Lift Off! Launching the 2019-20 Academic Year
As we approach the end of our first half-term, I thought it might be useful to summarise some key moments and achievements in a brief blog post.
It has been a hectic, but hugely enjoyable, 7 weeks… 10 new teachers, 129 new pupils, a whole new floor of our magnificent building in use, and new football pitches to finally use! Oh, and not to mention 123 wonderful Year 8 pupils to welcome back too! It’s been totally brilliant.
Teaching here is a privilege. The pupils are beautifully behaved and want to learn – they are so curious and polite. It really is a joy to teach such enthusiastic, respectful pupils. Just like last year, misbehaviour has been very rare. We still have zero fixed term exclusions and zero permanent exclusions. Very few incidents of isolation. The school is a happy place to be. We are warm. We are strict when we need to be. This approach works! For the record, I really don’t like the label strict… I prefer ‘high expectations’. Teachers are incredibly friendly and have high expectations in terms of pupil behaviour, learning, attendance, attitudes and so on. Why would we have anything else?
Amazing behaviour means remarkable teaching and learning. We are blessed with a brilliant set of teachers, they are all so good at what they do. Our pupils are lucky. Our 10 new teachers have settled in well and, with a lot of hard work and determination, have made huge gains and are massive assets to the school. The school’s founding teacher team isn’t bad either!
This year, just like the last, high-quality enrichment has been (and will continue to be) a huge focus of the school. Pupils choose their activities which we call Electives. Year 7 pupils have already completed their language Electives – German, Italian, Mandarin have been offered, in addition to French. Year 8 STEM electives have included scientific documentaries, food technology, scientific experimentation and working on action for climate change. Mandatory fencing is taking place too, just like last year.
An incorrect accusation sometimes levelled at us is that we don’t participate in school sport. What a load of nonsense! We LOVE participating in school sport. We will always fulfil our fixtures. In Year 7 and 8, for both boys and girls, we have entered league and cup competitions in a variety of sports. The girls are involved with netball and football, the boys are involved in rugby and football. At the first city-wide cross country meet, 41 of our pupils ran at High Hazels Park! 38 ran at Longley Park! If this isn’t dedication to school sport, I don’t know what is. All pupils will represent the school in a school sports team this year – this is the goal and we will achieve it.
The Creative Arts play a central role in school life. We are lucky to have exceptional new colleagues in art and music, who join our wonderful dance teacher in the Creative Arts team. All of them are incredibly passionate about establishing a culture of artistic performance. Orchestra, choir, art club, percussion group, showband, automatic drawing and dance classes of all kinds are up and running. This is just the beginning. In June/July 2020, we will be offering our very first full-stage musical! Watch this space...
We are working hard. We are doing our absolute best to make sure our pupils get the opportunities they deserve. On rare occasions, the odd false rumour is still circulated about our remarkable school. Don’t listen. Come and visit. Speak to pupils and staff. Speak to parents. Open-minded visitors are welcome.
Our Open Events welcomed over 1,500 people again, well over 600 families are considering our offer. We were really humbled to welcome so many inquisitive families. It’s been a good start. As ever, there is so much more to do and the staff are loving every second. Thanks to parents, staff and pupils for their continued support and encouragement.
Joshua G. Fisher