I hope this update finds you and your families well. It suddenly came to our attention this week, that while we’ve had our heads down and been focussed on our core purpose, our students have yet to complete an entire full year in school since 2019. Following school closures related to the pandemic we last returned in March 2021. In that time our students have been incredible in maintaining, in fact exceeding, the expectations academically and through attendance pre pandemic and along the way littered with reviews from multiple external agencies and an OFSTED inspection who uniformly have praised the conduct and manners of our young people. That moment of reflection allows us as an academy to remember just how far as a community we have come, emerging with credit from an impossibly difficult period of time, it really has been quite remarkable.
Communicating with the academy
I would like to take this time to reinforce the premise that a parent/carer’s first contact with the academy must always be with the College. In an academy of over a thousand students we have developed the college structures to ensure an efficiency to supporting any issues as they arise. We know how important your son/daughter is to you, they are to us too, and understandably we know that sometimes you will want to ensure you go straight ‘to the top’. Across over one thousand parents and carers that may not always be the most efficient way of communicating with the academy and I urge you to use the systems in place that allow us to respond more efficiently and with staff who are trained to support and assist with almost every eventuality. As a reminder those staff who can be contacted via the reception email are:
Approaching the end of term once more
Throughout this term we have been operating with approximately 10% of our workforce absent at times due to Covid related staff isolations, we have ensured through our use of the Chromebooks and our Nightingale classroom that we have continued to operate fully where many other local schools have not been able to do the same. We are proud that we have continued to ensure minimal disruption to the learning of students and they have responded superbly. It has however been a challenge for staff and for students alike, we always notice a fatigue amongst our students (and staff) as we approach the end of term. Amongst a large academy coupled with fatigue friendships can come under strain and pupils can fall out, they can say things they don’t mean and jump to conclusions – after all they are only young. In 1972 Stanley Cohen studied amplification where he noted most often the most sensational claims in any event take precedence and the least sensational, that would otherwise provide important facts, tend to be ignored. This is most prevalent on social media, but not exclusively and can happen in person between young people. As a community of staff, parents and carers who surround our young people it is important to listen, moderate and de-escalate when inevitably young people disagree. Naturally our instinct is to protect, but also to model a calm and moderate response ensuring clear communication with the academy to establish full facts whilst being mindful that another student may be having a similar discussion with their parent/carer at the very same time. If your son/daughter does experience difficulties do discuss with them fully and provide information to the academy if necessary so that we can resolve any issues expediently. I most certainly have no memory of the one or two fallouts with friends from my years as a student and it is likely that many of our young people can be supported to ensure the feelings are transient, they will pass, with our help rapidly rebuilding and then forgetting whatever happened.
Another Sports Leader event
This week, again, we were able to support a number of local primary schools hosting an indoor athletic competition under the expert guidance of Mr Beck who is turning out amazing leaders at an incredible rate! I received the following email about our students during this event:
Hello, I am just emailing regarding the sports event that took place this morning at Tonbridge Angel Centre which my daughter and her school was involved in. I would just like to send across my thoughts; I was once a pupil at Mascalls Academy a long time ago now and took part in an event like this when I was there so I understand how much goes into an event with so many children and I would just like to say how amazing they did, they were organised and professional; the staff and pupils were all fantastic with the children. Mascalls academy, still to this day seems excellent so I congratulate you all and I hope that my children will be interested in joining in the future.
Needless to say, we are incredibly proud of all of them, a huge well done to Mr Beck and those students involved.
Howard Kerr, business leader visits us
On Tuesday this week, the High-Performance Academy hosted a visit from business leader Howard Kerr. In a candid talk, Howard told his life journey from a modest, hard-working background to the world of business. For Howard, the big push came when his school headmaster encouraged him to apply to Oxford. He was the first in his family to go to university. After Oxford, Howard admitted he did not have a ‘master plan’ for business: in turn, he worked in shipping, gas, and most recently the field of standards and regulation. What he pointed out consistently is that his success – which resulted in him becoming a CEO – relied on getting to know people, on his own reputation, and on crystal-clear and honest communication. Howard wanted students to take away that job offers and opportunities can often come in surprising ways, and it’s important to recognise them and seize them when they come.
Students were able to ask Howard lots of questions about working hours and the experience of failure (including Howard getting fired!). In the end, one of the key messages to students was that businesses come in all shapes and sizes, and that some of our students will certainly go on to create and be a part of impressive businesses. Howard’s final tips were: prioritise languages and digital skills. These are ‘enabling’ skills that will make you stand out in the workplace and ensure that businesses are desperate to have you. Another ‘enabling’ skill according to Howard: work experience. Whether you’re volunteering or getting paid, some practical insight into the world of work will always make you stand out as a candidate. We thank Howard for his visit and look forward to future events from distinguished speakers!
Finally, as with all Principal statements, my thanks continue to go to our amazing parents and carers who support us in so many ways, in writing, verbally, at home and in person. I have shown many visitors around in the last week and all have unequivocally stated that ‘there is something about Mascalls’. There really is and it is always the incredible students, the product of our combined efforts.
Mr W Monk