This Monday we are interviewing internally for the senior leadership position of Director of Learning in the faculty of Global Citizenship (humanities & languages). The Directors of Learning at Hazeley are a team of fully trained coaches, senior leaders of learning, who are all, themselves, exceptional teaching practitioners in their own right. Collectively, they champion our core business; outstanding resourcing, planning, teaching, learning, assessment & intervention; and ultimately, achievement. Although they have a significant teaching commitment themselves, they are nevertheless given time to work – to coach and to mentor – within the faculty to spread best practice across all classrooms. They also specialise in areas across the academy; such as innovation, behaviour for learning, feedback etc. and finally, they also perform outreach – as part of the Milton Keynes Teaching School Alliance (MKTSA: www.mktsa.com) and in other contexts – spreading best practice in primary and secondary settings. The cadre of professionals in the outstanding faculty of Global Citizenship, who collectively enjoy some of the best results across the academy, means that the field of candidates is of the highest calibre. It will be a real challenge selecting the successful candidate who will be put through a rigorous process. I wish them all well and look forward to welcoming one of them to the Senior Leadership Team. Interviews continue to fill vacancies for teaching and non-teaching posts in September and with rare exception, the calibre of external fields also remains very high, in spite of the warnings of fewer people coming into and the numbers apparently leaving teaching in these troubled times, politically, in the profession. On that note, although not a member of NAHT myself, it was interesting to read the media reports of Headteachers according a vote of no-confidence in the current Government’s education reforms. Whilst the pressures on secondary schools and Headteachers are phenomenal with such sweeping changes as we are witnessing right now, I do believe that the NAHT has a predominance of primary Headteachers; I do think that in some ways, in their generally smaller settings and reduced economies of scale means that they feel additional pressures through these reforms. Whilst I can only speak for myself and certainly not from a party-political perspective, I personally consider some of the changes, ironically, to have been quite positive. The opening up of the curriculum and standards debate around the previously often very cynical use of alternatives to GCSE courses over the past 20 years I have considered an important one to have. The on-going reformation of the examination system however, I consider a debacle. Not that it does not need changing – I feel it does; but professional consultation and a sensible timeline I think has simply not been adequate. It is undeniable with regards to the new (2012) Ofsted framework of inspection that the bar has been raised to achieve good and outstanding overall judgments – and I speak having all but completed Ofsted inspector training myself (many of the newest recruits to the position of ‘additional inspector’ are practicing Headteachers). The intention I think, going forward is that ‘good’ becomes the acceptable norm and the bottom-line aspiration of all schools – we all want to send our children to a good school. That going forward, perhaps, schools judged as ‘outstanding’ really do ‘stand out’ – beacons of excellence – rather than a slightly more arbitrary difference between the ‘very good’ and ‘outstanding’. Of course, the media are always at risk of oversimplifying the highly complex world of the educational landscape – leaving our primary stakeholders – families – no doubt very confused at the rhetoric. I certainly agree with one delegate at the conference who felt it was “…about time we had a system where education was taken out of the political arena.” After thirty years in the profession myself, I am unfortunately a little cynical that this will ever be the case.
One of many highlights last week was where we enjoyed our annual ‘Adisa Day’. For the second year running, this time organised by English teacher Ms Stapleton, we welcomed Adisa the poet to work with students on a poetry slam; sponsored by our regional business link Wates Construction. Adisa was born on 10th December 1968 in London, and at a very young age his family moved to Luton where he was raised. He spent 7 years working as a sign writer and in his he acquired a love for performing in front of large crowds. He now performs around the world, inspiring the young and old. Although I did not catch up on his workshops this year, I did last and I can certainly recommend his work to schools – primary and secondary. I look forward to congratulating the students who won the poetry slam – it was by all accounts a very motivating and quite emotional event. Norma Odain-Hines, the project skills co-ordinator at Wates construction wrote that she was “…very inspired and moved by the poems that I hear as the students used very powerful words”. I would also take this opportunity to thank Wates for their kind sponsorship to provide an individual dictionary for all our year 7 students. This is just one of many exciting initiatives within which Wates are throwing themselves into supporting the work of the academy – particularly in years 7-9.
As half-term approaches, I wish students an enjoyable and well-earned break – hoping they all return fully refreshed for the long term in the run up to the summer.
A busy couple of weeks ahead with interviews, particularly for new teachers for September – from the year of opening, in 2005, this is our last year of significant growth, as a year group of 180 leaves year 11 to be replaced by a year group of 240 in all years now, with well over in the sixth form. I look forward to introducing new colleagues to The Hazeley in September
Congratulations to The Hazeley’s very own Rock School Riot competitors this weekend, ‘Demo’ whose members, Tom Dimmock, Harry Hales, Harry Greenfield and Ben Adams blew away the competition to become outright winners. Playing three songs, Tick Tick Boom, God of Lies and You’re Gonna Go Far Kid; (God of Lies being own song) Demo were true performers. Proud parents and Hazeley students looked on and cheered them to victory. Demo (pictured here) scooped lots of prizes including some huge Marshall Amps and also got to open for Seethe on Saturday night at the same venue. This gig also tied in with Year 13 Music technology BTEC - Two other students, Charlie and Ashley have to publicise the event – their job this week is to analyse the success.
As examinations begin in earnest this week, year 11 had a lovely surprise on Friday when period 5 was suspended for a special ‘leavers’ assembly’ followed by pizza in the canteen – personal tutors, senior and other staff joined progress leaders Mr and Mrs Hartnett for photographs (and not a little of the traditional shirt-signing). It was a lovely end to the week for a really special year group and one we’re confident are going to do extremely well this summer. Of course there is no study leave – students are still expected to attend and to register – but once they have completed all of the examinations in a particular subject, to access instead one of the specially put on supervised rooms, planning their own revision for remaining examinations – until they are all over. Again, I wish them all the very best of luck and look forward to sharing their success on results day in August and Awards evening in November.
Congratulations to our Director of Well-Being, Mrs Mayles, for her fantastic personal achievement, coming second this bank holiday, in the Milton Keynes marathon. In this and in so many ways, Becky – whose ambition and drive extends also into her work as a senior leader at The Hazeley – is a fantastic role model to young people (and the not so young). As the warmer days of Spring do appear to have arrived (or is it Summer – it can be difficult to know what to anticipate these days?), we too look forward to getting athletic on sports day, which this year we are leaving until late June (26th). We have had a difficult few years as far as sports day is concerned. In my four years at The Hazeley, I have not managed to see one! In my first year, our fields were unusable and had been inadequate since the school was first handed over – flooded in the winter and resembling an earthquake zone in the heat of the summer. They are now fully repaired, in a good condition and lovingly tended to by a Groundsman we hire from St. Pauls. In my second year – just as I was about to head out to the now repaired field, I received the call from Ofsted and had to sit with my Head of History preparing for a subject inspection (and an outstanding one it was!). Last year, we rescheduled but finally gave up – the weather was so poor throughout June and early July. So unless I have spoken too soon..!
Sports days, like our other drop-down days (Global Citizenship the week before last, Well Being last term, etc…) are such wonderful days, when most of or indeed the whole Academy step off the timetable treadmill and does something entirely different – and in a real spirit of collaboration (although competition figures rather highly on sports day). I really do not think we do enough of this kind of thing. It builds community. It pulls people together and gives everyone a much greater sense of common purpose.
Now that it seems, on our current forecasts, that we are looking to secure outstanding academic results and possibly our best ever at both key stages 4 and 5, the revisiting of our longer term vision for the academy could not have come at a better time. Members of the Senior Team, the Board of Directors and I are now very busy putting this in place; I look forward to sharing early drafts with staff, students and families for feedback. Indeed, many of you have commented on how we have, in large part, met all of the objectives and many of the targets that we set ourselves for the three years 2010 – 2013 as laid out in the first Strategic Vision I and the Board of Directors put in place shortly after my arrival (to be found here). This was an ambitious vision for a young school and a great deal changed in the local and national education landscape in that time – but I feel that we weathered those changes well and most importantly we have put in place the senior and middle leadership that was much needed, to build on the excellent early foundations laid. We have worked towards securing outstanding results through systemic change and a relentless focus on our core business of teaching – not through engineering the curriculum. There have been ups and downs and difficulties along the way – but the direction, purpose and intended outcomes we never wavered from. We set out to put the learner first and I think we do. Consolidating outcomes and with our Senior Vice Principal (Mr Nelson) ensuring that we do not lose sight of the central importance of securing the best results for young people, we now nevertheless need to move towards taking something of a ‘leap of faith’ in some of what we do. It is well documented, locally as well, for example, that models of vertical tutoring (where older students share the same tutor group as younger ones and involving almost the entire community in pastoral care and academic support) make huge positive changes to the climate in a school and the school climate plays a significant part in driving up standards. Although it always appears ‘unpopular’ when first suggested, I have introduced this into three schools previously – and in all cases it was hugely popular once it bedded down – and still running that way, many years on. Vice Principal Ms. Whiteman with Assistant Principal Mrs. Baldwin take the lead in this alongside moving ‘behaviour’ to outstanding in all settings. We also need to begin to look more creatively at our curriculum – from year 7 right through to year 13 – and expanding on some of the ideas for drop-down days is only one way to deliver a more alive, relevant and joined-up curriculum offer; one that makes more sense to young people than the fragmented offer most commonly witnessed in secondary schools. Looking at the curriculum through fresh eyes and with the benefit of his soon to be commissioned new fast, secure and reliable IT infrastructure will be led by Vice Principal Mr Boswell.
Finally, I hope that family and friends of The Hazeley had a warm and enjoyable bank holiday and certainly not caught in as much traffic as I was, although I must say that Stoke Bruerne and the canal museum was a wonderful family-find for a really lovely day out. The poor mobile signal in parts made it even better – as it became possible for adults and children to switch off their ‘second life’ and spend time with those around them. I can recommend it to you if you have yet to visit.
As for holiday reading – sorry but that was a bus-man’s holiday for me – if you are interested in the things we do and don’t do – as school leaders, teachers and parents to help our young people to succeed then the gathering of research that is “How Children Succeed” by Paul Tough makes for compelling reading. I will draw out some of the key themes from this and other vision-informing works over the next few weeks for reflection.
Our theme for this week is one of the IB Learner Profile competencies: “Principled” – Lead lessons and Personal Tutor sessions will reflect on principles, values and beliefs. And as years 11-13 enter into the full flow of examination season in the next two weeks – the strong work ethic, conscientiousness and resilience of the overwhelming majority of them will hold them in good stead. I wish them the very best of luck.
As students, in year 7 each year, join The Hazeley from almost every one of the primary schools in the city (and indeed from homes in almost every MK city post-code), we really do, as an academy, represent the entire city of Milton Keynes; which is of course a city which is richly ethnically and culturally diverse. Milton Keynes is also a city which presents itself as one with a truly international focus – a reflection that any visitor to the excellent, annual International Festival (link) would come away with and one which this company brochure from a few years ago reflects upon. As a microcosm of Milton Keynes, at The Hazeley, we like to celebrate this international focus – through our unique curriculum with some of the highest achieving students in languages and humanities. We also celebrate through strong links with ethnic, cultural and religious groups and settings in MK as well as with partner schools on many continents. We recognise the critical importance of ensuring young people recognise diversity and celebrate what we all share in common as well as the differences which enrich our lives and our communities.
At The Hazeley we also enjoy many well planned, cross-curricular events – often what we call ‘drop-down days’ where the timetable is suspended for a day. Some of these enjoy a global theme. Last Thursday saw one of our last curriculum drop-down day for this academic year – led by the Global Citizenship faculty (humanities & languages) – headed up by Faculty Director Mr Gowney Hedges – formerly head of history here at The Hazeley – a department judged as outstanding by Ofsted in summer 2011 with Mr Gowney-Hedges being one of the few teachers in my career I have heard mentioned as an individual in the House of Commons for his “inspirational teaching” (link). Thursday was a brilliantly well-organised day involving all students from year 7 through to year 9, enjoying a range of activities from parkour to African drumming; food tasting to prison talks; language tasters to Zumba dancing and so much more. It was a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, international jamboree and a real team effort from within the faculty, the many staff from other areas who supported it so well and the many visiting contributors – mostly giving of their time free. A non-uniform day for charity, one further highlight of our Global Citizenship day was a successful world record attempt – the fastest marathon whilst dribbling a football (106 laps of the sports track) in just 4 hours 31 minutes and 45 seconds (previous record 5 hours 10 minutes 46 seconds). This was all in aid of our chosen charity Kick4Life – onlookers should see www.kick4life.org if interested in finding out more and of course, if anyone would like to retrospectively support this amazing achievement and good cause please go to https://www.justgiving.com/marathon-dribble
This coming week, I look forward to catching up with our students in a football final and I wish them the very best of luck. Continuing the sporting theme, but a little less conventional for a school, on 3rd April two of our older students, Sophie and Beth, competed in an inter-schools show jumping competition at Addington Manor Equestrian Centre. Both girls did extremely well. They followed that, this weekend when on Saturday 27th both attended the inter-schools show jumping event at Bury Farm Equestrian Centre. It was a long day (11.30am until 6pm) experienced through four hailstone showers, constant rumblings of thunder and April-shower downpours with close to 100 students and their ponies! Sophie P completed an absolutely brilliant round in the 85cm class, (in hailstones), picking up just 8 faults due to an unlucky pole on one fence and one stop! Sophie has only had her pony, Boris for just over 6 months and therefore this is a huge achievement for them both – to be competing so early and doing so well. Beth also had a fantastic round, picking up 8 faults for 2 poles down, but rode a very stylish and quick round. Still very early in our equestrian pursuits we are extremely proud of both girls who are extremely professional and represent the Academy to a very high standard every time they are out competing. Our thanks to Miss Weir for organizing the inter-schools show jumping events and we look forward to hearing more of their pursuits.
The summer examination season is very nearly upon us in full flow – indeed, for our year 13 International Baccalaureate students, it begins this week – so the very best of luck to them on the culmination of two years’ dedication. Two weeks away and both GCSE and AS/A level examinations begin to take over – continuing after the half-term break and into late June. Students should of course prepare well and revise hard for examination – and be sure to complete any remaining coursework, controlled assessments and portfolio work to the best of their abilities. Aligned to this, our theme of the week, this week is that of ’boundaries’. Limitations are of course, things we all too often place onto ourselves – we really believe that we cannot do something – be it sport, art, music, public speaking, mathematics, science, business… Our young examination candidates over the next few weeks – the doctors, teachers, engineers, social workers, astronauts, lawyers, entrepreneurs, priests and prophets of the future – really do have their entire life, boundless, in front of them. We are putting the future of the globe in their hands – in part to repair the havoc we have created! They would do well to remember Olympian Usain Bolt’s frequent quotes on ‘boundaries’ – not least the simple and succinct; “I don’t think limits”.
Have a great week.
A warm welcome back to all students from a long Easter holiday – I hope that all are well-rested, have enjoyed time at home with families and have not suffered through eating too much chocolate! The summer terms are of course two of our busiest and not least for our older students; years 11, 12 and 13 who head fast towards GCSE, AS, A2 and IB examinations. Our most recent forecast grades point to what we expect to be the best ever set of results in the history of the Academy – at both Key Stage 4 and 5. We look forward to hopefully seeing these forecasts realised and wish all students the very best of luck in the months ahead. These outcomes, if achieved, will represent hard-earned and well-deserved results for dedicated students who have worked and continue to work hard in their studies, supported by a body of staff – teaching and support – who consistently go the extra mile in a manner I have never quite seen over many years and across many schools. Against the backdrop of uncertainty, with something of a revolution taking place in the work of the curriculum and examinations (particularly at Key Stage 4) alongside somewhat questionable integrity last summer in some areas of the world of examination boards.
Continuing the theme of examinations, good luck to year 11 students getting ready for their final written and spoken controlled assessments in GCSE French this and next week. Finally, adding to the morning sessions in personal tutor time, after-school revision sessions for GCSE scientists begin this week between 3:20pm and 4:15pm for Monday (Chemistry), Wednesday (Biology) and Thursday (Physics). These are open to all in year 11. Recommended revision books for the Edexcel course are available and can be purchased from Mrs Haupt. Many revision sessions took place over the Easter holidays and I would like to thank teachers who planned and delivered these sessions and congratulate the large numbers of students who came in to take part in them.
This week, our ‘theme of the week’ is that of ’money matters’ and among other financial and enterprise considerations we shall be looking in lead lessons at the actual annual cost, per student, of education in the UK – which averages around £5500 at The Hazeley. We shall think about how money meant for staff, books, technology and other equipment can be wasted if we are faced with careless damage or even vandalism in schools. Working closely as we do with the local Oakhill Secure Training Centre in our cluster of schools, I have been asked by the Managing Director of G4S who run Oakhill (Paul Cook), as a local Headteacher, to spend some time in London this week with the Youth Justice Board and the Secretary of State for Justice – adding to a consultation on how best to make education provision for young people in custody; to contribute to a significant reduction in re-offending rates for 12-17 year-olds. These currently stand at around 75% re-offending within two years of being released. Costing around £180,000 per year to keep each young person in custody and for the sake of a young life gone wrong, controversial and often extremely complex though these matters are, excellent education and working closely with vulnerable families (to endeavour to avoid offending in the first place) as well as a more relevant education and post-release support for those very young in custody have to be at the heart of improving the situation. This complex theme allows us to explore and reflect as a community on a range of important matters around citizenship, crime, money and most of all the choices that we make.
Finally, a group of students returned safely from a trip to Poland this Easter – trip leader, our Chartered Librarian Anna Ardley reported that although everyone was exhausted, they had enjoyed a deeply thought-provoking and highly educational trip. We look forward to photographs and write-ups from students in a future newsletter.
I hope you all have a really good week.
Our year 8 boys continued their fantastic sporting year by winning the Milton Keynes Schools rugby tournament – triumphing over Shenley Brook End in the final last week. This is a fantastic result and our congratulations go to Kurtis, Max, Deran, Sultan, Matt, George, Lewis, Scott, Billy, Liam, Rory, Fin, Myles and Harry. This is very timely as I look forward to attending a breakfast over the Easter break with the MK Business Leaders Partnership – to hear from Pete Winkelman and John Cove (MK Dons) on the forthcoming 2015 Rugby World Cup and what it means to Milton Keynes if we are chosen to play host to some of the games – exciting stuff – a little early for our year 8s to take part but the possibility of getting along to a World Cup game would be fantastic
Just as the media appear for a short while to have grown tired of questioning the rights and wrongs of the not-so-quiet revolution that is underway in the way in which schools are governed, led, funded and judged, a new story breaks this week to suggest that UK schools are showing a significant increase in the proportion of young people set on disrupting learning – for themselves and others. Behaviour in schools is a ubiquitous theme and talking about it goes in and out of fashion. As this recent article in the Education Guardian suggests, a recent poll of teachers illustrates that 90% of school staff across the UK have dealt with some form of extreme behaviour over the past year with the vast majority of staff polled having recorded what they perceive to be a rise in the number of children with emotional, behavioural or even mental health problems. Although previously having spent a lot of my time going into really challenging urban schools where behaviour had been a real problem and helping to put them back on the road to recovery, reading statistics like this on the one hand makes you realise how fortunate we are at Hazeley whilst on the other hand being really concerned at this growing problem with the lowered aspirations our young. As the relentless cuts to public services continue to bite, we learn that two-thirds of local authorities have cut their budgets for children and young people’s mental health services since the coalition government came to power in 2010. A freedom of information request by the Young Minds charity found that 34 out of 51 local authorities which responded said their budgets for children’s and young people’s mental health services had been cut, one by 76%. These are worrying statistics. With youth unemployment having risen yet again as reported last week – with over 20% of young people aged 16-24 now out of work in the UK, the near future continues to look bleak. Schools must of course play their part in addressing this in some way. We are told in the same breath as we hear the unemployment statistics that there is a skills shortage and not just in the UK but worldwide, young people, even highly qualified ones, are ill-equipped for the modern workplace – and in a significant way, lack the emotional and social intelligence as well as the resilience and determined confidence to be seen as excellent prospects by business, able and needing now to pick and choose their recruits. Last Friday, at Hazeley, we welcomed over 30 local and regional business representatives to the latest of our corporate Business Breakfasts. Even with a 7:15 am start (on a cold day more reminiscent of January!) the Pavilion was buzzing with networking – business people exchanging cards with each other and students – years 9 through to 13 enjoying a taste of the real world of business, commerce and enterprise. With an inspirational keynote presentation given by Atlantic rower, Ian Rowe (of Gold Fever), it was gratitude from our hosts – our Principal Boy Dan and Girl, Kat – followed by a raffle and off into one of a dozen varied workshops where over 150 students took part in business and careers related activity for the first part of the morning. Feedback was excellent – from contributors and students alike. “We need more of this kind of thing” said one year 9 student and another “I felt more confident about what I would like to do and how I would like to be when I leave Hazeley”.
We also had a fantastic drop-down day for the Health Fair with Year 9 last Thursday – organised by the Director of Well Being, Mrs Mayles and her team, our thanks go to all the visitors and to everyone who made the day such a success.
To return to the earlier ‘current affair’ – there were certainly no instances of any kind of behaviour problems during any of these sessions; low level disruption or otherwise. When young people see relevance in what they are doing, when they know that the adults around them are working for and with them and anticipate respect by giving it and when they can see or feel success – there are no problems with behaviour – except of course where something in their lives – outside of school or among their friends – is spilling into school. My experience of Hazeley students always has been a very positive one. And this is because staff go the extra mile to plan interesting and exciting learning experiences for all students. Also, increasingly, our communication and work with families to support their children in their learning improves – day by day and week by week. The overwhelming majority of youngsters, the vast majority of the time conduct themselves brilliantly. This majority have excellent attendance, they arrive at the academy on time, in perfect uniform, having completed their homework, fully equipped and ready to learn. They go about their business without disturbing others and indeed are often very supportive of other students – including those facing some difficulties. Of 1500 students I would say this was true, over 95% of the time for 1400 of them – they are unsung heroes of Hazeley and their efforts to always give of their best is all too often overlooked. To the others – most of whom face or have faced real challenge in their personal lives – we do our level best to support them when they face difficulty – and we have the most caring and supportive team of staff with whom I have ever worked.
In our self-evaluations, we report that behaviour at Hazeley is securely good and in the majority of lessons and in the community, outstanding. To secure what Ofsted, in the new, more stringent 2012 framework, would deem ‘securely outstanding’ behaviour, like the majority of schools, we still have some work to do with a tiny, but influential minority. And that work is well underway – we are less tolerant on the one hand of any student disrupting the learning of others; yet mindful that there is always a reason for poor behaviour. Through support, restorative practices, periods of reflection and of course working closely with supportive parents, there is nothing that cannot be achieved. My Vice Principal, Toni Whiteman is working with a group of staff towards our goal of 100% outstanding behaviour – all of the time. We know that this actually begins with the adults in the building. With a consistency of approach to building and securing excellent relationships and rapport with individuals and groups – and we have many excellent coaches working to secure this consistency helping us all to win the support of our key stakeholders – our students, their parents and families.
And talking of parents and families – I was thrilled to meet up last week with our mathematics maternity teacher Mrs Newman and her lovely newborn, Anna – who was alert and looking for a job already. Both were doing well and we look forward to Mrs Newman returning to Hazeley in September.
Have a great week – and a lovely Easter. It is nearly British Summertime.
We look forward to our seventh Hazeley Business Breakfast this coming Friday as we move ever closer to the Easter holiday. This time I look forward to welcoming and to introducing our keynote speaker who is Ian Rowe. Ian has worked with The Hazeley over the last 2 years as part of the Gold Fever initiative - a programme motivation and engagement for our year 11 students in the build up to their examinations.
Ian was part of a six man crew setting out to break the World Record for rowing across 2,700 nautical miles of the Atlantic Ocean in January 2012. The regime of racing under intense pressure, 2 hours on and 2 hours off, 24/7 took its toll on all of the crew – some handled it and others did not. This became part of the challenge itself. The weight loss, blisters, sores and the physical, emotional and mental exhaustion all became irrelevant when the boat capsized less after 28 days at sea and with about 500 miles remaining.
Ian has a great insight into taking on a huge challenge, breaking that down into manageable ‘bites’ plus turning a seemingly insurmountable setback into a positive outcome.
We look forward to Ian inspiring us with his own high (mis)adventure and relating that to the rather more modest challenges we all face in day to day life – be that a new job, health issues, relationships at home and work or simply getting a C in GCSE mathematics.
After our breakfast and keynote- hosted and attended by members of our Student Council and typically attended by over 25 local and regional businesses – many of our welcome visitors are staying on to run workshops for groups of students on the education-employer-enterprise interfaces. This is something very much headline news at the moment and I point those interested to the excellent and rather sobering McKinsey report here where you will find all the reasons you need for schools to consider re-thinking what they are doing to prepare young people to thrive in an increasingly competitive and uncertain global future. Resilience, entrepreneurship, values and social competences are all going to be increasingly important to nurture in our young into the future
Our sixth form IB students showed all of these attributes and many more when they stole the show last week and almost entirely led the Sixth Form Open Evening for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. An audience-participation section to this well-attended event really made this evening worthwhile. And on Friday, busking was done and cakes were sold as we played our small part towards raising the impressive and record-breaking sum of £75m for Comic Relief. Our thoughts are with the families of those to whom this aid will hopefully bring new hope and save lives. We know that aid alone will not solve the problem of poverty in often war-torn and destitute locations. Debt cancellation and rethinking the global capitalist economy from the ground up is thought by many to be the only way to rid the world of such inequality. Two interesting sources to think through some of the issues – a 2008 film “The End of Poverty” can be found on YouTube and a really interesting current book I am reading, by Nitesh Gor – The Dharma of Capitalism – found here – both are worth a look
This Thursday is the annual Year 9 Health Fayre and students will be off timetable the day focusing on all aspects of their health and well being, including physical, social and mental health. The aim of the day is to empower our students to make informed decisions on maintaining and improving their health and well being now and in their future lives. During the day students will visit the actual Health Fair, where organisations from around the local area will be on hand to answer questions, provide information and support our students. Students will also participate in 3 different activity sessions, trying to provide students with different physical activities from their normal school PE lessons; for example boot camp fitness sessions, pilates, Tae Kwondo. Orgnaised brilliantly by our Director of Well Being, Mrs Mayles and her faculty team, this promises to be a great day.
Have a great week.
Worryingly, I received two email messages last week from members of the local community (Oakhill and Grange Farm) seriously concerned about both the illegal (and perceived dangerous) parking and the dropping off/picking up of some of our students at the start and the end of the academy day. Of course, our jurisdiction, to a large extent, ends at the ‘school gate’ but our concern for the welfare and safety of our 1500 students knows no such boundary. I cannot require my staff to ‘police traffic’ – they are not trained to do this and were something awful to occur whilst they were doing their best to do that, there would be a liability. Nevertheless, the illegal parking and what appears to be occasionally less than careful passage of children from and their parents’ cars is frequently a cause for concern. This is particularly the case on and around the roundabout as well as just inside the gate – at the main entrance and to a lesser extent, at the roundabout near the Walnuts School. Periodically, we alert the police to our concerns and as now, ask parents/carers who drive their children to The Hazeley, to be vigilant, take great care, park legally and sensibly and look to all parents/carers for their support by reminding their children, however they journey to and from the academy, to always take care around traffic.
Over the next few weeks we launch into ‘interview season’ for the new academic year, this September. Although our turnover of staff is still very low (which is great for students and stability), we are still growing, from 1490 to our maximum size of 1535 this September; and we therefore need a small contingent of new staff. On Tuesday we look forward to welcoming candidates for the position of Learning Leader (Economics) – a management position – the successful candidate will also teach some business studies and ICT. Later in the week and into next week, we interview for English, mathematics, humanities and science positions.
Candidates for jobs, successful or not, invariably leave the academy really impressed with what they see and hear on the day. They particularly report enjoying the tour of the building and classrooms as well as the student interview panel – the one they say is most challenging of all. They report that students and staff all seem really happy at Hazeley – they seem to get on really well with each other and in the main, seem to be working really hard to do their very best. How students present themselves makes a huge difference to how we are viewed by visitors (and the local community) and also a huge difference to how they feel about themselves, as students. Uniform standards, for the overwhelming majority, are high. For a minority, however, there is still work to be done and we are looking to step up our push to raise standards even higher; particularly clamping down on inappropriate trousers (e.g. ‘skinnies’/legging-like/denim style) as well as visible headphones & phones (away from the restaurant/outside/breakout spaces). I ask any parent who receives a letter from my Assistant Principal (Care Support & Guidance), Louise Baldwin, to work with us in improving standards of uniform and pride in being a student at The Hazeley even further.
An exciting couple of weeks ahead for year 11. Results for the early English GCSE entry are out on Thursday. On Monday, students completing the early GCSE mathematics linear paper will sit the final examination. The week after next (Thursday 14th March) we welcome year 11 students from Hazeley and across MK & beyond to our Open Evening to find out more about the International Baccalaureate. The Assistant Principal (Post-16) will introduce the evening and will be followed by our IB Co-ordinator as well as some students. There is a second window of opportunity to put in an application for this unique programme.
Have a great week.
This half-term holiday myself and a group of 8 senior managers joined a similar number of our Board Directors (Governors) for two days of facilitated scenario planning, led ably by consultant Ian Wigston of Glowinkowski International. This productive time spent together allowed us to consider collectively any number of possible future pathways the Hazeley Academy could take in the fast changing landscape that is ‘education UK’. We were guided to rehearse our responses to a variety of different internal and external influences and as the two days drew to a close, what began to take shape was a very early framework of values around which we shall scaffold our next 3-5 year strategic vision (2013-2018). This of course builds upon the nearly fully realised previous vision (available on this website) – which was one which led us from the ‘small school’ of 2010 to this coming September, when, for the first time, with 1535 students (including 335 sixth-formers) coming through the door we shall, finally, after eight years of growth, be full. Next steps in the development of our Vision 2018 will be to engage the wider staff, our student body and of course our families alongside other stakeholders. My thanks to senior staff and Governor Directors for giving up so much time over this half-term break.
One feature of the Academy that has emerged in recent years is our increasingly ‘international’ flavour. With the huge success and significant growth of our unique International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, our growing number of international partners schools and underpinned by one of the highest performing languages departments in the country offering French, German, Spanish, Italian and Mandarin Chinese, we look to reflect, in a small way, the quite explicit international aspirations of Milton Keynes itself. Joining us on the two day workshop was of course, Assistant Principal (Partnerships), Stefan Healy, fresh from his return from his British Council visit to one of our partner schools in Ghana. We look forward, in the weeks ahead, to hearing all about his and Senior Learning Mentor, Alex West’s visit.
Not too far away now is our annual Open Evening for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme – a post-16 evening for current year 11 students from across Milton Keynes and beyond. Assistant Principal for the sixth form, Nick Summers and a number of IBDP students (including my own daughter) will be available to answer questions about this highly regarded programme, recently receiving glowing praise in an article in The Independent (Click here). Our IB Open Evening is Thursday March 14th 2013 – more details will be found on the website closer to the date. With already record numbers of applicants for this programme, aspiring students are recommended to attend this evening and to apply as soon thereafter as possible to secure an offer of a place on the course this September.
Theme for the week this coming week is ‘Challenging Racism’ – always an odd phrase in my view – to ‘challenge’ something almost implies that there is an argument for that thing in the first place; and of course, for racism – or any other form of prejudice – I believe there never can be. We shall in lead lessons and tutor time, explore our own response to something that is plainly and robustly not tolerated in the academy; one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse schools in MK. One area we shall explore, critically important if somewhat off at a tangent, is that of global inequality – and the deepening poverty of the emerging nations. Paying homage to ‘Fair Trade Fortnight’ which begins on 25th February 2013, we shall celebrate our own status as a school, alongside a few others named on their website, that supports the Fair Trade ™ Borough status of Milton Keynes (click here). Along this theme, a troubling yet fascinating and highly informative video, narrated by actor Martin Sheen, from 2008 I would also recommend for reflection (click here).
Well done to the record-breaking number of year 11 and other students who attended revision workshops this holiday – in many subjects, and especially in mathematics, with the linear examination coming up soon for some (good luck!). Thanks to all the staff who gave up part of their holidays to prepare and deliver these sessions.
Finally, a reminder that the new ‘Expectations Cards’ come into action this week – with a renewed emphasis on excellent uniform – a new focus on trousers (where worn) being suitable, normal school trousers and also keeping headphones completely out of sight both in lessons (unless part of the lesson by teacher-decree) and when moving around the building. We look forward to parent/carer support in helping us to raise standards of dress even further. The positive expectations cards (with Vivo ™ and raffle-ticket rewards) are also a welcome addition to our behaviour policy.
Have a great week.