Welcome Letter

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Welcome Letter

June 2019

 

Dear Parents/Carers

Welcome Letter

Firstly, I would like to introduce myself as the new Headteacher at The Hereford Academy. The opportunity to be the Head at this Academy was one I could not pass up. The incredible potential of your children and the desire amongst all, at this Academy, to do the best for those in their care, led me to accept this post. I have successfully taken other schools out of Special Measures and look forward to reporting to yourselves when this event happens here also.

It is an interesting experience taking over a school in Special Measures, in that the potential is so obvious within the establishment. In my first week I have met a number of colleagues who are committed to doing the best for those in their care and wish to provide the education that your children deserve. However, it is a three-way process involving parents/carers, students and staff. Hence why I am writing to yourselves to explain our aims for the forthcoming year.

We should not though forget where we were. The Academy cannot just change Head and improve, it is a process that continues throughout the years. We are aiming to significantly improve upon last year’s results with the current Year 11 and then to build upon this with the current Year 10.  

In the new academic year, we will continue to further improve until we reach our aim of becoming an outstanding school. Our priorities will remain on: 

  1. Continuing to improve the quality of teaching: There is a dramatic improvement from when the Academy was placed in Special Measures however it is now about the consistency of a high standard in all lessons. To support teaching and learning in the classroom we have introduced a series of expectations for students regarding their performance in the classroom. Mr Davies and Mrs Hughes (Associate Assistant Headteachers) will write home later in the term to share those expectations with you. Lessons are a two-way process; just like in the home, students are aware of what is acceptable and what is not, however, clarity is always helpful.

  2. Continuing to improve the GCSE results and progress of all students in the Academy with the aim to be consistently above the national average. The targets for achievement will continue to be set to allow students to aspire to their potential. At the same time, we will report whether your son/daughter’s progress is on track to achieve their potential rather than just their current level or grade. The potential of your son/daughter is something we want to work with you to unlock, so as they will gain from their time at The Hereford Academy. Mr Snelgrove (Deputy Headteacher) will write home to yourself, outlining fully the curriculum in place at the Academy for your child, in the next few weeks.
  1. Ensuring each student has an attendance of at least 95%: this year our attendance between September 2018 to Easter 2019 was 91.8%. As we all know, good attendance does lead to good achievement. We thank those parents/ carers for their continued support in this area.

The government have recently made amendments to regulations regarding attendance at school and these came into force on 1st September 2013. The amendments make clear that Headteachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances. In such exceptional circumstances, Headteachers determine the number of school days a student can be away from school if the leave is granted. Please note, that under these amendments, family holidays do not qualify as exceptional circumstances.

The strongest factor in underperformance at GCSE is irregular or poor attendance and it is our belief that we would be failing in our responsibility if we sanctioned time off school in all but the most exceptional circumstances. In such circumstances, requests for the school to authorise absence should be made to me, in advance; not in retrospect. I enclose a copy of the school calendar to help parents/carers plan for the academic year and maximise their son/daughter’s attendance in school. Every lesson missed is an opportunity missed. Conscientious students get work in advance from teachers and make up any written work missed as soon as they can, but group activities, oral work, practical work etc, simply cannot be made up, so students inevitably lose out and their progress is affected.

The following statistics clearly show the dramatic impact that poor attendance in term time can have on achievement:

  • 95% attendance and above will give you a 73% chance of achieving 5+9-4’s in your GCSEs whatever your ability.
  • Below 90% will give you only a 27% chance of achieving 5+9-4’s in your GCSEs whatever your ability.
  • 90% attendance sounds good but one day off in ten over the five years at Hereford is equal to 95 days which is 19 weeks and nearly a half of a whole school year.

Our own data from last year supports this national pattern and I hope this helps to explain my lack of flexibility in this area and why we strive so hard to exceed all our attendance targets.

  1. Continuing to improve the literacy and numeracy skills of all students: Poor literacy skills will act as a barrier to learning and, as a consequence, students’ ability to learn is limited. To achieve improvements in these areas we have added a literacy hour into our curriculum for Years 7 and 8 next academic year. We will also be regularly testing reading ages assessing students’ comprehension of the written word rather than their ability to read hence giving a better indicator of their ability to achieve in examinations and life skills. Mrs Hughes (Head of English) will write home later in the new term to keep Years 7 and 8 parents/carers abreast of their child’s progress.
  1. Changing our pastoral structure so that parents/carers and students can access the support they deserve over issues such as attendance, behaviour, bullying and support. We will be implementing a House based pastoral structure for September 2019 and Mr Edwards (Assistant Headteacher - Student Welfare) will write to you with more details in the forthcoming weeks. The existing, superb, Pastoral Leaders team will continue to support underneath this structure.
  1. Continuing to improve behaviour for learning so that all students have an opportunity to make good progress in all their subjects. The number of exclusions and incidents of low level behaviour has fallen within the Academy however it needs to continue to improve. Next academic year we will be introducing a ‘Refocus’ unit. This will be staffed by two behavioural specialist learning support assistants and subject specialists. All students have an entitlement to learn in a safe and caring environment. However, there is a need to ensure that all understand their role within that. Those that prevent life chances of others, will unfortunately also limit their own.

The new term has seen us welcome several new members of staff including myself and there will be others for September who I will introduce then. I am delighted that colleagues have chosen to work at The Hereford Academy as I am very confident they will contribute significantly to the Academy’s improvement journey.

Every day the school is engaged with parents/carers across a wide range of issues. In the vast majority of cases students and parents/carers are more than satisfied with the way the school deals with the issues raised. However, if you feel that you have raised a matter with us and believe that we have not dealt with it appropriately, then please contact me by email (head@theherefordcademy.org.uk) or by writing to me at school.

We are always keen to evaluate our practices, and as a consequence of feedback from parents/carers, have been looking at communication between home and school together with parents’ evenings. There is a need for more formal communication via letters and information regarding the successes that your children have achieved hence the introduction of half termly newsletters; the first of which will come out at the end of the Summer term.

I am looking forward to meeting with parents/carers of all students over the coming weeks and months. My colleagues and I look forward to working with all students and also with you during the coming academic year. 

Yours sincerely

Michael Stoppard
Headteacher

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