Head of School Blog - September 2018
March 25th 2019
The past two weeks have seen another round of exciting and busy times at Farnborough. Year 11 pupils have completed their mock examinations and are receiving their feedback in lessons. The indications are that they have performed well and we are really pleased with their commitment, attitude and focus. This was evident by the turn out to our success fair last Tuesday where a large number of pupils and their families came along to find out about the different revision techniques that could make a difference to them in the summer. They also had the opportunity to speak with local colleges and sixth forms about the next steps.
Year 10 pupils have continued on their accelerating confidence courses and have been on visits to Nottingham City Homes and my personal favourite one of all the control tower at East Midlands Airport! On this trip the pupils had the opportunity to observe the air traffic controllers at work as they guided commercial airliners into and out of the airport on a busy day. The accelerating confidence project is a hugely successful part of what we do to support our pupils at Farnborough and we are already exploring ways of enabling more pupils that the current 60 to get involved next year.
Alongside this all of year 10 had their interview skills day. Twenty local employers gave up their time to meet with every pupil in year 10. Discuss their CV, plans for the future and put them through their paces in a mini interview. The pupils now have some first-hand experience and feedback so that they are more prepared for the real thing when they face job interviews and college interviews in the coming months. The pupils were a credit to the academy and the employers were full praise for the focus and engagement shown.
Year 9 have also had opportunities in the past fortnight to expand their horizons when it comes to thinking about their future and exploring university as a real and valid option as part of their journey after Farnborough. A group of pupils had the pleasure of visiting Cambridge University to see what life could be like at one of the top universities in the world. The pupils were chosen because they have the ability to achieve this ambition. They need to follow the advice they were given on the visit and remain focussed in their GCSE and A-level studies and who knows, in a few years they could be showing the next generation of Farnborough pupils around when they come for a visit.
Alongside our work with Cambridge, Nottingham Trent University also came into the academy to work with pupils on study skills in order to help them start to prepare early so that they can achieve their goal of attending university in the future.
On March 15th we had two very special events at the academy. Leicester Tigers coaches spent the day with pupils from Farnborough, Arnold Hill and Rushcliffe as well as year 5 pupils from Whitegate primary. They day taught the pupils some key skills and all the pupils and staff involved got a lot from the activities. We look forwards to continuing this link with the Tigers into the future.
Also on this date I had the pleasure of hosting the monthly meeting of all of the secondary school head teachers in the Spencer Academies Trust. It was the first time many of them had been into Farnborough and for others the first time since last academic year. These colleagues are experienced head teachers who work in very good and outstanding schools. They were very impressed by what they saw when they walked around the academy, viewed lessons and spoke to pupils. They felt that the pupils were open and honest with them and were happy to talk about their learning. They could see the improvements that we have made since September and felt, as I do that Farnborough is on the up and we have a lot to be proud of. There is still some way to go in order to ensure that the improvements will be fully recognised when we are next inspected, but, by continuing to work together and staff, pupils and parents we will ensure that Farnboroughs journey of improvement continues at a pace.
Part of this improvement requires greater links to be formed with our primary schools. This week I embarked on a visit to each of the local primary schools with some year 8 pupils. These pupils were involved in making benches on our last bright day. The pupils worked with staff from Wickes to make benches from garden decking. Thee pupils were given no instructions to follow, they were just provided with the dimensions of the benches. We hope the pupils at the primary schools enjoy the additional places to sit in the playground that the year 8’s from Farnborough have provided.
Finally, it is the time of year where head teachers begin to think about the recruitment process for staff in September. You will have seen from our social media channels that we are currently recruiting for some key roles in preparation for this. The volume and quality of interest in these roles has been truly impressive. I have spent a large amount of time this week showing prospective candidates around the school and talking to them about my vision for Farnborough and the journey we have set out upon. They have also been impressed by what they have seen and I am confident that we will be in a position to announce some top quality recruitment successes in the near future. If any parent would like a tour of the academy during the day so they can see for themselves the changes that have been made and to discuss the journey we are on then all you have to do is to contact the reception team who will be able to make arrangements for this to happen.
March 11th 2019
I have to start this fortnights blog by sending my condolences to the family and friends of Ray Mather. Ray was an ex teacher of Farnborough and although I never had the pleasure of meeting him myself, the way in which colleagues who did know him and ex pupils have talked about him in the days since his passing was announced tells me he must have been a truly inspirational individual. The academy will commemorate Ray and his contribution to Farnborough and will announce how we will do this in due course.
I would like to thank all of the members of the local community who supported the ‘We Will Rock You’ cast and crew by attending the performance on Feb 27th and 28th. They were brilliant performances, the pupils did themselves and the academy proud and I know from the comments and views on social media that the community had the same opinion. Watch this space for our next production as we are determined to make this an annual event at the academy.
There have been lots of activities and events that have been happening alongside our normal curriculum program as you will have seen from our social media updates.
Two of our year 10 accelerating confidence groups have had one of their employment emersion days at The Crowne Plaza Hotel in Nottingham and at J Tomlinson the local construction company. The accelerating confidence program enables the year 10 pupils who were successful in completing a robust recruitment process the opportunity to learn about the different jobs on offer within a group of local organisations over a period of time. The pupils make regular visits to the company and meet with colleagues who carry out a wide range of different roles and find out what skills and qualifications are needed, as well as having a go at some of them for themselves. Alongside the two companies visited this week different pupils also have the opportunity to learn from employees at East Midlands Airport and Nottingham City Homes. At the end of the one year course the pupils maintain links through a business mentor in year 11 who will help them maintain their focus in the build up to their exams.
Year 8 have also been thinking about their futures over the past two weeks with the opportunity to visit the Sutton Bonnington campus of The university of Nottingham before taking part in ‘inspire’ sessions across the day on Friday hosted at the academy by Nottingham Trent University. Both of these events enabled pupils to ask questions and find out about the different courses and options available for those who go onto university. The pupils certainly asked a lot of questions and feedback from the universities was exceptionally positive about the engagement and attitude of the Farnborough pupils.
Year 9 are also thinking about their futures this week as Wednesday night is options evening. Please make sure you come along with your son/daughter so you can find out all the information you need to know before making any decisions. Full details are on our social media channels.
Year 11 pupils this week are entering the final week of their final mock examination season. The next time they sit exams it will be the summer and the real deal! We have made this process feel as much like the real examination season as we possibly can, and we have provided them with additional support where it is needed. Pupils recently participated in a walking talking mock for English language. This is an activity where pupils are walked through the exam paper and the teacher reads the questions and reminds pupils how to go about formulating their answer. The pupils still have to answer the question on their own. The purpose of this is to help the pupils as they can think back and visualize the walking talking mock when in the real exam. Feedback from year 11 this week after sitting their real mock exam was that they were able to do exactly that.
Watch this space in the coming weeks as we provide more information on our Easter school timetable as we gear up for the final exams in May.
This time of year schools begin to recruit staff for the following academic year. It is always a time where head teachers worry slightly about the number and quality of applicants that they may attract. This week we have successfully recruited into three key posts of Head of Year and teachers of English and Maths. The quality of applicants has been phenomenal and I am delighted to have been able to recruit new colleagues of high caliber to work with the existing team and your children. What was also pleasing about the process was the recognition by these external visitors regarding the improvements in the academy. All they know was what the Ofsted report of September 2017 says. They all could see how much the academy has moved forwards from this point and the pupils they spoke to could articulate how the academy has improved further since September. We will continue to work hard to make the improvements that are needed in order to ensure that the children of Clifton can attend an academy the whole community is proud of. We may not always get it right. We may not always make decisions that everyone agrees with, but please be assured all decisions are made with the best interests of the pupils at the forefront of our minds. I would like to finish by thanking you all for your continued support and look forward to continuing this into the future as we continue on our journey.
February 25th 2019
Firstly I would like to start by welcoming back the whole academy community from the half term break. I hope the pupils, parents and staff were able to relax and recharge their batteries over the past week.
Whilst the academy was officially 'on holiday' it was great to see year 11 pupils and staff in school working hard to ensure that they maintained the important focus that is needed to ensure all pupils achieve their full potential in their GCSE exams in the summer. Their hard work and commitment to their studies is a true reflection of their desire to achieve and to ensure that they make the most of all of the opportunities that we are able to offer.
As we continue to move towards this important time of year for our year 11 pupils there are more and more opportunities for help and support available to them. Pupils are given lots of information on a weekly basis from their head of year and form tutors and we will be sharing this information with parents via our social media channels too.
This week sees the much anticipated performances of 'We will rock you.' Our first academy musical production. The cast and crew have been working very hard on this production and they and I can't wait to welcome the local primary schools to a matinee performance and parents, carers, friends and other family members to our evening performances on Wednesday and Thursday. Those of you who still require tickets please contact the academy reception and we will be happy to assist with your requests.
I appreciate that it can be problematic at times to send cash in with pupils for events such as production tickets and trips, especially if you don't have the correct change and if the quantities of money are quite large. Please look out for a letter, email and text over the next week which will provide information on our new cashless system for paying for school meals, trips and any other items you may need to purchase directly from school. This system will bring the academy into the 21st century and also make life easier for parents moving forwards. This is the first in a wave of some new technologies we will be rolling out to make communication and interaction with the academy easier for you all.
It was great to be able to meet with parents who are interested in supporting the academy via a PTA group and also encouraging to receive emails from those who couldn't attend the initial meeting but would like to be part of future ones. Those parents who have contacted us have had their details passed onto the PTA group and they will be in contact soon with details of future meetings. If you would still like to participate in the PTA in any capacity, then please contact the academy and we will pass your details on and ensure that you have information about the next meeting once it has been arranged.
February 4th 2019
Where has the last month gone!
It certainly doesn't feel like we have been back at school for a month since the end of the Christmas break, but when you look back on what we have achieved and what the pupils have experienced it makes you realise how busy academy life is.
Since my last update our year 11 cohort had some excellent examination success. 88% of the pupils who sat the Certificate in financial education examination achieved a good pass or better with a significant proportion achieving top grades. This puts this group in a very strong position to achieve highly in the summer when they sit the final paper. I know the pupils are grateful to the staff for the hard work they have put in to help guide them through a new course, but, this success wouldn't have happened without the commitment and dedication of the pupils.
We continue to support the pupils in English and Maths in order to ensure they achieve the best possible outcomes in these vital subject areas so that they can go on to fulfil their ambitions later in life. Over the past two weeks we have used our bright day to offer additional sessions to the pupils and the engagement, focus and quality of work produced was phenomenal. Pupils are also engaging well with intervention sessions before and after school with a significant number volunteering to give up their time to help others as peer mentors in maths which is a fantastic advert for the togetherness and ethos of this year group.
They are currently sitting additional mock exams in Maths and English as well as preparing for a full mock season in March so I am sure you will join me in wishing them every success.
In my last update I talked about the opportunity that year 11 pupils have to experience a summer of challenge and adventure with NCS, it is great that approximately 50 of our pupils have taken up this opportunity which will only be of benefit to them in the future and will give them great life experience to take into their next stage of education or employment.
As part of my role as head of this wonderful academy it is important that I engage with the community and support community events. Over the past two weeks I have been building relationships in this area which in time will only be of benefit to our pupils. I held a meeting with local community representatives and Lilian greenwood the local MP to begin planning a sports event called Jumpers for Goalposts. This event is the brainchild of Pete Bell a local sports leader and is being planned in conjunction with academy pupils. It is shaping up to be a great event and we will provide more details in due course. All there is to say for now is keep Thursday May 30th 2019 free in your diaries!
In addition to Pete I have also met the local army cadet’s leaders and the leader of a local youth club scheme in order to see what further community support we can bring to pupils and what support our pupils can bring to the community. As these initiatives begin to gather pace we will share with parents our ideas and projects.
The half termly parent forum group met in late January and it was encouraging to see a slightly larger than normal turnout. We discussed several issues including the new tier system and attendance rewards. It was great to get clear support from parents with regards to the tier system and our aim to ensure that all pupils behave in an appropriate manner when at school. In terms of attendance rewards, we have heard your message regarding the costs associated with some rewards and will be speaking to the pupil council to generate more ideas on how we can further modify these rewards.
On Thursday February 14th at 5pm I am hosting a meeting to discuss the forming of a Farnborough academy PTA. If you wish to be involved in this initial meeting then please contact the academy to book your place. We will publish the outcome of this meeting to parents in due course so that anyone who is interested, but is unable to make this date can still be involved in future meetings and events.
January 21st 2019
Over the past two weeks the atmosphere around the academy has been calm and purposeful. The pupils have started the new term in a focussed and positive way and I have been very impressed by their attitudes to learning and the way they have responded to the increased level of expectations that have been placed upon them in terms of attitude and behaviour.
I, along with the rest of the staff body are determined that excellence in all that they do will become a habit for our young people in order that they will go on to be successful and achieve their full potential. Excellence will only become a habit if we insist on it being displayed at all times in all areas. In order to support this during unstructured times we launched a new system from the start of this term. The tier system is used to support and remind pupils which behaviours are and aren't acceptable and to ensure a calm transition between lessons. The vast majority of pupils have responded well to this new system and as previously stated the impact has been to change the atmosphere in a positive way at these key times. During the assemblies with pupils where the new system was launched I made no apology for increasing the level of expectation and promised them that expectations will continue to rise as we move through the year.
It was great to see the National Citizens Service (NCS) in school to offer year 11 the exciting opportunity to spend three weeks in the summer having the opportunity to develop skills they didn't even know they had, take part in an adventure week and experience life on a university campus plus much more. It is an exciting opportunity which is being offered for the all in price of £50 or £20 for those pupils who are in receipt of free school meals.
More info can be found at the following link www.ncsyes.co.uk/summer if you would like your child to attend but they haven't yet signed up then contact the academy and we will be able to support with this. Also if additional support is needed to make the required payment then please speak to us as we may be able to offer some support with additional time to meet this NCS deadline.
The final preparations for the school show 'We will rock you' are well underway and we are getting excited for the performances at the end of February. At the weekend pupils and staff were raising additional funds to support the production through offering a bag packing service at Morrisons. I would like to thank them for giving up their time and you for contributing to the success of this. A larger charitable event I have begun to work on will hopefully see pupils raise funds for and manufacture useful products for an orphanage in Ghana. Some luck pupils may even be given the opportunity to visit and see their charitable contributions in action in the future. This is an exciting link which whilst in its infancy promises to offer so much for our pupils in terms of broadening their horizons and offering new and unique opportunities.
Some key dates over the next few weeks are:-
School photographs for years 11, 9 and 7 are on Thursday this week
The next parent forum meeting is on Wednesday this week (23rd January) at 6pm. It would be great to see as many of you as possible. we will be discussing the tier system, attendance rewards and sharing some of the different teaching and learning strategies that are used in lessons to support your children.
January 7th 2019
I would like to start by wishing all members of the Farnborough community, parents, governors and the wider community a very happy and healthy new year. Now the festivities of the season are over and the new school term has begun our attention turns to ensuring that all pupils continue to be given every opportunity to shine brightly and achieve their full potential.
In the build up to Christmas you will have seen through our social media channels that a number of pupils showcased their talents and community spirit by visiting a number of local sites and residential homes to sing carols and also put on a fantastic showcase performance in the academy on December 19th. A number of these pupils will also have the opportunity to entertain you in February when we debut our musical for this year, 'We Will Rock You!'
Whilst pupils don't return to the academy until Tuesday January 8th, the staff will be hard at work on January 7th. the focus of our INSET day is to continue to develop teaching and learning within the academy. One of the reasons I enjoy my job so much is that you have never finished learning as a teacher. there are always new ideas and new ways of delivering engaging and motivational lessons to pupils that you can learn, no matter how long you have been teaching for. The staff always enjoy these sessions as it enables them to discuss and try new strategies and activities in order to make any necessary tweaks before they are used with pupils. It is important that we as teachers have these continuous learning opportunities as part of our role as without them the education system would not move forwards.
As we are in January and it is traditional to think about resolutions I have made several that link to my role at Farnborough. The pupil voice I completed before the holidays suggests that they would agree that I am a man of my word and that when I make promises to them about their academy I ensure they are delivered, therefore, I am confident that this will be the case for my resolutions.
In order to spread the word about the amazing work that happens at the academy I have entered the 21st century with a twitter account and will be aiming to tweet out about the internal work of the academy at least 3 times a week, for those of you on twitter follow me @ and the academy @
I will be updating my blog on the website on a much more regular basis (fortnightly) in order to keep you abreast of all of the work we are doing and inform you of any important upcoming dates.
Finally, I will continue to work hard to bring the community and the academy together in order to work as one to support the young people of Clifton both inside and outside of school so that they can continue to shine brightly and be as successful as possible.
October 7th 2018
In the two weeks since I updated my blog there have been lots of activities happening around the academy. The pupils are getting into the swing of the academic year and they are settling well into their learning. Year 11 are beginning to prepare for their mock exams which are in a few short weeks and these will be an important milestone in their journey towards their final exams.
Over the past two weeks the academy held its annual careers fair for years 9-11 and this was fantastically well attended and has shown pupils exactly what they need to achieve at school in order to fulfil their aspirations. We have taken a group of pupils to Dovecote Primary School to support with their English festival. This visit was really well recieved by the Farnborough pupils, the primary school teachers and the year 6 pupils they worked with. We have also launched our annual opportunity for year 10 pupils to work with local large companies in order to find out more about the world of work. Two years ago this initiative involved just 10 pupils and one company (East Midlands Airport), this year 70 year 10 pupils will be able to participate across 7 different local companies, this is a unique experience that only pupils of Farnborough benefit from and we are always looking for more partners to work with.
My favourite activity over the past two weeks though has to be the opportunity I had on Wednesday when I was able to meet with over 500 Farnborough students, all with one thing in common. All of the students I met with were students who do the right thing, day in, day out without making a fuss and as such had recieved only positive achievement points via the school reward system. It was wonderful to be able to say well done to this outstanding group of young people and to talk to them about how their hard work, positive attitude and commitment to school will benefit them in the future.
Looking forwards this week we are once again opening our doors on Wednesday October 10th from 6-7pm for our second open evening. This gives parents and pupils who couldn't make our first event an opportunity to visit us before making your secondary school application for 2018/19. We look forwards to welcoming prospective pupils and their families to this event.
September 23rd 2018
This week the academy welcomed year 11 pupils back from a week of work experience. They were full of interesting stories about what they had learnt and were motivated to achieve what they needed to in order to gain employment in the future. A record number of students participated in this experience and all students completed the full week with impeccable standards of behaviour and commitment. A number even received offers of apprenticeships in the future (exam result dependent of course!). Well done to you all.
I had the delight of meeting with a number of parents on Tuesday night at the parent forum event. It was great to see such a large number of parents join us. It was clear to me that they are as passionate as I am about ensuring the academy provides the highest quality of education for the young people of this community now and into the future. We discussed a range of topics such as the plans the academy has to continue to develop and move forwards as we move into the new trust, the key messages we have given pupils and communication. If you would like to get involved with the next event look out on social media for more details after half term.
On Wednesday we were delighted to be able to welcome a large number of visitors to our year 6 open evening. It was great to meet with potential future pupils and their parents. Current pupils and staff used the opportunity to showcase the very best of Farnborough and all were a credit. The atmosphere around the academy was excellent with the year 6 pupils taking the opportunity to try out some of the exciting activities they would undertake as a Farnborough pupil. If anyone who did or didn't manage to attend this event would like the opportunity to visit the academy again or has any further questions then please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Whilst Friday was an INSET day for pupils, staff were at work undertaking further training in order to ensure that we continue to develop as an academy. Staff were engaging in work around positive behaviour management so that we can continue to effectively instil our core values into the pupils we teach and reflect them in our activities and interactions. In addition I also had the pleasure of meeting with Lilian Greenwood MP. Lilian and I discussed the support she can give to the academy and the opportunities she can support with in terms of the holistic development of our students. It was a productive meeting and I am sure that there will be great opportunities for our pupils in the future as this positive relationship between Lilian and the school continues to flourish.
September 12th 2018
I would like to thank all parents, students and staff for the support they have shown me during my first full week as head teacher at Farnborough and for their commitment to starting off this academic year in an outstanding manner.