Principal’s Blog Archive
January 16th, 2012
16th January 2012
Key Stage 4 Options are almost upon us for year 9. Following the belated, soon to be published online reports by Vice Principal Mr Boswell and of course the year 9 parents’ evening this coming Tuesday, we shall soon then publish our Options Booklet. The Year 9 Options Evening will follow. There really has never been so much choice available at Hazeley – with the very highest standards of information, advice and guidance available to students and families helping them to make these critical choices. Governor Directors are also seriously considering our moving to a three year key stage 4 – beginning at the end of year 8. Discussions are well underway – watch this space.
Sixth form applications are of course due in by 20th January – for both internal and external candidates. To secure a place, even if considering applying to more than one sixth form, it is still vital to get the application in. There will of course be additions and changes to the option blocks right the way up until August results day. So, if there is a clash, just mention it on the form and hand it in anyway!
Another Open Evening for the International Baccalaureate follows in March – with a second deadline for application shortly afterwards. We are anticipating a record number of applications for the sixth form so be sure to get in first! Application Forms are on the website.
Indeed, records are already being broken. From around 640 applications to join year 7 last year, this year we received well over 700! We are busy now ranking them according to our admissions criteria and wish all applying families the very best of luck during this difficult time.
Standards of teaching up and down the country are in the spotlight once again, with the Secretary of State’s announcements last week regarding performance management and tackling poor teaching. Michael Gove’s deliberations included the comment:
“Every moment they (children) spend learning is precious. If a year goes by and they are not being stretched and excited, that blights their life. We have got to think of what’s in the children’s interests first.”
I am positively certain that we can all sign up to these sentiments – in fact I would go further and say that if a day or even a lesson goes by and a child is not being stretched and excited by their learning, then we remain on a journey of improvement. That very much underpins how we feel as Governors and staff at Hazeley – there is never going to be any room for complacency – especially when it comes to our core business: teaching & learning, progress and attainment.
Since September 2009 we have, as a staff, invested a great deal of time, effort and resource in raising standards of teaching and learning. We have broken down artificial barriers between subjects and departments, formally trained close to 20 outstanding practitioners as teaching & learning coaches, appointed externally accredited Advanced Skills Teachers and created multi-subject faculties with Directors of Learning who work tirelessly to continue to evolve all of this.
A small window of our ongoing success in continuing to raise standards was seen during the history subject OFSTED inspection in July 2011 – almost all lessons observed were judged by inspectors as outstanding, contrasting with November 2009, shortly after my arrival when most lessons were judged as ‘good’ with some outstanding and some satisfactory. A feature of the teaching staff at Hazeley, and unique in my experience in schools, is a real ‘buy-in’ by almost everyone to wanting to ‘step up our game’ – really stretch what we thought was possible. Colleagues really do work incredibly hard – teaching and support – there is a real dedication to our students, to the Academy and a genuine desire to push the envelope even further. This is never more self-evident to me than when I have the good fortune of showing a visitor around – stepping into lessons. At these times, with rare exception, we witness outstanding planning, excellent delivery and exceptional responses from students. With the recruitment season now upon us, we currently have many visitors!
Last week I was sad to hear, on the same day, emailed reports from two members of the local community of small groups of our students, in an underpass outside of the Academy They were apparently witnessed smoking and behaving loudly/swearing and showing scant regard for the community and passers-by. Whilst I am not naive to think that with 1300 students, there will not, on occasion, be unfortunate incidents on the way to and from the Academy. We have no direct control over that and certainly no jurisdiction. Nevertheless, I was very grateful for the heads-up. My personalisation teams (Vice and Assistant Principals, Heads of Year and R2L learning mentors) will be out and about, paying surprise visits to identified locations – with serious consequences for those bringing themselves, their families and the Academy into disrepute. Additionally, notices will be given to students during Lead Lessons. I look to parents to remind their children of the importance of not causing distress in the community. The very large majority of our 1300 students do not need to hear any of this. Feeback that I personally receive from our local community about our students is invariably really very positive. But as ever, a small minority spoils it for everyone.
Last week we notified sixth form students and staff of the resignation, from the end of April, of our current Director of Sixth Form, Ms Nimmo. When Ms Nimmo moves on to fresh challenges ahead at the beginning of May, she will have been with the Hazeley for just over two years. In that time Ms Nimmo can very much be regarded as having put the Hazeley sixth form very firmly on the map. I thank her for all that she has done to start to build a strong team to take this growing sixth form forward (from the first 47 students who left last year to now well over 200) and I wish her well for the future. An advertisment is currently out for a replacement Director of Post-16 alongside the new position of Senior Vice Principal (Standards and Sixth Form). The next phase of team-building, consolidation, raising standards further and laying down a firm vision for the sixth form is appearing on the landscape. Sixth form students will be central to both these critical appointments and for the planning ahead.
During January and February, I hope to see some of you either at the Arts Evening and/or, of course, our first full performance “We Will Rock You”. Both promise to be excellent events. A number of other smaller events are planned by the Creative Arts faculty – please keep an eye on the website.
I hope you all have a wonderful week.
9th January 2012
Although a ‘short week’ last week, it was nonetheless crammed full of activity and achievement. The first week back after any holiday for me is always a real joy because I have the pleasure of conducting the ‘lead lessons’ (assemblies) for all year groups. I can then get a real ‘feel’ for how the students are returning. Last week, that was a really positive feel – all year groups appeared full of energy, ready to learn and really excited at what lay ahead for them as we move headlong into the spring term. We reflected, in the lead lessons, on some of the ways in which we ‘reveal’ a lot more about ourselves than we think – whether that is through what we actually say and do, through our non-verbal communication (far more significant than we think) or through our ‘online presence’. It was something of a ‘revelation’ (our theme for the week) for many students that prospective employers are now sifting through social media sites (Facebook ™, Twitter etc.) of applicants for positions in companies and some candidates are losing opportunities because of what they have posted in cyberspace. We reflected on the importance of using social media intelligently – they can be very powerful networking tools and one that is likely to develop and become indispensible for the 21st century young adult and ‘career-seeker’ but there is a dark side to them too. Social media brings like-minded people together and with that, opportunities – they can also be used in very negative ways.
There is nothing quite like coming together in person though and although I had with regret, to give my apologies due to the rather late planning of the event, the Sixth Form Awards Evening was nonetheless very well attended and a huge success by all accounts. Former sixth form students, many now at University, on apprenticeships, in a gap year or indeed at work, returned to celebrate alongside current year 13 students and also collected their A level and other certificates. A well organised evening and much enjoyed by all who attended. My thanks on behalf of all to Ms Nimmo and her sixth form team.
I wish you all a really enjoyable and of course full week ahead – one where we shall be welcoming quite a few visitors to the Hazeley.
3rd January 2012
I hope that students, families, staff, Governors and others with a stake or interested in the work of Hazeley Academy have had a really enjoyable Christmas and I wish you all the very best for a happy and prosperous 2012.
As staff came together today to get ready for the start of the new term we were pleased to welcome to the Academy, Ms Lawson who will be stepping into fill temporarily the gap in science (I am pleased to report that our injured colleague was released from hospital to join her family before Christmas and is now recovering quickly). We also welcomed Ms Richardson – a new member of our Senior Leadership Team (a Director of Learning) who also joins the English and Literacy Faculty.
This term of course marks the last full term for both year 11 and year 13, whose final dates for coursework submission fast approach and whose final examinations begin in May. There are actually around 60 or so school-days from now (when we take out Easter and February half-term). I am confident that, as in previous years, we shall continue to see outstanding attendance and a really sharp focus on learning as we move ever-closer to this critical time for our oldest students. Year 12 too, with AS level examinations ahead (and year 10 with module examinations) face a challenging half-year. The support is of course in place – a great deal of additional support is put on after school (also weekends and holidays in some areas) – it is vital that those who are most in need of the additional support access it.
The next few weeks mark the first proper test of the new online reporting system for parents – HARPs – with the annual report being delivered electronically (paper copies will be available on request). Many parents have fedback favourably on other aspects of this system – including behaviour monitoring. Questions, comments, feedback should be directed to Vice Principal Mr Boswell in the first instance on firstname.lastname@example.org – he will also be updating all on the roll-out of this platform.
This Thursday, Ms Nimmo and her sixth form team look forward to welcoming back many of last year’s Year 13 students and our current Year 13, many joined by their parents, to get together to receive their certificates and to enjoy a buffet meal that will be put on for the occasion. Less formal on this occasion than the more traditional Awards Evening we have held a few times now for Key Stage 4, I know that a lot of work has gone into the planning and preparation for this and I am sure it will be much appreciated and the evening, a huge success.
This week’s theme is ‘Revelation’ – I leave you with a though-provoking quote from the great Ballerina, Dame Margot Fonteyn. We often think about ‘revelation’ or ‘realisations’ being the result of very big, fantastic or even tragic events in our lives when in actual fact quite often it can be the simplest things that happen to us that transform how we think. She said – “Minor things can become moments of great revelation when encountered for the first time”
Have a great week
12th December 2011
We welcome the really encouraging reports of our colleague (cf. fire incident), up and about, in great spirits and although remaining in hospital for the time being, now receiving visitors (family, friends and close colleagues) – recovering really quickly. Having spoken to the family at the weekend, I am sure that the good wishes sent by so many have been very well received. Our thoughts, as a community, remain with the family in the hope that her recovery will continue, in the weeks ahead. Our now begun investigations, both internal and independent – into exactly what occurred on the day – are likely to continue well into the New Year.
We now begin to prepare for the end of term, as the festive season is now very much upon us all. Year 10 return from their work experience preceded by a surfeit of anecdotal reports – verbal and electronic – to the effect of how ‘brilliant’ they were in their various placements. Fine ambassadors for themselves, their families and of course for the academy. Indeed, we shall begin the last week of term with a year 10 assembly, to bring that year group up to speed on the reality of what happened on 30th – clarifying what they may have heard or read in the media – and as we are with all students and staff, offering support – an opportunity to talk things through with a trained, independent adult; especially if affected more directly.
At the other end of the coming week, there will be celebrations to be had – assemblies for all year groups, led by the heads of year; to bring the term to a close and to wish all a very merry Christmas. As is traditional for the end of this term and as indicated by letter and on the website, whilst the day begins quite normally, with lessons 1 & 2, following tutor periods, locker clearance and the abovementioned assemblies, there will be an early close at 1:15pm (except where parents/carers have requested their youngsters to continue to be supervised until 3:15pm).
Last week was also full of celebration. Staff and students pulled together after the toughest week on record, to put on what visitors reported to be a fantastic Open Evening for our fast-growing sixth form. A record number of external students visited our evening – interested in our highly successful, traditional A level and BTEC programmes (including those run with in partnership with The Radcliffe and St. Pauls) and also in our unique International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. The latter is, of course, a gateway to the broadest post-16 education available in Milton Keynes – a programme most often only available in high-performing grammar and fee-paying private schools. It opens the door to the best colleges in the best Universities in the UK, Europe, the USA, the African & Asian subcontinents as well as Australia and elsewhere in the Pacific. In many, English-speaking Universities in Europe and beyond, higher education is a good deal less costly than it now is in the UK – food for thought as we go forward. Students and their families will be able to find out more about the International Baccalaureate at our special IB Open Evening on 14thMarch 2012 – the most up to date IB Prospectus will also be available by then. Completed application forms for The Hazeley Sixth Form (including IB) are required by the deadline in January 2012 (for planning staffing). There will be a second deadline for IB applications in April/May (to be announced).
There was also, last week, a fantastic Christmas Dinner put on in aid of charity with a very welcome visiting guest from Willen Hospice. The meal was researched, prepared and served by our own catering students – led by our outstanding Head of Catering & Hospitality (‘chef Mwangi’) – this was a first and although I was not myself able to attend on this occasion, both of my Vice Principals, Mr. Boswell and Mrs. Stanley (along with many other staff) reported it as being first-class and very much a sign of things to come. Catering students also worked closely with our caterers, Cucina ™ as they served on the Friday morning, at our third Business Breakfast. This was our biggest event to date with 38 representatives from over 25 small, medium and large businesses in Milton Keynes and beyond. The theme was very current – apprenticeships and alternative thinking around ‘preparation & pathways’ for young people 16-24 in what is emerging as a very unpredictable and rather worrying set of trends in access to higher education as well as youth and graduate unemployment. Entrepreneur and business-education champion Tim Arnold from Medsystems was an inspirational keynote speaker. Hosted by our Principal Boy and Girl with input from our Young Enterprise teams for 2012, the event also provided ample opportunity for networking and interface between the business & education sectors. We look forward to our next – many of our visitors volunteered to provide input at future breakfasts.
Our year 11 parents’ consultation evening is of course this week – co-inciding with the phased launch of our online portal for parents (HARPS). Forecasts are looking encouraging for this year group as we move into the last full term of their compulsory education. Time will quickly slip by towards the summer final examinations but with record attendance at after school and weekend revision and support sessions for this year group, we are very optimistic of a record year of well-deserved, outstanding examination results for them.
We say goodbye to a valued colleague who has been a key member of staff at The Hazeley since its inception – Bridgette Whiles, who played a significant role in Reception & Office management leaves us at the end of the week for a similar role in the primary sector. Bridgette will be sadly missed by staff and students alike and we wish her all the very best in her new position, hoping that she will keep in touch. Joining us in January will be a Director of Learning (Aspiring) Advanced Skills Teacher, Gina Richardson. Gina joins our senior team with a track record of outstanding work as a leader in English having also led a very successful sixth form in Northamptonshire. In both her role as English teacher and future teaching & learning coach, she will, I am certain, add immense value to two already exceptional teams at Hazeley.
On behalf of the staff and Director Governors at The Hazeley I wish all our families and friends the very best of good fortune for 2012 and of course a wonderful festive time.
5th December 2011
I began last week’s blog with the sentence “this week is a little different from the norm”. I was of course reflecting on the strong likelihood of national industrial action by the public sector on 30th and the Academy’s closure on Friday, in lieu of the Golden Jubilee bank holiday next year which falls in an existing vacation. As it turned out, and with testing consequences, the week fell far short of the norm when, on Wednesday, a non-striking teacher-colleague was air-lifted to hospital. This followed her receipt of burn injuries sustained as she herself rehearsed a demonstration practical in the science prep room. Her work involved the normally controlled burning of a sample of alcohol. A young boy, the child of a fellow science teacher, was present at the time but mercifully, escaped with minor injuries – returning to his school the very next day.
No Academy students were present or involved. Indeed, due to the industrial action, only Years 12 and 13 were in the building. Although there were other adults also present in the room, they were unhurt and able to quickly summon help. The first aid given and the evacuation procedures were later praised by emergency services and a hospital consultant.
Whilst, going forward, there do remain a lot of questions to be answered regarding how this routine demonstration went wrong and with investigations well underway, our early thoughts and prayers are, of course, with our injured colleague. Whilst students and staff obviously know the identity of the teacher, the family have asked that the Academy do not publish her name at this time. Within hours, the hospital had reported her condition as comfortable (better than stable). More recently, her family have reported her to be ‘in very good spirits’, ‘up and about’ and with some of her injuries more superficial than was first thought, before the swelling had subsided.
Whilst this was indeed a critical incident the subsequent media reports of ‘an explosion’ and ‘toxic chemical burns’ were speculative and anecdotal. Our official press-release has been available online since Thursday morning and has been regularly updated.
We look forward this week, to welcoming families of Year 11 students – both our own and also those from beyond the gates of Hazeley – to our Sixth Form Open Evening on Tuesday 6th December. Doors open at 6:00pm with presentations from current students, colleagues and myself in the gym at 6:30pm and 7:15pm. We are fiercely proud of the achievements of the pioneer students of The Hazeley Academy sixth form – now over 200 in number. With a vast and growing choice of courses, at Advanced level, BTEC and of course the International Baccalaureate (only available in MK at The Hazeley) we are looking forward to a record number of applications for places. We set the bar high to enter our sixth form. We are inclusive and have a vast range of courses and programmes to suit all starting points and all abilities but we will never set students up to fail by being allowed on courses for which they are ill-qualified.Our support, advice, care and guidance for learners, pre and post 16 and highlighted as outstanding by Ofsted in 2009, we believe is second to none. Furthermore, we champion the importance of working with students beyond the academic curriculum – helping to prepare them to thrive as young adults in an increasingly competitive and unpredictable world. The brought-forward Year 11 parents’ evening (the following week – 12th December from 4:00 – 7:30 is now well placed to offer students and their families advice, not just on current attainment and forecasts but also regarding sixth form choices, going forward.
Our Children in Need fundraising, led by our sixth form student council, generated a staggering £1366 and you can read all about it via the website.
With our theme for the week this week being ‘change’, I leave you with a not particularly famous but quite sobering quote I picked up on the internet – worthy of reflection for us all, I think…
“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got”
Thank you to the dozens of parents, carers and others who sent in emails, texts and messages of support for staff and students in a difficult end to last week as well as your concern for those affected and your offers of help.
Have a good week.
28th November 2011
This week is a little different from the norm. Regrettably, unless industrial action is called off early this week, I have had to force a partial opening of the Academy on Wednesday 30th November. This is due to the extremely large number of colleagues at The Hazeley planning to take legitimate industrial action, in what is emerging as a very significant public sector dispute with the Government over planned pension reforms. On Wednesday, as it stands, The Hazeley will remain open only to the Sixth Form, who should register on Wednesday morning in The Hub (rather than tutor rooms) and attend lessons normally if the teacher is working. Where Sixth form lessons are not taking place due to teacher absence, students should engage in self-study. The Academy will be closed to Years 7-11 for the day although many teachers will in advance, advise students about work being put onto the Fronter Portal. There is also a section of this website with many useful e-learning links. Year 10 should attend their work placement as normal – but if their placement is disrupted by the public sector strike, they should remain at home on the day. Thursday is a normal day back in The Hazeley – but parents are reminded that Friday 2nd December is the day that has already been published as in lieu of the Queen’s Jubilee next year and students should not attend The Hazeley on this day.
If the industrial action is called off on Wednesday, parents/carers will be advised via letter, text and this website.
Preparations are well underway for our Sixth Form Open Evening Tuesday week on 6th December as we plan to grow our post-16 provision from the current number of 215 to what we anticipate will be over 250 from September 2012. Our current Year 11 (and 10) are only 180 in number. However, Years 7, 8 & 9 are all 240 in number (which is now the norm). Therefore, we anticipate, in two years’ time to grow the Sixth Form to the intended capacity of between 300 – 350 or more. We have, with others, in recent times resisted requests to increase our intake to Year 7, from 240 to 270 – there being some fears of a shortage of secondary school places in Milton Keynes in a few years’ time. The local authority are, of course, well underway with planning provision to meet this increased demand. Our preference, at The Hazeley, rather than increasing numbers in Year 7, is to instead work towards growing a larger Sixth Form. This is increasingly important as year-on-year, we are drawing more and more students from outside the Academy, from schools even beyond Milton Keynes – many of them to our International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme; only available, in Milton Keynes, at The Hazeley. It is important to us that we nevertheless make full provision for the majority of our own Year 11; to enable them to apply to our extensive A-Level, BTEC & IB programme. From last September, our Sixth Form curriculum offer also benefited greatly from a new collaboration with the Sixth Forms in both St Pauls and The Radcliffe with students moving between centres on different days. For example – a number of our students picked up an AS Level in Forensic Science at The Radcliffe. Similarly, students from St. Pauls and The Radcliffe were able to choose AS Level photography at The Hazeley. Our new Sixth Form prospectus is now available on this website.
Have an enjoyable week.
21st November 2011
Our Awards Evening for the Class of 2011 (last year’s year 11) was a huge success last week, with a phenomenal turnout. Parents and carers, joined staff and Governors to celebrate the achievements of 180 students; only our third cohort through key stage 4. The evening was superbly organised by Head of Year, Ms Anning – ably supported by her former tutors, members of our Finance Team and many others. Catering students worked alongside Cucina ™ and served drinks and food following an inspirational presentation by our speaker for the evening, Olivia Steel. Olivia, a Squadron Leader is a Logistics Officer with the RAF and a childhood friend of Ms Anning who first met the year group when she delivered an assembly in year 7. Olivia spoke about transformational leadership and much of what she had to say about young adults developing personal and social skills for teamwork and leadership echoed our own vision for nurturing these skills in students. In addition to being awarded their GCSE and BTEC certificates, there were nominees and winners for special awards and prizes aligned to our themes, listed here, with the deserving winners:The Standards Award
(kindly donated by long-time Governor, Vic Brennan) – Chido MawonekeThe Personalisation Award
– Chloe Haynes,
The Innovation Award – Alex Potten
The Partnerships Award – Dan Morrison
We look forward with anticipation to the sum that students and staff raised last week for Children in Need – there was so much going on, much of it led by our sixth form students, that I expect it will break former records. The staff talent show at lunchtime on Friday completed a week of activity with last-minute efforts, humility (or humiliation) very much the order of the day – and all in a good cause! In the spirit of the day, in addition to the fundraising, spots were all about the Academy. However, some confusion had arisen earlier in the week about the day being a non-uniform day. The truth is – this was never intended to be the case – simply on the grounds that we have only very recently enjoyed a non-uniform day (wear something pink/yellow for Breast Cancer). We have agreed to no more than four, spread-out non-uniform days each academic year; and this one was a little close. So keen are our students to raise money for a good cause that I receive several requests each week for non-uniform days! My thanks to the sixth form team – Miss Nimmo, Mrs Foster & Miss Smith – alongside sixth form students for doing so much last week in support of Children in Need and our fund raising efforts. Further thanks to Miss Catterall and to form tutors who, through the generosity of students and families put together a staggering number of ‘shoe boxes’, filled with gifts. This initiative, run by Operation Christmas Child provides Xmas presents for children in need across Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Many of the boxes will go to children in areas such as Crimea in the Ukraine, and this year there is going to be an extra focus on Haiti as well. Thanks also to Mr. Healy (Assistant Principal – Partnerships) for pulling all of this together.
Vice Principal (Personalisation) releases our new online portal for parents/carers this week with much anticipation. HARPS (Hazeley Academy Reporting to Parents & Students) will provide parents with a secure password, access to ongoing, daily-updated logs of attendance, punctuality, behaviour, timetable, target grades (MAGs & TAGs) and forecasts (FOGs) as well as the annual report to parents. Voluntary Parent Training for this is offered on the evening of Tuesday 22nd November – all questions, concerns or suggestions about thistraining or the platform itself should be forwarded to Mr Boswell who is overseeing this email@example.com
Mrs Weir, on Friday, led Hazeley Academy students in an MK-wide event in Middleton Hall – An Olde English Christmas – this involved a procession and choir and was to be filmed by ITV. With visitors to the Hazeley, I was unable to attend this myself but with as the only secondary school attending alongside two Primary schools, Myra Tiffin Performing Arts school and students from MK Music Service plus the Brass section of the MK City Orchestra taking part, I thank Mrs Weir for overseeing this and I am sure we all look forward to hearing how it went.
Students came out of the November examination sittings sounding quite positive recently and in year 11 in particular, things are hotting-up as we make our way towards Christmas. Deadlines for completing controlled assessments and coursework will soon approach and pass us by. So many staff are voluntarily going the extra mile to provide additional support after school and also at the weekend. It is vital that students are supported; by tutors, mentors and parents to organise their time well and to prioritise their workload. I look forward to releasing the latest whole-Academy forecasts for performance at key stage 4 and 5 very soon as the student-level data is now all in.
A further reminder to parents/carers that Friday week; December 2nd is a non-student day – a legitmate extra-day’s holiday, in lieu of the
Jubilee next year.Unrelated to this but noteworthy, there is not, as was erroneously published in an early calendar, a staff-training day in April 2012 – this is a normal Academy day. If in doubt, parents/carers should look at the calendar on this website. Finally, it is not yet clear whether The Hazeley Academy will for students remain open (or partly open) on November 30th2011.Around 10 staff have already indicated their intention to take action, as suggested by their professional associations. Year 10 work placements will continue (although there may be some closures in public-service settings). I shall keep parents/carers posted.
Theme for the week, this week, is ‘Awareness’; a quality associated with a sense of spending more of our lives in the ‘present moment’ – rather than being lost in the past which we cannot change or in a future which we cannot know (with any certainty). A quality that helps us to keep our restless mind in check – since, as a fairly well-known Buddhist quote advises: “Our worst enemies cannot harm us as much as our own unguarded thoughts.”
Have a lovely week.
14th November 2011
Our visitor, Linda, from Nangodi Junior High School in Ghana, along with other members of this group brought to Milton Keynes by Walton High was absolutely ‘blown away’ by what she saw and heard at the Hazeley Academy. It was the first time outside of Ghana for Linda, and many of the other teachers on this visit. She was particularly struck by the relationships between staff and students and how, in UK schools, there is something of a ‘learning contract’ for want of a better phrase and a climate built on mutual, earned respect; a long way from any suggestion of a culture of fear that might have been present in UK schools if we rewound 30 or more years and which, we learn, to some extent, by Linda’s account, is still the mode of operation in many schools in her country. Our students really enjoyed learning about another culture and in particular the curriculum and learners in Ghanaian schools. Everyone felt that there was so much to be gained from a more formal ’twinning relationship’ between our schools. This began when MFL teacher, Ms Sadler visited the school earlier in the year and I know that both she and Mr Healey who were central to the organisation of the visit are keen to build on this excellent link.
Unsatisfied with any concessions that the coalition Government have made to date, regarding public sector pension reforms, there are a number of Unions and Professional Associations already planning to take another day of strike action – this time on 30th November 2011. Some of the larger Unions have yet to declare their position for 30th. Back in June of this year, with more than 10 staff taking action against the Government’s position, I was forced into a partial closure of the school. It goes without saying, that whilst fully respecting colleagues’ rights to take legal Union-supported action, I will do everything legally possible to minimise disruption to learning and to families. Uppermost on my mind, at all times, however, will be the safety of students and should numbers striking require a partial or indeed a full closure for the day, I will let parents and carers know at the ealiest possible time.
This week, on the evening of Thursday 17th November, we enjoy the annual event which is the Awards Evening for last year’s Year 11 (Class of 2011). The vast majority of these students have of course joined us in the sixth form but on Thursday they are rejoined by those who did move on to celebrate a record-breaking set of key stage 4 results. We look forward, in equal measure, for example, to celebrating the 65 students who secured over five A*/A grades, the 14 students who secured ten or more A*/A grades and the student who joined in 2006 with learning difficulties and levels 2, 2 & 3 in key stage 2 English, maths and science and who, like so many others, with the support of our Excellence Department completed year 11 with the equivalent of 7 A*-C grades; an outstanding rate of progress.
I look forward to showing around the Academy, prospective applicants for the position of Senior Vice Principal (Standards & Sixth Form) – we have a number who are choosing to visit the Academy this week, prior to making an application.
Families are reminded that the additional holiday ‘in-lieu of next year’s Jubilee Bank Holiday’ has been set as 2nd December 2011 and this fast-approaches. Students should not attend the Academy on Friday 2nd December.
The theme for the week is ‘courage’ – I leave you with a quote from a man who in very recent times, fighting with his health until he lost the fight but never showing anything other than the courage that will leave his name and his work in history as having ‘pushed the boundaries’ with great enterprise – a true entrepreneur by any standard; Steve Jobs – former CEO of Apple and an inspiration to young people in this century.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” – Steve Jobs
Good luck to students who this week have important examinations in mathematics and science.
Have a lovely week
I would like to thank the 60+ year 11 parents and carers who turned up to the ‘Supporting your child through their examination year’ event, hosted by Head of Year Mr Baines last week. I heard a good deal about it from both Mr Baines himself and my two Vice Principals, who were in attendance to support and follow up questions and concerns. It is pleasing to note that so many parents recognise the extraordinary lengths many of our staff go to in order to maximise student performance in public examinations. Support is personalised, effective mentoring is commonplace and after school, weekend and holiday sessions take place with increasing frequency across a range of subjects. Completion of courses and in-class preparation for modular and terminal examinations (including controlled assessment) runs smoothly at The Hazeley.
What is critical is that parents and carers support the Academy where they can by encouraging students to complete coursework and begin their revision for examinations in good time. It is also vital that we get the right students along to the right additional support sessions and sooner rather than leaving it too late. It is a reality that all too often, if left to youngsters alone to decide, it is those students not in quite so great a need for additional intervention who actually turn up for after school support whilst those with more urgent needs have a tendency to procrastinate. Intervention letters, such as those recently sent out to families by Vice Principal Mrs Stanley (who oversees the core subjects of GCSE English, mathematics and science) serve to address this matter – early in the year as it is – with still 6 months to go until final examinations for year 11. Such letters are not meant to be provocative or alarmist but they are intended to engage families with teachers, faculty leaders and other senior staff in the run up to this all-important six months ahead of us – which will quickly pass. Mrs Stanley, Mr Boswell, Mr Baines, faculty leaders and myself are all very willing to continue the debate, with individuals and groups regarding what they can do to continue to support the Academy and more importantly, their child, going forward. This is never more important than in the all-too critical core subjects of GCSE English and mathematics. In amongst the dialogue on the evening, there were very many sensible suggestions for improving communication (also for doing such a session a year earlier – which we are now going to do) – many of these suggestions are going to be actioned in the weeks ahead. My thanks to Ben and others for putting on this informative evening.
This week we welcome to Milton Keynes and to The Hazeley Academy, visiting staff from the Nangodi Junior High School in Ghana – a partnership begun over a year ago by the Principal and other staff at Walton High and led on from Hazeley by Jen Sadler from our Global Citizenship faculty. Nangodi Junior High is one of two schools in Ghana with which we are looking to establish strong links at student, staff and leadership level. The other one is Greenwich Christian School – ironically a science-specialist school which opened in 2005 – serendipity perhaps? Visits, cultural exchanges and networking (electronic, written, video and face-to-face) are all on the cards. These exciting developments, throwing open our doors to an international audience begin to offer new learning and experiential opportunities for all of our students. Assistant Principal (Partnerships), Stefan Healy, is leading on much of this and I know is keen to share his ideas, going forward. Mr Healy also welcomes some of our greatest supporters – the Friends of Hazeley – volunteer parents to a meeting in the library at 7pm on Tuesday. Slightly less geographically ambitious and involving our students leaving the building, this week also takes some of our students out and about. Year 10 Law students join Miss Weir at the MK Magistrates Court, and some of our year 13 students head off to the Open University Library.
Another colleague going the extra mile and also from the Global Citizenship Faculty is Miss Catterall who is currently leading on a Christmas shoebox appeal at The Hazeley. Run by Operation Christmas Child this provides Christmas presents for children in need across Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Many of the boxes go to children in area such as the Crimea in the Ukraine and this year there is going to be an extra focus on Haiti as well.
Each form group to create at least one shoe box between them that can be distributed to needy children in third world countries who would not otherwise get a present at Christmas. More information on this important
As we look forward to welcoming students back from the break to term two, I trust that families have enjoyed a restful break (those who have had a break!) and ‘batteries are charged’ for the challenges ahead. Whilst I am sure that we all enjoyed the extra hour this weekend with the ending of British Summer Time, it does of course mean that the dark nights are closing in. Up and down the country, annually, this always leads to more ‘incidents and accidents’ particularly after school as students make their way home. I am sure that parents and carers will impress upon them the importance of being extra vigilant and mindful of safety at this time.Our theme for the first week back in ‘Tradition’ – in a season (Autumn) awash with these – from Diwali to Eid; from Halloween (All Hallow’s Evening), through Rememberance Day, to Bonfire Night and Christmas etc. - as humanity in so many different ways recognise or celebrate the ending of something and the beginning of something else. We shall reflect on tradition – what they means – and how they bond communities; be they families, streets, villages, towns or whole countries. As a relatively new school, like most in MK, The Hazeley Academy has yet to really establish any firm-favourite traditions of its own – as many far more well established schools have done. We enjoy our “H” Factor and we celebrate our achievements quite brilliantly in an almost contangious manner, we are told, at our various open evenings, Awards Evenings and other events. We have a tradition for having students ‘front of house’ – opening up and closing major events – be they public ones in the evening or business breakfasts in the morning. This always seems very appropriate. We plan to track all students’ progress when they leave the Academy – into University, apprenticeship and successful adulthood – keeping a close eye on their successes and invite them back in to talk to younger students. But much of this is in the future! For the time being, we are still building the Academy – another 250+ students to go until we’re full – and building on early successes.
On a related note, thinking about September/October, our current number of around 1300 students has crept up on us rather suddenly and although there have been no concerning incidents of note, we are mindful of how busy our corridors (particulalry the very narrow Phase I) now are, particularly during break and lunch. We are looking at this as we speak and plan to introduce a ‘keep left’ policy – something with which many students will be familiar from primary school – we have not needed to consider it before. We are also looking at a possible one-way movement in Phase I but we shall keep students up to speed – indeed involve them in the discussions.
An early reminder that Friday 2nd December 2011 is a non-student day at The Hazeley, in lieu of the Golden Jubilee Bank Holiday. Shortly after that, we shall be interviewing shortlisted candidates for our Senior Vice Principal (Standards and Sixth form), the advert for which goes out this week. We are all really excited at the field of candidates we anticipate to draw to the Academy for this position. Again, I shall keep you up to speed on this appointment.
Have an enjoyable week..
As we wind our weary way to the October break there seems an almost endless range of things going on. Touching base with personal tutors for families of years 7, 12 and 13 appeared to go really well with some fantastic feedback from those who came. It is certainly the case that years 7 and 12 – our most vulnerable in being new to something so different than they are used to – have settled in really well. I put this down to their own tenacity, the support of parents & carers and the hard work of heads of year and personal tutors amongst others. For year 12, we must never forget the significance of the leap in academic expectation from level 2 work (GCSE and equivalent) and level 3 work (AS/IB and equivalent). It is a really difficult transition and has to be handled skillfully from our side as well as from the side of the student and the family.
I was truly fortunate to have been able to get along to Stantonbury Theatre last week to witness Hazeley students perform their own rendition of Richard III in the Schools’ Shakespeare Festival. They were exceptional – even a step up from the outstanding performance of Hamlet I saw last year. I was planning to start listing some names of those who stood out but I felt it was not right. Even with the strong individual of Richard III, brilliantly characterised in my view, this remained a fantastic example of students working so well together to entrance the audience. We would have stolen the show but I have to be honest, the performance of Midsummer Night’s Dream by one of the first primary schools to perform in the SSF (Hanslope) wooed the audience – such incredible talent in those so young – a tear-jerking performance! As the week came to a close, I was not able to get to the year 7 & 8 disco on Friday although I know it was to be well attended by staff – it appears to have gone off without a hitch.
Last week and the week ahead I shall be busy showing around quite a number of parents of prospective students for next year’s year 7. As mentioned earlier, these are parents/carers who either were not able to get along to our Open Evening or who feel very torn between two or more schools (or even a Grammar via the 11-plus). I am a parent of four myself (aged 7-21) and know just how difficult these choices are – and as parents all we want is what’s best for our own. In this regard I am always at pains to explore with parents the benefits of their child coming to their local school rather than going long distances to a Grammar for example. Our track record of progress and attainment (and those of neighbouring secondary schools) for students coming in with ‘Grammar-school potential are exceptional. I would also go for the ‘local comprehensive’ if it is performing at that level. Ours is an holistic approach – working very much not just with the academic potential of the learner but with the whole child – dedicated first and foremost to preparing them well to meet all the challenges of an increasingly challenging and competitive world. We achieve fantastic results but we believe that we add considerable ’rounded value’ on top of that. Time consuming thought it is, I am always really proud to show visitors around the Hazeley – I think it is really important.
We have a very strong field of candidates for our fourth (aspiring) Advanced Skills Teacher (AST) this week and we interview on Tuesday. Their specialist subject will be English and we are excited about completing the team of exceptional coaches – who go on to work, alongside other trained coaches at The Hazeley to raise standards of teaching and learning across the Academy and in our partner schools. I look forward to reporting the outcome of the interviews.
Soon to follow, in the next couple of weeks, our recruitment programme for our final deputy – Senior Vice Principal (Standards and Sixth Form). I am confident that we shall get an immensely strong field for this critical position.
I hope you have an enjoyable week and a restful break, if you are taking one, in October.
charitable event can be found on our website. I thank Miss Catterall for showing the initiative here and urge you to support her in this.
Honour and remembrance is the theme for the week; building on from our theme of ‘tradition’ last week. In readiness for Friday, Poppies are on sale in Reception and they shall also be taken around the Academy. Our thoughts and prayers are as ever with those who have lost, or indeed live in the fear of losing, their loved ones to conflict whilst protecting our freedom – whether this be in recent or more distant times.
Finally, a reminder that Director Governor Elections are soon to be held as we seek nominations for Parent Directors (Governors). Our Board of Directors is a vibrant, passionate and engaging group of volunteers – many of whom have stood by The Hazeley from even before the fist brick was laid. I have served on Governing Bodies for more than 15 of the last 27 years of my career in teaching & leadership. You will travel a long distance to find a Governing Body as well-informed and determined to make a difference as ours. The deadline for nominations is 25th November and again, details can be found on the home page of the website.
Have a great week.
The highlight of last week was of course our Open Evening for prospective year 7 students in September 2012. Once again, attendance at this annual event hit record numbers – estimated this year to be over 1000 visitors. Hazeley staff and students were praised for the organization of the evening – which included tours of the building and visiting departments & faculties. I was joined by our Principal Boy and Girl (Myles and Ella) alongside two very brave and highly articulate year 7 students to present to a packed hall three times during the evening. Feedback from the evening was incredibly positive and generous with the event being variously described by visitors as ‘awe inspiring’, ‘meticulously organised’, ‘real’, ‘down to earth’ and ‘highly informative’. Once again, our students demonstrated what The Hazeley was all about – them – their community and everything that we do, as a partnership of Academy staff and family to enhance their experience of high-school and future life-chances. We always feel as though our young people are so proud of their school and rightly of their own achievements and progress as well as being both so capable and socially literate, that we (as staff) could probably quite easily retire to the staff-room and allow them to ‘market’ The Hazeley on their own.
I shall continue in the coming weeks to show many parents and carers around the Academy during the school-day; where they were either unable to attend the evening or where they are genuinely torn (for example between applying to a grammar school, another school or to The Hazeley) – a ‘live tour’ during the day is sometimes all that is needed to make that final decision.
As a ‘partnership’ activity last week we were delighted to host the band “Luminites” on Friday – organized by the Creative Arts Faculty. Legendary music executive Hugh Goldsmith (credits include Take That, MPeople, Five, Billie Piper, Martine McCutcheon, Atomic Kitten, Blue and Newton Fawlkner) put this band together and on Friday performed for our Year 7 students and followed this with a question and answer session and autograph signing. Further details can be found elsewhere on this site. This event, like our Danish visitors the previous week and Ghanaian visitors in a few weeks time is another good example of how The Hazeley Academy is increasingly throwing open its doors to enable students and staff alike to network with others – local, regional, natoinal and international – to engage, to uplift and to inspire.
Our dance students are off to Wycombe Swan Theatre this week to watch the Richard Alston Dance company. Our Duke of Edinburgh students are off to Bragger’s Wood for four days this week – good luck to them and also to our ‘players’ in the Shakespeare Festival, who perform at Stantonbury on Wednesday. I remember with great pride our masterful performance of Hamlet this time last year; though I am not altogether sure where the time has gone!
Very shortly Vice Principal (Personalisation), Mr. Boswell will be launching our new online gateway for parents and carers. Referred to as HARPS (Hazeley Academy Reporting to Parents & Students), ultimately it will become a key communication portal to link staff and parents together – to raise questions and concerns. It will also house attendance and punctuality data, behaviour logs, targets (MAGs and TAGs) and termly forecasts (FOGs) as well as being the main portal for the annual report to parents (paper copies will also be available). HARPS promises to improve further the expanding channels of communication between Hazeley and home.
Have a great week
The heatwave hit us by surprise last week and on Friday, with temperatures indoors close to 30 degrees C we had to revisit ‘summer heatwave uniform relaxation’ by taking off our blazers around the building. The forecast looks a lot cooler as we go into this week. Students must of course arrive in full uniform and we shall judge the situation day by day.It was wonderful to hear how well 11 of our students performed in dance and musical numbers at the United Generations Conference, held at the MK Dons stadium last Friday. Charlie, Annabel, Tyler, Hannah, Mukhat, Richard, Cassie, Kieran x 2, Ryan, and Ross did themselves and the Academy proud in a conference, attended by over 500 people. The conference focused on links across generations. This builds on our work, contributing to the ExtraDons project (where students teach elderly residents at Lovat Fields to use IT, and also interview residents about their wartime experiences using Skype. The joint art project at Hazeley between residents and students to design the ExtraDons logo was also promoted.
Unfortunately, I needed to attend an OFSTED briefing session in London followed by an appointment with the MK Business Partnership, so I was unable to attend on this occasion. However, it all sounded wonderful and my thanks go to Mrs Holding for organising it, to Ms Berry for coaching the dance students, to Mr. Adamson for guiding the musicians and to Ms. Taiwo and Dave Patterson for driving and fitting a piano in the minibus!
The incredible creativity of our young people did not end there last week. Those of you who came into the building will have seen the final realisation of the main part of the public art project at the front entrance – which I have to say lifts what is otherwise, in my opinion, a fairly low key entrance to the Hazeley. All new schools in Milton Keynes benefited from a ring-fenced sum of money, required to be spent on a ‘public art project’ – this project was well underway even before I arrived on the scene in 2009. Students have been involved with the commissioned team (Carole Waller Associates) and have created a highly thought-provoking and quite avant-garde 20 minute video around the theme of ‘journeys’. This links to the main installation with the three toughened glass pillars (with programmed coloured light reflecting onto them) and concrete seating. We look forward, sometime in November/December to an evening of art celebration – where we can also officially ‘install’ the art project, see the film and hear both from the artists, the students and our art department. We shall keep you posted.
It is of course that wonderful time of the year where it is all about celebrating what is special about The Hazeley. I have already shown a number of parents around who cannot make it on Thursday to the Open Evening although we are expecting a really big turnout on the evening. Our current year 7 have joined us from 40 different primary schools, the length and breadth of Milton Keynes – last year there were over 640 applications for 240 places. If you are a parent of a year 6 student, considering The Hazeley, I look forward to seeing you here.
Have a great week.
Our Danish visitors last week (students and staff) reported having a fantastic couple of days working alongside our students and staff. As our first ever and long-overdue group of international visitors including young people, it was an exciting event – many new friendships were made and both cultural similarities and differences were shared in dialogue. My thanks to Mr Healy and before him, to Ms Jackson for organising it.
Just as it seems as though our current year 7 are finally settling in to ‘high school’, we are now well underway with our planning for our open evening, which is quite early this year; next week on Thursday 6th October. Last year nearly 900 visitors came through the door on the same evening and we anticipate a similar number this year. It is a wonderful opportunity to meet students and staff of the Academy – and to hear something about the vision and values of The Hazeley. I have already shown around quite a number of parents and students who will be unable to make it on the Thursday and openly invite any others who may be in that situation to contact my PA. I am always extremely proud to show visitors around the Academy. The evening begins at 5:45pm and there are three short presentations – at 6:15. 6:45 and 7:15pm. Upon arrival you will be given a time. The evening ends at 8:15pm.
Another date for your diary is Tuesday 6th December 2011 – between 6:00pm – 8:00pm – our first Sixth Form Open Evening. This is for both our own year 11 students as well as those from other schools in Milton Keynes and beyond. On this evening, you can meet existing sixth formers and hear about our A level and BTEC programmes as well as our International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP). A separate evening will also be held in March 2012 to provide far more detail about our IBDP – a programme at A level standard and beyond, accepted in the top Universities in the UK, USA, Europe, Australia – indeed every continent – but one that, in Milton Keynes, is only available at The Hazeley.
Have a great week.
The year has got off to a fantastic start. Our new year 7 have now settled in really well, as have our year 12 – who appear equally excited at their new challenges ahead. Our new staff, 12 in number, have also been quick to settle into the Hazeley way. We look forward, later in the academic year, to another key appointment. As we approach full capacity as an academy, we are looking to complete our management team through the appointment of a Senior Vice Principal. The key brief for this post-holder will be to oversee standards of achievement across the Academy and standards in the sixth form in particular.
We have a really exciting year ahead for all year groups. With our increasingly broad curricula there are many new courses on offer at key stages 4 and 5, our planned performances (e.g. We Will Rock You), anticipation of even greater success on the sports field and many more visits and visitors; local, national and international it will be an incredibly busy year.We start the year, this week, with 21 visiting students (and teachers) from a school to the north of Copenhagen in Denmark (Sovangskolen). Students will pair up and shadow in the Academy and come together to socialise in the early evening. Sovangskolen will become our first official school ‘twin’ and we are looking at the possibility of a return visit to Denmark. Teachers Elsbeth & Jesper, along with their students are very welcome to The Hazeley Academy. Further plans are already underway for twinning, support and possible cultural exchange with schools in Ghana, South Africa, Michigan, Los Angeles and elsewhere. One of our key themes for this year will be to reflect on young people as present and future ‘global citizens’; in our increasingly highly connected, networked world.
Her Majesty the Queen of course celebrates her Diamond Jubilee this year and we look forward to recognising this important national event. You will probably be aware that an additional national holiday has been created to mark this wonderful occasion. However, this bank holiday falls during an existing school holiday for most schools. As a result of this, all schools are setting their own dates in lieu of this day.
The Hazeley Academy will, therefore be closed to students and staff on Friday 2nd December 2011 for a day in lieu of the Diamond Jubilee. for year 10 students on work placements on that day, a number of senior staff, myself included, will be on call throughout the day in the unlikely event of any emergencies
In recent surveys of parents and students, it is the setting of homework that appears to be quite inconsistent – in quality and quantity – across subjects and the academy as a whole. With the assistance of a number of volunteer families, we are auditing this very closely during the term and this will inform how we move forward to bring greater consistency to this important area. Assistant Principal, Mrs Priestley is overseeing this work and I would like to thank parents/carers for their support of this audit. Homework timetables are published for our website.
Reflecting on the tremendous support we receive from families, I would especially like to publicly share my gratitude to those of you involved (past and present) in the work of the Friends of Hazeley. This group of volunteers does fantastic work in the background, quietly and without a fuss; raising the profile of The Hazeley, putting on events and of course, fund-raising. Assistant Principal, Mr. Healy will be the new link for this group who I believe are always looking for new volunteers.With the year now underway – I look forward to catching up with many of you in and around the Academy in the months ahead11th September 2011
It was wonderful to welcome back all students last week and in particular our new 240 year 7 over 120 year 12
students. This now brings the Academy to over 1300 students, including 215 in the sixth form. The vast majority of students returned well presented, fully equipped and ready to learn. In spite of our new uniform agent having been so dreadfully let down by her suppliers and eleventh-hour thought it may have been, with our staff working ‘overtime’ and thanks to the patience of many parents/carers our new year 7 arrived on Wednesday, fully kitted-out and looking really smart. Year 7 settled in really well too, being well looked after by tutors and other staff and looked out for by older students when they arrived back on Thursday.
I would like to thank parents/carers for preparing students for their return so well. I would ask that a very small number of students revisit our uniform code over the next day or two. In particular, a reminder is perhaps necessary for a handful of older girls wearing black cardigans. These are plainly not part of our uniform code and must not be worn – whether with or without the blazer. Older girls (year 10 & 11) may now of course, choose to wear a blouse rather than a shirt and tie (although they can choose the latter). A shirt without a tie is not acceptable. Girls who arrive in these, will be asked to wear a tie. An Academy blouse is available for purchase at Hazeley but if it is bought at another supplier, it must be a classic school-uniform blouse cut and not a fashion blouse.
No sooner have we welcomed our new year 7, we are already well on the way to preparing for our Open Evening on Thursday October 6th – from 5:45 – 8:15pm. In November (date not yet determined) we follow that with our sixth form open evening. If previous years are anything to go by, we anticipate a large number of visitors. Other than a short presentation from me, visitors will have the opportunity to visit departments and to meet and talk to many staff and students. Feedback from earlier open evenings always provides us one very loud message – it is our students that ‘sell’ The Hazeley. their pride, enthusiasm and love of learning and the fantastic relationships they clearly have with their teachers and support staff. With our theme of the week, this week, being ‘celebration’ we look forward to planning to celebrate the fantastic achievements of our students and staff at these exciting events.
Have a great week.
5th September 2011
How quickly the summer passed!
I hope that families, colleagues and friends of The Hazeley had a wonderful break and managed to find the sun, somewhere. I can personally vouch for the fact that it was not in Bournemouth – at least not when we were there! One of my many performance management targets last year was to attempt to find more of a work-life balance; so I joined a gym – not sure about the balance – enjoying it as I am – now I am physically as well as mentally exhausted! But joking aside, we all need to recharge our batteries and although many argue for shortening the long summer break in schools, claiming that six weeks out of ‘formal learning’ is not a good thing, I know that most of our students and staff welcome the break and having worked so hard, are much in need of it.
But now it is time to look at the year ahead. We lost very few staff, but still growing as our young Academy is, we welcome 16 new colleagues this month – most of them teachers – appointed from exceptional fields of candidates; such is the draw of The Hazeley, once prospective candidates find out about us, often paying us a visit before applying as they do. I warmly welcome all of them (listed here) and trust that they will be very happy at The Hazeley Academy:
Mr. Bonnett RE Teacher
Ms. Cox English Teacher (Maternity)
Ms. Cudjoe Teacher
Mr. Cullen Science (Physics) Teacher
Ms. Dhaya Chemistry Teacher
Mr. Downs MFL Teacher
Ms. Granger Head of Art
Ms. Isse Mid-day supervisor
Ms. Kerr DT Teacher
Mr. Marsden Science Teacher (Maternity)
Ms. Mooney Senior Finance Officer
Ms. Morley Head of Design Technology
Ms. Muhamed Mid-day supervisor
Mr. Murray Mathematics Teacher
Ms. Perks Psychology Teacher
Mr. Russell English/Media Teacher
One other colleague is not returning to The Academy this month, off instead to pastures new and that is English teacher, Mr. Marks. Sadly we did not have the opportunity to say a proper goodbye but we would nevertheless thank him for all he has done in English and wish him well for the future. Teaching Assistant Mrs Dibden is also, sadly, leaving us in a few days time; taking up a position within a Christian-based charity. Sarah has been a really popular member of our Excellence team and will be sadly missed by students and staff alike. We also wish her well.
I look forward to reporting to staff and students on yet again, another excellent set of examination results at key stages 4 and also, this year, our first at key stage 5. With these results, we maintain our position as one of the highest achieving schools in the city. There are so many outstanding statistics to celebrate as we continue to raise the bar and set the highest of expectations of staff and students – details can be found elsewhere on the website. In advance of the appointment, during this academic year, of a Senior Vice Principal who will oversee standards and sixth form, I look forward in the first two terms at least, to personally line-managing our Director of Sixth Form as we build on our early successes – with the International Baccalaureate as well as with our A level and vocational programmes.
I would like to personally thank over 100 parents/carers who have completed our online survey this summer. The response has been overwhelmingly positive and it is fantastic to get such encouraging feedback from our families. There are some common themes that we clearly need to address however, and most of these are around communication and engagement of families in the life of the Academy. We shall, of course, publish the summative results of the survey over the next couple of weeks and I shall table the entire survey at both senior team and Board of Directors (Governors) meetings and consider how best to respond to the issues raised. Thank you again.
Two days of Staff Conference ahead and then, on Wednesday, we welcome 240 new year 7 students (from nearly 40 different primary schools across the city) and around 140 new year 12 students – from Hazeley, across MK and beyond; to begin our International Baccalaureate, A level and vocational programmes. For the year 7 parents I would echo my sincere apologies for the issues that have surrounding uniform supply this summer. Whilst this has been completely beyond our (or our agent’s) control, it has been unacceptable and will not happen again. There have been lessons learned and I thank the majority of you for your patience.
On Thursday – we welcome back the entire Academy – now close to 1300 and fast approaching being full. An exciting year ahead as always, I know that all students will return, well-presented, fully-equipped and ready to learn. There have been a few tweaks to the Academy day (although the start and finish of the day remain the same). Students will now report for five minutes to their form tutors in the morning, at 8:40am. Brunch and lunch are a little longer and the personal tutor period (during lunch) a little shorter. All will be explained to students by their form tutors in the days ahead.
I wish you all a happy week.
July 17th 2011
As we head towards the end of another academic year, we are in ‘highly reflective’ mode at The Hazeley; thinking about the all of the wonderful achievements of our students and staff in 2010/11. Our academic performance and standards of teaching and learning remain outstanding. We have celebrated many successes in sport; in football, netball, rugby and athletics to name a few. In music, dance and drama our performing artists have excelled and in leadership and young enterprise activities, once again, we took on Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire – and won! It’s not all about competition, however and this has been the year like no other, when we have engaged in more community partnership work than ever before – with partner primary schools and many secondary schools across the city, we enjoy a growing number and diversity of collaborative projects – all working to support in their learning and achievements, the widest group of young people possible. Our conversion to Academy status (like many other schools) offers us the freedom to take this kind of work further and to set out to realise our very ambition three-year vision as The Hazeley Academy.
A recent success has of course been our outstanding Ofsted judgement in the subject of history. Whilst results in history over the past two years have not been our strongest – they have lagged behind subjects such as English, mathematics, science and ICT, they have nevertheless been very good on a national scale. However, there was absolutely no doubt in the minds of the visiting inspectors that everything that was going on in the department was outstanding and the report (which for subjects is in the form of a letter) can be found in a link on the home page of this website.
Whilst I am really pleased to report that very few staff are leaving this year, the end of the year does inevitably mean that we have to say goodbye to some valued colleagues. Our head of subject (DT) Mark Lewis leave us to take on the Head of Technology Faculty at White Spire School. Our textiles teacher, Jodie Kukucska moves further north, towards family, to take on a similar role in a school in Coventry. Our head of subject (Art), Karen Wilkins, with her husband, move abroad to Toulouse in France where she will take on a similar role in an International School. Finance officer Jacqui McManus picks up a promoted post as School Business Manager at Greenleys Primary School. Richard Matthews and Sancha Parry-Ettridge both move on to further study – Richard to Derby University and Sancha to continue her GTP in business studies (school to be confirmed). To all of these colleagues, we wish them the very best of good fortune in their future careers and thank them so much for everything that they have done in their time at the Hazeley. I look forward to telling you all about the many staff who are joining our still growing body of staff in September – the calibre of candidates for all positions has been truly remarkable.
Have a great week
Another week passes with what seems like a month’s worth of things to do before students head off for their summer break. The Academy will, however, feel a little empty from this week with year 10 off on their various work placements and of course years 11 and 13 now on holiday; awaiting GCSE/A level & BTEC results in August. In actual fact, our first set of Key Stage 5 results came through last week for a small number of students – the International Baccalaureate Diploma examinations are taken earlier than A levels and the results come through earlier too. These were the very first ever IB results in Milton Keynes for a very small cohort of 13 students and there were some fantastic achievements. One of the group, Jenny Miles achieved 30 points which is the equivalent of 392 UCAS points for entry into University – this would be the A level equivalent of more than three A grades. Thrilled at her achievement she says; “I am so happy to have passed the IB diploma, it was challenging but has been well worth it as I got into my first choice university. I would recommend studying this course at the Hazeley Academy ’. Other students in this small, first cohort achieved up to 500 UCAS points – an absolutely outstanding achievement. Following these exceptional results, a number of Hazeley Academy sixth formers are already well on their way to their chosen Universities – several weeks before the A level results are published for schools and colleges in August. The International Baccalaureate Diploma is a globally renowned programme of A level standard and higher – recognised as an outstanding preparation for entry into the top Universities in the UK, across Europe, the USA, the Africas and the Pacific. Studying the IB, students do not limit themselves to three or four choices but study English literature, mathematics, the sciences, humanities, a second language as well as an additional option from a creative subject. Those not happy at the thought of dropping subjects they enjoy or thinking perhaps about studying abroad are heading to The Hazeley Academy Sixth Form in large numbers and from far afield – recruitment for September 2011 has already begun to follow up this success. Rod Boswell, our Vice Principal and an IB teacher said to the press “The IB prepares young people as global citizens. It is a holistic curriculum that stretches as it inspires”. Our first cohort of IB students have been pioneers in unfamiliar territory in Milton Keynes. They have done themselves and the Academy really proud. Although open to all who would normally go forward onto A level programmes, the IB Diploma offers the highest possible challenge even for the most able of students. It is a modern curriculum – tried and tested across the globe. We look forward to tracking these students’ progress as they go forward, to University, to apprenticeships and into the workplace – here and abroad. If you know of someone who might be interested in studying the IB Diploma Programme at The Hazeley, do get in touch with us. Ms Julia Smith is our IB co-ordinator and also Assistant Director of Sixth Form. I do have to wait the time it takes for our formal written report to arrive in respect of the recent Ofsted inspection of the subject of history before I can confirm any detail. However, it is with great pride in the history team that I can let you have an insight into the outcome, gleaned from verbal feedback to myself and our Director of Global Citizenship, Mr. Hedges. Pending confirmation, the overall effectiveness of history at The Hazeley was judged outstanding as was teaching and learning (of 9 lessons observed, 6 were judged outstanding, 2 judged good and 1 satisfactory). Leadership and management alongside the curriculum was also judged outstanding. And the capacity to improve even further was judged outstanding. Overall, this was a well deserved outcome from the two days. The overall impression of The Hazeley that both HMI inspectors left the building with, in common with all who spend any time with us, was as it should be – truly excellent. Although I was unable to be there last week, one of the events I most enjoyed the last year was apparently as wonderful this year – the Young Musicians’ Evening – well done to all who took part and to the Creative Arts Faculty for organising it. Another I was able to attend was the fantastically organised Sports Awards Evening. On both counts my sincere congratulations to all who took part and to all of the winners of awards.
Have a fantastic week.
4th July 2011
Welcome to The Hazeley Academy… Over 30 members of the Milton Keynes business community, including Headteachers and Governors of schools and Academies who work very closely with us joined our second Business Breakfast last Friday 1st July. It was a fantastic event – geared up for networking, hearing about The Hazeley and also some of the unique ways in which local, national and international individuals and groups work with us to raise standards and maximise opportunities for young people. It was an auspicious day – our first as a converter Academy – the Secretary of State for Education had agreed that from midnight on 1st July, the accepted Funding Agreement would become binding and The Hazeley Academy, owned and operated by an independent educational trust would come into being. Joined on Friday by our close primary partner, Oxley Park (who became Oxley Park Academy on the same day) we look forward to continuing our very close relationship – we wish them well. We really look forward to the freedoms and flexibilities offered by this independence whilst maintaining a strong and supportive partnership with the local authority of Milton Keynes as well as with other schools and Academies, across all sectors, going forward. Indeed, it is very much part of the vision of The Hazeley Academy Trust to not only provide an exceptional educational offer for our own, growing cohorts of youngsters but to also roll out that excellence in support of wider groups of young people, in schools facing more challenging circumstances – within the city and beyond. Our business breakfast speaker was Ian Wigson, a Management Consultant for Education with the international firm of leadership and management coaches, Glowinkowski International. This group work with some of the top executive teams in the private sector and across the globe – Boeing, Barclays and others. They bring an expertise in transforming leadership and the climate of organisations that is inspirational. Ian has worked with our senior and middle leaders as well as a number of our most outstanding teachers – training them as coaches to spread best practice in teaching and learning across the Academy. Some of their most recent work, with our sixth form on ‘psychometrics’ underpinning life choices was explored in a brief presentation to a captivated audience. Talking about some of the creative and high-impact work already completed and bearing fruit; with leaders,teachers and students here, over the past two years was a truly fitting way to launch our new Academy. Two days earlier in the week I was thrilled to welcome two HMI inspectors (Ofsted) to The Hazeley for a full inspection of our history department. Whilst I have only received verbal feedback on the outcome, I am not able to report the detail – I have to await the report (letter) that arrives within a week or so. I can say, though, that I shall be extremely happy with what I shall be able to report in a very short time indeed. Also last week – our Sports Awards Evening went ahead and was an absolutely fantastic event – I was very proud to be a part of celebrating such incredible achievement on the field, track and court. The evening was superbly organised by Mrs Mayles and her fantastic team.
Have a great week
27th June 2011
It was a frantic week last week at The Hazeley. Another fantastic library event, with a visiting author. A whole school leading up to sports day; would the field be ready? And also the arrival or our 240 year 6 students and their parents for transition day and ‘meet the personal tutor’ in the evening. It would be churlish to say that both events went ahead without incident. In fact, both events were wonderfully ‘Hazeley’ – the feedback from youngsters and their families for the transition day was absolutely wonderful. Not a single concern of note and brimming praise for the school and in particular for the organisers of the day (and their many student helpers). Our troubled field was fortunate in that it rained heavily the night before but stayed dry on the day. Our first sports day since summer 2009 (before my time) went ahead and was absolutely brilliant – a fantastic day was had by all. Disappointingly I ended up missing a good deal of the afternoon of sports day, since shortly after being interviewed on camera by a couple of students for a ‘sports day video project’, I received at midday, a call from Ofsted letting me know that they were coming in this Tuesday and Wednesday to inspect the subject of history. A random inspection of a single subject. Our Director of Global Citizenship (and Head of history), Mr Gowney-Hedges has been busy ever since preparing his department, gathering schemes of work, reviews & improvement plans for the two days. I spent the afternoon bringing Mr Hedges up to speed on what to expect.. Results at key stage 4 in history have been good in 2009/2010; looking even better for both key stage 4 and 5 this summer and teaching and learning is often observed as good and outstanding. I am confident that the department can secure a really positive judgement. It was with a very heavy heart that I sent letters to parents last Friday regarding the industrial action, by the NUT and ATL, against the coalition Government, in relation to future plans for teachers’ pensions. I wanted to get a notice out as early as possible and before the weekend if possible; for families to organise their child-care. Once numbers of teachers letting me know they planned to take action began to rise into double figures, it became impossible to guarantee the safety of over 1000 students given that it is illegal for me to appoint supply teachers from agencies to cover for striking colleagues or to ‘bump’ existing cover arrangements with supply teachers. Furthermore, I am unable to ask existing colleagues to cover a colleague whose absence is known about in advance. Clearly, industrial action is intended to cause disruption to make a political point. No matter how creative an approach we tried to take, it became impossible, like so many other schools facing significant numbers taking action, to legitimately manage the school without invoking a part closure. I advised the Chair of Governors who then took action. As a result, unless the action is called off early next week or a number of Union members decide not to take action after all, years 7, 8 and 9 should remain at home and years 10 & 12 (and those in year 11 still completing BTEC work) should come into school as normal. The school is open for non-striking staff who must all report for duties and I must stress that this action is entirely aimed at government policy and not aimed the school. Indeed a number of striking colleagues expressed their anger and strength of feeling about the matter but were at pains to apologise for the disruption that this action was likely to cause. This Friday 1st July marks the arrival of over 30 visitors from a variety of businesses and schools for our second Business Breakfast – an opportunity for networking as well as looking at ways the business community can support schools and also how schools can work with the business community. We also think about leadership and management challenge – how similar they are, regardless of the sector in which you find yourself. Leadership coach, Ian Wigston from Glowinkowski International ™ is giving the keynote speech. This is an individual and a group with whom I have worked in three schools over seven years, with great impact on leadership and coaching for teaching and learning. The day also marks our first day as an Academy – the DfE should be signing off the conversion in time for 1st July. I look forward to welcoming you, as Principal of The Hazeley Academy, from next Monday.
Compassion is the ‘theme for the week’ this week. Compassion has its foundations in both sympathy and empathy for those in distress. But there are actions that follow. Acts of genuine kindness. I’ll leave you will a quote around this from the Dalai Lama- a theme we bring up particularly with our younger children an awful lot but could probably learn from ourselves sometimes. “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
The Duke of Edinburgh team were excited this morning at what appears to have been a really successful weekend of challenge. It occurred to me as colleagues were relaying to me the events of the weekend that it was way overdue that I got along to see it first-hand. My congratulations go to students involved and thanks need to be extended to colleagues who spend the best part of their weekends in relative discomfort solely for the benefit of our young people; then arrive bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for a week of work on Monday morning! An exciting week ahead. I look forward today, to meeting author Steve Bond who is presenting to a visiting group of friends – many from Lovatt Fields which whom we now have some really strong links. Our GCSE Catering students, capably led by our exceptional Head of Catering and Hospitality, Mr. Mwangi, is providing us all with afternoon tea in The Hazeley Pavilion. It is sure to be a wonderful event and yet another huge success for Mrs. Ardley, our resident Chartered Librarian. Our library, in terms of clear values, vision and learning activity really does run in the same way as our best and biggest departments and faculties. In so many ways, for passion and belief in young people (and of course the importance of reading and literacy at its heart) the library really does lead the way. Tuesday we look forward to our sports day – fingers crossed that the unpredictable and rather heavy rain holds off for that. As I come to the end of my second year at Hazeley, I feel cheated that I have yet to enjoy what I hear is a fantastic event – enjoyed by all. It has certainly been well-organised. So whether you are Nightingale or Darwin; the very best of luck to all competitors – I look forward to handing out prizes at the end of the day! Perhaps approaching a summer/autumn of some discontent with public sector unions and professional associations clearly in some disagreement with the coalition over plans to make significant changes to public sector pension arrangements, we face a one-day strike next week, on 30th June 2011. Two teacher unions, the ATL and the NUT have recommended to members that they take industrial action on that day. What I have to do at times such as these, respecting the rights of union members, is nevertheless to risk assess the situation – first and foremost ensuring the safety of students on site with potentially fewer of our own staff available for supervision. Secondly, I have to ensure that we plan to cover absent colleagues – this requires the use of both our in-house cross-curricular teachers (cover supervisors) and bringing in agency supply staff. I have asked members of the ATL and NUT, out of courtesy, to let me know by 23rd July, if they plan to take action so that my team can plan the day. I will always endeavour to keep the school open although if, going forward, disruption due to industrial action becomes severe, I cannot rule out closure or part closure of the school. I will ensure parents/carers are always briefed should there be any need – via the website, our ‘bulk text’ messenger and via letters brought home by students. Finally, I look forward to welcoming our 240 year 6 (into year 7) students this Thursday for their transition day – I know they will be very excited. We are too! The theme for the week is ‘perseverance’ – a noble attribute – and one, for the benefit of the ‘guardians of tomorrow’, beautifully stretched to the limit working in schools! Have a great week 13th June I would like to personally thank those who performed a very effective ‘rain-dance’ in recent weeks; our field is in a much better place in readiness for Sports Day next week. This is an event that I am particularly looking forward to, especially given the fact that in my first year, last summer, we faced 6 inch craters in areas of the field following a similar period of drought. The work done by contractors working with our site team over the past year has improved the situation no end. There remains much to do but the field is in a much better condition now than it has been in some time. Now, as we wind our way slowly to the summer holiday – six weeks hence, it is the ‘sun-dance’ that we are after. Thank you to the many parents, carers, students and staff who took part in a survey recently conducted by a consultant Headteacher, author and national expert on Community Engagement. Malcolm Grove is carrying out a case-study on community engagement, vision and confidence in leadership. I have received anonymous feedback from Malcolm and that feedback was very favourable. Unlike teaching & learning, student care & support and also standards, the extent to which the school engaged with its families and communities across Milton Keynes did not receive the greatest of praise, very shortly after my arrival, when we last welcomed Ofsted through our doors. It was clearly work in progress; satisfactory at best. Assistant Headteacher (Mrs Baldwin) and in her maternity-absence, Acting Assistant Headteacher (Ms Jackson) have worked wonders, alongside others, on bringing community links and partnership work much higher up our agenda. I would now suggest that there are some genuinely outstanding initiatives underway and at some point I will welcome Ofsted back in the building to celebrate these and judge us in this area the same way as they do in others. Malcolm’s feedback demonstrated that over 90% (mostly over 95%) of parents/carers agreed or strongly agreed that their son/daughter was making good progress in the school, that their children felt safe and well looked after, that they had confidence in the leadership and staff of the school and that the school makes sure their son/daughter is well prepared for the future. Areas of concern centred around the involvement of the wider community and of the school in the wider community. When you dig a little deeper into the comments made, a major part of the problem lay in the fact that The Hazeley is NOT in the heart of a local community – it is geographically place on the edge of one – with thousands of homes and businesses remaining still to be built in Area 10 & 11 on the western flank. In many ways, the major part of our community lies in the future. We have nearly 700 applicants each year for 240 places in year 7. Of the 240 who are successful, about 100 of them come from outside of this locality – from as far and wide as Bletchley, Broughton and even Newport Pagnell. This got me thinking about how, in many ways, The Hazeley is very much a school for the city of Milton Keynes; that is our community and both our vision and aspirations – with hallmarks of innovation, 21st century living, an international dimension and a vision of real social responsibility – these aspirations have to be as bold as the city itself. This week’s Theme for the Week is ‘Enterprise’ – decided months ago, this is timely. This week I look forward to joining our Young Enterprise team of Year 12 who, for the second year running, have become the first Milton Keynes school in 14 years to reach the South East Regional Finals in the Young Enterprise competition. Let’s see if we can make it to the National Finals this time!
Have a great week
We look forward to welcoming students back this week for the remaining seven weeks leading up to the summer break. The second half of the summer term always marks a change pf direction in secondary schools. Year 11 and 13, once their examinations are over, are no longer with us and whilst of course never having been forgotten at any time, a sharper focus is naturally then placed upon other year groups. This is particularly the case for years 10 and 12 as they look to embark upon the final year of their key stage – but also for year 9 as they prepare to drop some subjects and pick up their options in September. Year 8, this coming year are also piloting a single option and they are excited at that. I enjoyed reading through around 1500 subject reports this holiday as I went through the year 10 reports to parents/carers, adding my own brief comment at the end. It is clear to me, through reading these that the high standards of achievement set by the three years above them (the first three year groups in The Hazeley) are to be upheld by Mr. Baines’s year group. Most students have forecast grades which suggest that they are well on course to either meet or to exceed their targets – including in the all-important core subjects of GCSE English, mathematics and the sciences. Where this is not the case, subject teachers have given clear advice and guidance in the reports as to how students should improve their work and therefore their forecasts. Following on from the very successful online evaluation questionnaire for older students regarding the ‘new school day’ this year, how they feel about it and what small tweaks they might like to see next year, I look forward to asking questions in a similar way, of our current year 7. These questions will centre around their thoughts on their induction into The Hazeley – before they arrived, the induction day, their first few days, weeks and months. We shall use their responses to improve our transition arrangements. There are a number of Hazeley highlights this half-term. Too many to mention in a brief blog, so parents/carers and others should keep an eye out on our website. However, as I look out of my window this Sunday evening and see the heavens opening and the warm rain falling my thoughts are, sadly, with our field and the increased prospect of being able to host our entire sports day next month – our first since I have been here. The problems which I inherited with our large expanse of field are well documented (and not uncommon in ‘new builds’ in MK I understand). I arrived to flooding – promptly dealt with by ‘moleing’ – then the drying out, creating crevices several inches wide and rendering the field un-usable for many months. Since April we have entered into a contract with a professional grounds man who has kept the fields of St.Pauls School in wonderful condition for a long time. Working closely with our own site team, things are beginning to shape up to make sections of the field functional once more but the recent, record-breaking lack of rain this spring has really set us back. Let us hope that we can enjoy more of the rain we are seeing today over the coming days and weeks! Another event, that will definitely occur, is our second Business Breakfast on 1st July 2011. Hot off the heals of our hugely successful inaugural breakfast back in March, we look forward to welcoming another swathe of local businesses to find out more about The Hazeley, to network and to hear from our keynote speaker; this time Mr. Ian Wigson – a Senior Director for Education with Glowinkowski International ™ – an international firm of coach-trainers who also work in leadership development and youth entrepreurship. I have worked with this group and their unique and very bespoke services over many years in three very different schools – an Academy in west London and in Luton as well as, over the past two years, in The Hazeley. The impact of their work is palpable in all three and demonstrates an excellent way in which a well-respected organisation, normally working at a very high level in the private sector can interface with schools.. I look forward to reporting a summary of Ian’s input to our breakfast – if all goes well, the same day that we officially convert and celebrate independence as The Hazeley Academy – although like ‘buying and selling a house’ the ‘completion date’ for this is wont to shift if all of the paperwork is not fully complete. This coming Friday marks our ‘once each term’ non-uniform day for charity – this time organised by the PE department in aid of the British Heart Foundation. Students who come to school out of uniform are asked to contribute a minimum of £1 towards this worthy cause. Theme of the week this week is ‘sustainability’ – it certainly got me thinking that the word had a different meaning when we were putting these themes together this time last year. Although the recession was evident then, the impact of it on all of us was certainly not clear at the time. We often think about sustainability as a purely ‘environmental’ concept; working to ensure that we do everything we can to protect our planet for our children’s children and beyond. But of course, inextricably linked to this are issues around sustainability in the economy and in society. The ‘sustainability agenda’ in its widest sense, has to be a central theme in the curriculum of any school, in my view, preparing young people to play their part in the 21st century adult world. From September, we are planning to bring together departments under seven learning areas (3 core and 4 foundation). One of these faculties will be called Global Citizenship, headed up by Mr. Hedges. Departments working together include all the humanities, law and modern foreign languages areas and ‘sustainability education’ in its widest sense, will figure highly in their vision an programmes at The Hazeley going forward. I leave you with a thoughtful quote around our tendency towards mass-production and mass-consumption – two of the greatest challenges in the sustainability agenda. “The situation the Earth is in today has been created by production and consumption. We consume to forget our worries and our anxieties. Tranquilising ourselves with over-consumption is not the way.” – Thich Nhat Hanh Have a great week 23rd May It is always a real privilege to show visitors around The Hazeley. Be they prospective parents with their children, candidates for teaching or support positions or other members or our community, the feeling is always the same; and it is always underpinned by a real sense of pride. Last week I was fortunate to show around the school a new Assistant Director in the Local Authority – Martin Baker. In common with all visitors to The Hazeley, the feedback from Martin, an officer who has worked for many years across the south east of England in and in London, was complimentary indeed. What strikes visitors always boils down to the quality of relationships and the climate in the school. As in any highly achieving school we always hear about a sense of good order, clear evidence of high aspirations and young people and teachers plainly working very hard. But underpinning this, at The Hazeley, is quite simply how happy students appear to be at the school. A warm and welcoming school which is also reflected very much in the superb attendance of our students (over 95%). This outstanding figure for attendance I find really encouraging as it clearly indicates that parents and carers recognize the very strong correlation between excellent attendance and performance in examinations. This link is unquestionable and thoroughly backed by research. As a parent of four children myself, notwithstanding urgent medical matters/hospital referrals of course, I pride myself in being able to count their collaborative days out of school on two hands. Sniffles and dull aches in my house call for a hearty breakfast (porridge with prunes) and some reassuring noises. Our own attendance figure would be even higher, I have to say, were it not for the rather significant number of requests for term-time holidays that I receive; every week. This was a problem raised in our last Ofsted report and as Governors and senior staff, together we are endeavouring to tackle the problem head on. I do recognize, only too well, the difficulties and costs involved but it is with very rare exception that any request for term-time holiday is authorized. Those that go on to take unauthorized leave do, invariably ensure that their children catch up missing work – which is to their credit, but I have to say that the issue raised by Ofsted shows little sign of abating 18 months on from our inspection! This week’s theme is ‘bravery’ and I am minded to quote Charles Dickens – who might be seen in this quote to be something of a prophet; especially for those of us who, at times perhaps are wont to ‘hide’ behind technology (I include myself…) “Electric communication will never be a substitute for the face of someone who with their soul encourages another person to be brave and true.” A sobering thought. Have a good week and a lovely half-term break 16th May This week’s theme at The Hazeley is ‘Giving’ – something to which I have very generously been on the receiving end this weekend with a “special” birthday. The sheer joy on my six year old daughter’s face as I opened up the present that she personally chose for me was absolutely priceless; making me think that even in one so young – an age we often associate with being perhaps more self- than other-centred – the joy of giving still runs deep. Many teachers and other staff in schools, myself included, come into the profession with a desire to ‘give something back’ – I hear this a lot when I interview candidates. For many, I hear stories of how a particular teacher or teaching assistant in their own childhood ‘saved’ or inspired them – that they would simply not be the person they are today were it not for that person. It reminds me of the sign you can get for the back of your car “If you can read this, thank a teacher!” (not that I’ve ever owned such a sign!). And as the academic year slowly winds its way to the summer, I would like to pay homage to our own staff at The Hazeley; teachers, teaching assistants, learning mentors, the site team, administrators, librarians, technicians and other support staff. After 27 years in the profession, working in eight schools and visiting hundreds of others, I am very clear how blessed we are here. Commitment, dedication, hard-work, integrity and putting young people first is the trademark of our staff. We would go a long way to find their equal. Following a recent concern raised by a parent, regarding a recent ‘tweak’ to our Charging and Remissions Policy (relating to voluntary contributions to food ingredients in DT: Food/Catering), I have asked the Chair of Governors to table the entire policy for review this year – it has not had a substantive review in my short time at the school. In the meantime, in line with most secondary schools, the voluntary contribution of food ingredients by many parents is really appreciated. It is this which allow the catering department to be really creative in their work. But I must stress that these are voluntary contributions and whilst we review the policy, going forward, I have instructed the head of subject, Mr. Mwangi, to continue his outstanding practical work, make full provision for those who do not make such contribution and to allow all students to return home with the fruits of their labour – which I am sure you will agree are always very impressive. My very best wishes to year 11 and 13 in particular, whose examinations begin with a vengeance in the next couple of weeks. Indeed, our IB Diploma students are already well underway. Many parents will have received letters home outlining the challenges that we are facing with the absence through illness and injury of a significant number of senior staff and the measures we are putting in place to mitigate problems, caused through nobody’s fault, particularly in last minute preparations for examination entry. Parents should, in the first instance contact one of my deputies (Rod Boswell/Vanessa Stanley) or the relevant head of year, if you are concerned about anything relating to examination preparation. Year 8 into 9 ‘single Key Stage 4 option’ evening was really well attended (although I had to give my apologies). I would like to particularly thank Ms Rogers and Mrs Stanley for their organisation of this and parents/students for attending. It is an innovative, pilot programme and there is a lot of buzz about the new curriculum for 2011. Finally, I thank the large number of students in years 8 – 12 who have already contributed to the Survey Monkey ™ questionnaire on the ‘new’ school day this year and how they might like to see it tweaked for next year (if at all). A link to this survey has been sent to students’ school email addresses and the feedback is well thought through and will be listened to. Year 7 will soon be receiving a questionnaire asking them about the transition and induction arrangements back in the first term and how their first year at Hazeley has gone. This was actually an idea of a student in year 7 to do this.
Have a great week.
Our year 12 students excelled again under the expert guidance of Mrs Holding and our Business link advisers as we sailed to victory on Friday in the Buckinghamshire regional finals as overall winners. For the second year running, a Milton Keynes school (Hazeley both years!) has got through to the south east regional final in June. The brand “Jeffree” is as innovative as it is socially responsible – we have forged really strong links with Willen Hospice and Jeffree branded, hospice merchandise is now being sold in Willen shops and also in many outlets in CentreMK. Well done to our team in year 12 and good luck for June. I look forward to coming along in support again. There has been some confusion over changing uniform providers judging by a small number of emails arriving in my mailbox recently. I do regret that the school did not get our communiqué out to parents before our new suppliers did – it might have been less confusing – my apologies for that. Long before I arrived at Hazeley, the Business and Finance Director (Mrs J Wright) claims that she had received far too many complaints and concerns over stock availability and other issues with our former providers. She has gone on to research this and worked with Governors on a way forward – which will now involve a new supplier. Whilst a large amount of existing stock is to be moved across from our original to our new supplier, for anything completely new, there were always bound to be slight differences in colour tone; particularly the dark green blazer. Governors, led by Mrs Wright, decided that if the blazer green was to change a tone, then a tone darker would be preferred for our new year 7 – retaining existing stock for older students. Although subtle, this will also make the new blazer darker than Lord Grey’s (who now share our colours) but it nevertheless sits really well alongside the existing blazer (other than those a year or two old, which have faded in the light in any event – this cannot be avoided). Additionally, Mrs Wright is working closely with the PE department and students to ensure that any changes to kit for new students does nothing to compromise our ‘team uniforms’ when we compete. Moving to a tie with slightly less green and more red/yellow is being considered by Governors – it would clash less with a green blazer than does the existing tie. If this goes ahead, we would be planning to work that in for year 7 only and work through as the years move on. It is not uncommon in schools for different year groups/key stages/houses/halls to have slightly different but complimentary ties, so smartness will still be a premium should Governors choose to make this change. I am told that, overall the uniform is slightly cheaper but apparently of at least equal quality with perhaps a more personalised service. Comments and suggestions from parents/carers are welcome – directed to firstname.lastname@example.org – all will be considered. Academy conversion presses on over the next few weeks and with consultation now complete and almost unanimous support for conversion having been received, we are well ahead of schedule. There being also a financial benefit from conversion prior to September 1st, we are now looking at a conversion date as early as 1st July if we’re lucky. That being said, the conversion date itself will be a paper exercise; we shall acknowledge our independence more formally from the beginning of the new year if all goes well. I shall keep you posted. This week’s theme is ‘Determination’ – something our students (and staff) already demonstrate in abundance. And to be determined, especially when the going is tough, takes courage. A quote around this theme from Winston Churchill – “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” I wish you a happy week May 3rd 2011 Theme for the Week: Community After what has been the most odd few weeks in school with Easter, a training day and some no doubt very enjoyable but rather frequent bank holidays, it is finally ‘back to normal’ from today as we properly begin the summer term. I hope families have enjoyed whatever break you afforded yourselves and that students are ready to return for the long term in the run up to the summer holiday. For years 11 and 13 in particular, I am sure it will not have been much of a break. I know many of them have been into revision sessions over the holidays. This week we are straight into examination season, which runs now until the end of June. Parents and carers of students in those year groups should already have received a letter notifying them of the arrangements for revision classes and ‘study leave’, after half-term. If you have not received this letter, please make contact with my Deputy Headteacher, Vanessa Stanley, who has been given responsibility for these arrangements. This term also sees our Governing body working closely with our legal team, the local authority and the Department for Education as we finalise arrangements to convert from Foundation to Academy status. Whilst we are looking forward to the independence, freedoms and additional access to all of our own funding that Academy status brings, it has to be said that we are, at The Hazeley, fully committed, going forward, to working closely with the Local Authority as well as in partnerships with other schools and other sectors to play our full part in supporting young people and their families, across the city. This is very much believed to be the way forward as more and more schools, primary and secondary, move to Academy independence. There is never any sense in trying to ‘go it alone’ – so much more can be working together; spreading best practice, playing to strengths and tapping into a collective awareness and capacity of a larger community. But rather than forcing collaborations, natural partnerships begin to emerge in this new order. And there is so much that is fantastic to draw upon in the educational landscape of Milton Keynes. There are schools on incredible trajectories of improvement in standards – working very hard often in very challenging circumstances. Yet others are blazing the trail of working collaboratively at post-16 to broaden provision and give more learners an accessible route to level 3 programmes that take them somewhere. There are also some really creative examples of cross phase work – primary and secondary working together through cluster groups and more recently the work of our new team of LLEs & NLEs (Local & National Leaders in Education) for mutual support, coaching, mentoring and guaranteeing an increasingly seamless transition from primary to secondary. Across both phases there is some outstanding leadership and for my part, I look forward to chairing the Milton Keynes Secondary Headteachers forum from September, following on from the fantastic work of Leon Headteacher, Simon Viccars for the past two years; big shoes to fill. At The Hazeley, largely through the work of our Assistant Headteacher (Partnerships) – Louise Baldwin – currently on maternity leave, our Acting Assistant Headteacher (Andrea Jackson) and Deputy, Vanessa Stanley, we have, in the past 18 months thrown open our doors and begun to work in many of the ways outlined above, associating closely with a whole range of schools – supporting, collaborating &sharing. Our own community of students and staff have begun to benefit from such collaboration; as I am told have others. I wish you all the very best this week. 4th April 2011 As we fast approach the end of term, with April already upon us, we are all enjoying the longer, brighter, warmer days –it’s great to see more students staying behind after school for sporting activities and other New Heights enrichment and to feel a real ‘spring is in the air’ atmosphere around the school. Other after-school activities include unprecedented numbers of year 11, 12 and 13 students availing themselves of opportunities to complete or improve coursework and to get assistance in revising for the all-important summer examination season. We are less than 20 school days away from these beginning (a certain long wedding bank-holiday and a training day mean that students very little time in school during April). I would like to take this opportunity to wish our oldest students the very best of luck in the forthcoming examinations. Most have worked really very hard over a number of years and fully deserve the success they are sure to achieve. It is essential that they now knuckle down to ample revision in the last few weeks. There are many sessions being held by different subject departments over the Easter break – particularly for those students in year 11, these will be vital to attend – especially if they are not quite achieving their target grades in current forecasts. In addition to excellent preparation, it is important that students get enough rest and prepare themselves mentally for the examination period. Sleeping well the night before and then drinking plenty and neither skipping breakfast/lunch nor over snacking on sugary foods some would argue is as important as revision itself. Before the main bulk of summer examinations, our first cohort of International Baccalaureate Diploma students take their examinations – good luck to them – they are Hazeley Pioneers in Milton Keynes. This week we look forward along with others, to visitors from the University of Florida in the states and to our exciting Year 7 Enterprise day on Monday. Having said goodbye last week to a very important person in the short life of The Hazeley – Sandra Donovan (Connexions PA) has worked with so many of our students – particularly those going through difficulties. It is really sad but beyond our control that she had to leave us; not a Hazeley employee, the funding for Connexions was cut by the local authority as part of their need to make savings. This left Sandra and many others in Connexions seeking employment elsewhere. I spoke to Sandra just before she left and wished her very well and also hoped that we might, going forward, benefit from her outstanding work once more. We also wish Mrs Wright and Ms Ganatra well as very soon, they leave us for a short while on maternity leave. Have a great Easter – a restful break if you get one.
Thank you for all of your support this term.
28th March 2011
Our second consultation evening for parents to be briefed on the proposed conversion from Foundation to Academy status was very well received last Thursday with close to 100 attendees. Although a number of our existing parents/carers came along to this evening, the event was primarily aimed at parents new to The Hazeley, with youngsters joining us this coming September. The feedback received after the presentation and question/answer session along with the returned evaluation forms was overwhelmingly positive. Consultation with new parents as well as our own staff comes to a formal close at the end of April although Governors, senior staff and our legal team, Tollers ™ will continue to be available to answer queries and concerns, especially as we move into the TUPE process.
The standards of teaching, learning, progress and attainment of our learners continue to be our main foci and it is really encouraging to report our latest forecasts at key stage 4 and 5. Year 11 students are currently forecast for 71%+ to achieve 5 or more higher grades including English and mathematics – our target for this cohort of students is an ambitious 70% and our aspiration is 75%+. On the new measure, the percentage of students set to achieve the English Baccalaureate (higher grades in English, mathematics, two GCSE sciences, history or geography and a language), although as a school we pride ourselves on offering well-informed open-option choices for students, we are anticipating close to 30% of students achieving this measure (national average is currently 15.5%). Although a very small year group (48), our year 13 will provide us with our first set of post-16 results, which we are expecting to demonstrate outstanding levels of progress for many students and ALL students placed in a University of their choice, an apprenticeship or work with training. Our work with The Radcliffe School on sixth form teaching and learning alongside our science department peer-enquiry work with the same continues to build on an excellent partnership with a fantastic school emerging as one with a very similar vision as our own. In The Hazeley, of the 95 lessons observed so far this year, 34% have been judged to Ofsted criteria as outstanding and 84% as good or outstanding. Only two lessons to date have been judged inadequate. Our School Improvement Partner has confirmed our judgments that in this key area along with others, an outstanding judgment is a realistic one. Kindly brokered by the Local Authority, our work with Third Wave on hosting their Improving Teaching Programmes at The Hazeley (for colleagues across the city) has recently begun – with a fantastic response from those involved.
Hearing reports of close to 95% attendance for the half-year to date, I am grateful to students and their families for such an impressive statistic. At The Hazeley, we recognize the very strong correlation between attendance at school and attainment in examinations. The number of parents requesting term-time holidays is, thankfully, falling; these are only ever authorized in the most extreme of circumstances. Taking a family of six on holiday each year, during school holidays, I can certainly empathise with the costs of such a venture but we have to take a hard-line particularly in high school; there is so much at stake through missing school. Whilst it was always outstanding for the overwhelming majority of our 1200 learners, for the small number of those struggling, punctuality is also improving, thanks to Miss Nimmo’s and Mrs Stanley’s morning drive on tardiness and the very positive response of students. No student will be issued with a Friday detention if they have a valid reason for lateness in their planner and/or if a bus can be proved to have been late. Mr. Boswell and his team have also been working hard to improve presentation by working on uniform first thing in the morning – this has also had an impact – as visitors report our students to be some of the smartest when they are shown around the school.
A combination of our very successful ‘mentalist’ evening with Todd Landman (An Evening of Enchantment) and a number of other events on Comic Relief day itself meant that we raised a record £3000+ a fantastic achievement. Our students really are just the best at putting others first and working hard to make a difference
International links are now finally emerging with young people, teachers and schools in Ghana (led by Mrs Sadler) as well as Michigan (led by me). I shall also be welcoming students with their teachers for a few days working at The Hazeley – from a school in Copenhagen.
Appointments to new positions (teaching and support) are progressing well, as we continue to grow our school. I shall update you on our exciting appointments to date very soon.
As British Summer Time is now upon us, I wish you a happy and sunny week.
21st March 2011
Key stage 4 & 5 students returned last week excited and a little jet-lagged following their media studies trip to New York – a fantastic experience for all involved. Given the late changes that had to be made to the timings and itinerary for the visit the forbearance of everyone concerned is appreciated; much has been learned and it was all clearly thoroughly worth the trouble in the end!
Thank you to all, parents, staff, Governors and friends, who were able to support our Comic Relief evening – “An Evening of Enchantment” with Professor Todd Landman of the University of Essex. The evening was as entertaining as it was profound and I know from feedback thoroughly enjoyed by an audience of over 80 – in total close to £500 was raised for charity on that evening alone and this was probably more than doubled with all that went on the following day in school. We look forward to reporting the final sum raised very shortly. On the theme of giving to those less fortunate, an impressive number of year 7 – 9 students have decided to donate their Vivo ™ balances to the Japan Earthquake & Tsunami Appeal. More details will follow.
On Comic Relief day itself, aforementioned Todd, member of the Magic Circle (when not doing his day job!) was joined by Educational Leadership and Entrepreneurial Consultant from Glowinkowski International ™ Ian Wigston – together they led an excellent day-long workshop with the majority of year 12 on ‘Crafting Confidence’; a journey both into the mind, into beliefs and also into the predispositions that drive our day to day behaviours – for good or for ill. This was an excellent day which we shall now build upon with year 12 and going forward, plan something similar for year 12 each year.
The consultation for our conversion from Foundation to Academy status soon comes to a close for parents with the last remaining group to be briefed being new parents – of currently year 6 students who have been offered a place at The Hazeley. A consultation briefing is due to take place for these parents this coming Thursday evening in the school.
With the recent and highly successful additional Sixth Form Open Evening for the International Baccalaureate, applications for The Hazeley sixth form continue to rise to an impressive high of well over 250. Although unlikely, if all of these applications became students with places, our sixth form would grow, from September 2011, beyond the original plan of 300 in total, to over 350; still within the physical capacity of the school. Signs are that the first two sets of recorded results (A levels for our very small year 13 and AS levels for our larger year 12) will be commendable with very likely year-on-year improvements to match our now exceptional results at key stage 4. Our sixth form, with its unique offer, really has arrived.
I hope you have an enjoyable week. I look forward to meeting some of you this week.
14th MarchWe are so busy at The Hazeley at the moment; it took a kindly parent to ring me up on Friday morning to remind me that I had not completed a blog last week! I have to say, it simply slipped off the radar.
Sixth Form Successes… Late last week we picked up some of our first key stage 5 results to be cashed-in this summer (AS and A2 modules) in a range of subjects. There were some truly excellent results – I won’t name names at this point as students are still receiving the data but some departments in particular are showing signs of excelling this summer. Notably this includes English and mathematics, alongside psychology and history with great gains from last year’s early results having also been made by many students in chemistry. There are other successes too. Both year 13 and 12 are pointing the way towards our sixth form becoming one of the highest achieving in the city. Coupled with the growth in interest (over 240 applications to year 12 alone for September 2011) and our exciting collaborations with St.Paul’s and The Radcliffe School in terms of broadening provision, we are well on the way to securing the future of our young and still developing post-16 provision.
Excitingly, the 240+ applications to the sixth form includes over 25 students now applying to start the gold-standard post-16 curriculum provision at The Hazeley; the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. This holistic, broad curriculum, worth up to 6 grade As at A2 level, with an emphasis on developing the individual as an entrepreneurial, expert independent learner and conscientious citizen is only offered at The Hazeley, across the whole of Milton Keynes. We therefore have applications coming in from beyond our boundaries. Other year 11 students who might be interested in finding out more should contact my Assistant Director of Sixth Form (IB Co-ordinator), Miss Smith (email@example.com) or contact the school for an IB Prospectus (firstname.lastname@example.org) .
A Magical Gathering – We look forward this week to welcoming Todd Landman (Professor at Essex University and mind-magician of the Magic Circle). On Thursday evening (7pm) he will perform his “Evening of Enchantment” as part of the school’s support for Comic Relief (tickets via email@example.com – can be paid for on the door (£8.00 adults, £4.00 concessions – senior citizens/under 16)). Please do support this event. Todd joins us again for an exciting full day workshop with Ian Wigston of Glowinkowski International – working to embed an entrepreneurial confidence in our year 12 students.
Indeed, our own students are second to none in my experience in wanting to and finding ways to raise money for good causes. I know that they will do the same this year for Comic Relief on the Friday. I am confident also that many will be joining me in sending thoughts and prayers to those so terribly affected by the dreadful earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the pacific islands and in the not too distant future wanting to do something to help the people affected by this natural disaster.
Sixth formers and year 11 students studying Media are currently in New York – one of our many international visits and visitations for 2011. They are having a fantastic time and return early in the week.
Options: Other events on the horizon – include our exciting Options Evening this week for year 9 students with their parents – building on the excellent 1:1 dialogue already had with senior staff in recent weeks. Many students, able to achieve it, are seeing the benefit of opting to study the new A*-C GCSE “English Baccalaureate” suite of subjects whilst also choosing an additional creative option (art, dance, drama, music, DT, catering). Decisions will soon have to be made though – and it is clear that parents and year 9 students are taking this very seriously, as they should, and benefiting from the information, advice and guidance being offered by the school.
Academy Conversion: Our application to convert from Foundation to full New Academy status is well underway now as we have appointed our legal team to guide Governors through the process. With one outstanding secondary school having already converted recently and another few judged at least good with outstanding features well on the way to conversion in the next few months, we are taking our time, to ensure that all stakeholders fully understand the process and significance and anticipate a conversion towards the end of August, for September 1st. A second briefing/consultation evening is being planned, this time for parents who have been successful in securing a place for their child in year 7 from September – letters are going out.
I hope you have a great week
Tuesday 1st March
We welcome students back from the half-term holiday this week and hope that they and their families have had an enjoyable break. This half-term, leading up to Easter, in my experience, is always a really positive one; something about the lengthening and warmer days – the arrival of spring. For our older students, in years 11 and 13 in particular, this half-term marks a fast-approaching examination period – in fact there are less than 50 school days left before the main examinations begin. Whilst this period obviously brings with it a certain amount of stress, the reality is that the overwhelming majority of students have worked really hard for nearly two years and are set to do really well this summer. Learning from the experiences of the early entry in GCSE English, improving coursework and resitting in the summer, we are anticipating over 80% of year 11 students will achieve higher grades (A*-C) in English this year and close to that proportion should achieve higher grades in GCSE mathematics. As a benchmark, we expect over 70% of students to achieve 5 or more higher grades including English and mathematics this year – building on the outstanding GCSE results last year. Most importantly, these results will ensure that all of our year 11 students will be in a position to move on to their chosen sixth form courses; and we are pleased to see that most are planning to return to Hazeley – going from success to success. Year 13 are also looking forward to reaping the rewards of their hard work and first up will be the IB (International Baccalaureate) results in July. This week (Tuesday) sees the open evening and (Saturday) the workshops for year 11 students considering the IB diploma programme as an option. Interest is being shown from far and wide for our IB programme and our other sixth form offers – we are looking to possibly even be oversubscribed this September.
I have recently received a complaint from a member of our local community regarding some of our older students smoking at the end of the school day, albeit some distance away from the school gate. In assemblies this week, I shall be mentioning that whilst the school has less jurisdiction outside of the school gate than within it, it is an inappropriate and selfish act to tarnish the image of a school in this way. This is especially the case when half of the school are aged 11-14 and parents/carers are perhaps arriving to drop off/pick up older siblings with 9-10 year olds in the car, already nervous about going to ‘high school’ and getting a completely wrong impression about the school due to the behaviour of the tiny number of students amongst our 1200 who would even think to do such a thing. I know that this kind of thing is seen at school gates everywhere (I see it myself!) but it is not something we will condone at Hazeley. I know that I will be able to count on the support of parents/carers of those few students, when we investigate further.
Looking forward then to welcoming our students back – resplendent in perfect uniform this Tuesday and ready to learn!
Have a great week
Sunday 13th February
As I begin this particular blog, I am sitting looking out of the window right now at Michigan State University watching the snow falling; reminded of the chaos that befell our country only a few months ago. (Fortunately not affecting school days!). No such chaos here though. With snow ploughshare the size of houses, there are literally 6-12 feet mountains of the ‘white stuff’ piled up on the sides of everywhere; roads free, traffic flowing, schools open. Makes you think!
Although I arrived here Saturday early afternoon, to settle in and start networking, the conference begins Monday morning as I write this. Already, meeting Principals and others from schools and Academies from close to a dozen countries, and also most states in the US, the possibilities for creating opportunities for students and staff to network I can see are significant. The theme of the conference, run by iNet (the international arm of the specialist schools and academies trust (SSAT) is ‘Navigators of Learning’. We shall be exploring our ideas, going forward, around the kind of schools and education that will truly best-fit young people as they prepare to enter the fast-changing world of the 21st century. The conference looks at globalisation, curricula, teaching and learning and the ideas of global competence. With over 250 delegates at the 7th iNet International Conference, we were invited and commissioned to present a Hazeley showcase – one of only six school/academy showcases at the whole event. I look forward to doing that on Wednesday afternoon; travelling back Thursday afternoon, I arrive in Heathrow on Friday morning – back in school, jet-lagged on Friday afternoon. I look forward to sharing the outcomes of the conference in a later blog.
Wednesday 16th February
The conference is now coming to a close this evening. I have met and networked with literally dozens of delegates and engaged with powerful speakers with one main agenda – transforming schools internationally to deliver an education that more genuinely prepares young people to thrive in the 21st century. Some fantastic ideas were shared and I look forward to bringing them back to The Hazeley and helping to move the school further towards being the world-class centre of learning it is destined to become. I also enjoyed a fantastic school visit to an International Baccalaureate school in East Lansing, Michigan; we have plans already to have our students get in touch with theirs for some exciting joint projects. We shall also be setting ourselves up to lead on fundraising for the very worthy ‘Rood to Read’ project – our very caring students will love supporting this. I have already spoken with them about it in lead lessons last half term. Our Hazeley showcase went really well. iNet, the conference hosts, has members from every continent – many were here and enjoyed hearing about our wonderful young school, now going forward and maturing into a school with real character, fantastic ambition and a genuine beacon of excellence in the community. Distributed leadership, our teaching and learning coaches and student voice particularly interested delegates, who took our details looking to perhaps pay a visit or in some way link their schools and businesses with ours.
We have a lot of special events on their way to The Hazeley. Hot off the heels of our successful SSAT Student Voice Event (the leader, Greg Loftman, a former student at Denbigh actually joined us at the conference in Michigan), in March we look forward to a visiting Olympian as we host an SSAT Young Olympians conference here. Also in that month we are to have a special evening (March 1st) for year 11 students across the city and beyond, where we release the International Baccalaureate prospectus and explain about this ‘gold standard’ “up to 6 A Level” internationally recognized qualification for our best and brightest (grades B and higher at GCSE). The following Saturday there will be workshops. On St Patrick’s day evening an evening of magic for parents/carers and other members of the community – tickets will go on sale, all proceeds to Comic Relief. Our magician, Todd Landman, a Professor of Government and Conflict Resolution from The University of Essex will lead this and the following day a wonderful event “Crafting Confidence” with our entire year 12 student body, who beforehand, will have completed an online Glowinkowski ™ psychometric questionnaire which they will go through on the day. They’ll also learn some magic! All will soon be revealed.
Well I am now looking forward to returning home with loads of ideas and full of energy (if a little jet-lagged) on Friday afternoon. I know that my deputies, Mr. Boswell and Mrs. Stanley have both enjoyed being in the ‘hot-seat’ for two days each. They tell me there is much to talk about. The students and staff can look forward to a well-earned break in the week ahead.
Have a great half-term holiday
7th February 2011
Although officially, the parent/carer consultation period has come to a close (31st January), any queries that any stakeholders may have will still be responded to, if sent to firstname.lastname@example.org Both myself and the Governing Body are really keen to ensure that enough time is given for all stakeholders to have all of their questions, concerns and queries answered before any agreement is signed with the Department for Education. We now have a legal team about to be appointed to take us through the process to Academy status (in time for our planned conversion, if all goes well, for 1st September 2011)/.
The English Baccalaureate
Year 9 are about to make some important choices about what to study next year. Options evening and the booklet and lead-lessons that go with it is almost upon us. One significant difference this year is the introduction, across the country, of a new qualification, the English Baccalaureate. Any students who complete key stage 4 (end of year 11) having achieved a higher grade pass (A*-C) in GCSE English language, GCSE mathematics, two GCSEs in sciences, a GCSE in either history or geography and a GCSE in a modern foreign language will ALSO be awarded the English Baccalaureate. Up and down the country, at this time, only around 15% of students achieve this academic qualification. Last year, in The Hazeley, top of Milton Keynes for this new qualification, nearly a quarter of year 11 achieved it (although the certificate itself will be awarded for the first time for the current year 9s when they reach year 11).
Many schools will now go ahead and make languages and geography/history compulsory. The Hazeley will not – we believe in the importance of students having both free choice and also a broad choice. But we will encourage those who could achieve the English Baccalaureate to make sensible choices and given them the opportunity, in the option booklet to do so.
A World Class School
International adventures are on the horizon again; we have key stage 4 students ready to set off to France – a visit sure to improve their French in good time for their forthcoming examinations. Also, although it had to be moved back so as to avoid an examination clash, year 12 and 11 students jet off in a couple of weeks’ time for a media trip to New York. Also, at the end of next week, by invitation, I set off to an iNet Conference in Michigan to present at Hazeley school showcase on student voice and youth leadership. Our case study will eventually find its way into schools up and down the country. I look forward to sharing our exciting work across the water and to bringing back my experiences (and a few schools to with whom to network). Deputising for me on Monday 14th and Tuesday 15th February will be Deputy Headteacher, Mr. Boswell. On the Wednesday and Thursday, Mrs. Stanley will deputise; I should be back in school in the early afternoon on the Friday.
I shall endeavour to complete a blog from a hotel room in Michigan next weekend but should I fail to do so, have a great week and enjoyable half term, the following week.
Please remember that the first Monday after half-term is a staff development day – a non pupil day.
If parents/carers have concerns during my absence, or at any time, please contact my PA, Ms K.Marchant on email@example.com
Have a great week
31st January 2011
Did somebody forget to refresh my new blog page? That must be me! So quite a lot of what I meant to say this week is now out of date as it’s already happened. And I find that the weeks really fly by at The Hazeley and in nearly 30 years I have never before worked in a school where so much happens within a week. We have such a very busy staff keeping a very dedicated cohort of young learners very busy themselves. Staff new to The Hazeley in January have now really settled in; on one of my ‘walkabouts’ this week, I came upon a year 9 group with our new Head of Catering & Hospitality, Mr Mwangi – students really keen to choose a course in Catering next year – preparing wonderful food and every one of them entirely absorbed in their learning. During observations, typically around one third of lessons across The Hazeley are routinely and deservedly judged in Ofsted terms as ‘Outstanding’ but this was one of those rare lessons that you stepped into that you just knew was outstanding from the beginning. Students were enrapt in learning and would have probably been happy to stay in that space all day. Although experienced, as a new teacher to The Hazeley, Mr Mwangi, like others, is assigned a mentor during the early months– a teacher, experienced in ‘the way of Hazeley’ – just to help them settle in and find their feet.
Indeed, Year 9 are about to make some important choices about what to study next year. Options evening and the booklet and lead-lessons that go with it is almost upon us. One significant difference this year is the introduction, across the country, of a new qualification, the English Baccalaureate. Any students who complete key stage 4 (end of year 11) having achieved a higher grade pass (A*-C) in GCSE English language, GCSE mathematics, two GCSEs in sciences, a GCSE in either history or geography and a GCSE in a modern foreign language will ALSO be awarded the English Baccalaureate. Up and down the country, at this time, only around 15% of students achieve this academic qualification. Last year, in The Hazeley, top of Milton Keynes for this new qualification, nearly a quarter of year 11 achieved it (although the certificate itself will be awarded for the first time for the current year 9s when they reach year 11). Many schools will now go ahead and make languages and geography/history compulsory. The Hazeley will not – we believe in the importance of students having both free choice and also a broad choice. But we will encourage those who could achieve the English Baccalaureate to make sensible choices and given them the opportunity, in the option booklet to do so.
International adventures are on the horizon again – although it had to be moved back so as to avoid an examination clash, year 12 and 11 students jet off in a couple of weeks’ time for a media trip to New York and at the end of next week, by invitation, I set off to an iNet Conference in Michigan to present at Hazeley school showcase on student voice and youth leadership. Our case study will eventually find its way into schools up and down the country.
Have a great week – what’s left of it! And a relaxing weekend.
24 January 2011
Early last week a small number of parents/carers turned up for a face to face Academy Briefing – part of the consultation following the Governing Body’s decision to go ahead with an application to convert from Foundation to ‘new’ Academy status. Some very sensible questions were answered and some myths dispelled. We received some very encouraging feedback from the evening and it is becoming clear to everyone that our journey towards Academy status is simply a continuation of the journey the school has already been embarked upon for a number of years. From inception, long before I arrived on the scene, it was clear that the Governors, parents and staff of the school had great ambition for The Hazeley; it was a school always destined to push the envelope, to drive standards up whilst presenting a holistic approach to preparing young people for success in adulthood. It was a school intent on having a very human face and a strong sense of social responsibility and moral purpose. To be as ambitious as our three year vision declares (and indeed the early thinking behind the next phase in the life of The Hazeley; beyond 2013) requires confidence and autonomy. Foundation stage was the first step. Academy status should be the next with the independence and freedoms that it would bring. Many parents/carers are now engaging with the school by posting their questions via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
and as was indicated in the letter sent home earlier this academic year, this facility will continue to be available to parents until 31st January.
Our aim is to provide the very best possible service to parents, students and other stakeholders. The Strategic Leadership Group – Partnerships (Office & Administration Group) met again last week and began the process of putting together our first Customer Charter. Watch this space.
An Evening of Magic with a Social Conscience:
With Red Nose Day (Comic Relief) just under two months away, I am excited to report that we are looking forward to inviting Professor Todd Landman from the University of Essex to come in and work for the day (Friday 18th March – Red Nose Day) with our year 12 students. There will be more about that event nearer the time.
The evening before Red Nose Day (Thursday 17th March 7pm) , Todd, a talented academic and a member of the Magic Circle, will also be putting on a performance of magic for parents/carers/staff. Tickets (proceeds of which will go to Comic Relief) will be priced somewhere between £4-£8 each and we are hoping for massive support from our parents/carers/staff. Todd is the Professor of Government and the Director of the Institute of Democracy and Conflict Resolution at the University of Essex. His performances are as much a presentation on various issues facing global society and our social responsibilities as they are entertaining and mystifying.
Once tickets are available we believe they will quickly sell out – they will be advertised very shortly and first of all on the home page of the website. Please keep your eyes open…
Have a great week
17th January 2011
Progression meetings for our year 11 going on to the sixth form in September 2011 are well underway as we ensure as a school that we provide the highest standard or impartial information, advice and guidance for students going forward. With the current further and higher education landscape, these decisions have never been more critical. All of our extended leadership team are heavily involved in meeting with all year 11 students and their parents, discussing their options and where possible and appropriate, making provision for a place in our own sixth form at The Hazeley.
Indeed, the deadline for sixth form applications to The Hazeley is only days away and it is quite clear from those we have had already, that our sixth form will be oversubscribed. That being said, an offer is just an offer until the examination results arrive in August. If an offer is made, however, conditional on achieving particular grades, then that place is then guaranteed. Students from outside of The Hazeley School are very welcome to apply and indeed they are; from even beyond Milton Keynes – whether this be for our extensive A level and vocational BTEC programmes or for our gold standard, International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (link to the IB website here
). The IB Diploma is an A level (and higher) standard programme of study recognised and highly regarded in the top UK universities and also those in the USA, Canada, Europe, parts of Africa, Australia and the Far East. The IB diploma is a very full-time programme where students continue to study but at the highest level across the full range of subject disciplines. Some of the best offers being made for our year 13 are coming through to the IB students. In fact, last week, we welcomed two students into our year 12, transferring from an IB World School in Germany. Gabriella and Caprice, formerly from the UK have returned to Milton Keynes and have enjoyed a very warm welcome in our sixth form. We have a SPECIAL IB Open Evening set for March 1st 2011, and an extended application window for this unique programme where applications must be with us no later than May 1st 2011.
Further down the school, for next year’s year 7, we learned on Friday that we have received close to 700 applications for only 240 places. These applications have come from the length and breadth of Milton Keynes, which is the norm as much of the original ‘defined area’ has yet to be built. This is a record for The Hazeley – our admissions code will of course apply and we look forward to welcoming 240 students into year 7 in September.
The special Head to Heads – a briefing on Academy conversion takes place this evening at 7pm and parents/carers are still able to sign up to attend and find out more. Numbers who have signed up to date have been quite small so far. There will be other ways of course for parents/carers to ask questions and raise concerns.
The new coalition Department for Education (DfE) introduced a new ‘qualification’ or way in which schools up and down the country will, going forward, be compared with each other. Their aim is to challenge what they view as a quite cynical approach many schools have taken towards curriculum design; requiring students to take a significant number of non-examination, vocational courses (e.g. BTECs, OCR Nationals) and limiting option choices. It is considered by some that whilst such vocational qualifications have their place (and indeed we offer them as part of our broad and balanced suite of choices), to use them in order to improve whole-school statistics is often not in the interests of young people and their future pathways. In an effort to counter this view the “English Baccalaureate” requires students to have achieved a higher grade A*-C pass in five GCSE subjects; English Language, mathematics, two GCSE sciences (not BTEC), either geography or history and a modern foreign language. Statistics show that the national average for such a ‘qualification’ is at around 15%. We were very pleased to have achieved the highest result in Milton Keynes, at 23% – our target for this year is over 30%.
A meeting was held last week with representatives from Willen Hospice. Hot on the heels of the tremendous success of last year where we became the first Milton Keynes school in 15 years to reach the regional finals, our Young Enterprise year 12 group are working closely with the charity on an exciting enterprise project employing the talents of one of our excellent artists, David Vann. Watch this space for more.
Talent is also what we are looking for in our auditions for the first Hazeley performance outside of the H-Factor. Auditions begin soon for our 2011/12 showing of the West End and Broadway show, “We Will Rock You”. Not exactly Broadway, but I am looking forward to heading off for four days to Michigan USA, in mid-late February. As mentioned earlier, I have been invited there to present a showcase at an iNet International Conference on Global Citizenship. Working with colleagues from the Glowinkowski International group, we are presenting our exciting work on student enterprise/entrepreneurship and our change agenda at The Hazeley School as we take a good school, through outstanding to world class! I look forward to making and bringing back some good connections at every level as we begin to open our arms to the world.
Have a good week.10th January 2011Throughout the Lead Lessons (assemblies) of last week, students appeared to receive with much enthusiasm the news that the Governing Body had voted to apply to convert the school from Foundation to ‘new’ Academy status. They quickly understoold that the new academy movement has little to do with the academies under the last Government. Although there were exceptions, in the main, pre-2010 Academies were opened by sponsors following the closure of a failing school or at least one deemed to not be doing very well. New academies (without a sponsor) can only be opened by converting a school judged recently by Ofsted to have ‘outstanding features’. The freedoms then enjoyed by what is in effect an independent school run by a Trust and reporting directly to the Department for Education is in many ways a step on from when The Hazeley converted from Community to Foundation status, a couple of years ago. We are very keen at The Hazeley to take our time over the conversion, to take full and proper legal and HR advice and to consult all stakeholders so that there is a clear understanding by all of this undertaking. As a result of that, having made the initial application, we plan to brief and to engage all parties and move for a completion on the conversion from 1st September 2011.
That briefing/consultation process has begun and will continue with a dedicated Head to Heads Academy Briefing for parents and carers in the gym from 7pm on Monday 17th January 2011. Parents/carers should indicate that they plan to attend this briefing by emailing email@example.com
– this way we can ensure that we are able to accommodate all on one evening.
Interestingly, during the same assemblies last week, students learned probably for the first time about the incredible, voluntary work done by our Governors at The Hazeley – many of whom have served since before the first brick was laid. It was a surprise to learn how little students knew of the work of this important group - a long overdue presentation I think.
Academy status will actually change very little- except how the school is run behind the scenes. Our standards will continue to rise and I am certain that our growing reputation as a great school will continue to be well-earned. On a national level we are beginning to make our mark – two SSAT conferences will be run at The Hazeley – one involving olympians and another celebrating student voice. Visitors from other schools will join us in February and March for these. And internationally, we shall also begin to make our mark and gain an audience. On the back of our showcase at the 18th National Conference in Birmingham in November, iNet (the international arm of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust) have invited me to present a school showcase at the 7th iNet International Conference in Michigan (February). They will part fund our visit and I am really excited at the thought of being able to present some of our innovative work around student voice, enterprise, entrepreneurial capability and our ideas for a curriculum to promote global citizenship at this conference. Several feet of snow and temperatures below -15C I could do without, but it is a fantastic opportunity to spread the Hazeley message and to begin to forge links at every level with an international audience. I shall keep you posted.
Have a great week5th January 2011
Students arrived back this week full of energy and really keen to get back down to work. On a ’learning walk’ period 1 Tuesday, myself and Deputy Headteacher Mr. Boswell were impressed to see just how quickly students had settled back into routines and were enthusiastically engaged in and keen to talk about their learning.
This term is set to be another really exciting one and especially with an increasing number and variety of visitors coming to The Hazeley. So impressed with what we are doing here, early in February we are hosting not one but two conferences on behalf the Specialiist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT) – the first a Student Voice Conference and the second an Olympian Event. In the latter, we are anticipating a number of 2012 olympians to be joining us for the day alongside other students from schools in the south east. As we know more, I shall let you know.
Elsewhere on the website, (and for parents/carers in a letter soon to be taken home by students and available here
), you will note that the Governing Body have now voted to proceed with an application to convert from Foundation to ‘new’ Academy status. A briefing and consultation period is now underway and will continue throughout January. You should revisit the website for regular updates. As well as an opportunity to ask questions and learn more via email and letter, there will also be a face-to-face opportunity to hear more in a Head to Heads evening sometime in late January. When determined, this date (and the form to indicate that you plan to attend the event) will also appear on the website. The Head to Heads evening (20th January) indicated on the end of term letter will not now take place however.
I look forward to keeping you up to date with all the exciting developments at The Hazeley as the winter turns to spring.
Have a great week.
Yet again, last week we saw a sell-out showing of the H-factor. Singers, dancers and bands entertained a packed audience. Like the performance of Hamlet the week before (and earlier at Stantonbury, this was another example of a showing of the incredible talent we have at The Hazeley. Very early plans are already underway to look forward to a production of “We Will Rock You” at some point in the future – if this comes about, itwill be the first example of a full scale production made at The Hazeley. Watch this space!
As we come to the end of the first term, we say goodbye to some colleagues. Mrs. Hanson leaves this week to develop her business franchise and we wish her the very best of luck, thanking her for all that she has done in recent years to set up food and catering. Also leaving us having been at the school almost since its opening is Ms. Goodridge. So much could be said about how much Ms. Goodridge has done for the school; she was absolutely central to the awarding of outstanding judgements in our most recent Ofsted inspection. The most recently published data shows just how much Ms.Goodridge and the Excellence Team (now headed up by Mrs Bowley) have achieved, with outstanding progress over two key stages by students on the special educational needs register.
Mrs Goodridge leaves to spend more time with her family and we thank her for everything. Mr McGill stepped in for a term to teach in the mathematics department and leaves this week with our thanks.
Also leaving us for two terms is Assistant Headteacher, Mrs.Baldwin, who will be on maternity leave. We wish her well and look forward to her return. After a gruelling day of interviews, Director of English, Miss Jackson, was successful in her appointment to Acting Assistant Headteacher (Partnerships) – a secondment in Mrs Baldwin’s absence.
I wish you all well in the festive season – details of our early finish this coming Friday as well as plans for the start of 2011, alongside other notices should have been with you all by letter home last week. The letter will also be posted on the front page of the website early in the week.
Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
6th December 2010
As we approach the Christmas break, I would like to take this opportunity of thanking you for your support for what has been a truly remarkable first term at The Hazeley School. Straight after reporting MK-record-breaking key stage 4 results in August, we more than doubled the size of our sixth form; enabling us now, going forward, to offer one of the broadest range of curricula choices for post-16 students. This of course includes the International Baccalaureate (IB); only available for study, in Milton Keynes, at The Hazeley School. Offers for University places for our year 13 students on the IB, A level and applied courses are now streaming in. In fact as of today, there is not one student who has made an application that is without an offer of a place! Most of our students are considering University, either in this country or abroad. For others we are busy supporting their ambition instead to earn a place on an apprenticeship or work with training. Also, following on from last year’s Ofsted inspection where in the vast majority of categories the school was judged either outstanding or good, our Ofsted-trained independent SIP (school improvement partner), has, this term, categorised the 11-16 school as being unambiguously outstanding in all respects and although we still have to await our first set of key stage 5 results to be certain of where a judgement for the sixth form might lie, our SIP observed outstanding and good teaching in the sixth form recently and almost all faculties were observed.
But it is not just been in the academic field that we have excelled. In sport, performing arts, enterprise and also in raising money for charity, (local and national) there are many examples of huge successes. The oft cited strapline for The Hazeley School: ‘high standards with a human face’ really is coming to life. This was never more apparent than during our vibrant year 6 and sixth-form open evenings; there was a very special atmosphere. Of course, as we go forward still as a relatively young school, we know that we still have much to achieve, And as part of this, our Governing Body have to seriously consider whether we are best placed, especially in the emerging educational landscape, taking our ambitious agenda forward to become a ‘World-Class School’ with Foundation status (as we have currently) or with greater independence over our affairs with a ‘new academy’ status. Governors are debating now whether or not to apply for the status and if they vote to do that, they would embark upon an application (which normally takes 3-4 months) whilst of course also leading a briefing and consultation with parents/carers, staff and students.
There follows the detailed arrangements for the end of term and start to the new term in January.
End of term arrangements
On Friday 17th December the school day will conclude at 12.00pm for students in year 11, 12 and 13 and for the rest of the school at 1.00pm. In short, normal lessons will take place period 1 and 2, followed by Christmas assemblies and time with tutors until students are dismissed.
Students will be required to clear out their lockers before departing. Provision has been made for older students to wait for younger siblings to be dismissed and contact should be made with their Head of Year, to notify us of this. Student receiving free school meals will of course have access to this, prior to departure.
Start of term arrangements
School will resume on Tuesday 4th January 2011 at the normal time with lesson 1 at 8:40am for all students. Emphasising my comments in a recent blog-entry on the school website, I would like to remind students and parents that uniform must meet the dress code for the school. A holiday is always a good opportunity to check uniform/footwear. As I have always said, the overwhelming majority of students arrive, stay and leave school each day in perfect, full school uniform. As with everything else, however, we continue to strive for outstanding uniform at all times. It plays a crucial role in establishing our ethos and expectations and as a physical demonstration to our local community that our standards are set very high.
As a reminder:
School blazer, with Hazeley badge must be worn at all times in school
Black school trousers (not tight/fashion trousers)
White, formal shirt with top button
Plain black footwear, no logos or colour and no boots,
No piercings other than one pair of studs
Make up kept to a minimum
White, black or grey socks
Jewellery – pair of ear-studs only; rings, arm-bands, bracelets and chains are not permitted.
As we shall be posting individual reminders home where the uniform code is being consistently ignored, it is important that when you have a particular problem (e.g. finding shoes broken/lost tie on a particular morning) that as a parent/carer, you put a note in your child’s planner with an indication as to when this problem will be rectified.
Any queries concerning uniform code as with all matters concerning behaviour and readiness for school and learning, should be directed in the first instance to Deputy Headteacher, Mr. Boswell or Assistant Headteacher, Mr. Healy.
Dates for your diaries – Over the next term a number of events have been planned and I hope you can join us at the following
- The next Heads to Heads is scheduled to take place on Thursday 20th January – if Governors vote to proceed with an application & consultation on Academy status, this is likely to be dedicated to a briefing on the same.
- Parent consultation for year 11 takes place on Tuesday 25th January
- Parent consultation and Options evening for year 9 takes place on Wednesday 9th February
- Monday 28th February is a planned conference for school staff and is a non-student day.
- Parent consultation for year 12/13 takes place on Thursday 24th March
- Another Heads to Heads meeting is planned for Thursday 7th April
- Options evening for year 9 is scheduled to take place soon. Nearer the time, further details will be sent home.
28 November 2010
Our Chilren in Need total came in at just short of £1500 whch was a huge success. This was a shining example of something that is fast becoming a feature of The Hazeley School; a community where someone is always wanting to do something to make a difference in the lives of others. Rarely a week goes past without an individual student, group of students or member of staff either emails or comes to see me about putting something on to raise money for a really good cause. Long may it continue that we build a reputation for putting others first.
Judging by the balance of feedback that I receive each week I know that I can confidently say that our reputation in the community of Milton Keynes is exceptional. Whether it is visitors to the school or those who meet our students when they are on visits or out and about before and after school, it really is our students who ‘sell’ the school so well. Having said that, I received a disappointing email this weekend from one member of our community, concerned that the standard of uniform worn by students and notably on their way into school, has slipped of late. With shirts un-tucked, ties not worn properly and wearing shoes other than the required ‘plain black footwear with no logos or coloured laces’ a minority of students are really letting the school down on this front. Of course, as a team of staff 99% of our energies go into ensuring that what happens in the classroom; outstanding teaching, learning and progress, is never compromised. But many other facets of our community life are very important and presentation ranks alongside punctuality and attendance. It is really important. It plays an vital part in setting the climate and atmosphere in a school. In the week leading up to Christmas and straight after the holiday, I shall be asking Mr. Boswell (Deputy Headteacher: Standards), other senior staff and heads of year as well as members of the R2L team and tutors to very strictly reinforce our uniform code. I ask parents and carers of the very small minority of now nearly 1200 students to help us in doing this. As a father of four children myself, I know that mine leave the house perfectly dressed and arrive on time to school – and enjoy 100% attendance. I cannot control their punctuality and appearance in school though. Therefore, in due course, where uniform is not being worn well as students enter the building or around and about the school, I shall send a letter of appeal home to parents/carers in the first instance. If a problem then persists, either I or a member of the senior team will subsequently invite parents in to discuss the matter further and what we can do further as a school to support you.
I look forward to getting back to school this week – I had a lot of ‘out of the building’ events last week. Following the successful completion of my LLE training at Kents Hill mid-week, I then enjoyed a full-house at an early-morning session that I delivered at the 18th Annual SSAT Conference in Birmingham. With well over a hundred delegates there were literally dozens of headteachers and others really excited to hear about some of our work around distributed leadership, building succession leadership and student voice amongst other things discussed. The Hazeley School, still so young, is beginning to find itself with a fantastic reputation beyond even Milton Keynes.
We look forward this Wednesday to welcoming our own year 11 and also a large number of prospective sixth form students to our sixth form open evening to hear about our fantastic range of courses – including the gold standard, the International Baccalaureate. As the only school in Milton Keynes to offer this world-class sixth form programme, there will be an additional evening held in the spring term to hear more about it.
I wish you well for an enjoyable week – fingers crossed that the ‘white stuff’ keeps at bay.
21 November 2010
Last Friday was a special day at The Hazeley. It was our first full charity non-uniform day since I took up post as Headteacher and it could not have been more successful. The total collected for Children in Need during the day was over £1000 and fast approaching £1500 as Friday came to a close. We should have a final total at the start of this week. There was a wonderful atmosphere at break and lunch, with live music and other fund-raising activities. During lessons, it was business as usual.
Our School Improvement Partner, Hilary Spurier (a local authority appointed, Ofsted-trained consultant) spent the best part of a day with us last week with a particular focus on teaching and learning in the sixth form. In total, nine part-lessons were co-observed by Hilary and a member of the senior team. Almost all teaching observed was outstanding or good with outstanding features and the improvement in standards in the sixth form, from a very good starting point last year, was seen as ‘highly significant’. Across all aspects of the school’s work, our journey from good, through outstanding to exceptional was commented upon.
As our sixth form goes from strength to strength, it is also set to increase in number to over 200 (rising to 300+) from next September when we look forward to welcoming existing year 11 students and their parents from across the city and beyond. Whilst our own students have priority for places at The Hazeley Sixth, there are still a large number of places for new intake. With our broad curriculum which includes the gold-standard “International Baccalaureate” (the only school in Milton Keynes to offer the Diploma) we welcome interested candidates to our Open Evening on Wednesday 1st December.
Have a great week
15th November 2010
Key Stage 4 students came out of GCSE examinations last week really very positive about their experience. Indeed, on Friday afternoon, I was showing the Director of English & Literacy from my previous school around The Hazeley during the last lesson on Friday afternoon when year 11s emerged from one of these examinations, making their way, hastily, to the last 20 minutes of period 5. My guest was so impressed at the level of dialogue between students, reflecting on the examination as they were. What really struck home was the extent to which it really mattered so much to the students how well they had done. From the student who was not quite sure if she had done enough to secure that A* (but was certain she will be walking away with an A) to the one who was on the verge of making the leap from ‘mock assessments’ generally coming in on a ‘D’ grade to now being ‘certain’ that he had done enough in the real thing to ‘get at least a C’. There was real passion about achieving and about doing the very best that one can to get the best outcome possible.
This weekend, on Saturday, I found myself really privileged to be in a position to accept an invitation from a colleague to attend a Diwali celebration event held in the evening at The Hazeley School. My wife and the two youngest of my children were able to join me at this wonderful event celebrating the Hindu New Year and the festival of lights. Well over one hundred Hindu men, women and children came together with a feast of traditional and delicious vegetarian Indian food made as an offering. Two holy men (Sadhus) had arrived from the Mandir in Neasden (the link-Mandir for this particular group and a site I have visited many times, especially when I was working in London). Whilst the teaching was given in Guajarati, I was so well looked after that a third-year Cambridge University student, was assigned to guide me through the proceedings. The bouquet of flowers for my attendance, representing the school, was less expected but just as appreciated. The teaching was profound and inspirational as were the shorter Powerpoint presentations given by younger devotees on the meaning of Diwali. It is so important, in my view, for The Hazeley, going forward and defining ourselves as an ‘international school’, with an emphasis on what it means to be, in the twenty first century, global citizens, to work very hard on doing all we can to build community cohesion. To do this, we recognise and celebrate the differences between cultures and ethnic groups, whilst also celebrating our common humanity and the richness that such multi-cultural exchange can bring to all of our lives.
Last week we also said a sad farewell to a long-standing and highly valued colleague in Sarah Tarrant. Sarah has been at the school since 2006 and has taken on many roles. Most recently Sarah has been an outstanding HR & Recruitment Manager as well as stepping in many times as my own Acting PA. She now moves on to a promoted post as School Secretary at Priory Rise and we shall miss her a very much and wish her well for the future.
Last week we also celebrated the incredible achievements of last -year’s year 11. Most of these students are of course in our sixth form and they were joined by those who had moved on, for a really lovely evening of special awards, visting speaker, author Mark Robson, musical interludes and a wonderful Chilli and Rice served up by our resident caterers, Cucina. We were joined by our Chair of Governors, other Governors and our School Improvement Partner, Hilary Spurrier. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the event which was a fantastic celebration of the achievements of a year group who put themselves and the school quite literally at the top of Milton Keynes. This week, of course, is Book Week – with many exciting events taking place in and around the school. We have visitors, including authors, and activities planned by that most exceptional of departments in the school, the library itself, headed-up by Mrs Ardley. I am sure we shall hear more about this next week and in the next Hazeley Herald.
Finally, a note on visiting spectators to sporting events at The Hazeley School. Since before I arrived, these appear to have been discouraged by the school on the quite justifiable grounds of alleged instances of poor conduct on the part of a small number of adults when disagreeing with decisions taken, for example, by referees. (E.g. extreme language, aggressive behaviours). For the time being, going forward, I have decided to repeal this ‘ban’ and to allow spectators; friends and family, to attend the school during sporting events. It only remains to be said that the school and in particular members of the PE department leading events, will reserve the right, in my absence, to ask any visitor, not conducting themselves in a manner appropriate during a school event, to leave the site and to report any such instances to me. I cannot imagine that anything like this is likely to happen very often and I hope that we can continue with our current stance, going forward.
Have a lovely week
M.A.Bennison MA BSc(hons) NPQH FRSA
8th November 2010
It is hard for me to remember, looking back over far too many years in schools, of a time when I have felt quite as proud to be associated with a school, as I did last week at Stantonbury Theatre. As part of the Shakespeare in Schools national programme, around 15 of our students performed a 45 minute rendition of Hamlet to open the evening, where we also saw other performances from Walton High, Stantonbury and The Royal Latin schools. I am bound to be a little biased and to be honest it was not a competition, but I really do feel that our students from key stages 3 through to 5 simply stole the show. Their incredible characterisations and the sheer integrity of the production left the audience quite simply spellbound. So early in the academic year, I am certain this will be quite a highlight when we look back.
With University applications underway, it is exciting to report that as soon as UCAS (application) forms are being submitted by our year 13, we are hearing news of offers being made. As this will be the first year through the entire school and on to University, it is especially exciting. As a school keen to measure our ultimate success by tracking the progress of students not just through the school but beyond, to University, apprenticeship and work.
This coming week we have a large number of modular examinations taking place and I wish all students well in these. I know that they will have worked hard to prepare themselves for important tests that do actually count towards final qualifications. for the first time in the history of the school we are also entering all year 11 students into early-entry GCSE English. We are certain that this will be hugely successful, when the results come through in early January. The plan, going forward, will be for those students who have excelled early to have more time to perhaps prepare for other examinations or to develop their BTEC portfolios (science, sport etc.) towards distinction level. Others will have done very well but we will know that they can do better. We will use the early-entry English for these students in a formative way, helping students and their teachers to know where there are strengths and areas for development; maximising the chance to secure the very highest grades next summer in English. There are parallels in GCSE mathematics where students have the opportunity to build on prior success and improve on earlier performances when sitting and resitting modular examinations.
I, myself, am looking forward to two days of LLE training at Kent’s Hill this week. An LLE is a Local Leader in Education and the training is awarded to headteachers who apply having served at least three years in one or more headships, with both a track record of success and also a keen desire to support and coach the work of other leaders in other schools. I feel very fortunate to have been successful in my application to take part in this excellent programme, run by the National College.
Finally, this week we look forward to the previoius year 11′s Awards Evening (The Class of 2010). This is to be hosted as an event in the sports hall this coming Wednesday evening. It looks set to be a really wonderful celebration of a fantastic set of achievements for our second year 11 through the school. Most students stayed on in our sixth form anyway and they will be joined by those that moved on for certificates, presentations, a visiting speaker and special awards. The evening is topped off by a buffet – courtesy of our fantastic new caterers Cucina.
An exciting week ahead for students and staff- I wish you the best with yours too.
18th October 2010
It is with great pride that at this time of year, I find myself able to show prospective parents/carers and sometimes their children around the school, during the school day. For parents/carers who could not make it to our recent Open Evening or for some who find themselves torn in their decision-making, there is nothing quite like seeing a school in action. Exceptional teaching, outstanding behaviour, fanstastic relationships and really positive attitudes to learning are ubiquitous at The Hazeley and our attendance, currently at close to 97%, is a statistic which clearly demonstrates just how keen our students are to get into school, perhaps even when the ‘winter sniffles’ start to appear!
We all await with great interest and not a little trepidation the outcomes of this week’s spending review, on Wednesday. It does appear, by the news this weekend, that front-line education services (schools) will be, to some extent protected, but it is clear that there are likely to be real challenges for many local authorities supporting schools, possibly facing massive cuts. As a school, The Hazeley looks to be in something of an advantageous position as we are still in growth. With a roll set to rise from 1150 to over 1500, during the next few years, a curriculum still in development and staff still to appoint and with an income, like all schools, primarily based upon student numbers, our planning for ‘leaner times’ is already underway and I can reassure parents/carers that we shall do everything in our power to maintain the very high standard of education that we offer at The Hazeley School. As the full picture begins to emerge, you can be assured that I shall keep you updated.
As we move to the half-term holiday, I would like to emphasise the importance of years 11 and 10 using some of the time off to prepare adequately for their modular examinations in the second half of this term. GCSE science and mathematics examinations are ahead of us and for year 11, a full run of GCSE English for all. When we receive the results in January 2011, we shall then be in a very strong position to build upon success and where students have fallen short in this most critical of core subjects, it will be clear where the issues are and we shall address then with rigour. All students in year 11 must go into these English examinations with a full set of completed coureswork assignments. If they are in any doubt, they should see their English teacher or speak to the Director of English (Ms. Jackson). Some additional time is going to be given for students to complete coursework assignments in the coming days.
Year 7, 12 and 13 parents and carers are also very welcome this week to meet with their form tutors on Tuesday evening for a ‘settling in’ consultation. This is a really important meeting and I look forward to seeing some of you, in passing on the evening.
Have a lovely week.
11th October 2010
Over 1000 visitors streamed into The Hazeley School for Open Evening last Thursday; by far the largest number to visit our still-growing school. The feedback on the evening and in subsequent emails and letters to me has been really generous: “an inspirational evening”, wrote one prospective parent. “Really high standards but with a human face”, said another. Would-be students with their parents & other family members visited each of the departments, meeting very proud existing students, learning from them and also from the staff just what it is that makes The Hazeley so special. “There was a real buzz – like we have not seen before…”, said one parent; “an infectious enthusiasm”, she concluded.
There is no magic formula to the wonderful atmosphere at The Hazeley. Staff are right behind our vision to establish our young school as a world-class one. And to achieve this with the highest standards – of teaching & learning, support for learning, administration, site services, catering etc… Staff work really hard, together, to achieve this vision. Everybody goes the extra mile for our children. We know that every child who comes through this school gets one chance and once chance only. We also know that time and opportunity can quickly slip through our fingers. We set the highest of targets and we work closely with students, with each other, parents and partners to ensure that everyone is well on course to achieve there targets. Ours is a learning journey; from before they arrive in the building, through key stages 3-5 and beyond. Our job is quite simple – to prepare our young learners to thrive in the 21st century. And we are achieving great things already. From our transition work with primary schools, our powerful staff, student and parental voice in strategically planning for the future. Through our personalised curricula, fast-tracking of the most able, catching up where students arrive, having underperformed at primary school, through to our second-to-none provision in the sixth form; a full A level programme and three baccalaureates – the Hazeley Advanced and Higher Baccalaureates (Level 2 & 3) and the full International Baccalaureate Diploma – our ‘gold standard’ for the more able student. The latter, accepted and highly regarded in the top Universities in the UK as well as worldwide (USA, Australia, Europ etc. ), the IBO Diploma Programme is of A level standard and higher and we are the only school in Milton Keynes to offer this programme.
Planning is well underway for our sixth form open evening as well as our year 11 (last year) Awards Evening in November – watch this space.
In the meantime, a slightly less frantic week this week, with the Open Evening behind us but I am sure it will be as full-on as ever!
Have a great week
M.A.Bennison MA BSc(hons) NPQH FRSA
Autumn is always a really exciting time for a school as it prepares to open its doors to prospective parents of current year 6 students for Open Evening. The Hazeley Open Evening is this Thursday 7th October – starting at 6pm. It is our annual opportunity to demonstrate what makes our school so special and I am reminded of the many wonderful anecdotes left behind by over 900 visitors, adults and children, one evening last year; in October 2009.
“The most inviting and most friendly school we have visited yet…”
“Everyone seems so happy and approachable..”
“Standards are high, but the atmosphere is reassuring…”
“It has the feel of a large primary school – family-like; everyone seems so proud…”
I could go on. The compliments were many. As a new Headteacher at the time, I felt very privileged to be on board. Now I share the sense of pride in what The Hazeley School stands for and excited at where we are setting our sights. This year, the evening, I am certain, will be just as successful – it will be introduced by two of our new year 7 students, who throughout the evening, will, as always, be our best ambassadors. Last year the school had around 650 applications for 240 places. Because of the stalled western expansion zone in Milton Keynes, much of what shall become our natural catchment area has yet to be built. As a result, only 140 or so places went to students from ‘in area’. The school remains ‘open for business’ to those outside of the area, fortunate to gain a place.
And from last week’s Head to Heads – a termly opportunity for an audience of parents/carers to fire questions to me and my deputy headteacher colleagues, really well attended with over 100 in the audience – it is clear that the vision for such a world-class school is shared by all. Our discussions were wide-ranging but covered personalisation, our new arrangements for brunch and lunch, issues with traffic at the start and end of the day, our fantastic New Heights programme and many other areas of growth, development and change for the school. I would personally like to thank parents/carers for giving up their time, to pose questions, raise concerns and also, generously, to give praise.
I wish you all a very enjoyable week and look forward, perhaps to meeting some of you on Thursday. My short presentations are repeated at 6:30pm, 7:00pm and 7:30pm.
M.A.Bennison MA BSc(hons) NPQH FRSA
27 September 2010
Last week was frantic. And in my experience, 27 years in half a dozen schools, the third week of the new school year usually is! Year 7 and 12 have normally settled in by now and so much has gone on in the first few weeks. The summer holidays start, for everyone, to feel like a distant memory.
“Effort” is our theme for the week and it is clear that most are making a supreme effort to get the year off to a good start. Whether it is year 7 or 12 finding their way around a new school or a new way of working right through to year 11 and 13, picking up from where the summer term ended. Year 11 are also beginning to realise that there really are now only around 30 school weeks until their final examinations begin in mid-May. 150 or so days and counting. It does not seem so long when you think of it like that. And of course, along the way, in November, January and at other times, modular and unit examinations in GCSE, AS and A2 and unit deadlines in BTEC courses… There really is no rest for the hardworking student (or staff member) at Hazeley.
You will probably be aware that we are piloting a new type of report to parents this year (actually it was piloted very successfully with year 11 last year – this year we’re rolling it out to all year groups). Rather than one full report to parents/carers each year (for some years at odd times of the year simply to spread the burden out), we are moving to three shorter but far more informative reports; one per term. These reports meet all the statutory guidelines for reporting to parents but they are leaner, more frequent, not padded out with less useful information and give all parents/carers a regular update on progress towards targets and new targets set. If you have any questions about the reporting cycle, please contact Mrs Priestley who, as Assistant Headteacher (Standards), oversees this. Many parents/carers will be able to access these reports electronically via this website. More information will follow.
The first of our termly HEAD TO HEAD
sessions runs this week, on Thursday 30th September
, in the gym from 6:45pm.
For those who have not been before, this is an opportunity, in a relatively informal couple of hours, to ask general questions of myself and my two Deputy Headteachers, Mrs Stanley and Mr Boswell. A short presentation is given at the start (this term it will focus on standards), followed by a ‘Question Time’ approach – with questions emailed (named or anonymous) in advance, or taken directly from the audience. IF YOU WISH TO REGISTER your intention to attend
the Head to Head session this Thursday, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
and in the email simply provide 3 things a) your name and the number of people in your party b) Your question (if you have one) and c) whether you wish for your question to remain anonymous when it is read out (just type c) anonymous or c) named). It is important to register your intention, so that we are able to cater for numbers (last year we had 4 parents on one occasion and well over 100 on another! – either is absolutely fine, there is no compulsion to attend, but it helps our planning to know what to expect).
Further to my earlier letter home to you regarding the start of term, I am pleased to report that the new school day is proving, for the majority of the community, to be an overwheming success. The start of the day is very slick, with 99% of students arriving on time and ready to begin lessons at 8:40am. Where this is not the case, I urge parents/carers to support us with the punctuality of their children. The brunch and lunch breaks have settled down really well (although this was not helped by unavoidable catering staff shortages on Friday – meaning that we needed to close down the Pavillion to yeasr 11-13 for the day). Students quickly adapt to change – a lot fasted than adults to be honest.
Interest in The Hazeley School and the exceptional work that we do here with young people is growing fast. Last week, we were chosen by the authority to be the venue for a large group of Headteachers and advisers from a number of schools in Copenhagen, Denmark. This party were incredibly impressed with the early successes of the school, the really hard-working but friendly atmosphere in lessons and on corridors. We have now had a number of requests to set up international links; between Heads, other staff and of course, students with Danish schools. So impressed are a number of national organisations with our standards-raising work and in particular our work in building leadership capacity and in developing student voice, we have been invited to present showcases and keynotes both at an SSAT conference in Birmingham in November and an iNet conference in Michigan USA in February. Such showcases, subsidised by the organisations, allow us to take our Hazeley vision for a world-class school to a national and international audience. The networking that will fall out of this and especially the opportunities for international links for our students and staff will be fantastic.
Two other really important dates very soon – school photographs (for all students) on 4th October and of course our year 6 parent/carer Open Evening on the evening of 7th October, from 6:00pm. Please keep an eye on this website for these and other important events coming up.
Have a fantastic week
M.A.Bennison MA BSc(hons) NPQH FRSA
19th September 2010
Our theme for the week last week was ‘reflection’ and for me that was a very appropriate theme just now. Final preparations were underway throughout the week for the second Hazeley Fete since the school opened in September 2005. During my first year, I had heard so many anecdotes about the first fete and I had been shown the photographs. It struck me that it had been such a huge success in bringing the community together, that very early on I asked The Friends of Hazeley to consider putting on another one. Easy words to say! One cannot imagine the incredible amount of time and effort that goes into planning and implementing such a thing and all by volunteers whose only interest is to work hard for the school and to show the school in a good light. Anybody who spent any time at the fete this Saturday could not have failed to have been impressed. The weather held up for us and students, parents, families and other members of the community turned up in large numbers. There was a huge variety of stalls set up - some by students and staff; others by parents or members of the community. And the funfair was a big draw. I am not going to mention the three of us who having volunteered and been chosen, then faced being ‘gunged’ by the highest bidders – in the name of the Extra Care Charity (the charity behind the Lovatt Fields Care Village and the planned new village in Shenley). As we made our way to the showers, we were reliably informed that it was ‘all in a good cause’. Which of course it was, in line with everything that happened on the day. I would like to publicly thanks our Friends of Hazeley for their tireless efforts in pulling this off, our own staff – Louise Baldwin and Vanessa Stanley for their part with the friends and of course our site staff who prepared the site and faced the tidying up afterwards!
Going into our third full week this Monday, another reflection is just how much of a ‘full school’ we now feel. With a sixth form beyond target this year at 170+ students this is now more than half way to full capacity and our largest ever year 7 who all look and sound as though they are really settling in well. The new student New Heights programme has been a huge success with so many activities over-subscribed; more than we ould have hoped for such a new initiative. Fresh back from our trip to Equador (with Oakgrove staff and students), we are now busy planning other international visits, including a media trip to New York, a european ski trip and a possible trip to Peru. We have also been invited to present our innovative, standards-raising work in school-leadership to a national audience of Headteachers in Birmingham this November and to an international forum in Michigan, USA next February. The word really is getting out about The Hazeley School.
Finally, it is always wonderful to be able to celebrate the work and achievements of our students, and we constantly have so much to celebrate in school. For a change, I though I would mention the incredible achievements of one of our year 9 students, Charlotte Nash, who took part in the national sea cadet kayaking regatta at the Royal Docks Excel Centre in London last weekend. Coming third, she gained a bronze medal in the relay and her team, the junior girls, won the national Junior Girl’s trophy. What is extra special is that Charlotte has only been in the cadets for just over a year and had never been inside a kayak prior to that! If young people are interested in the UK’s largest maritime youth charity, between ages 10 – 12 you can join as a junio, 12 to 18 as a Sea Cadet and from 13-18 as a Royal Marines Cadet.
Have a great week. Our theme for this week “expectation”….
M.A.Bennison MA BSc(hons) NPQH FRSA