Mr Stokes' Update
At the end of my first week in post as the Acting Principal at Leeds East Academy, I wanted to write to you to introduce myself and update you with some details of the work we have done so far this year to take things forward in school.
As the recent letter from Prof. Darren Shickle (Chair of Governors) stated, I have worked for the White Rose Academies Trust for three years in a variety of senior posts in all three schools. Throughout my time working for the Trust, I have been heavily involved with Leeds East Academy and have always been impressed by the commitment of the staff and the excellent behaviour of the students.
Having initially taken on the full-time role of Senior Vice Principal in school at the start of this year, I have worked tirelessly to take the school forward on our Journey to Outstanding within the next three years. Central to this vision has been our buzzword of ‘pace’. Within our school, students benefit from world-class facilities, excellent teachers and fantastic support and pastoral staff. We have everything we need to take things forward but we must act swiftly in every area of school life in order to meet our goals.
The effective use of lesson time is obviously going to be a critical part of achieving our goals and in school this year we have been highly focused on what we refer to as The LEA Way. We expect students to arrive to lesson promptly, with the correct equipment and begin learning within 60 seconds. The ‘60-second Challenge’ as it has become known, has made our expectations clear to all: We expect lesson time to be highly effective and for there to be no wasted time. I am pleased to be able to tell you today that students have risen to the challenge and there has been a clear improvement this last half term in progress made by students in lesson.
In addition to the above, we have worked hard in an increasingly narrow job market to secure additional high-quality teachers in school. We all know from personal experience just how much of an impact positive, enthusiastic, high-quality teachers can have on student outcomes and therefore I have made securing more staff into the school a very high priority. In January, we will see seven new teachers join our team; six of these new staff are English / Maths teachers and are coming into school to help us prepare students for the increased challenge of the new GCSE curriculum in these subject areas. One of the most powerful impacts that these teachers will have is to reduce class sizes in Year 11 from an average of 26 to just 13. This will allow us to spend more personalised time with students who will sit their exams this Summer and I am sure you will agree, this will have a big impact on the progress students make moving forward.
In the coming weeks, I will continue to write to you to let you know about things that we are doing in school. As a final note, can I please remind all parents and carers of the importance of student attendance. It goes without saying that we can put in place all of the steps to deliver an outstanding education for your child but if they do not attend every day, the progress that they make will be hampered. Every student has an attendance target of 96% and it is critical that we work together to meet and ultimately exceed this target.