It is the end of what has been one of the most challenging half terms that education has faced probably ever, but certainly in the 20+ years that I have been a teacher. The current pandemic has certainly provided lots of challenges to us as a school and to individual members of the community, but, by working together I have been extremely pleased with the way in which we have managed the situation. The academy has not stood still during this time, we have moved forwards at a pace and had some noticeable successes over the half term that I would like to share with you.
Welcome to Year 7
We started the year by welcoming a record number of 180 year 7 students to the academy and I have been extremely pleased with the way they have settled into academy life. Changing from primary to secondary education is a key life milestone and one that stays with you forever. Doing this during a pandemic and facing the different systems that have had to be put in place to maintain safety makes this transition even harder, but, they have coped with this exceptionally and they should be proud of how they have started.
In normal times wellbeing is at the heart of what we do, but, now more than ever it is essential that we ensure we are looking out for each other even more. As a consequence the academy has invested heavily in the wellbeing support it can offer. Unlike a lot of schools the academy has two counsellors who are on hand to support children who are struggling with a variety of different issues and they take referrals from the pastoral team. In addition to this we have a team of staff who have been trained in providing mental health first aid so that if anyone needs to have a conversation about how they are feeling and needs some extra support we have members of staff who are qualified to do this. There is lots of information displayed around the academy and the mantra of ‘it’s okay not to be okay’ is more prominent now than ever. If you feel your child needs some additional support please contact their Head of Year who can discuss the support we have available.
The team have been working hard behind the scenes and at the start of October we were able to launch our new website. I am very proud of the website as it provides parents with lots of key information at their fingertips. This is the best place for you to get up to date contact information and find out more about academy life.
Transition Visits and Parent Evenings
Due to Covid restrictions we have been unable to hold traditional transition events and progress evenings for year 11 and 7 which normally happen in the first half term. Instead we have had to produce a virtual tour of the academy which has been a real success in showing prospective and current parents more information on academy life. We also ran socially distanced Academy in Action tours and we are expecting another record intake into the academy in 2021. If you would like to see this for yourself then you can view this on our prospective parents web page.
We have also had to hold virtual progress evenings which have been very well received by parents and the staff have enjoyed discussing students achievements. Parents in other year groups will need to keep an eye out for letters later in the year detailing how their progress events will run.
The Farnborough App
We are currently in the final stages of development for the Farnborough App. The free app will be available to download from the app store and google play store and will have full functionality with all apple and android mobile devices. This app will become our number one communication tool in the future.
In the app parents will have access to their child’s Google Classroom account, sQuid account, behaviour and attendance data as well as being able to receive and send important messages between home and school in a secure and fully encrypted modern way.
We know that this will revolutionise the communication between home and school and we have been working hard with a reputable company to become the first academy in Nottingham to have its very own product available in the app store. More information will be sent to parents once this goes live in the coming weeks.
The offer from Google is the way in which all homework and remote learning will be delivered from 2nd November onwards as Show My Homework comes to an end. Google Classroom enables students and teachers to interact with each other and documents are easily shared both ways so students can submit work online and teachers can monitor engagement.
As well as being the platform which will be used for homework, any child who is self-isolating will be able to access the resources and support being used in the lessons they haven’t been able to attend so they can complete work at home and will not miss out on their learning. The expectation will be that any child who is self-isolating should be logging onto their Google Classroom account every day and completing the work that has been set. As this is powered by Google it is available across all devices that have internet access.
All students have been issued with a Google account linked to their academy email adress and only academy created email addresses can access our google suite. This means that we can safely monitor all students and control what they can and can’t see.
All of the codes required, contact details for password resets and further information on Google Classroom will be on the academy website after half term.
This half term we have been looking at ways we can adapt our CEIAG programme to ensure our pupils get the same opportunities, all be it, delivered slightly differently.
All KS3 students are looking at the world of work in their form time learning sessions.
We have developed a virtual careers fair for year 11 to access and have been collating videos and links from all the main colleges and sixth forms. In addition to this Miss Boseley is in the process of meeting with all year 11 pupils to ensure they have started thinking about their future career plans and providing them with the tools to be able to do this. After half term the year 11’s will all have at least one guidance interview with ‘Futures’ (Level 6 careers advisors) who will continue with this process throughout the remainder of year 11.
We have been in constant contact with the businesses who support our ‘Accelerating Confidence’ project to see how we can continue with this, initially without the visits to the workplace. We are looking at delivering the project in school with representatives from the businesses coming to us to deliver workshops. We already have arrangements in place with our colleagues from East Midlands Airport and J Tomlinson Construction. We understand that one of the sessions delivered by EMA will involve them bringing their flight simulator into the Academy. We have launched the project to our year 10 pupils and hope that, if Covid restrictions are lifted later in the academic year, the pupils may have the opportunity to do some workplace visits.
We are also in the process of arranging a full employability day ‘Talk about the Future’ for year 10 delivered by ‘Talk the Talk’ which supports and encourages pupils to be confident in communication.
We have some year 9 pupils signed up for the ‘Brilliant Club’ which is a scholar’s programme which aims to give the pupils an experience of university learning and help them make informed decisions about their future. The pupils will experience small group university style tutorials delivered by a PhD tutor.
A group of year 8 girls were involved in the ‘virtual’ Ada Lovelace STEM event that took place on 13th October. The event was live streamed to the Academy and the girls got to hear from female scientists and all about their career pathways as well as being set challenges by the scientists. The event encouraged girls to think about subjects and careers in STEM.
This half term the Academy were announced as finalists in the East Midlands Chamber Business Awards in the category ‘Education and Business Partnership Award’. This award recognises schools who can demonstrate partnership working with local businesses and how they help pupils develop crucial employability skills valued by employers. We will find out soon if we are the winners of this award.
I wish you a restful half term break and I hope that you and all of your families remain safe and well.
Mr M Jobling
Head of School