Letter for parent/carers - High Standards and Expectations: The New Academic Year

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. So much good work has taken place this year and all indicators show that we are continuing to improve. With effective partnerships between school and home Droylsden Academy will become a school that the community can be proud of and a school where each and every one of our students achieves well and makes strong academic progress.

Building Effective Home / School Partnerships:

I firmly believe that children have the right to attend an outstanding school within their local community. For this to happen, we must all be relentless in our drive to ensure that our students make strong progress, enjoy their learning, achieve results that will prepare them for further education and provide them with the opportunities to succeed in their future careers. This is all the more important against a national backdrop of more challenging GCSEs and higher expectations.

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 even higher standards and expectations over the next academic year and beyond.

Preparing Students for Further Education:

Encouraging GCSE results last year (with record numbers of students achieving the very top GCSE grades), strong performances in a wide range of subjects and raised aspirations amongst our current school leavers have ensured that more students than ever are taking up post-16 study at Level 3 (A-Level or equivalent). Extensive research clearly shows that those students who access higher education have increased employability and on average, earn significantly more over their career than those who do not. In short, education improves life-chances so the news that more and more of our students are accessing challenging post 16 courses is so pleasing.

Improved Learning Environment:

The Great Learning Zone in the school Atrium has become a key feature of our school. This area allows students to complete research activities, carry out private study and undertake extended learning before and after school and out of lesson time. It is so pleasing to see increasing numbers of students accessing this area and I would urge you to encourage your child to use this area to extend their learning. The Great Learning Zone is open from 7.30am each morning and then is accessible throughout the day and after school. As well as lots of learning resources there are also Prefects on hand to support younger students with their work. The Grand Piano, which is a feature of the Great Learning Zone, has quickly become a centre piece of our school and it is lovely to see many students practising their music out of lesson time.

In addition, homework clubs are available after school should your child need a quiet area to work or extra support with any challenging homework that they have been set. 

Learning - In the Classroom

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. This year we have refined the ‘Droylsden Way’ to encourage and help students develop these skills - for example, the students enter each lesson formally, and students and the teacher thank each other at the end of each lesson. In addition, students have been given far more opportunities this year to:

  • read in and out of class

  • develop their skills of speaking and presenting

  • get better at working to deadlines

  • use appropriate learning voice (so that students know whether to be silent, to speak in soft voices or

  • to use a projected voice) depending on the activity

  • take leadership of learning within lessons - for example, taking the lead with literacy tasks and

  • correcting their own and others' work

These routines have undoubtedly helped us to further improve the learning experience for students. The vast majority of our students are becoming better learners who are better prepared each day for college, university and the workplace. Further work will continue next year as we use the very latest national and international research on effective teaching and learning to improve the student experience in the classroom.

Learning - Beyond the Classroom:

Developments are planned for next year that will allow students to develop the key characteristics of strong leaders and learners. Opportunities will also be provided to allow our students to participate fully in the wider life of the school and to serve their school and local communities.

Looking back over this academic year, it has been very pleasing to see so many students participating in some of the extra - curricular events that have taken place. You will have read reports and seen photographs in the weekly Newsflash, but highlights have included the many after school Maths Battles, literacy and spelling competitions and public debating opportunities.

The Academy produced another hugely successful show last December as students performed Billy Elliot. 40 students made up the cast and they were supported by a backstage crew with was led by Year 11 students. Students performed confidently during three sell out performances and a new cast is busy preparing for the forthcoming December 2017 production of Beauty and the Beast.

In addition, a team of students from our Year 7 Maths Excel classes competed against other local secondary schools in the Tameside Challenge at Copley Academy in February. The students put in a strong performance and were great ambassadors for the Academy. Furthermore, all students from the Year 7 and 8 Maths Excel classes took part in the highly regarded and extremely competitive national Maths challenge organised through the UK Mathematics Trust.

As part of National Theatre Connections, students from the Academy ‘No Limits’ Performing Arts Group performed their fantastic production of “Status Update”. The performance at Home Theatre in Manchester was an adaption of a thought-provoking play written by Tim Etchells about what teenagers learn, what they believe and what they work out for themselves. 

As part of National Science Week, Year 8 students took part in ‘Tomorrow’s Engineers’. This allowed students to attend a presentation on engineering and renewable energy. Students then used this knowledge to complete a series of tasks where they had to work in groups and build and test solar powered cars. Two Year 9 Excel groups also visited Jodrell Bank Observatory in Macclesfield to explore the interactive Science exhibits. Students had the opportunity to put their questions to leading scientists and take part in a spectroscopy workshop which allowed students to develop their understanding of nucleosynthesis and stellar evolution.

A number of students in Years 9 and 10 are working hard to complete their Duke of Edinburgh Bronze qualifications. As part of their voluntary work, some students are completing courses in Sign Language with DEAF education. Some students are also training with the Manchester Giants Basketball Team and they have had the opportunity to participate in Wheelchair Basketball with a Paralympian. Other students are volunteering to support younger year 7 students as Reading Mentors. 

Droylsden School’s Partnership

This year has seen the launch of the Droylsden School’s Partnership. This has allowed a formal partnership to be established with four of our partner primary schools: Greenside; Manchester Road; Fairfield and St. Marys. Many opportunities have arisen from this partnership allowing students from these primary schools to visit the Academy to take part in activities such as chess tournaments, literacy, debating and numeracy activities. In addition, a number of our students have visited the local primary schools to work with the younger students, for example, delivering sessions on ICT and E – Safety. Further developments are planned for the new academic year and beyond. This partnership will develop the quality of teaching, learning and leadership from age 3 – 16.

The Importance of Correct Uniform and Equipment

Coming to school ready to learn is the most important thing that every child does each day. Being ready to learn means that the correct books and equipment must be ready in bags and homework must be completed in readiness for the lessons that day.

The Droylsden Academy uniform, which sets our students apart from others, must be clean, smart and correctly worn so that there are no distractions to the learning process. Please refer to the uniform guidance attached to this letter which clearly reiterates the school’s high expectations. Staff will be checking all equipment and uniform from the first day back in September and we thank you for your support with this.

The Importance of Excellent Attendance and Punctuality

Great Attendance = Better Academic Performance:

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 rare 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 thishard 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.

End of Term – The New School Year

The Academy will close at 2.35pm on Thursday 20th July
(Staff will be working in school on Friday 21st July for an additional INSET day. This day will be used to prepare schemes of learning, resources and assessments to meet the challenges of the new GCSE specifications)

The new school year will start on Thursday 7th September:

  • Our new Year 7 students should arrive at school for a 8.30am start to allow them to settle in on their own
  • Students in Years 8,9,10 and 11 should arrive at school from 9.15am for a 9.30am start

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.

Yours faithfully

Mr P Wilson

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Droylsden Academy
Manor Road, Droylsden,
Manchester M43 6QD
T: 0161 301 7600
F: 0161 301 7601
E: info@droylsdenacademy.com