At LECA we have always been completely transparent about our ambition to be Outstanding. We said it from the first blog - one that was picked up and published by the Ely Standard - and we have set about putting the foundation work in over the last twelve months. This year we aim to do even more work to ensure no stone is left unturned, so when the team of inspectors come in next year we will be more than ready.
This week Amanda Spielman (Chief Inspector at Ofsted) made a keynote speech about how inspections are changing from September 2019. There will be a shift of focus from quality of teaching, learning and assessment to a broader remit of 'quality of education'. Some say this is to challenge schools who focus too much on exam skills at the expense of a broad and balanced curriculum, especially at Key Stage 2 and 3. We firmly stand with the latter and we also believe that the curriculum we offer in Key Stage 3 is exciting, challenging and enjoyable for our students. While some schools have sidelined the Arts subjects, for example, in favour of offering more time time to Maths and English, we have placed them central to our curriculum with a thriving Art and Music department and a resident Dance school operating out of our studio on Friday evenings. This year we are also working towards the nationally recognised ArtsMark award and not being content with a bronze or silver award, we are going straight for the gold. Mrs Way is coordinating and collating our evidence over the year and we believe we will be in a strong position to achieve this level by the end of the year.
In PE also, we offer a huge range of opportunities for our students. Just this week Mrs Emmess launched her 12 Hours of Sport challenge in partnership with the Malcolm Whales Foundation. The event will take place on December 7th from 7am - 7pm and the students have already begun their fundraising for this fantastic charity. We will also offer students the chance to complete the Dorset Walk in July - further details can be found here and more will follow in the new year.
In another change to Ofsted Inspections, the section on Personal Development, Behaviour and Welfare will be split into two distinct halves from next year. Again, we have done a huge amount of work in all of these areas in the last few months and we welcome the chance to prove that we are outstanding in this area. Like many schools we have a Mental Health lead (Mr Tatham) and a number of groups which we facilitate throughout the week including our Wellbeing drop in, Mindfulness group, LGBT group and, of course, our Pop-Up Church. All of these groups mean that every student has the opportunity to talk or offload or discuss issues that are important to them. This week we also began surveying our Year 7 students using some incredible software called PASS (Pupil Attitude to Self and School). The software asks the students 50 questions about school life, teachers, lessons, homework, preparedness to learn and so on. From this, we can then generate a report which shows clearly what we need to do to help every single student. It pinpoints areas which students need some help in and we are then able to design interventions and strategies to address them.
With behaviour, we have set the bar high. Low-level disruption is the worst kind in lessons and we tackle this firmly using our simple but effective Consequence System. Disruption at LECA is extremely rare but when it does happen, Mr Tatham has designed systems to address it quickly and effectively. The Restorative Justice approach is now embedded so very small number of students who do repeatedly talk in lessons and therefore stop the learning, attend an after school meeting on Monday afternoons where teachers are available to discuss what went wrong. Having this open, honest dialogue between teachers and students is vital to create strong relationships and will, over time, mean that the vast majority of students will have a positive experience of school.
Also under the umbrella of personal development and welfare is our focus on careers and employer engagement. We are fully committed to raising the aspirations of our students and exposing them to a wide range of experiences over the year. We have already engaged the Skills Service with Year 7 back in September - their first experience of running and leading a small business. Later in the year we will visit the National Space Centre and the Big Bang Fair as well as welcoming visitors from the Armed Forces, Fire Service, the NHS, and the legal profession. This half term Year 8 have also been busy researching local businesses and writing letters inviting the managers of those businesses in to speak to them about their sector.
This week, to celebrate the achievements of our first ever Year 7 group last year, we are holding our inaugural Awards Evening this Thursday. There are a number of categories including 100% Attendance, Mindset of the Year, the ALT Resilience Award and many more. We look forward to welcoming the award winners and their families to the event and also our two guests for the evening, Marilyn Toft (Director of Professional Development for the Active Learning Trust) and Si Taylor from Jon Egging Trust who we will be working with throughout the year.
Finally, it was hard fought afternoon of home fixtures against Thomas Clarkson Academy on Wednesday. Year 8 played with pride and commitment on the rugby field and the netball court but came away with tight losses. The Year 7s took the limelight this time: 10-0 winners for the netballers and 6-5 winners for the rugby team. The key aspect for both Year 7 teams was the marked improvement from two weeks ago. They were organised, athletic and skilful and thoroughly deserved their victories. Well done to all of the teams involved and we look forward to the next outing.
Head of School, LECA