I hope this update finds you and your families well. With the lovely weather comes a brand new feel to the academy, we hope that we have seen the last of the stormy season. I have had the pleasure once more this week of touring the academy multiple times with prospective parents/carers and other visitors – the sense of calm and focus in lessons is palpable. With students in this frame of mind en masse the challenges of the last two years are becoming just a distant memory. We are incredibly proud.
This week the A-Level English Literature groups enjoyed a trip to a sunny London to watch the schools’ production of ‘Macbeth’ at The Globe Theatre. The performance combined traditional speech and costume reflective of the Jacobean era with elements of modern music. This will serve as an excellent platform for discussion in class as we move onto studying Othello in Year 13. As ever, the students’ behaviour was exemplary and were a joy to accompany on this trip. Our thanks go to the staff who planned and ran such a wonderful trip.
Performing Arts Showcase
This week we also had the pleasure of our Performing Arts Showcase where students in Years 11 and 13 treated a live audience to performances of their practical examination work. Singing, drumming, guitar playing, acting and dancing were on display in force to an exceptional standard which, in front of a live audience, is a required part of their course contributing to results. They were simply amazing! What it also means to year 11 and 13 is that ‘exams’ have already begun and to everyone else, they are one year closer. Our thanks go to the staff for putting the event together, the students for their wonderful performances and to the parents/carers who have supported the hours of rehearsal leading to this moment.
Student advisory mentoring
Over the last few weeks our advisors have been working hard with a new mentoring programme for our students that aims to identify potential barriers to learning and the results have been incredibly insightful. There are four key areas that stand out from the results across the academy
- Independent work, revision and working at home (22%)
- Meeting deadlines (17%)
- Answering questions in class (16%)
- Resilience, giving up if things are difficult (11%)
Naturally we will respond, as we have done to the parent survey, to enhance mental health provision, our advisory programme will help to develop resilience amongst students, we will question students using rewards to celebrate and identify misconceptions. Our message must always be that if students got everything right then we’d be out of a job, so it’s ok to try and we will help them learn from misconceptions and mistakes. But our students need more support to work independently. We have talked in the past about developing habits and being identity driven and one way to ensure that habit forming is successful is to anchor new habits to other habits or specific times. In the late 1990s, a psychology professor from Harvard set his students an assignment on Christmas Eve to describe what they did on Christmas day and to be handed in on Boxing day, naturally no one wanted to do that! The assignment wasn’t actually the project, the class had unknowingly been divided into two. One half were simply left, the other half had to write down or explain explicitly how, when and where they would complete the assignment. The results from the two groups were staggeringly different. Of the group that was simply given the assignment, less than 10% returned it, but of the group who had to explain how, when and where the assignment would be completed 97% were successful in handing it in. What had happened was that the students had anchored their ‘new habit’ to a place (where they would complete the task) and a time – explicitly. For students, having a place to work and agreeing a regular time for routine work becomes a habit much more successfully. If new habits are attached to daily events such as ‘I will do an hour of homework or revision before dinner’ or ‘Before football training I will do 30 minutes of revision’ also yields success as the already established dinner habit before a trigger for the new habit. We will continue to work with students on developing habits for success and ask that parents/carers carefully monitor and support regular routines, places and of course rewards (which also helps habit forming significantly) discussing exactly the best times and places for independent work can be successfully carried out and over time building towards even more success.
Finally, as always, a thank you for the time that so many parents and carers are taking out of their day to write to staff with thank yous, congratulations and well dones, seem to be at an all time high and like it would with anyone really lifts our staff, it really is wonderful and has a huge impact. We are proud to be part of such a fantastic community.
Mr W Monk