Firstly, as I come to the end of my first term, I would like to thank you for a very warm welcome to the fabulous George Salter Ormiston Academy.
I am delighted and privileged to lead such a positive and lively school in which young people are encouraged to thrive and achieve high standards. The young people at George Salter are wonderful in so many respects. However, as I said to staff recently, this does not happen because of some bizarre from of alchemy, rather it is because of the dedication and care of our team and the partnership with you as parents. Thank you for your continued support.
In my first address to staff and students, I said that I would take the time needed to get to really know George Salter before looking to change anything. In this respect I have been as good as my word meeting regularly with staff, parents, governors and OAT representatives, spending a lot of time in lessons, doing duties and attending whole a raft of enrichment opportunities (including a simply wonderful Year 11 Prom). I have tried hard to understand the GSA culture and by that, I really do mean the way we do things around here.
At the end of this term I have worked with the senior leadership team on a restructuring of our roles, shadowed students and staff when writing whole school reviews on the provision for Disadvantaged White British Boys, SEND students, and drafted an academy development plan to secure further improvements. As regards the latter, we have put the child at the very centre of the plan; we have articulated as a staff what we feel our current learners are like and what we would like them to be. All of our actions will have this vision in mind. For 2018/19 our key plans will be:
- a rigorous and unrelenting focus on improving the quality of provision in all classrooms for all students and all ages – something all schools should always have as their number one priority
- empowering middle and senior leaders to drive change and raise standards still further
- accelerating the rates of progress of disadvantaged students
- narrowing the gender gap in achievement
- incentivising and rewarding young people
Our key professional development theme in 2018/19 will be that of "challenge". Given all the recent changes to our examination systems, it is hugely important that we expect more of our young people in all classes and in all years. Rest assured, we will do so in such a way as to ensure accessibility, engagement and enjoyment. My number one priority is to improve the quality of talk in classrooms; only through discussing their learning with peers and adults can young people deepen their understanding.
Over the course of the past two weeks I have been fortunate enough to attend two Sports Days (one was an Ormiston event) and a PE celebration evening. I loved celebrating our many successes and encouraging children to respect failure in order to learn from it. I am fully aware that we have a responsibility to educate the whole child and I am very keen to ensure that we continue to care for the physical, emotional and mental well-being of our children.
Sport has so much to offer in this respect, as does the wonderful work undertaken in our pastoral programme. I am also aware that there is a range of enrichment opportunities to take part in from Friday Fun, Performing Arts workshops to Duke of Edinburgh expeditions. These activities must continue and I am excited at the thought of visits abroad and skiing planned for next year.
This term I have been in an awful lot of lessons. Particular highlights include being inspired during a visit to an English lesson where students were responding to the horrific Windrush scandal, which has, shamefully, only recently hit the headlines. Their use of persuasive language was exceptional and their opinions powerful. I was enthralled in a Year 7 Science lesson where students were discussing exothermic reactions and tried to convince me that I could buy a can of coffee which would self-heat when opened! The very best part of my job will always be my visits to lessons and I am lucky enough to be impressed by what I see when I do get to spend time in classrooms. I am fortunate to be working with a team of dedicated professionals who are eager to share their practice, learn from each other and continue to do the very best for the young people in their charge.
Ahead of the summer holidays can I please draw your attention to the uniform policy which really is very sensible and was very recently sent out? In particular, I would remind you that we require students to wear polishable shoes and school trousers which are not leggings. Please do not be seduced by the signs in some shops offering Back to School wear which is, in fact, anything but. Similarly, can I also remind you about our rules regarding piercings and hair colour. We allow students one stud in each ear and no other piercings. Hair colour must be ‘natural’. There is inevitably much time wasted every year waste din all schools in discussion with young people about uniform issues; let this be the year that this does not happen at GSA. Thank you for your support!
School will close for the summer holidays at 12:40pm on Friday 20th July 2018. We have agreed our CPD days for the year when students will not be in school and these are listed below with our term dates for 2018/19. We return after the summer holidays on Wednesday 5 th September 2018: Years 7, 12 and 13 to arrive at 8.45am; Years 8 – 11 to arrive at 9.50am.
Term dates 2018/19:
Autumn Term – Monday 3rd September 2018 – Friday 21st December 2018. (training days: Monday 3rd and Tuesday 4th September 2018; half term: Monday 29th October 2018 – Friday 2nd November 2018).
Christmas Break: Monday 24th December 2018 – Friday 4th January 2019
Spring Term - Monday 7th January 2019 – Friday 12th April 2019 (training days: Monday 7th January 2019 and Friday 12th April 2019; half term: Monday 18th February 2019 – Friday 22nd February 2019).
Easter Break: Monday 15th April 2019 – Friday 26th April 2019
Summer Term – Monday 29th April 2019 – Friday 19th July 2019 (May Day Bank Holiday: Monday 6th May 2019; half term: Monday 27th May 2019 – Friday 31st May 2019; training day: Monday 1st July 2019).
I do wish you all the very best for a great summer. To the young people I say- stay safe, be active and read a book!
Thank you for your support. "Onwards and upwards"
Read previous Blog posts @ The Blog Archive: 2018