Welcome back from the summer break. The Academy has started its year in a very positive and orderly way with all of our students looking very smart in their uniforms and demonstrating that they are ready for learning. Year 7 seem to have settled well in the vast majority of cases and it is a pleasure to welcome them to our community.
This academic year I will expect to see all students bringing a bag to school with them in order that they can transport books and work backwards and forwards as we launch our cross-curricular Home Learning Initiative over the next few weeks, the outline of which will appear in more detail on the website. This programme is co-ordinated by Ms S Cheston and she will be writing to all parents/carers explaining what we hope it will achieve and how they can be more fully involved in their child’s education.
We have much to celebrate with regard to our results this year which are 6% up on last year’s and as we predicted, making us the most improved school in Blackpool. Our progress and score, which is a measure of a child’s rate of progress from the level they came to us on in Year 7 suggests that we are currently above the national floor target.
As many of you will be aware, South Shore Academy is visited termly by Her Majesty’s Inspectors to monitor its journey of improvement. On the 6th of July last term, we received our 3rd monitoring visit, which like the previous two, was a great success and there was much to celebrate as well as some crucial areas for further development. The full report has been added to the website under the section ‘Our School’ – ‘Ofsted’. Some of the highlights have been extracted and shown below.
* Leaders continue to improve all aspects of the academy’s work. They act with great determination, and have the full support of the staff team. As one teacher wrote ‘Leadership is strong and supportive. I am hopeful for the future of the academy.’
* Leaders prioritise the right areas for improvement and are mindful of what they need to do in order to improve their monitoring systems. Their actions are having a demonstrable, positive impact on pupil outcomes.
* Former gaps in the progress and attainment of vulnerable groups of pupils, such as those who are disadvantaged, are now closing across all year groups in the academy.
* The vast majority of teachers have high expectations, plan lessons assiduously and expect the most from their pupils. This translates into a calm, purposeful atmosphere around the academy during lesson times.
* Teachers continue to follow the academy’s policies on teaching, learning and assessment. The care they take over their written feedback to pupils is having a noticeable impact on pupils’ progress over time.
* All teachers now focus on basic standards of literacy in books. They regularly ask pupils to check on their spellings, punctuation and grammar.
* Teachers and pupils confirm that behaviour continues to improve and that the academy is in ‘a different place’ to where it was a year ago.
* The majority behave well at all times, and their books show they take pride in their work.
* School records show that serious misbehaviour has rapidly declined over the course of the school year.
* Since the last monitoring inspection, leaders have worked hard to improve communications with pupils about bullying.
* Those pupils who spoke to inspectors said that bullying was rare and they themselves felt confident in dealing with it.
* The progress seen in pupils’ workbooks, reflects the positive picture that is now coming through in achievement data. Pupils are making much more progress now, including in subjects that were previously weak, such as in science.
There are a number of key areas for us still to improve on if we are to reach our goal of becoming a good school and in order to achieve this; we need the support of our parents and carers. I did mention at the Year 6 evening last term that I am keen to establish a parent/carer strategy group of some kind. This will not be like the traditional PTA model but much more about the curriculum and strategies as we move through this next academic year and into our new building at the end of the year. Any parent or carer who may be interested in joining such a group should ring the Academy and leave their details with Lynne McKendrick, my PA. She can also be reached by email on:
Also, it may be worth highlighting to parents and carers of new students that we do offer a wide range of extra-curricular opportunities here at South Shore and we do encourage all of our young people to join one of the many groups or teams. Students will be hearing about what is on offer in more detail through their form tutor over the next few weeks.
Additionally, South Shore Academy is committed to encouraging as many students as possible to learning to play an instrument. Currently we have 105 students accessing weekly music lessons which is 15% of our school population and growing. Should you wish your child to access this tuition which takes place in school time, please contact Mrs Jayne Crow, who is our fabulous Head of Expressive Arts.
Once again, thank you for ensuring that your child has returned to school well equipped and ready to learn. I look forward to working in partnership with you over the course of this academic year.