Dear parents and carers,
I’d like to start by talking about the work that our pastoral team do. We have a very substantial pastoral team led by Miss Powell, Assistant Headteacher. The team includes seven heads of year and seven inclusion officers. That team were praised in our recent Ofsted inspection for the care that they provide for our children which is great to hear, especially at a time of unprecedented need in our, and every, school. We are supporting more children than ever before with social, emotional and mental health needs. The agencies that we look to for support are at capacity – a referral to the Children and Adolescent Mental Health team can take up to, and sometimes more than, a year before a first appointment is made. So, we are doing the very best we can, with what help we can get, to meet the needs of our students. We have a team from Mental Health in Schools working on site and we have two counsellors who work for us. Despite the size of the pastoral team, colleagues tell me that they are routinely working from eight in the morning to nine or ten at night to try to get everything done. That just isn’t a sustainable way of working.
I am therefore asking for your help to manage this. Please try not to email the pastoral team after 4.30 in the afternoon, and if you do, please don’t expect a reply that evening. We commit to responding to communications within 48 hours, not including weekends, and will generally respond much sooner. However, sometimes we need to take longer so please don’t be disappointed if we do take that time. Please be respectful of their workload. If you have emailed and received a reply, please don’t expect that conversation to continue through several more responses. Obviously, some complex problems require longer discussion, but the team are busy and, having addressed one issue, will need to move on to the next. Finally, and most importantly, please be kind. I know it can be difficult to take the emotion out of conversations when we are worried about our children, but our pastoral team deal with these issues all day everyday and do a good job of it. They deserve to be treated with the patience, kindness and appreciation.
An encouraging piece of news that I am delighted to share with you is that we are participating in an educational research project conducted by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families. The AWARE project is focused on educational approaches to mental health literacy and is designed to improve young people’s understanding of mental health and emotions. This project will be implemented with three Y9 classes from January-April 2023. Parents of those involved have already been made aware before the summer holidays and will receive further information in the near future.
We have had several members of staff attend training to deliver sessions based on the stigma of mental health, specific mental health illnesses and how to support and promote positive mental well-being. This is an exciting project to be a part of and we hope this will further support the provision we have in place for student wellbeing.
Year 7 Staffing
I am sad to tell you that Miss Stevens, Head of Year 7, and Mr Ford, Year 7 Inclusion Officer, will both be leaving us at the end of this term to pursue opportunities outside of education. I know that many of you will be as sorry to see them go as I am, especially those of you who have been supported by them so effectively through the first weeks of year 7. I am, however, very pleased that the head of year role will be filled by Miss Mountford and the inclusion officer role by Mrs Connaughton. They will spend the next four weeks in a hand-over so they are ready to pick up the reins in January having already got to know some of the year group and formed some strong relationships.
This year, for the first time, we invited student who are members of uniformed organisations to wear their uniforms to school to mark Remembrance. I have to admit that, if I were in their shoes, I would have thought long and hard about whether to come to school in uniform or not. More than twenty students did and they looked fantastic. We had representatives of the Army Cadets, Air Cadets, Sea Scouts, Uniformed Services and Scouts and they looked amazing. If you didn’t see the picture we tweeted, you can find it by searching for @samwardacad on twitter. Hopefully this becomes a tradition and we’ll see more students joining in next year. As a result, I had a great conversation with a girl who I had previously had no idea was an Army Cadet, about how proud her grandad had been to see her marching in the parade through Haverhill on Sunday. Well done to all those students, and to all the students who joined or attended the parade on Sunday.
Careers and Aspirations
Mrs Singleton, our excellent Careers Practitioner, is well underway with interviewing every single Year 11 student one to one, supporting and guiding them to achieve their future aspirations. Students in the sixth form who are expecting university interviews are being supported with some interview practice here to polish their presentation.
The next Advice and a Slice pizza and careers session is about careers in The British Army and will take place in December on a date to be confirmed. - Ellie Godbold (Neaco) will advertise the places.
I’ll end by reminding you that next Friday is a PD day so the school will be closed to all students.
Have a good weekend,
Samuel Ward and Westfield Primary Academies