Dear Parents and Carers,

Year 11

Year 11 have completed their last day of compulsory schooling with us today. It seems no time at all since I was first meeting them as year 8 four years ago and it has been a real joy to watch them grow up and flourish.  They are a wonderful group of young people. I’ve just left them eating ice cream and chatting amongst themselves and with their teachers in what is probably the most mature and enjoyable leaving day event I’ve ever attended.

More than ever before have applied to stay on into the sixth form with us which I think tells us a lot about the relationships and trust between those students and their teachers. If students are still considering where they want to be next year, it’s not too late to talk to Mr Maltby about courses here.

I’m sure I speak for all staff when I say how much we have enjoyed working with all those students and how proud of them we are.  We are looking forward to seeing them all in their finery at the prom on July 7th.

Leadership re-structure

You’ll have seen the note from Sue Kehr, Chair of Governors, a few weeks ago about my new role at Westfield. When the opportunity came up for a headteacher to lead both their own school and Westfield, it seemed to me that the fact our schools are next door to each other meant that it was at least worth considering an unusual partnership between a secondary school and a primary school. The people making the decision agreed with me and I’m already finding a lot of interesting and exciting ways for the two schools to work together for the benefit of both.

My appointment as executive headteacher with responsibility for both schools means that I’ll be splitting my time between them but given that they are a three-minute walk apart, that will be relatively easy to do whilst still being available for both schools. To provide a bit more capacity at SWA, we have made some changes to our internal leadership structure.

Dr Geall will be stepping up from deputy headteacher to head of school, with a slightly reduced teaching load to give him more time. He will be responsible for the day to day running of the school. I will retain the strategic leadership of the school and overall responsibility. We’ll be working very closely together to ensure the continued stability and progress of our school. I think the only differences the students notice will be positive ones.

I’m pleased that Mr Maltby, who covered Miss Hopkins position as head of sixth form while she was on maternity leave, has stepped up that role permanently. That will allow Miss Hopkins to focus her time and efforts on the PD programme, student leadership and all her other whole school responsibilities as an assistant headteacher. They will continue to work closely together to make the sixth form as successful as possible.

The final piece of this jigsaw is that Mr Palmer has been appointed head of geography, taking that responsibility from Miss Cavilla who will now have more time to focus on her assistant headteacher role. As well as providing better value for money for both schools, this arrangement will actually save money for both, allowing those savings to be spent elsewhere.

I think this is a really exciting development. As far as I’m aware, there is no other partnership of this kind between state schools in Suffolk and I’m proud that we are the first. I am confident that the opportunities for the two schools to work together and support each other will mean that we grow to be better than the sum our parts.  In time. I believe this partnership will prove to be a source of pride for both school communities and establish a model for other schools to copy.

Careers and Aspiration

Virtually every student in Year 10 has now visited the University of Suffolk for a taster day, visiting lectures and gaining a taste of university life. Earlier this week, our year 10 'Discovery Programme' graduates attended Oxford University for a workshop.

Today, during period 4, students attended a taster session on investment banking. The next Advice and a Slice meeting is on Thursday 23rd June during period 4 and is about careers in the Police Force. Places on that session booked up very quickly. Apologies to the students who missed out. We will arrange a second session this term if we can, but failing that, it will be next term.

Accessing inappropriate material online

We have noticed that when students are invited in their lessons to discuss or review favourite programmes on TV, they often choose to talk about programmes which are not appropriate for their age. I’m sure that parents take pains to make sure that the programmes the family watch together are appropriate, but with so much now being available through a phone, tablet or games console, I am worried that students are watching programmes which are much too old for them, probably without their parents knowing about it. I thought it was worth mentioning it so that you could have a conversation with your children about what, if anything, they watch without your knowledge or consent.

Student illness

If students are feeling ill, they need to report to the student window where we will assess them and, if necessary, contact parents. Student should not contact parents directly to ask to be taken out of school.

Non-uniform days

We will be celebrating pride month again this year with a non-uniform day on Friday 24th June. Students are free to wear any appropriate clothing that day, but are invited to show support for their LGBTQ+ friends and peers by dressing brightly or in rainbows. There will be a pride picnic at lunchtime, weather permitting.

The Jubilee celebrations fell during half term and in the middle of the exam season, making it difficult to mark at the time. There will be a non-uniform day Wednesday 20th July, on the last day of this term. Schools were asked to choose a day off to replace the bank holiday which took place in half term. We have chosen to take Thursday 21st July, so it seems appropriate that the day before we invite students to wear red, white and blue to mark the occasion of the Platinum Jubilee.

Have a good weekend,

Andy Hunter