December 2016 Principal Update

Dear Parents and Carers,

As we approach the end of the Autumn Term, 2016, I wanted to take the opportunity of writing to you. When I was appointed Headteacher in August, I made clear my commitment to the whole school and local community, my ambitious plans to make The Whitehaven Academy a good school that we can all be proud of; that commitment is undiminished despite recent events.

Ofsted

During my first few weeks, I put a clear plan in place to improve outcomes for all students based on effective teaching and learning. Ofsted have made clear in their report that although it is too early to judge the impact of my plans (they arrived 5 ½ weeks into my first term) the approach I am taking, based on effective, clear and consistent leadership, is the right one.

I have an ambitious two year plan in place to transform the academy called a ‘Post Ofsted Action Plan’ which I will share with you at the next Parents’ Forum on Thursday 19th January 2017 at 6.00pm.

End of term arrangements

School will finish for Christmas on Friday 16th December 2016. The day will operate as normal for registration, morning lessons and lunchtime. At the end of lunchtime, 12.40pm, students will be formally dismissed to begin their holiday. I would have preferred to run a normal school day, however, parents have contacted the school to inform us that many of their children in primary schools finish at this time, and we reluctantly have had to change our plans accordingly. The Spring Term 2017, begins on Monday 9th January at 8.50am.

School site

There have been many discussions, both publicly and privately, about the quality of the school buildings. Whilst I am firmly of the view that what happens inside the building is more important than what the building looks like, I am clear that the academy is in desperate need of new facilities. I will be using every political and educational forum open to me to lobby for this outcome – our children deserve no less.

In the meantime, there are some structural upgrades happening over Christmas and the coming months, including window replacement and redecoration of some social and classroom areas which, together with the new toilets and canteens fitted over the summer, will improve the environment considerably.

Transport changes

Cumbria County Council have made changes to two of our bus services, T6303 (Thornhill, Egremont) and T6306 (Frizington, Cleator Moor), in line with recent new legislation. Drivers will no longer be able to take cash payments from students, so students using these services will need to purchase a seat in advance or use an alternative bus service. Students who have a bus pass will not be affected. Please contact the main reception for advice, if your son/daughter are affected by these changes.

Strike

I am working with the teachers, unions and senior colleagues in the Trust to arrive at a mutually agreeable outcome to the proposed strike action. Should strike action become unavoidable, I will ensure all plans for how we will run the school will be communicated, in full, on the school website, SMS text, Facebook, Twitter and the radio.

Unions are currently consulting their members on a ballot for strike action and notice short of strike action. The earliest any strike action can occur is in January 2017 and, if it does happen, not all unions will be striking at the same time. My aim is to minimise educational disruption as much as possible, especially for students who are in Key Stage 4 and have examinations.

Important dates

Please see below some important dates listed below for the Spring Term, 2017:

 

  • Tuesday 17th January – Year 8 Parents’ Evening
  • Thursday 19th January – Parents’ Forum
  • Monday 23rd to Friday 27th January – Sixth Form Mock Examinations
  • Thursday 26th January – Year 9 Parents’ Evening
  • Monday 30th January – Year 11 Raising Standards and Sixth Form Open Evening
  • Monday 6th to Friday 10th February – Year 11 Mock Examinations
  • Thursday 16th & Friday 17th March – Rock Challenge Regional Heats
  • Wednesday 5th April – Year 10 Parents’ Evening

Key events from the Autumn Term 2016

It has given me great pleasure to lead and participate in some big events during the Autumn Term, all of which have made me very proud to be a part of what makes The Whitehaven Academy a very special place.

  • Our Rugby and Football teams have secured some excellent wins over the course of the term, and are clearly a force to be reckoned with. My thanks go to their coaches Mr Laurie Black, Mr Liam Campbell and Mr Tony Hetherington.
  • A group of students took part in NuGen’s Bright Sparks events and won awards for Best Overall Project and the Most Innovative Project. Their energy efficiency plans are to be implemented thanks to the sponsorship of NuGen.
  • We have held some phenomenal charity events over the term and have managed to raise thousands of pounds for worthy causes. These events include the Macmillan Coffee Morning, Children in Need, Christmas Shoe Box Appeal and we still have our Christmas Jumper Day on the final day of the term.
  • I have been amazed this week by our many talented students. Monday evening saw the “Whitehaven’s Got Talent” event, which showed off a variety of talents and was eventually won by Willow Jarvis who wrote and sang her own song.
  • Last night I was privileged to attend the Rock Challenge Showcase Event, which was simply superb. I am so looking forward to seeing the final polished performance at the regional heats in Carlisle next year.

Finally, Ofsted made some really positive comments about how courteous, polite and well behaved our students are. I didn’t need Ofsted to tell me this, since I see this in and around the building on a daily basis. I would like to thank them personally, and the whole community, for the trust you have placed in me and for your support this term. I will continue, undaunted, to put my heart, soul and brains into ensuring that The Whitehaven Academy becomes the best it can be, and a school we can all, once again, be proud of.

I wish you all a happy and Merry Christmas and hope that 2017 brings success to you all.

Yours faithfully,

Mr Warren H Turner

Headteacher