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Principal's Update: Term Expectations

 Welcome Back to Spring Term from Mr Wilcocks.

Dear Parents/Carers,

I was delighted to welcome our students to Leeds West Academy for the second half of the Spring Term.  This week, we have launched some exciting new initiatives that are geared towards further improving our academy experience for each and every student.

Firstly, I think it is important to reflect on the amazing production of Billy Elliot, that was presented by our Music and Performing Arts teams before the half-term break.  In over 20 years in education, I have never witnessed such a professional production.  The immense talent on display was impressive; the product of sheer hard-work and commitment from students, parents and staff.  I am sure every parent, student or visitor to our academy who saw the show will agree, this production was nothing short of incredible.  I felt so proud to stand beside every member of cast and crew on the final night and to acknowledge their sheer professionalism.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved for making it such an amazing event.

This week, the Options process for Year 8 students was launched in assemblies and at the Year 8 Parents’ Consultation Evening on Wednesday evening.  All Year 8 parents should have now received their Options Booklet, which provides some excellent information about the courses on offer for our Year 8 students.  Next week, Year 8 will join special assemblies, where subject leaders will share key information about their subjects, to support students in deciding their preferences for their Key Stage 4 studies.  This is a really exciting time for Year 8, as this is the first opportunity students have to tailor their own curriculum to suit their ambitions and interests.  If you require any further information about the options process, please contact Mrs S Hinchcliffe in the first instance (hinchcliffe.s@whiteroseacademies.org).

 At the start of this year, I asked all parents to support us in encouraging every student to take strong responsibility for their attendance throughout this year.  We have so much to celebrate, with more and more students achieving 100% attendance, however, there remains too many students whose attendance sits below our expectation.  Every day a student is absent, they miss five hours of learning which, over the course of a year, adds up to a huge amount of time, missed learning and therefore, leaves a huge gap in subject knowledge that becomes more and more difficult to back-fill as time goes by.  We want every student to have an equal opportunity for success, so we are aiming to strongly encourage students to take personal responsibility for their daily attendance at Leeds West Academy.  That is why we have launched some significant incentives this week, to encourage a transformation in attendance over the remaining weeks of this term.  Mr Zeb has been shopping; gathering an unbelievable range of prizes that students in every year group could win if they achieve strong attendance (97% or above) over the remaining 6 weeks of this term.  Already this week, we have seen a huge improvement, with Year 11 reaching almost 96% attendance overall and our Year 7 students setting the standard, with 96.5% attendance.  Please ask your son/daughter about the prizes on offer and encourage them to make sure they give themselves the best chance of winning.

Over the last half-term, we have invested heavily in new dining room furniture for our students, to ensure they have enough seating to allow them to sit and enjoy their breaks and lunchtimes.  We are encouraging our students to respect their environment, by keeping the dining areas clean and tidy so that everybody can enjoy the facilities.  I have been really pleased with the response from our students, who are taking care to ensure litter is placed in the bins provided. More generally, I am pleased to report that, in a recent external review of Leeds West Academy, the behaviour and engagement of our students was praised considerably.  The external review team reported that there was a strong climate for learning throughout the academy, and that, whilst disruption in lessons was rarely seen, when it did arise, it was dealt with quickly and calmly by teachers.  Around the academy, between lessons, at break times and lunchtimes, our students behaved well.  I would like to thank parents and students for your ongoing support.

We continue to strive to achieve the highest of standards in terms of teaching in learning at Leeds West Academy.  Accordingly, our quality assurance of teaching is currently taking place in classrooms across the academy, so I look forward to reporting to you the improvements we have seen since September and our plans to secure further improvement.  We are also working hard to improve the means by which we report to parents and have been working in consultation with parents and governors to refine our reporting processes.  I am expecting the next reports to show significant improvement in terms of the clarity of the information given.

In closing, I would like to wish you a restful week ahead. 

Yours faithfully,

Mr C Wilcocks