Principal’s Blog, 15th June 2018 – Thank you for helping to make the Hazeley Academy a great place to work!June 15th, 2018
Three years ago the staff and governors at Hazeley set themselves a challenge:
“At Hazeley the students would not only enjoy a great rounded education leading to impressive examination results, but that it would also be the very best place for staff to work and that this will be done through collaboration”
These are obviously interconnected – staff who work collaboratively tend to be happier and students who are taught by happy staff (focussed on developing young people as rounded individuals) generally achieve higher examination outcomes. This is a great example of a virtuous circle.
Last month almost 120 of our staff completed a detailed and anonymous externally organised staff survey. The results were truly outstanding; in every area staff reported very positively. The outcomes look even more impressive when compared to other schools nationally. The analyst from Kirkland and Rowell described the results as “amongst the best if not the very best he had ever seen”.
Some highlights included:
- Overall sense of common purpose
- School discipline
- Staff morale
- Developing moral values
Even our areas of relative weakness were 10% or more above the “average” for schools in England and placed firmly in the “Good” category. Reassuringly all of these are already priorities in our improvement plan.
Parents and carers play a large role in creating this great ethos. Positively engaging with the school, being open and solution focussed with your concerns, sharing some moments of praise all make a big difference to the staff.
Ensuring your child arrives on time, with homework complete, in a smart uniform with high expectations of themselves does not just give your child an advantage, it contributes to our overall ethos.
We will share the detailed responses at the Parent Voice session on 5th July – please look out for your school comms invitation.
Thank you for your role in making Hazeley a very special community to be part of. Our community will continue to grow and develop through our focus on collaboration; it truly is an exciting time to be part of Hazeley!
The Quest for the Magic Bullet – Part 3 – Asking Questions
Teachers who really make a difference (and parents/carers) are very skilful in asking questions that stimulate and empower the young people they interact with.
At the other end of the spectrum are teachers and parents/carers that believe children learn by being told what to do. Telling has its place, it’s quick and efficient, but it also has many weaknesses. If you consistently tell a young person what to do they will have a tendency to be become overly reliant on you. Teaching and parenting is in many ways about making yourself redundant as the youngsters develop into independent adults, who can care for themselves and others in their community.
A parent who tells their child each morning to get themselves dressed, brush their teeth, eat their breakfast and pack their bags will succeed in keeping themselves busy for a very long time and potentially condemn their own child to a lifetime of waiting for instructions. Conversely the parent who asks successively more subtle prompting, coaching questions such as, “what do you need to do tomorrow morning to get ready for school?” or “What do you need to do to ensure that your homework is really good this week?” can expect their child to be more reflective and independent. Of course this comes at a price, on occasions the young person will not come up with the right answer (or if they do may not act upon it) and this is where the teacher/ parent needs to make a choice, step in and hope they listen and learn or let them learn from their own mistakes.
The high stakes education system unfortunately pushed lots of schools to a place where children could not be seen to fail. Hazeley fell into this trap for a while, teachers going above and beyond to tell students exactly what to do to pass their exams, if they did not do it teachers put on additional sessions, called home and put on yet more session. The students passed their exams; Hazeley was towards the top of the school league tables, but at what price?
Many of our students left without fully learning some important lessons about self reliance. In the past few years we have encouraged our students to be more reflective, take more responsibility for their own learning, our exam results have remained strong and the young people leaving us have more than their fair share of Character, Confidence and Creativity.
- Instead of telling your child what do to try asking them questions which will help them find the answers for themselves.
- Ask the questions early enough so that they have time to reflect before they need to act.
- Don’t be scared to let them fail, this is where the best learning often happens. Encourage them to aim to do really well as opposed to avoiding failing. Help them aim high.
- Reward them with positive feedback (a smile/ praise /your attention) for asking intelligent questions, being reflective, proactive and independent.
- Try to create opportunities for these questions and reflections to take place. The dinner table can be an ideal starting point, turning off the internet at home often magically creates more family time.
- Be a brave parent, don’t push your child to be normal or perfect, (one of them is boring the other impossible) help them to grow into amazing versions of themselves.
Again sorry, no magic bullet, but hopefully some simple, useful guidance on helping your child to be successful at school and beyond.
The quest for the magic bullet – Part 2 – The power of routines
Students who make great progress at Hazeley can almost always describe how they have worked to create positive routines and good habits.
I hope the blog this week encourages a few parents/carers to reflect on the following with their children over half term.
- Which routines/habits do you need to pat yourself on the back for already doing?
- Are there any that you might develop?
- Have we missed any off the list? (a mystery prize for the best one emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday 4th June )
- Going to bed at a similar time each evening (preferably before 10pm)
- Enjoying reading a book for pleasure for 20-30mins before sleeping
- Turning off social media or computers for one hour prior to bed
- Enjoying regular involvement in clubs and activities after and outside of school
- 30mins or more of physical activity each day (from brisk walking to rugby)
- Booking in regular times to speak with friends and family face to face
- Eating at regular times each day (ideally with other people away from any distracting technology)
- Having defined slots each week where homework/ extra revision are built into the week (on average about 7 hours per week)
- Completing homework as soon as it is given; not the night before the deadline
- Packing your school bag and sorting your uniform the evening before
- Setting off to school/ events early so that if you have a delay you have enough time to avoid being late
- Using Sunday morning to double check that you are planned for the week ahead (this involves checking Go4Schools and in your planner)
- Reflecting when things go wrong and how to learn from this
Routines are no magic bullet, but they are a great way to help reduce stress and also enjoy greater success at school.
The Quest for the Magic Bullet – Part 1
Our super fast culture is always looking for quick wins, short cuts and hacks. From making money to losing weight, there is often a quest for the magic bullet. Education has also been plagued by this approach and the impact was explained very eloquently in an article by Chris Cook on the BBC.
In the next few blogs I am going to share some of the strategies that we have seen parents use which have had a long sustained impact on the academic progress and wellbeing of their children. Those readers hoping for off the wall short cuts and quick wins will be disappointed. All of the ideas require long term commitment, persistence and determination; however what is more important than the mental, social, physical and academic wellbeing of our children?
The first strategy involves developing a love of reading.
Over the past few weeks I have been working with some of the boys in Y10, unpicking why some are making excellent progress, with others only achieving modest progress. The single biggest difference appears to be reading. Those who regularly read for pleasure appear to consistently outperforming those who do not. When I asked the avid readers (and our Learning Zone staff) what advice they would give to parents of other students they were quick to share the following advice:
- Talk about books at home
- Have books on show around your home
- Buy book tokens as rewards/presents
- Start the habit early
- Turn the TV and internet off
- Read yourself and let your children see it
- Visit really good book shops and libraries and ask advice from the staff
- Talk about the benefits of reading with your son/daughter
- Make the book shop a destination – enjoy a coffee, a chat and looking at books
The blog this week simply highlights some great advice for students, staff and parents/carers about how to address stress.
What inspires you is an interesting question; it is one that is easy to give a quick response to; making a positive difference to my community, my family, a notable famous person etc.
Inspirational things happened at Hazeley every day. For example watching 30 students travel on a complex learning journey with an enthused teacher. Enriched by the comments of students as they start to understand the complex concepts involved in the lesson. This is the biggest motivator for all great teachers.
School is not just about learning for exams, observing a teaching assistant or member of the pastoral team caringly helping students unpick their problems, correct mistakes and make wise decisions is equally as important.
A school cannot function without support staff; from the receptionist who brings in her own flowers to brighten the start of everyone’s day, to the IT and Site team who consistently go the extra mile to ensure that our real and virtual worlds are safe and enjoyable to use; they are all inspirational.
Seeing how our leaders respond to the opportunities and challenges presented to them and their teams never ceases to uplift me. Creating the vision, finding the best path, guiding people along it, overcoming hurdles, celebrating successes and doing this for their teams.
A kind, “hello Sir” from a smiling Y7 or a thank you email from an ex-student certainly brightens your day. A great set of results, OFSTED report or other notable success gives a similar injection of endorphins.
The feeling of responsibility for those that place their trust in you is an enormous energiser, knowing that a student is relying on you to help them achieve those top grades or overcome their barriers sharpens the senses and helps focus your mind. Personally, I always try to ensure that this is a quest for success as opposed to a battle to overcome failure.
Outside of school, doing something a little crazy like hitchhiking to Africa, cycling up a mountain or exploring a new part of the world gives a great tangible sense of achievement that can be revisited when things get tough.
However my own personal greatest motivation is seeing people overcome challenges, making the most of their strengths and opportunities and finding focus and resilience to make great things happen for the people around them.
We witness this on a daily basis at Hazeley and I have to agree with Steve Jobs; “the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones that do.”
I hope that you find a few moments to reflect upon what motivates you.
From Stage to TV and radio
In the blog last week we celebrated the West End success of Jack Nuttal;, this week we highlight two other events one from TV and the other from radio.
A Sky News bulletin reporting on an independent netball tournament taking place last weekend involved some of Hazeley’s own local netball stars who were interviewed in relation to their response to the dramatic way in which the England netball team seized gold at the Commonwealth Games. It gives a great sense of how the local community using sport and our facilities come together. The report can be viewed here.
Hazeley staff and Year 7 students also featured on BBC Radio 5 Live this week discussing the research into word gaps. Much of the research shows the importance of reading, something very high on the agenda at Hazeley.
The interview can be accessed here. (scroll to 1 hour 23 mins)
Mr T Nelson
West End Success
Hazeley student Jack Nuttall has been performing in the multi award winning play The Ferryman at the Gielgud Theatre. The play is directed by Sam Mendes and written by Jez Butterworth. He is the only male actor who will complete the full West End run before the play transfers to Broadway.
The play has won many illustrious awards, the most prestigious of which was last Sunday’s Olivier Award for Best New Play and Best Director.
Jack has loved learning, working and acting alongside some of his heroes from the world of film and TV, such as:
- Paddy Considine
- Tom Glynn-Carney from “Dunkirk”
- Genevieve O’Reilly from “Star Wars”
- Saorise-Monica Jackson from “Derry Girls”
- Sam Mendes – the director of James Bond films “Skyfall” and “Spectre”
I am certain this is just the start of a fabulous career for Jack and we will all enjoy following and supporting his progress.
Principal’s Blog – Homework, happiness, quality of teaching, optimism and home support – 23rd March 2018March 23rd, 2018
Homework, happiness, quality of teaching, optimism and home support
You may have seen the recent news headlines following a survey commissioned by the Varkey Foundation. This compared the attitudes and priorities of 27,830 parents in 29 different countries.
It reported some interesting findings which were well summarised by the BBC:
- Only 11% of UK parents spent an hour per day helping their children with homework; far behind 62% in India.
- 87% of UK parents valued the quality of their children’s teachers, one of the highest in the world.
- When deciding on the type of school they wanted for their children, UK parents prioritised a sense of “ethos” and high academic results.
- Compared with other countries, parents in the UK were also likely to put a high emphasis on “happiness” for children in school.
We are proud at Hazeley to have a clear definition about what we stand for which supports what parents can expect from us.
If you want a school which encourages students to contribute and participate in their community, develop Character, Confidence and Creativity and supporting children to achieve excellent examination outcomes, then Hazeley is for you.
Of course this does mean that as a parent you will need to find the balance to support your child with homework. Over 900 Hazeley parents logged into G4Schools last week which shows that we are blessed to have such a supportive parent body.
I asked one of our highest achieving students from the previous Year 11 cohort about how his parents helped him and his words are wise and the advice powerful.
“My parents were always there to help me when I needed them, especially close to the exams when I wanted them to test me.
I know that they wanted to help develop my independence, after all it was my homework not theirs.
One thing that did stand out was that they were always genuinely interested and asked me questions about it which helped me think deeper. For example if the homework was about the causes of the first world war, they would follow it up with questions like, which one was the most important and why?”
This student not only achieved outstanding grades but also has an insatiable curiosity and positivity, a credit to his parents and Hazeley.
I wish all our students a wonderful Easter break and look forward to welcoming back all year groups on Monday 9th April 2018.
A reminder of term dates can be found HERE.
National Apprenticeship Week
Watching the news over the weekend it was a surprise to hear them reporting that the numbers going into apprenticeships has fallen over the last year. When the government have bought in the apprenticeship levy and there are so many more apprenticeships available, a rise in numbers of people taking on apprenticeships would seem more likely. However what did come to mind when watching the news report on this was that they gave a very stereotypical view on what an apprenticeship would look like, a manual role for those with low academic achievement. However this is no longer the case, apprenticeships can be accessed at intermediate level (equivalent to GCSEs) advanced (equivalent to A levels) and Higher (School leavers Programme/Degree) in all sectors of employment.
It is important that we are all aware of the benefits of taking on an apprenticeship, you continue to develop your skills and qualifications, you earn whilst you learn, more often than not your employer will employ you once you are fully qualified, for Degree Apprenticeships often the cost of the degree is paid for you.
During the week of 5th-9th March (National Apprenticeship week) the aim being to bring together employers and apprentices from across England to celebrate the success of apprenticeships whilst encouraging even more people to choose an apprenticeship as a pathway to a great career.
In Milton Keynes this actually came to life this week, as the National Apprenticeship Show was being hosted at Stadium MK on Monday 12th and Tuesday 13th March. We took a group of year 10 students who have expressed an interest in visiting a fair, having the opportunity to talk to different employment sectors about the apprenticeships they have to offer.
On Wednesday 14th March we also hosted one of our Careers Breakfasts, which this time had an apprenticeship focus, students from Year 9 and 10, as well as being joined by students from Shenley Brook End School, met with more employers who offer apprenticeships within Milton Keynes. In addition they had the opportunity to speak to young people who currently apprentices so they could hear first-hand the benefits of this career path. Students looked at apprenticeships in Hairdressing, Hospitality and Catering, Child care, Engineering, Business Administration, HR, and the NHS.
Students in Year 10-13 all have access to a platform called Unifrog, they all have been shown how to use the apprenticeship tool to search for apprenticeships. This is very student friendly and is updated every 24 hours with live apprenticeships. It will provide them information about the role they would be taking on, including wage, length of contract, job description and how to apply. This platform will be made available to year 9 after Easter. It is a great way to know what apprenticeships are out there.
We hope to see more of our young people choosing an apprenticeship for their future pathway.
Assistant Principal – KS5 and Pathways
As you will be aware Shenley Brook End School and The Hazeley Academy have been working together for some time in a joint approach to supporting our students.
Curriculum teams have met regularly to discuss teaching approaches so that both schools have been able to learn from each other in order to sustain and improve the opportunities for student progress. This partnership goes beyond the classroom; we have jointly worked together with regard to the provision of careers information with the involvement of local employers, in sport (we have started an inter-academy Varsity competition) and the leadership teams have developed strategies to further embed the positive start to this collaboration.
Our students have already felt the benefits of work together; last year’s Year 11 and Year 13 students in both schools achieved very high progress measures, placing us amongst the top schools nationally.
Governors at both academies have now decided to formalise the partnership and we have jointly established a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT), this has been agreed in principle by the Regional Schools Commissioner and Headteachers Board. This means that we are now very close to officially becoming one organisation; the 5 Dimensions Trust. The overall Trust name comes from the underpinning five aims (or dimensions) that both schools believe in and the reasons why we have joined together:
- To provide our students with a truly holistic education
- To ensure that students receive rigorous academic challenge
- To create a positive and high-performing environment for all staff
- To embed a supportive partnership with parents, carers and families
- To develop a meaningful relationship with our wider community
The two schools will still retain their individual identities and cultures, each with their own catchment areas and admissions procedures. By working together we will support each other to improve the life chances of our students whilst still celebrating our individuality.
If you would like to find out more about the trust and our joint future then please join us at either school at the following time:
|The Hazeley Academy
L Zone (Library)
|Monday 19th March||6.00pm||Email: email@example.com to confirm attendance|
|Shenley Brook End School
|Monday 19th March||7.30pm||Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
to confirm attendance
The Importance of School Uniform
One of the great things about the British education system is choice. Many of us are privileged to be able to choose to send our child to a school with a strict or relaxed approach to uniform; one which fits our own values as a parent. Hazeley is proud of its high expectations in a broad range of areas from academic achievement to being kind to others.
At Hazeley we have a strong belief in the benefits of school uniform which include:
- Uniform creates a sense of belonging, pride and community.
- It shows that you want to meet the high expectations of your community.
- Dressing the same reduces bullying and social pressure on students to choose and purchase expensive designer clothes.
- A smart uniform helps students learn how to dress formally.
I am pleased to see the standards of uniform steadily improve over the past few years with trainers and black jeans now a distant memory. Students wear their uniform with increasing levels of pride.
Our students speak positively about wearing their Hazeley uniform.
“Having a uniform means you don’t need to worry about wearing the wrong thing”Y11
“Wearing school uniform prepares you for the outside world” Y11
“It shows that you are part of something” Y9
“It feels special when you first put on your blazer; you feel really grown up”Y9
We will continue to improve clarity and consistency as we move forward. This is an endless but worthwhile task and, for example we are considering making the phrase “just above the knee” a little more specific and looking at sourcing a standard skirt for students. We will ensure that you are updated of any changes.
Staff will continue to praise students who are meeting expectations and challenge those who are not.
Unlike many other schools we endeavour to avoid excluding students for uniform related issues, however our behaviour policy clearly states that students may be isolated if they are not in the correct uniform and this is not an area we will negotiate and these expectations are unlikely to change in the near future. We appreciate there are many retailers offering a range of styles, lengths and fabrics when buying uniform. Sadly these do not always meet our uniform expectations and we ask parents to refer to our guidelines prior to purchasing LINK.
Thank you again to all the students, parents and carers who supported so warmly our latest push on these expectations.
Parent Voice Feedback
Mrs G Williamson & Mr S Whitney
“Feedback is a gift. Ideas are the currency of our next success. Let people see you value both feedback and ideas.”
– Jim Trinka and Les Wallace
Feedback is the bedrock for continuous improvement at Hazeley. We consider feedback from our students, parents and carers a valuable gift to support our drive to enhance the experiences and opportunities of our young people. On Thursday 25th January 2018 our dedicated parent voice group met to explore homework and ways to support parents to engage with their child’s learning.
The main areas of discussion included:
|Area Discussed||Academy Response|
|Volume and Regularity of Homework||There has been academy-wide communication to all teachers with advice and expectations.
Parents are requested to contact subject teachers with specific concerns.
A Senior Leader, Mr S Whitney, is taking a strategic lead on improving consistency.
|Use of Go4Schools||Academy is investigating the price of the Go4Schools app.
Academy is reviewing other online platforms that allow parents to give consent for trips and visits.
|Opportunities for Academic Support||An information leaflet has been created to be handed out on Parents Evening.
Tutors give further information to display in tutor rooms.
Parents are requested to contact subject teachers for specific advice about progress.
|Support with Careers and Pathways Education||All students will have access to an online careers platform called Unifrog whereby students find the best apprenticeship or university for them. Each child will have a session focused on exploring their careers pathways using Unifrog.
Information for parents regarding careers will be published on our website.
|Support with Wellbeing Education||Dates, lesson content and resources of the wellbeing lessons will be published to parents.
A Senior Leader, Mrs L McKenzie, is taking the lead on liaising with groups and charities that support the wellbeing of our children.
The next Parent Voice session will be focusing on the development of reports, Go4Schools and the website. It will take place on Thursday 1st March from 6.30pm – 7.30pm. All parents are warmly welcomed to attend. If you are interested in attending please email: email@example.com
What is the biggest decision you have ever made?
What is the best decision you have ever made?
Making good decisions is one of the most important skills in life. Sometimes just knowing that you have a decision to make and not simply drifting along with the crowd can be a challenge in itself.
I still recall advice from a Head of 6th Form about her 6 steps to decision making and it still rings true today
- Identify the decision to be made and the outcome you want from it?
- Gather all of the information you can on the options available. Keep linking them back to your values and long term goals?
- List the pros and cons.
- Ask for advice from people who you respect and value the judgement of
- Make your decision
Options at Post 16
As well as Year 11 being busy preparing for their PPEs and completing controlled assessments they are also considering pathways at post 16. Over 80% attended our Sixth Form Open Evening, alongside well over 200 external applicants.
For parents/carers who also attended the Options at Post 16 Evening in May, you will be familiar with the three options students have at the end of Year 11.
1) Full time education– this could be Sixth Form or College
3) Employment training or Part time Education plus being employed/self-employed or volunteering for 20 hours or more a week
This is a big decision and it is incredibly important that students have all the information in order to make informed decisions. Some of the actions the students should be taking in order to help with this process are:
- Visiting sixth form and college open evenings, making sure they know what different organisations offer and to get a feel for the places.
- If they are joining our sixth form; speaking to subject staff about whether the subject suits them and finding out more about the course.
- Researching where they might head at Post 18 to ensure the options they choose support this.
- Researching Apprenticeships. These are available through colleges, for example Milton Keynes College offers a range of apprenticeships. Or through different employers, which can be found through searching individual websites or looking at the Governments data base, using the following web link https://www.findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk/apprenticeshipsearch
- Making applications to a range of destinations, to ensure they have a first choice and at least one back up option which has a lower entry requirement than their first choice.
- Ensure they are aware of deadlines for applications and are meeting these.
The Year 11s are currently working with their tutors on researching these options and making the necessary applications and will help prepare them for interviews. We have had numerous students spend either a day in sixth form or attend specific subject lessons to have a better understanding of the subjects they are potentially choosing. All our students will also have a pathways interview to support them further with their choice and any support required for making their different applications. Our aim is to ensure all our students find the right course and place for them and their future career pathway.
If students would like any assistance or further support with this, they should speak with their tutor, who will to book an appointment with myself for further support with this.
Director of Post 16
This week at Hazeley has been enriched by our Italian visitors (we tried not to mention the World Cup), Children in Need events and a focus across the subjects on the national anti-bullying campaign.
These activities all help develop the Hazeley Values and nationally they are often referred to as the Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural (SMSC) elements.
The SMSC blog celebrates many of these events and can be discovered on this LINK or via our website.