Headteacher's Update as at 8 November 2021
Dear Parents and Carers
I am writing to you about key decisions and plans that have been made, to ensure that our wonderful school keeps moving forwards. In Summer 2021, the Governors issued a fresh strategic vision for the school. In the process, they made some key decisions:
1. Simplifying our vision to “Success for All” and adopting a fresh mission of “To equip All to be the best version of themselves”
To me, it is incredible to sum up the vision of the school so perfectly, in just three words. In our school’s context, these three words mean so much. Our students consistently show that anything is possible and setbacks, such as Covid-19, will not hold them back from lifelong success and happiness. Everyone has a talent, a gift, an ability that they can make the most of – whether that be top grades, sporting success, or just being a wonderful human being. We believe in virtues above all else.
2. Ceasing being a lead school in The School Sports Partnership We have worked for many years with local primary schools to provide sporting opportunity. However, as the school has grown, this has placed more and more tension on the availability of staff and facilities for our own students. At our recommendation, the Governors agreed to cease this activity, with the intention of ensuring that our own students receive the best of what we have. We are in a great position of strength as a school and wish to focus our reputation on all-round strength, not just sport. For those who care deeply about sport, please be reassured that this is a decision that aims to allow us to redouble our sporting efforts towards our own students.
3. Adopting the school’s proposal of “The Buckingham Way” as the foundations of their strategy In times before pandemics and lockdowns, we adopted “The Virtues”; these being Ambition, Confidence, Curiosity, Empathy, Integrity, Resilience and Respect, as the traits we would seek to develop in our community. The Buckingham Way is the glue that holds these together and we will be expecting our students to:
a) Take personal responsibility for their actions – for good or bad we understand that everything we do is because of a choice that we make
b) Seek to self-improve – we can reflect on our choices and make even better ones in the future
c) Respect the authority of the adults – as a school, we thrive on a diet of positive relationships and we expect the students to respect the experience, knowledge and qualifications that their staff have A summary of the Governors’ three-year strategy can be found at the end of this letter.
In school, on a daily basis, we have ongoing improvements to make. The Ofsted inspection in 2020 recognised the growing identity and heartbeat of the school. They recognised our many strengths and left us to continue to work on those things we have already told them about.
We have two main drives for the year:
1. Culture and Standards We never stop thinking about how to move our inclusive school forward. Largely, we have eradicated poor behaviour, as noted by Ofsted. Now the next steps of our approach is to take compliance and turn it into a culture which defines how the students treat each other and the rest of the community and how they approach their studies. One of our Virtues is integrity and you will often see this defined as “how you behave when no one is looking”. As you have seen above, we will do this The Buckingham Way. These are challenging times for our society and for our young. But they are also exciting times, packed with promises of what the world could be and as a school, we have been discussing with our students the principles of inclusion and diversity. The discussion so far has clarified the school’s zero-tolerance stance on racism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny and inappropriate sexual behaviour. These are more than bullying and can never be tolerated. Alongside the idea that we can expect more, the reiteration of “upstanding” has become a regular part of our discussion. To our students, we ask “what would you do?” Would you ignore, walk on by, pretend to have not seen or heard? Or will you stand up for what is right?
2. Curriculum and Teaching and Learning We are in a good place. We have a great support team, keeping our school going better than ever before. Our support staff are the back-bone of our inclusive approach and the students know and trust that they can turn to them, or any available adult.
Our teaching staff are now the strongest team that I have seen at this school. We have structured plans in place to develop our ambitious Curriculum and how it is taught. We are further developing our Schemes of Learning to ensure that students are studying the right things, at the right time and being prepared for qualifications and future career opportunities that are appropriate to them. Further, in the classrooms, we will strive to ensure that our students commit more learning to memory and recall it, ready to use. Our most academically able students are starting to do as well as they should, but we have some way to go.
The phrase that we are using frequently is “teaching to the top, and scaffolding down.” This refers to our intention to ensure that all students are challenged and supported as necessary. Attached to this letter, you will also find a summary of the School Improvement Plan for the year. We are committed to continue to improve our school and nothing will be allowed to hamper our progress. If we won’t allow Covid-19 to be an excuse, then nothing else will be either! Therefore, we will aim to make developments in the areas of the Plan, embedding The Buckingham Way. We are looking forward to this year unfolding.
With best wishes
Mr A McGinnes