Establishing the highest of standards and expectations
At the end of our first full week of timetabled lessons, I am delighted to report that our students have returned to the business of learning with a general sense of enthusiasm and pride. It was a privilege to walk the Academy last week and to visit many students from all year groups in their lessons. In my conversations with our students, they have talked openly and enthusiastically about the differences they are experiencing in their lessons, even at this early stage in our Journey to Outstanding. Several students have told me of the impact of the new Positive Behaviour policy; they feel the system is fair and means classrooms are more calm and focused than they have experienced in the past.
I would like to begin by explaining the late distribution of our Student Planners. The Planner has been completely redesigned for the new Academic year and was finalised during the summer break. Although we met the scheduled deadline for the printing company, we have been let down during the printing/binding process due to a technical fault, meaning that the planners were not produced on time. We are working hard to ensure the planners are distributed early this week as we are expecting delivery on Monday. I apologise to each and every student for this delay.
Over forthcoming weeks we will be focusing strongly on three key aspects of our Strategy for Rapid Improvement. It is important to ensure you are aware of these aspects as I am asking for your support in ensuring your children embrace the improvements we are making, as it is through these changes that we will ensure the students of Leeds West Academy maximise and reach their full potential and are successful:
- Attendance and punctuality: The current level of attendance for students at Leeds West Academy simply must improve. With every day that passes, students who are absent from school fall further and further behind those students from across the region who attend school every day. We will be working hard to make contact with families where attendance is a concern. We therefore ask that every parent supports us in ensuring your child comes to school every day and arrives on-time.
- Strategic Seating and Interaction Plans: Every teacher, in every subject and every classroom, are asked to ensure they have planned where students in their classes are seated. There are a number of clear reasons for this: We need to ensure that all teachers take into account the different needs of each student in their classes. We want to make sure that every student has the opportunity to progress, whatever their starting point. These plans go beyond simply where a student is sat with a classroom; they are used to record key information about each student, whether this is a plan for how best to support, engage or challenge each student, or clear strategies the teacher will adopt to support literacy and any additional needs that may have been identified. This is a huge step forward and a process that will be monitored closely to ensure the plans have a positive impact on every individual student. Again, we ask for your support in encouraging your son/daughter to engage in dialogue with their teacher, allowing teachers to establish precisely what each student needs in order to maximise their progress, in every subject.
- Pride in Presentation: As I walked the Academy last week, I looked in students' books and quickly assessed the pride with which many students complete their work. We are looking to establish the highest of standards and expectations at an early stage of this term. I must stress that, in the vast majority of cases, I was impressed by the obvious pride our students were taking in their work. We must however, ensure that this standard is maintained and/or improved over the course of the next few weeks. Teachers have been asked to challenge work that does not meet the required standard, and to reward students where books shine with a clear sense of pride. We will again, be asking for parents to check the standards of presentation in your child's books and planners, to ensure we are united in our stand to expect the very best. This will bring with it the necessary raising in standards and progress.
Since joining Leeds West Academy in June 2017, I have met with many parents who have consistently shared the quality of communication as being a key area of concerns for our parents. I am pleased to report that we are currently developing a Communication Strategy that will be shared with all parents over the next few weeks. This will provide clear guidance for parents so that you know precisely who to contact within the Academy when a particular issue arises. But also, this strategy will lay down clear expectations with regard to how we should respond. Not only will this strategy ensure parents know what to expect from professionals working at Leeds West Academy, but you will know when to expect a response and where to escalate your concerns should you feel this is necessary. This Communication Strategy is one aspect of our commitment to ensuring we work together to secure the best possible experience for our students and our parents.
In closing, I would like to thank you for your ongoing support, and wish you all a fantastic and productive week.
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