This week, with the draft of the new Ofsted Inspection Framework being published and our first ever Ofsted inspection due this calendar year, it was time for LECA to evaluate its position against the proposed new judgements. The new areas are:
1) Quality of Education
2) Behaviour and Attitudes
3) Personal Development
4) Leadership and Management
My first blog was entitled 'Outstanding from Day 1' and we are still confident this judgement will be awarded to us but there is still work to be done.. The focus away from one of the old judgements, Outcomes, is a welcome one but we will, of course, still drive the progress of our students to meet their end of year targets. For us, quality of education has always been at the forefront of what we do. It encompasses great teaching but also references the broad range of learning opportunities students should have. At LECA, these have been many and varied from Jazz Workshops to DNA modelling to running a business - the list goes on and on - and it is these that we value and believe make us more than 'Good'. Last week, for example, the students were again able to see what the Army Cadets can offer in Ely and many of them left that assembly with a leaflet and a real buzz to at least go and try it out.
Our Key Stage 3 is also three years (unlike many schools who have moved to two) and this means that all students at LECA experience a broad and balanced curriculum for the a full year longer. In our view, it is crucial to give young people a breadth of knowledge and skills for as long as possible before they 'specialise' in Year 10 and we again welcome Ofsted's comments and judgement on this. Behind the scenes, our teachers are also fine tuning the long term plans of their subjects ensuring that the intent and implementation of these plans create a deep understanding of the subject and how it fits into the world around them. The final judgement will of course be the impact it it has - progress and attainment - but the design means that all students will have a much deeper knowledge of broad range of subjects.
While doing this it was clear to us that each year should be titled under a broad themes and 'big' ideas. So, our themes for each year are now as follows:
Identity and Transformation
‘Understanding yourself and others; recognising how and why change happens’
Exploration and Adventure
‘Taking calculated risks; seeking to move beyond the comfort zone to search for answers’
Conflict and Boundaries
‘Understanding, accepting and resolving conflicts; recognising and analysing boundaries’
Freedom and Independence
‘Realising individual freedom of expression and development of views, opinions, ideas and theories’
Innovation and Leadership
‘Understanding the role and importance of creativity and problem solving; scrutinising leadership and understanding motivation’
Each of these themes also clearly feed into two of the of the other judgement areas, Personal Development and Behaviour and Attitudes. Again, Under the umbrella of personal development are the wide range of leadership and development opportunities we give our students. As well as the Student Council, we also have House Captains, the LECA Young Persons Award, Subject Ambassadors and Eco Reps. For each role there are unique challenges and we believe these opportunities are part of becoming an active, positive member of the school and wider community. On top of that, our partnerships with outside agencies such as Centre 33 and Aim Higher, local schools, churches and businesses as well as our close relationship with the Active Learning Trust, mean that our students have countless opportunities to develop themselves as people. School should be a centre of discovery and this reaches far beyond subjects and exam results.
Of course for us to achieve Outstanding is a team effort. Every cog in the wheel is important: students, staff, governors, parents and partners all feed into the Academy and the direction it takes. That's why we don't see the Leadership and Management judgement as one that applies only to the Head of School and Deputy Head. We take pride in responding to advice and feedback and will continue to react effectively to ensure the students have a fantastic experience at LECA. If all of the other areas are Outstanding, we believe this area will be too. It is still a work in progress but one which we all thrive on in this unique position we are in.
Head of School, LECA