This week was a landmark not only for the nation but for LECA too. While all other safety measures remained, students were finally back in normal teaching rooms and teachers reclaimed their classrooms. These both seem like minor changes but the difference it will make to students and staff will be massive. Teachers need a space to display their students' work; to have a desk to work on; a place to hold their books and resources. Under previous protocols, this just wasn't possible and there was no ownership of spaces. Now there is, and one of the tasks I've given them all is to create a room that makes them proud and to promote learning and progress as we move out of lockdown and back to normality. It will take a couple of weeks but in that time, the classrooms at LECA will be back to their best.
It was fantastic to see the students back after Easter and this time it felt very different. It was positive and calm and purposeful and the feeling of dread concerning COVID and lockdowns feels like it has lifted. The huge amount of vaccines that have been deployed and, it has to be said, the glorious weather has helped, no doubt. Nothing brightens the spirit quite like sunshine and blue skies and there was something very symbolic about it, like it had all been planned.
Now I know that some of you think that staff training days are just a bunch of teachers and support staff catching up over endless cups of coffee! I'd like to dispel that myth and tell you a little bit about what we did on Monday. To begin, I welcomed the staff back and talked about something that became the theme of the day: Re-setting. With lockdown easing and the students returning back to normal lessons, the clear message was to return to teaching the best lessons we can teach and to give our students the best feedback so they can make great progress. Then Mrs Starling spoke about the importance of promoting reading every lesson and gave the staff some other brilliant ideas for getting lessons started with a range of activities to activate learning. Mr Tatham followed with new operational procedures and some reminders about how best to manage classes. This was a vital and timely session and one he never tires of delivering. The key message was one we pride ourselves on at LECA: professional warmth. Get to know the students well and work with them. It is never 'us and them'.
Mrs Eastham followed Mr Tatham with a session on Equality and Diversity with a particular focus on our LGBTQ+ community. This is wide-ranging strategy that is driven through knowledge and language and is now reflected in the diversity of our House figureheads. Not only this but Mrs Eastham is also leading on our journey to achieve the nationally recognised Rainbow Flag award, showing our dedication to equality and diversity and the support of our LGBTQ+ students at LECA.
After coffee (the irony isn't lost on me) Mrs Paul and Mr Charko, our newly qualified SENCO, guided us through some core strategies to help our students with SEND make great progress. This included creating a SEND-friendly classroom and the use of technology to enhance learning as well as utilising our brilliant team of TAs to have the most impact every lesson. This is a vital part of our development this year and I firmly believe that with a sustained effort across the team, LECA's SEND provision will be just get better and better. To track this provision, we have also invested in Provision Mapping - a superb piece of software which will be a 'one stop shop' for all our strategies we use for each student. This will be populated this term and fully rolled out in September.
Following this, Mr Jones delivered the remaining two sessions with a clear focus on high quality teaching and high quality assessment and feedback, skilfully designed and delivered by each faculty area and accurately measures learning. Mr Jones' delivery of complex ideas was superb and the afternoon session (after coffee and lunch) was lively and productive, promoting lots of discussion and debate. Well done to all of my team for delivering such insightful and, above all, useful training. I am lucky to have such a great team around me.
The assembly message this week was simple: Let's re-set, re-start, show pride in all our work and to above all be INSPIRED in everything we do. It's been a brilliant week and we're really looking forward to a brilliant summer term at LECA.