I normally write this Blog on a Sunday but I am making an exception this week having seen the weather forecast and because it will be the final one of the year! Instead, this is being composed on Friday after one of the strangest weeks in my time at LECA. I've tried not write about COVID too much in the last few Blogs but the third wave has led to a return to what feels like January and February 2020 before the eventual closure of all schools in March. This week has been tough! My senior leadership has been down to two, from six; the whole of my pastoral team have been isolating; several support staff are out; 60 students are not here. But, once again, LECA have pulled together and delivered for our students and ensured we can operate without closing a whole bubble (or closing completely). I am immensely proud of my team, as always. I have asked them to cover lessons, do extra duties, deal with pastoral issues and much more besides and all of them have stepped up just like the last time. Thank you and well done to all of you. Have a good rest this weekend.
Below, in another break for the norm is a blog about the hugely successful Dorset Walk written by Mr Hughes. Thank you to the team who guided the students up and over the hills of Dorset and brought them back safely. It is a fantastic event and fantastic charity.
The Dorset Walk 2021
On the 8th of July a group of 27 year 10 students and four staff from LECA set off for the Dorset coast for a gruelling challenge. For some of the group this was the second time taking part, or even the third time (if you include the non-Dorset walk that took place last year).
The challenge is to walk more than 40 miles, ascending and descending over 18,000 feet over three days. LECA were joining four other schools and a group of adults to raise money for the Malcolm Wales foundation - A charity that supports people dealing with cancer. So far this year LECA has raised £1725, Scott has individually raised £350. Please visit the just giving page (link below) to donate if you wish to add to our total.
Day 1. We were up bright and early on Friday to be the first group to leave camp. All the schools were walking in their separate bubbles. Students and staff were dropped off in Weymouth to walk to Lulworth Cove. The sun was shining and we were ready for about 6 and a half hours of walking. The scenery was beautiful with epic views over the Jurassic Coast line. There were some strenuous climbs and descents (some sliding on their bottoms). We walked past the famous Durdle Door and plodded on to our finish at Lulworth Cove. That was the first days walk done, there was sun scorched skin, a few blisters and aching legs all-round. We returned to camp, got cleaned up then spent the evening in Swanage. Fish and chips were call of the day, then watch as the sea gulls attacked!
Then to bed, no trouble sleeping tonight!
Day 2. We woke up to light rain, which would to be with us all morning, this was probably the hardest day. We returned to Lulworth Cove, walked along the pebble beach and then started the climb out of the bay. All the rain had turned this into a mud slide, there were several casualties, I think it was Mr Griffiths that had the most epic fall, but it was only mud- nothing that would hold us back. We walked along an isolated stretch of the coast line, with views inland of the tanks of the MOD land. We had lunch in the abandoned village of Tynham (evacuated in WW2). There were several substantial climbs cumulating in the Houns-tout-cliff which stands at 490 feet right at the end of the day. LECA showed great resilience and teamwork with some students going back down to carry the rucksacks of those struggling, most notably Toby and Charlie. Everyone was very encouraging of everyone else. For me this is one of the biggest parts of the Dorset Walk. Day 2 was long and tiring! We walked for about 7 hours and finished in Kingston.
Day 3. The final push! Less climbs today but more miles, 15.1. It was dry, not too hot, great walking weather. Archie was finding it really tough with 9 blisters. By now LECA students were used to walking a good pace for long periods of time, and they stuck to the challenge including the ‘escalator’; basically lots of steps down and up. By the time we got to Swanage it was clear we were all going to make it. We said good bye to Mr Storey, and plodded on with the Football starting to occupy our thoughts. Towards the end we made a couple of mistakes following the wrong path and coming down to the beach at Studland bay too early, this meant even more miles just when we could see the finish line in sight, we regrouped and finally achieved our goal. We decided to walk over the line as a team because that is what we were. Not a single member had thrown in the towel.
We returned to camp with the feeling of satisfaction of what we had achieved and excitement of what was to come that evening. Unfortunately we cannot have everything, and after the football we went to bed late, tired and a little disappointed. When we got up the next day, it was to heavy rain, many tents in puddles and it was time to pack away and start our journey home, the roads were flooded, we were soggy, but we had done it.
Well done to every student and staff member that completed the 2021 Dorset walk, you should be very proud of yourselves, this is one tough challenge.
I would like to thank Mrs Edwards, Ms Mulqueen, Mr Griffiths and Mr Storey for their support on this trip.
Until next year!
This being the final Blog I would normally reflect on the year before but this has been well documented throughout my posts on here. Instead I want to focus on looking forward.
In September, we welcome our next cohort of Year 7s to LECA and for the first time in our history we will be full and at capacity of 600 students. On that note, I recorded a Year 6 Transition Video this week and for all our new students and parents. I hope this is useful to you and answers some of the nagging questions you may have had over the past few weeks. We will also be rolling out a brand new curriculum, designed specifically for our students of East Cambridgeshire. We will have new staff across the school, in Maths, Spanish, Music, RE Geography, English, Art and Business, as well as brand new posts including two new pastoral assistants, librarian, operations manager and more TAs added to the SEND team. This is our last big push on recruitment after four years of almost constant interviewing, so we're pleased to be in a position of strength moving into the next academic year.
In the new academic year we also see James Tatham take up the crucial role of Year 10 and 11 Progress Leader. James has extensive experience of leading Key Stage 4 progress and I am certain he will not only steer Year 11 to success but also nurture and guide Year 10 and ensure they hit the ground running in Key Stage 4. Also on the Progress Team are James Mortlock (Year 8 and 9) and Mr Richardson (Year 7 and 6 Transition). I look forward to working closely with the three James's next year to ensure our students are safe and make the great progress they deserve.
To the staff who are leaving us - thank you so much for all you have done. Every single one of you has contributed hugely to the success of the school this year and I wish you every success in the next stages of your life and career. The door is always open at LECA for all of you.
It wouldn't be right not to congratulate our students. They have shown the true LECA values of being INSPIRED this year and myself and staff are so proud of them. Hopefully, they will never have to endure a year like it ever again but if they do I am confident they will rise to the challenges like they have, over and over again, this year. Well done to each and every one of you and enjoy a restful break this summer.
Finally, I'd like to thank our brilliant parents for the overwhelming support you've given me and my team over the past year. We are hopefully, slowly, returning to normal and with that all of the normal activities will restart next year. Thank you for being patient with us and for understanding that we have been operating under huge pressure, often at very short notice. Your support is amazing and we really appreciate the kind words you have sent throughout the year.
Thank you all again.
Have a great summer and we'll see you in September.
Head of School, LECA