we had previously), at which point we expect to achieve a Good grading. We are delighted that our staff and pupils have the time and space to embed those changes, and we know that this only spurs us on more to know that the agencies have complete confidence in us to make the progress needed.
We are also celebrating very positive numbers coming in to year 7 in September, a testament to the hard work which has been done to improve our reputation within the community.
In January a group of 10 pupils met with our Chair of Governors, Peter Mabbott, to talk about how the Academy was doing, what was working well and what could be improved. My blog this week focuses on our response to their concerns and wishes, outlining the progress that has been made so far.
Mr Mabbott will meet with the group again in April to determine whether they feel the difference and what else can be done.
Students told Mr Mabbott that poor behaviour in lessons and around the academy was a concern.
We reviewed the behaviour pathway (with students' help) in January to include tougher measures for disruptive pupils. AER is now more of a deterrent since we extended the day for those students until 4.30 and we ensured that students have lots of work to complete, in silence.
Students felt that they wanted more space at social times because the field was closed due to poor weather.
We brought in the 'phone zone' in the main hall where pupils could use their phones or tablets. We also put 'Planet Earth' on for students to watch on the big screen. There has been a dramatic rise in students sitting down to eat hot dinners because they enjoy being in the hall.
There are too many supply teachers and there is sometimes a high level of disruption in those lessons, a particular issue in Science.
We have successfully appointed 2 permanent staff, but we have had the same supply teacher (a science specialist) since January, covering for a member of staff on maternity leave. We have a vacancy advertised currently and hope to fill the post by September, by which time we will be slightly over staffed in Science, a commitment to the subject.
We only have 2 other supply teachers in the Academy currently, both of whom report settled, calm classes who are making good progress.
Both of these are to fill vacancies that we have currently advertised, 1 in maths, 1 in modern foreign languages.
They wanted more varied activities at social times and after school.
We have developed a nail and makeup bar which will be run by yr 11 students and will be open at lunchtimes and after school. Students will be able to use large mirrors to cleanse and moisturise, apply make up and have a manicure, hand massage and have gellish nail varnish applied.
We have been in touch with NATSKA who run a go kart school championship. They are going to provide us with 4 go karts to get us started and students will study race tracks, maintain the cart in our vehicle workshop and train in essential track safety, before preparing to take part in races all over the country. We are very keen for any family members to take part with us, it is very much a family sport so if you have a family member who may be keen to help, please let me know. Www.natska.co.uk
The Duke of Edinburgh Award starts in September, teams will start to apply for places after Easter. Teams will do training in survival and map reading, advanced orienteering skills and this will lead to a 2 day expedition where students have to carry everything they need, find their way through the countryside to check points and then stay in a tent overnight, completing the expedition the next morning. Teams will cover approximately 30 miles over the two days.
We have a homework club which is run after school in the library Monday and Thursday, 3-4.30pm to support pupils who would find it useful to have a qualified teacher supporting them with their studies.
We are looking into buying some temporary ramps to develop a mini skate park in school, allowing students to develop their skills on scooters, skates and skateboards. We are currently researching the health and safety requirements!
We have secured a choir group who will have the chance to practice one lunchtime per week.
We also have agreed for our very talented woodwork club to open their doors to pupils on a Thursday evening 3-4pm.
We have a robotics club starting up soon which will be a lunchtime club for those pupils who enjoy electronics and can recycle our old computers and electronic equipment into working robots.
They would prefer for tutor time to be first thing in the morning.
We have changed the school day to allow tutors to have the first 30 minutes of every day with their tutor group to talk about behaviour, attendance, progress. Period 1 now starts at 9am.
They wanted a non uniform day.
Students had one in December, we have another one planned for March 31st. We will use the opportunity to support our local foodbank so will ask pupils to bring contributions of dried or tinned food (e.g a tin of beans).
They want more trips and enrichment activities.
We have developed a comprehensive programme of trips and visits to benefit all pupils, including a trip to the beach, a London visit and a theatre group who are coming in to school to perform Macbeth to all of year 9.
We also had our first (of many) school discos in February as we celebrated Valentine's Day.
We have a summer ball planned for June, and then, of course, the year 11 prom.
We know that we have lots to do in our quest to be the academy of choice in Mansfield, but we hope that you'll agree that we are making very positive strides.
We would like to run our second parent forum after Easter, please could you email Donna Percival on firstname.lastname@example.org if you are happy to be part of it, the forum is a chance for us to run academy decisions past you, to ensure that we have considered the views of parents in all of our major changes. Any and every parent is welcome, we would like to hear from a broad base of our parents so that we can ensure that we are listening to our key partners.
I have enjoyed meeting many of you at parents' evenings over the last few weeks, and I have listened to the views of parents at our year 9 options evening who told me that they wanted GCSE computer science to be offered as a course in year 10. We have made arrangements to meet that need. We are also exploring the opportunity for us to deliver psychology and business studies as an optional programme after school for any pupils who want to pursue those avenues.
If you have any queries about the changes happening in the academy please do not hesitate to email me on email@example.com.
Acting Academy Director