Dear Parent / Carer
RE: High Standards and Expectations: The New Academic Year
As this academic year draws to a close, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support as we work together to make Droylsden Academy one of the best schools in the region; a school of which the community can be proud and a school where students achieve well and make strong academic progress.
A Rapidly Improving School – This Year’s Highlights
As you will be aware, the Academy was inspected by Ofsted earlier in the academic year and I was very pleased to be able to share the inspection report with you. Although we are at the start of our journey of improvement, I hope you, like us, are pleased with the progress that your child’s school is making.
Ofsted ratified what we already knew and their findings supported our judgments that teaching is improving, student conduct is significantly improved and the progress of students is better. In short, the hard work of students and staff is paying dividends and the support from the vast majority of our parents is ensuring that the school is rapidly improving. In summary Ofsted said:
Leadership and management are good: this is an improving Academy that is well led
Personal development, behaviour and welfare for students are good
Students’ behaviour is good. Students are eager to learn and are embracing a stronger work ethos
More Effective Home / School Partnership:
I firmly believe that children have the right to attend an outstanding school within their local community. To ensure this, we must all be relentless in our drive to ensure that students make strong progress, achieve results that will prepare them for further education and provide them with the opportunities to succeed in their future careers.
As I have said in previous correspondence, the importance of an effective and respectful partnership between home and school is vital. If parents and the school work in unison, demanding the same high standards in all aspects of behaviour and academic achievement, then great learning will follow. I would like to thank all the parent/carers who have given their unflinching support this year and we ask for your continued support as we set high standards and expectations over the next academic year and beyond.
Improved Academic Performance:
In the past, Droylsden Academy came in the bottom 10% of schools with similar intakes for how well it brought academic progress to its students according to the Department for Education (DFE). Mid way through the year we were informed by the DFE that our school is now in the top 35% in the country, after jumping 32 places in the national performance tables.
Preparing Students for Further Education:
A much more encouraging set of GCSE results last year (particularly in English), and positive predictions this year are ensuring that more and more students than ever are taking up post-16 study at Level 3 (A-Level or equivalent).
Next Academic Year – Further Planned Improvements
Improved Learning Environment:
Over the summer, the already excellent learning environment in school will be further improved. Key classrooms will be redesigned so that they better support learning and a new Great Learning Zone in the school Atrium will become a key feature of our school. This area will allow students to complete research activities, carry out private study and undertake extended learning before and after school and out of lesson time.
Hard Work Routines:
As we continue to improve teaching and learning, it is important that students build on their much improved learning habits to allow them to thrive in class and to become confident, resilient and effective learners. We have already established many routines within school which encourage and help students to develop these skills - for example, the way that students enter the lesson formally, how each lesson starts promptly with a 'Do Now' task and the way students and the teacher thank each other at the end of each lesson. However, we plan to do even more to further develop a culture of hard work and politeness. From September we will be introducing well researched routines in lessons to further drive up academic standards. Some of the new features of lessons will be:
These routines will help us to further improve the learning experience for students and teachers. It will give students the chance to become better learners who are better prepared for college, university and the workplace.
The Importance of Excellent Attendance and Punctuality
Great Attendance = Better Academic Performance:
I have said many times, it is no surprise that those students who have excellent attendance and punctuality make far better progress and achieve better grades. There is an expectation that your child will have 100% attendance barring serious illness. For example, even 95% attendance equates on average to a child missing half a day of school every two weeks. This is roughly 10 days missed over an academic year; a significant amount of learning time lost. Therefore every student should aim for 100% attendance as this will ensure they do not miss any learning. We ask for your support in ensuring that your child attends school every day and they arrive on time for the start of the school day by 8.30am.
Whilst the Academy accepts that there are times when absence from school cannot be avoided, these occasions must be kept to a minimum. In line with the national directive, the school will not authorise holidays in school time. Where attendance drops below an acceptable threshold, parents will receive penalty notices and may be asked to attend court to explain their child’s absences. We make no apologies for this hard line approach: regular attendance is one of the key factors in ensuring that children make progress at school and it is our duty to safeguard our students’ learning. Please support your child by ensuring that they attend school every day.
Changes to Catering and Food Prices
I am very sorry to report that there will be a slight increase to food prices from September 2016. Due to a price increase from our suppliers (and significant real term national cuts to school funding) there will be a 1% increase on all items. Please be assured that the Academy continues to do all it can to keep costs as low as possible and we remain fully committed to providing a healthy and best value for money food service.
Due to the significant real term cuts in national funding the Academy has also been forced to review our current arrangements regarding the offer of a free breakfast and fruit for all students. From September only those students in receipt of Free School Meals (and therefore additional Government funding) will be entitled to a free breakfast and free fruit. Any students not in receipt of Free School Meals will be charged for any breakfast items or fruit that they choose.
I realise that this will be an additional expense for many of our parents but I hope that you understand that the price increases are beyond our control. The Academy has been in the very fortunate position for many years (and this has not been the same in the vast majority of schools in Tameside) to offer free breakfasts to all students. Unfortunately, the loss of funding for the next academic year and beyond has made this arrangement unsustainable.
End of This Year – The New School Year
The Academy will close at 12.00pm on Tuesday 19th July.
The new school year will start on Tuesday 6th September:
As this school year draws to a close I would like to thank you for your continued support. I believe that this school year has been a very successful one and I am already looking forward to the new academic year. I hope you and your family have time to rest over the coming weeks and that you have an enjoyable summer. I look forward to celebrating further success with you throughout the next academic year.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch if we can support you with any aspect of your child’s learning and progress.
Mr P Wilson