I would like to begin by giving you further details of some changes that I mentioned in the most recent Post in February.
Swale Academies Trust
The Regional Schools Commissioner has approved the transfer of The Eastbourne Academy to the Swale Academies Trust, and has identified 1st May 2017 as the date on which we will officially join. As I have said to you before, this will not lead to any immediately obvious changes but does allow us access to the facilities and resources of a much bigger Trust. We will still be an Academy School, with all its responsibilities and advantages, and we will retain our current staff and Governing Body.
Our new Ofsted Inspection letter has now been published and is available on our website and on the Ofsted website. Here are just some of the highlights from the report letter:
“Leaders have set high expectations of pupils and staff and created an ethos of tolerance and respect.”
“Pupils are immensely proud of their school and are keen to learn.”
“Teachers and leaders set ambitious targets for pupils. Teaching is well pitched and pupils have high expectations of themselves.”
“Parents were overwhelmingly positive … There is a consistent energy and enthusiasm regarding the pupils’ learning and a desire for them to achieve the highest level they can.”
“The pupils’ attitudes to learning are very positive and low-level disruption is rare.”
“Leaders have successfully developed a learning community where teachers and pupils flourish.”
“There is a high degree of respect and trust between pupils and their teachers, which results in pupils responding very positively to teachers’ feedback on how to improve their learning.”
I am really pleased with its contents and very proud of our students and staff who did so well on the day. I commend it to you and ask you to share it with your friends and acquaintances in the community so they can see how well your school is doing!
The Timing of the School Day
Following earlier discussion, we have now decided to change our school day from 1st September 2017. Below you can see a model of how it will look, but here are some of the main changes listed for you:
All students will start and finish formal lessons at the same time.
There will be a breakfast club open for any students to visit from 8 am every school day. This will continue to offer free toast and hot drinks for those who wish it.
All students MUST be in school by 8.25 each day, with lessons or tutor starting at 8.30 am for everyone. Monday and Friday start with Tutor Time to allow other activities within school.
Lessons will end for all students at 2.50 pm every day.
There will be after school clubs or revision sessions running every day from Tuesday to Friday. These are called Own Learning Sessions or OWLs for short.
OWLS will be voluntary for any students however attendance will earn them additional rewards.
We would expect GCSE students to come to OWLS to get revision support for their examinations. Attendance at OWLS will earn them rewards for our Year 10 awards and Year 11 Graduation evenings.
Each OWL will be 45 minutes long and there will be two each day on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, with one on Friday. Some clubs might take up two OWLS in one go when the activity takes longer than 45 minutes.
OWLs run from 2.55 pm until 3.40 pm or from 3.45 pm to 4.30 pm.
Form tutors will sometimes invite individual members of their tutor groups for short ten minute one-to one meetings at 8.20 am (before school) on Tuesdays or Thursdays to see how they are doing.
Special note: We were asked by the Parent Consultation Group to look at whether 30 minutes was long enough for the second break. We have checked carefully and the lunch queue, although long at the beginning of lunch, does always clear by halfway through second break, so it does give students enough time to get their food. We will continue to monitor this. Food is also served at First Break.
The School Calendar 2017-2018
In the February Post, I told you that the Christmas holiday in 2017-18 published by East Sussex County Council is unusually short, which would have brought students back to school on Tuesday 2nd January. By law, students have to attend 190 school days a year and staff have to work 195 days (including 5 staff training - INSET days). By working on the East Sussex calendar for next year, I have managed to make a better version by moving the staff INSET days to either the beginning or the ends of holidays.
This gives students a slightly longer holiday as they do not attend INSET days. The new calendar is below and shows the differences between The Eastbourne Academy’s dates and the ones for East Sussex.
Please note that 21st December 2017 is a holiday in the East Sussex calendar but it is a school day here, and that the first week in January will be a holiday at TEA while other schools will have gone back to work on 2nd January 2018.
I am sharing this calendar with local primary schools in case they would like to do something similar. I have already spoken to the Heads at Heron Park, Oakwood and Parkland and shared it with them.
I have attached the current Uniform Policy for your information. I am concerned about the number of students who have begun to wear skirts which do not match the policy so I am reminding everyone of the rules and will be particularly strict on the policy when we return to school after the Easter Break. I also remind everyone that facial piercings are not allowed.
Thank you for your continued support in relation to uniform.
Attendance and Fixed Penalty Notices
Student attendance is a real strength at The Eastbourne Academy. We are above the national average and above the average for East Sussex schools. This reflects the number of you who regularly send your children to school. A big thank you to all those who have 100% attendance, which the highest we have ever had!
There are however some students whose attendance is not good enough and I would like to tell you that procedures have changed in relation to fixed penalty notices.
A fixed penalty notice is a fine (currently £60) which will be issued to parents or carers when children have had unauthorised absence or lateness, or where for example they have taken unauthorised holiday during term time. The fine is per parent and per child, so a single parent taking one child out of school would get one penalty notice (£60), but if both parents have parental responsibility then there would be two penalty notices (2 x £60 = £120), and so on if there are more children involved.
The school must inform the East Sussex Behaviour and Attendance Service (ESBAS) when there is an unauthorised absence and ESBAS issues the fine. They will follow up with legal action if the fine is not paid. The Eastbourne Academy does not receive any money from the fines, but we do have a legal duty to report the absences.
Attendance at school is one of the most important factors leading to success in GCSEs and we have seen that students whose attendance falls below 95% usually get one grade lower at GCSE than their target and primary school results would have predicted. Students who average less than 90% attendance are classified as “persistently absent” and very few of these students do well. Almost none of these students get 5 good GCSE grades including English and Maths.
If a child becomes a cause for concern, the parents/carers will usually be asked to come to school for a meeting where targets will be set. If the child’s attendance does not improve then a fine may be issued.
If a student continues to be persistently absent without improvement then the parents may end up in court with much larger fines that can be hundreds or even thousands of pounds.
Sad news regarding a former Academy student
It is with great sadness that I report that Wayne Dunn, who left The Eastbourne Academy in 2011, has died at the tragically young age of 21 years old. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends at this difficult time. The funeral is a private occasion, but the family have said that the wake is open to those who wish to attend and will take place at 4 pm on Thursday 30th March at All Saints Chapel in Meads.
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