22nd June 2016
Re: The Ockendon Academy: ‘Autumn Half Term Consultation’
On behalf of the Governing Body and our senior leadership team, I would like to thank you all for your comments and feedback with regard to the consultation we had issued for the possible changes to our annual timetable and in particular the October Autumn Half Term.
On reviewing all of the comments, 99% of which was positive, the Governing Body have decided to implement a two-week Autumn half term break. In 2016-17 this will run from Monday 24th October until Friday 4th November 2016. We hope this will promote even better attendance, less ill health, and align the length of the winter term with the rest of the academic year, as it has done in other schools around the country.
The school 2016-2017 term dates are now on the website. We look forward to a fantastic end of this academic year that has seen so many changes and opportunities for us all.
Chair of Governors.
Re: – Consultation for extending autumn half-term starting in autumn 2016.
In line with many other academies locally and nationally, we are considering the possibility of increasing the October half- term break from one week to two. This would mean students having an additional week away from the Academy in the week following the usual half-term break. Additionally we would like to confirm formally that the school official start time each day is 8:30am.
This new arrangement is being considered for a number of reasons. The autumn term is always a long and tiring one for both students and staff. This is reflected in lower attendance figures for students, support staff and teachers, with many being ill over Christmas and the New Year. We believe that a two week half-term will allow all students and staff to be properly refreshed and would increase the effectiveness of teaching and learning.
Our intention would be to put all our non-pupil days into one week in October. This will help reduce the impact on family childcare arrangements for non-pupil days throughout the year. It would reduce the negative impact non-pupil days can have when they always fall on a Monday or Friday, affecting the same lessons in the timetable. It will also allow us to run extra after school sessions every Wednesday and extend the existing staff training workshops.
We recognise that family time is important and does have a positive impact on a child’s educational achievement. We understand that it can prove difficult for families to book holidays during peak times and so hopefully a second week of an extended October half-term may have advantages.
We are very interested in hearing your views. If you have any questions regarding this proposal please do not hesitate to contact my P.A, Mrs H Smith: email@example.com. The consultation will end on Friday 13th May and we will notify you of the final outcome.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter.
Mrs B King
As you will be aware, the Academy was subject to an inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspector of schools on Wednesday 23rd September 2015. This inspection was carried out under Section 8 of the Education Act 2005.
I am delighted to report that HMI judged that we comply fully with all of the safeguarding requirements. The very positive report highlighted many areas of strength in both The Academy and Studio School.
These include the following comments:
“The Academy places student welfare at the centre of all that it does”.
“The Academy prioritises the safeguarding of students. Staff are well trained and have a clear understanding of their responsibilities”.
“Many students actively seek out the services…”
“Well-organised and effective systems are in place…”
“The support that The Academy provides for students takes many forms…”
“Students with emotional and behavioural challenges are effectively supported…”
“Governors have a clear understanding of their role in safeguarding students”.
“…close working relationship between the governing body and all of the senior leadership team is a contributory factor to the high quality of the care and support that is provided for students”.
“Thurrock local authority has provided good quality support for The Academy”.
“The local authority regard the safeguarding procedures in The Academy to be very strong”.
I have attached the full letter for you to read. The letter reinforces our knowledge that our safeguarding procedures are a strength and at the heart of all that we do. I am sure you will agree that this is a very positive endorsement.
I would like to take the opportunity to once again thank you for your continued support for The Academy, staff and especially to me personally. It has meant a tremendous amount to us all, thank you.
Ofsted Inspection 23rd September 2015
As you will be aware, Queen Elizabeth became the longest reigning British monarch on Wednesday 9th September 2015. To mark this momentous occasion, we are giving all students a commemorative medal , which has been presented to them this week in assembly. We trust they will value the importance of this occasion and keep the memento safely. In line with government direction, we are also providing students with a very comprehensive programme of assemblies and tutor group study which will contribute to their appreciation of British Values. The tutor group study will provide them with a certificate in the ASDAN qualification for Citizenship. This course will run for the academic year along the same lines as the previous ASDAN course on Leadership. Both these qualifications are highly valued and provide your child with a wealth of skills to take forward in to their working life.
Thank you for continuing to support us in our work to prepare your children for the workplace by supporting them to complete homework and assignments at home and making sure that they attend school regularly and punctually. We are very pleased to report that attendance rates again improved last year. If you have any questions relating to the promotion of British Values, please do not hesitate to contact me at school.
From September, each student will receive a progress report three times a year to take home. Our reason for changing this is that under the current system of six weekly reports it is difficult to demonstrate progress in learning over such a short time frame. Measuring rates of progress three times a year allows us to have more meaningful conversations with staff and students about levels of attainment and performance.
We would like to make clear to parents/carers that we expect all students to make two sub-levels of progress each year and that one sub level of progress should be made between September and Christmas and a further sub level between Christmas and Easter. Moving our reports to these key times of the year allows the Academy, students and parents to assess if expected progress is being achieved in each subject.
To support the changes outlined above we have introduced a parents evening for each year group. The main reason for this change is that with higher levels of attainment by students, parents have asked for more subject specific contact and guidance on how they can support their child in improving their grades or levels.
Progress days have been a successful feature of the Academy for a number of years, therefore we intend to retain one progress day per year in addition to the parents evening for each year group. We will review and consult with parents about the need to keep progress days in the future.
I would like to reassure you that these decisions have been taken in the best interests of our students and should you have any concerns please feel free to speak to Mr Aitken or Mr Berry.
Mr C Berry, Vice Principal
Mr L Aitken, Assistant Principal
I would like to thank you all for attending Progress Day and making the event such a success. Many parents were kind enough to complete the Ofsted ‘style’ survey sheet which we have now analysed. We had a 64% response rate; the results were very positive, as follows:-
We should be most grateful if you would now register with the Ofsted parent view website and give your responses online. Your views are an invaluable part of the inspection and so we hope you find the direct link useful.
Please go to the Ockendon Academy website — look under links and click Parent View Ofsted. Click: give your views. Register now. An email is then sent to you to give you further instructions of how to access the questionnaire.
Thanking you in advance.
Miss A Hutcheson
As you may be aware, The Department for Education has taken the decision, with immediate effect, that only a student’s first sitting of an examination subject in English, English literature, mathematics, science, history, geography and modern foreign languages will count in the school’s performance tables. Given that the students currently in Year 11 are part of a year group that has already experienced significant change in the examination system I wanted to write to you outlining these changes and explain our response as an academy.
At The Ockendon Academy we have always believed that decisions about students entering early for an examination should be considered with care. Such a decision should only be made when it is in the best interests of the student. Early entry is never used to ‘cap’ a student’s attainment at a certain grade. On the contrary it is used to maximise a student’s onwards progress towards an outstanding final grade and broaden the range of pathways and experiences for our students.
However, it is shown that historically the academy’s results increased by 10% in average from
November to June. Therefore we have taken the decision not to enter students in November 2013, but to do so in June 2014. We will take November exam date for our mock exam and continue to offer the best pathway for students as if it was an external exam. You can remain assured that nothing matters more to us than our students attaining the highest possible grades in June 2014. Ensuring that our young people are able to access the broadest range of pathways at the end of Year 11 is as highly prized to us as ever.
Should any of the issues in this letter cause you concern, then please contact Mr Berry or Mrs Piralic.
Mrs B King
RE: Free School Meals Entitlement 13/14
We are writing to advise that the daily allowance for students entitled to Free School Meals is £2.10. Accordingly students qualifying for Free School Meals will be able to select items from our school restaurant to the value of £2.10 per day.
We would encourage all families who are eligible for Free School Meals to register for this benefit. This additionally allows students to benefit from other funding, for example Opportunity Knocks funding, and provides additional funding for our academy.
In order to qualify for Free School Meals, you need to be in receipt of one of the following:
If you have any questions on this matter, please contact Alex Eastoe in our school office.
If you wish to apply for Free School Meals, you should contact the Awards & Benefits team at Thurrock Council on 01375 – 652882 or contact our school office for assistance. All that is required is completion of Form SA1 and copies of this form are available in our reception area or can be obtained via the Thurrock Council website (under Pupil Support: Free School Meals).
Mrs B A King
We are very proud of our attendance rates which have improved greatly in the last few years and which now place us in the top 40% of schools nationally, as reported by Ofsted in 2013. Our success has been the result of direct discussions with parents and in working in close partnership with them to improve outcomes for their children. As dictated by law, students must attend school as regularly as possible. We expect 100% attendance so that students may have the greatest opportunities to achieve their potential both socially and academically.
If, in exceptional circumstances, a child is too ill to attend the Academy, parents must contact us on 01708 851661.
If no explanation of absence is received, the Academy will:
Mrs B King
RE: Dropping Students At School
We should like to remind you it is illegal to park on the yellow zig zag lines outside the school. Students should not be dropped off at this point as the area is designated as a no-parking zone. Equally, any stopping here can cause serious health and safety issues.
Please also note that parents should not drive into the school to drop students outside the main entrance, except if the child has a medical condition which prevents him or her from walking from the road.
Please note that Year 11 students will have mock examinations in March. The timetable is on the school website. Students will need to get up a revision schedule for these examinations.
We would ask parents to regularly check the school website for details of school closures, parents evenings and events.
RE: New Catering System and Smart Card
I am pleased to advise that we are investing in a brand new catering system at the academy. This will provide us with a more efficient and modern system which will assist in the smooth operation of our catering facilities.
All students will be issued with a new catering card, known as a Smart Card, during an extended morning registration on Friday 7th February 2014. The new catering system and Smart Card will be valid from this date. Any remaining balance on the student’s former Gold Card as at close of business on 6th February 2014 will transfer to the new Smart Card. To assist in the transfer process, it is recommended that Gold Cards are not topped up with large amounts prior to 7th February 2014 and we would remind you that cash payments can be used for catering purchases. From 7th February 2014 onwards Smart Cards can be topped up in the normal way by payment of cash or cheque. Gold Cards cannot be used after 6th February 2014 and can therefore be disposed of after this date.
We would like to take this opportunity to remind families of the criteria for eligibility for Free School Meals and to encourage all who are eligible to submit an application. This additionally allows students to benefit from other funding, for example funding for trips and equipment via our Opportunity Knocks funding scheme. It also provides additional funding of £900 per student for the academy via the government’s Pupil Premium grant.
In order to qualify for Free School Meals you need to be in receipt of one of the following:
If you have any questions on this matter, please do not hesitate to contact Mrs Birch in the academy office.
If you would like to apply for Free School Meals, you should contact the Awards & Benefits team at Thurrock Council on 01375-652882 or can contact our academy office directly for assistance. All that is required is completion of one form, being SA1. Copies of this form are available in our front reception area or can be obtained via the Thurrock Council website.
Mrs B. King