I wouldn't normally talk about what is said in a full staff briefing. Most of it is operational and pretty dull to those not inside the Academy (some staff might argue that it's pretty dull if you're inside the Academy but that's another story); lots of reminders and 'heads ups' about the following week. Two weeks ago it was just that, followed by a final word from me challenging the staff to go up another gear and plan how they are going to inspire the students even more next week. On reflection it was both the right and wrong thing to say on a Friday. A tough challenge in really tough working conditions and probably the last thing they needed to hear; they are working incredibly hard and to go up another gear must have seemed impossible. The measure of our staff, however, is their mettle and resilience. What I saw in lessons was more energy, more smiles, and more engagement from students than ever. The teachers and support staff had really stepped up and it was clear that they wanted to prove me wrong! That all made this week's briefing are far more positive experience. Lots of praise, lots of thank yous and even a prize for our brilliant IT Tech Daryl Shaw who has worked his socks off since the beginning of term to ensure we could roll out the testing programmes for our students. He was modest, as always, in his acceptance but the round of applause from staff said it all: we need everyone to go the extra mile at the moment and Daryl had run a marathon. Thank you again, Mr Shaw.
The second round of applause of the briefing came at the end. Earlier in the day I had received a link to a YouTube video sent to me by Lee Brooker, our brilliant school photographer. I lined the link up before the briefing started and played it to the staff at 3.30pm. It was the video we will be releasing to parents on Tuesday as part of our Virtual Open Evening. It is fantastic. Believe me when I say that when you see the shots of the building and footage of the students you will love it. The temptation to release it early is huge but we are going to wait and it will go live on Tuesday at 4pm on our website and linked to our social media. Just a final note on that - every word on the video was unrehearsed and unscripted so what you hear from the students is from the heart. I challenge you not to be moved by what they say!
The second offering for our Virtual Open Evening is the student podcast. Mr Tatham is the host for this one and you will be able to listen to 20 minutes of recorded chat between him and some of our new Year 7s. It's a great listen and, again, was unscripted for the entire recording. They are so honest and funny and you will really enjoy listening to it while you wait for the live presentation at 6pm.
The live presentation will be our chance to tell you as much as possible about life at LECA. We will include information about our teaching and learning philosophy, our curriculum, our support, clubs, sport, leadership, personal development, mental health and a few statistics for you to take away too. Not only that but if you would like to submit a question for me to answer live on the evening, please do get in touch now. The email address for questions is firstname.lastname@example.org and we will collating these until 3pm on Tuesday ready for the presentation at 6pm. Thank you for all the questions you've sent so far, they are already added and ready to go. Our aim, as always, is to ensure no questions are left unanswered and you feel 100% confident putting LECA as your first choice school.
Finally - our lunchtime lecture programme is now fully underway. This week Year 10 listened to me deliver lectures on Macbeth and Catering (not at the same time), Mr Tatham on how to win a million pounds, Clare Williams on her career as a solicitor and Mrs Eastham on the history of pandemics. This week we have another packed week with lectures on: the future workplace; a world record attempt; open source and free software; engineering and ghosts of Ely. It really is a superb offer to ensrich the learning of Year 10 and those who have gone have really enjoyed it. I encourage all students to go to each lecture even if they aren't studying those particular areas and would ask parents help with that gentle encouragement at home. Also, if you have something to talk about for 15 minutes or so please do get in touch and we will book you in.
To all those joining us on Tuesday evening - I look forward to 'meeting' you and don't forget to email those questions in so I can answer them for you. It's going to be a great event. Thank you for your ongoing support.