At the end of an extremely busy Half Term, and my first Half Term as Principal, it is important to take stock of what we have achieved. Never being one to sit and wait, I have got straight to work on tackling anything within the Academy which would be considered to be less than excellent. My biggest concerns as you know from previous letters have surrounded attitudes to attendance and the opportunities for all students to make rapid progress in lessons.
This school year our attendance has been significantly improved (+3.7%). This might sound like a small number, however in reality it represents around 40 extra students in school every day learning, which is excellent, but in the same instance is still not good enough. To further support this, we have made more than 300 home visits to discuss attendance and have trialled our Attendance Disincentive Programme with Year 7 and 8, where students are required to catch up on work that they have missed in a break time club. The results of this have been excellent but also extremely worrying. It really shouldn’t be necessary to deal with attendance in such a way and I once again would ask that parents ensure that their children are only absent from school when they are too ill to attend. Attendance makes a difference and our data shows that those who have 96%+ attendance at Leeds East Academy make better progress than other students nationally.
In addition to improvements in attendance, we have been working extremely hard with Year 11 to ensure that they are ready for their exams in just twelve weeks’ time. Students engaged well with the mock exams and made significant progress from their last set of mocks in October. This being said, we certainly still have a long way to go; the message that I would like to send to all parents is that to ensure all students are reaching their potential, I would expect them to be completing at least one hour of additional work on an evening every weekday. It cannot be underestimated the importance of follow up work at home and I ask for all parents to support the school in achieving this expectation.
To further support Year 11, all parents have been posted a copy of their child’s personalised February Half Term revision schedule. Staff at Leeds East Academy have kindly given up part of their holiday to support our Year 11 students and I for one can’t thank them enough for doing this. It is now critical that Year 11 attend and that they make the most of this opportunity that has been given to them.
Looking further ahead, I am pleased that we have now successfully put in place my new curriculum plans for September and carried out significant recruitment of new colleagues for the Academy. This has included: 6 Maths teachers, 4 English teachers, 3 Science teachers, a school Nurse, a Behaviour Modification Leader and also a Personalised Learning Centre (PLC) Leader who will run our new PLC which will open shortly after Half Term. The purpose of this centre will be to support students in very small groups who are struggling to access certain subjects or need additional small group support. The growth of the Academy staffing body is all part of the plans I have put into action to ensure that our school reaches its goal of being outstanding in the next three years.
The action taken this half term is just the tip of the iceberg. I fully intend to continue at pace in delivering rapid change and improvement and I look forward to communicating this to you over the next Half Term. In the meantime I wish you a relaxing Half Term break.
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