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Footballing legends present new minibus to RPA!

posted 15 Mar 2017, 12:20 by Michele Colt

Richmond Park Academy took delivery of a brand new Sunshine Variety Coach at an official presentation at St George’s Golf Club in Weybridge today. The school secured one of the iconic Sunshine Coaches after a successful application at the end of 2016. The Variety Club initiative transport thousands of children and young people each day across the country and the school is delighted to be part of the Sunshine family. 

The Sunshine coach is a joint fundraising effort between Richmond Park Academy, Richmond Park Academy’s PTA, Variety and the sponsoring organisations, the Aircraft Golfing Society (AGS) and the Variety Club Golf Society. It was presented to Mr Mundy-Castle and students, Elizabeth P, Cate F, Ellie C, Daniel A and Cameron D by footballing legends Sir Trevor Brooking and Ray Clemence and World Champion boxer, John Conteh.

Richmond Park Academy’s Principal, Paul Mundy-Castle, was delighted with the new addition to the school, “Having a second minibus will have a significant impact on the opportunities that we will be able to take advantage of on behalf of our students. It is a very exciting prospect for all of us in school as we actively look to widen the experiences our students enjoy”

Royal College of Music success for RPA students

posted 13 Mar 2017, 09:37 by Michele Colt   [ updated 14 Mar 2017, 04:43 ]

A group of Year 9 and 10 RPA pupils participated in the Springboard Composition Course run by the Royal College of Music using the facilities at St Paul's School. Pupils attended four workshop sessions where they were taught to compose by some of the world's leading young musicians. The course started in January and the task was to compose their own piece with help and support from students and composers studying at the college. After two months of the busy Saturday workshops, the pieces were complete and sixteen out of the forty pieces were chosen to be performed live in front of parents and students. All four of the RPA students got through to the final which took place on Saturday the 11th of March 2017. The students went to the Royal College of Music in South Kensington to hear their pieces being performed by the Royal College musicians. In addition, Jasmine sang her song composition and Tom played the guitar as part of his. The concert took place in the Parry Rooms situated high in the roof space of the main College building with excellent views of the Royal Albert Hall. It was a great night and experience for all the students who were all very grateful for such an incredible opportunity. Congratulations to all of them: Amira C with "Luminescence", Jasmine I with, "How much I love you", Ellie C with,"The Chase" and Tom A with "Patience is a virtue".

Spring Term Park Life Magazine is published

posted 10 Mar 2017, 03:05 by Michele Colt

The Spring term edition of RPA's biannual Park Life magazine is now available to view and is packed full of what has been keeping RPA busy over the last term and a half. The issue features a summary of what our Year 7s make of secondary school so far. Their infectious enthusiasm certainly bodes well for RPA's future! If you are interested in understanding more about Progress 8, Mr Mundy-Castle's article on page 11 will help to clarify the objectives of this new Government measure and how RPA fits in. On top of that, the magazine is full of news articles on the activities that our students have enjoyed this term. We hope you enjoy it!

Just 25 winners announced

posted 8 Mar 2017, 10:53 by Michele Colt

RPA ran an attendance competition for the first half term of this year as part of our commitment to drive up attendance and punctuality. Just 25 challenged our students to be on time and attend every day for the 25 days of the first half term of the year. All those who achieved the 100% record were entered into a draw to win a Kindle Fire. The lucky winners this time were Ebenine C and Jude C in Year 7 and Charlie B-W in Year. For more photos go to our Facebook page. Look out for more attendance initiatives throughout the year as we challenge our students to make the most of their time in school.

Year 8s get RSSP league campaign off to a convincing start

posted 7 Mar 2017, 06:28 by Phil Broughton   [ updated 7 Mar 2017, 06:30 ]

On Tuesday 28 February RPA's Year 8 boys football team travelled to Orleans Park School for their first league game of the Richmond Schools football competition. A late afternoon downpour had led to a slightly boggy playing surface but that didn't stop RPA from playing some attractive football.

The first half came and went in a flash with RPA largely in the ascendancy and creating good opportunities to score through Joseph and Shane's industrious play. Orleans Park's goalkeeper made some good saves from Jamie and Callum to keep the scores level at half time and RPA managed to limit the opposition's threat to a couple of dangerous counter attacks. Mr Harrison stressed the need for patience at half time and the breakthrough would come and five minutes into the second half it did.

RPA continued to pile the pressure on at the start of the second half and forced the Orleans defence into conceding an indirect free kick after the goalkeeper picked up a back pass. Shane stepped up to strike the ball powerfully at goal and after a wicked deflection, the ball hit the back of the net. RPA 1-0 to the good. RPA continued to dominate and some excellent performances in defence from Miles, Iwan, George, Matthew, Bless and Aaron snuffed out any potential Orleans attack and provided RPA's dangerous midfield with good quality possession in which to launch attack after attack. A good move down the right-hand side saw Joseph beat his man and square the ball for Jamie to finish neatly into the bottom left-hand corner. RPA 2-0.

The third goal arrived after the best move of the game from RPA. Callum, five minutes after coming on to play up front, broke well down the left-hand side after another great through ball from the RPA midfield. A perfect cross from Callum picked out Joseph inside the Orleans penalty area and he finished high into the roof of the net without breaking stride. RPA 3-0. A thoroughly deserved goal for Joseph after a fantastic all round display. The RPA midfield continued to dominate through captain Oliver, Taha and Harvey and after forcing a number of corners, Miles scored a powerful downward header into the corner of the goal, 4-0 to RPA. A clean sheet for Andy in goal in which he organised his defence well and dealt with some dangerous through balls from the opposition. A great performance all round from the team as they warm up for a Surrey Cup quarter-final against Fullbrook School and their next league match against Christ's School in two weeks time.

Squad - Andy, Iwan, George, Miles, Aaron, Joseph, Oliver, Taha, Shane, Callum, Jamie, Bless, Harvey, Matthew H.

Player of the Match - lots of potential candidates but Joseph for his dangerous attacking play.

On a pathway to excellence? Mona Adams talks to our new man at AET

posted 28 Feb 2017, 06:52 by Michele Colt   [ updated 17 Mar 2017, 02:34 by Phil Broughton ]

John King OBE is AET's new Regional Educational Adviser for East England and London. In other words, he is now our man at AET - and I can report
that he's no run-of-the-mill educationalist. His vast and varied background of educational involvement reveals a story of experience, of leadership, of commitment, of progress building and of forensic examination of the status quo.  

There are several chapters in John King's personal educational journey. For seventeen years he's been head of various secondary schools, presiding - in one of them - over 4 consecutive outstanding Ofsteds and lifting another out of difficulties to that top outstanding rating.  Among a list of high-profile jobs, he has acted as adviser to the Department for Education (DfE), was one of the original London Challenge consultants, was appointed Acting Head of Improvement in a borough in the capital, worked for the National College of School Leadership and was subsequently consultant to various county councils.   

He joined AET in October and began his involvement with us straight off the starting blocks, sharing and supporting  Paul Mundy-Castle's determination to imbue throughout RPA the reality that educational excellence is there for the taking. He is, and I quote 'delighted to be working at RPA which is a very exciting place'.  

But just what do AET and this new regional representative have to offer us?   Let's have a look, through John King's microscope, at some of the nitty gritty bits of this partnership and assess their potency. 

Fact: because we are part of the AET family of schools, visits to outstanding campuses - both primary and secondary  -  can be easily arranged and best practice shared. Fact: AET is on hand to broker school- to- school support at local and regional levels.  
Fact: RPA has recently adopted the AET maths curriculum and leading practitioners from the partnership's central team have joined forces with teachers in our English, science and maths departments, where they are working in tandem to maintain teaching and learning at the highest level.   
Fact: John King and Paul Mundy-Castle meet once a fortnight to review the school development plan, oversee regular inspections of teaching and learning targets, attainment outcomes, attendance data and student behaviour.  
Fact: AET also provides backroom support too  - in areas like finance, HR, site management, governor best practice, et al.  

Although John King has been with us for only a few months, I was curious to know if he had formed any impressions of RPA.  He evidently had. 'Let me tell you about the students first.They are the most important.They are well behaved, eager to learn, welcoming, open and confident. Our job as partners is to use our expertise to discover, register and build on their individual talents by providing a stimulating, exciting and differentiated curriculum with challenging but realistic targets tailored to individual needs. And the teachers?  I firmly believe that every teacher has the right to be outstanding and one of our joint partnership goals is to ensure that more of the academy's potentially outstanding teachers get to that level ASAP. The governors are ambitious for the school and are both determined and committed to seeing it reach its potential.   I would also like to register that the new Principal is a really good appointment.  He is an inspired, challenging, focused and determined leader who has already made changes which are producing results.

You ask if outstanding is within the academy's reach. With the quality of students here, we can be outstanding in the near future. I won't give a date, but definitely, without doubt, in the near future'.   

I had one last question for JK.  In three words, how would he describe RPA? There followed a long thoughtful pause. 'OK', he said,' I'll give you five. On a pathway to excellence'.  

I think we can definitely work with that ...

Principal Paul Mundy-Castle shares his 'Can Do' philosophy with governor Mona Adams

posted 15 Feb 2017, 07:48 by Michele Colt   [ updated 17 Mar 2017, 02:35 by Phil Broughton ]

TAKING STOCK, UNEARTHING TALENT, REWARDING DILIGENCE AND SHAPING THE FUTURE
Paul Mundy-Castle has been Principal of Richmond Park Academy for just a term and a half but it is already evident that he has ideas to share, goals to reach and plans to augment.  He has no time for 'can't do', but readily accepts and encourages the 'can't do it yet' attitude because, he says, that perfectly reflects the educational journey on which all at RPA are travelling from the moment they join us.

In the short space of 5 months, this new Principal has already initiated changes which are recharging the leadership structure, teacher challenge and accountability, student buy-in, progress analysis, time management, lesson effectiveness and learning outcomes. He has also introduced a myriad of 'glad to belong'  ingredients throughout the school - like specially designed work benches in dead spaces, a Year 11 progress competition with a tablet for personalised learning as a reward, more comfortable and efficient office spaces, a time-saving electronic visitor check-in system and a student support room specially equipped and staffed to quickly get students through temporary difficulties and back on track.

Lots done. But lots still to tackle. In this recent Q&A,  Paul Mundy-Castle continues to show that he is more than willing – and able – to stand up and be tested
.
Mona Adams (MA): You have now been Principal here for a term and a half.   Have your perceptions of the school and its potential (of which you spoke when we last talked) changed during that time and if so how?
Paul Mundy-Castle (PMC): My perceptions have not changed. The students here know how to follow school rules, are respectful to staff, are taking changes on board and are very talented.  I've noticed that from the beginning. They are first rate tools which we are using to build this school into a fantastic learning environment.  As a Principal, I am in a doubly positive position because my staff see where change is needed and are embracing it. Local families are very knowledgeable. They ask the right questions and are holding me to account.  Not only have my perceptions not changed, my belief that we have all the ingredients here to deliver on our aspirations still holds firm.

MA: Is that the view of an insider with a vested interest in painting a positive picture of his school for outside consumption - or is there tangible potential here that is really exciting you as it develops?
PMC: My ability to assess where we are and what potential we have here is based on my 12 years of leadership experience which includes senior management roles in five different schools. Because of that experience, I am in a good position to be able to accurately gauge both the capability and potential of this school. My judgment is that we are in a good place to be able to move forward.  In fact, we are already doing so. With the revitalised support of AET and the blossoming of the new relationship with our local Achieving for Children, I am confident that we can, together, capitalise on the educational scope which I see here.

MA: Rightly or wrongly, exam results are how parents will gauge our success.  What measures have you initiated to raise standards and to give more of our students a chance to measure up academically in the next set of public exams?
PMC: Good exam results are achieved over years of constructive planning and hard work. It's no good starting to think about exams in Year 9.  We will set realistic exam targets at transition in Year 7 and work to increase them year on year as student ability develops. For our current Years 8 and 9, we have introduced Saturday school for maths and English to ensure they are making steady progress.  We have restructured the school day, extending lessons to 55 minutes, so that all students now have an extra 1hr 40 mins learning time each week.  To support our Year 11s, we hold aSaturday school for science and maths and, to make extra time for both English and science during the week, we have extended the school day on Monday and Thursday by an hour. For Years 10 and 11, we have introduced a GCSE pod  - an online learning platform proven to improve subject knowledge.

For teachers, we have installed a new online data management platform (SISRA) which will help them to more easily make use of data to plan lessons and, for those supporting Year 11 learning, we have initiated a bespoke training package delivered on Monday and Thursday evenings to make sure that teacher subject knowledge and practice is of the highest standard.   

MA: Are your students up to the challenges which you are setting for them?
PMC: Students are the most fantastic pieces of our educational jigsaw. They have taken on board the changes we have made without complaint. I am very proud of their commitment and fortitude. For example, when we introduced the extra hour two days a week after school, every Year 11 willingly stayed to take part.

MA: Overall, how would you rate the teaching here at RPA?
PMC: We have pockets of outstanding practice here - in departments like music, art, food technology and humanities.  Where teaching is not outstanding, we have clear development plans in place to enable staff to improve lesson structure and delivery. AET has provided – and is continuing to provide – support in this area.

MA: How important is it to generate parental support?  How would you strengthen that support?
PMC: For this school to be outstanding – which is our journey's destination – it is imperative that parents play a significant role as fellow travellers.  Since September, I have held numerous meetings with parents where I have been both challenged and supported. I have been impressed by how well these meetings have been attended, an indicator to me of how involved and interested parents are in what is happening here.  Our PTA is a vibrant and innovative organisation which helps to galvanise parental support.  To further build on this all-important relationship between school and home, I am hosting a planning event for all parents on 22nd March from 5.30 to 7.30pm which will provide an opportunity for them to work together with staff to review key elements of the SDP (the School Development Plan).  

MA: Where would you like to see the school at the end of this academic year?  Do you think that's achievable?
PMC: Currently we sit in a progress measure of - .55.   The national floor standard for progress is - .5.   So we are currently below floor standard, which is just not good enough.  My determination is that, by the end of this academic year, we will be reporting a progress measure above floor standard. Over the next couple of years, my ambition is to report solid positive progress. And yes, I think both these targets are achievable.

MA: How would you rate the progress of the 6th form during the last term? How important do you think it is for students to take responsibility and ownership for their own progress and success and if so, how will you promote that involvement?
PMC: Post-16 provision is a very important part of the educational journey for our learners. To enable our 6th form to grow from its infancy, we have taken significant strides to improve resources.  For example, we have just employed a full-time 6th form manager who, as part of her remit, is currently focusing on attendance recording - a key student indicator of personal commitment to learning.  She is already reporting significant improvement. In addition, we have re-planned a state of the art ITC suite and study area for the exclusive use of our 6th formers, a further indicator of how committed we are to building a strong and effective 6th form experience at RPA.

MA: Given that natural ability and interests differ from student to student – in other words, we are not all the same – how would you make sure that the variations of individual talent are recognised and developed?
PMC: The key to success across the learning spectrum is to ensure that we are personalising the curriculum.To do this effectively teachers need to know the learning needs of their students so that, when planning lessons, they can factor in those individual needs.  And students need to be able to recognise their own learning styles so that, with teacher support, they are in a good position to make progress in every lesson. We encourage a mindset here at RPA which gives no oxygen to a 'can't do it' attitude.  What we encourage – because it underlines yet again that education is a journey -  is  'can't do it  - yet'…

MA: How committed are you to getting the school to outstanding on your watch?
PMC: I'm committed to making RPA an outstanding school irrespective of the official judgements of the DfE or OFSTED. My criteria of a first-rate educational environment is one where young learners are cared for, happy and making measurable progress. That is what I seek. I am hopeful that, before long, the DfE and OFSTED will also recognise these essential learning ingredients in their judgements and reward us with an outstanding appraisal.  It is my confirmed belief that you cannot succeed if you are not happy and fulfilled. Everything else follows automatically from that.

MA: In my recent interview with John King, our man at AET, he said that RPA is 'on a pathway to excellence'. Given that we were saying that in our magazine back in 2012, do you think our local community can still believe with confidence that excellence is achievable?
PMC: I can, without hesitation, reassure parents that I and my staff will not settle for anything less than the provision of an outstanding academy for this community.   Governments change, policies change, teachers change but our ambition at RPA – to provide an outstanding local academy -  remains steadfast.   

MA: I repeat the question I asked when we first spoke: why should local parents choose RPA?
PMC: RPA is this community's local school and I firmly believe that children should go to their local school. Research reveals that attendance is better when a school is close to where children live. Social relationships are improved when students move together from primary to secondary school. Local schools offer opportunities for local communication and local parental support is important to bind those home/school relationships.  And the journey of any school to outstanding is accelerated when local families are behind that ambition. Local children in local schools is a winning combination.

Tea, talk and tours

posted 10 Feb 2017, 04:11 by Michele Colt   [ updated 25 Feb 2017, 06:00 ]

Mr Mundy-Castle will be running a weekly Tea, Talk and Tour event every Thursday morning between 9 am and 10 am from Thursday 23rd February for primary school parents. Tea and a short presentation by Mr Mundy-Castle will be followed by a tour of the school during the working day. It is a great way to see RPA at work and ask Mr Mundy-Castle those questions that are important for your child. Please note that these tours are for parents and carers only. We will run sessions in September for your child to attend with you and will advise you and primary schools of those dates. You can book your tour at contactus@richmondparkacademy.org 

RPA Primary Chess Tournament Number 8!

posted 10 Feb 2017, 02:51 by Michele Colt

RPA hosted the 8th annual Primary Chess Tournament this week. Organised by Mr Martin and local Chess Coach, Tim Mortimer over 100 local primary school students participated representing 10 primary schools. The winners of the Championship Cup was Stanley Primary School in their first year of entering, and the winners of the Challenger Cup was Sheen Mount. Thank you to all of the enthusiastic primary school children who came to join us and to Tim Mortimer who gives up his time each year for this event.

Participating schools: Archdeacon Cambridge's Primary School, Collis Primary School, Holy Trinity Primary School, Vineyard School, St. Mary Magdalen's Catholic Primary School, Lowther Primary School, Sheen Mount Primary School, East Sheen Primary School, Darrel Primary School and Stanley Primary School.

History teacher making history - by Governor Mona Adams

posted 7 Feb 2017, 07:24 by Michele Colt

Five years ago, David Doy joined the staff of Richmond Park Academy – and breathed a justifiable sigh of success. Since his first placement with us as part of his PGCE a couple of years previously, he'd been looking for a vacancy here, one that would give him the chance to return on a permanent basis to a school where he'd had such a positive and productive training experience.

Now head of history, he remembers what the school was like when he first joined the staff.  'It was in the middle of the building programme and it was at a time when there were a lot more challenges than there are now. For example, during my five years here, I've seen a vast improvement in behaviour. In 2017 our students are polite, eager to learn and respond positively to both staff and to their peers. They are proud of the school's new facilities, the landscaping and the variety of spaces for sport which the re-developed campus now provides. Richmond Park Academy is a good place to learn and it is also a good place to teach'.

Under the new school management, there are plans afoot to keep both teaching and learning ahead of the game. The two that excite Mr Doy most are, first, the introduction of a new data analysis programme which is user friendly – very important – but also provides broader based information. For example, it highlights not only individual performance but also class and cohort outcomes so that these key groups can be targeted quickly as and when required. Secondly, the new principal, Paul Mundy-Castle, has revitalised the way in which teachers communicate information to each other and how they report progress to him. He runs regular academic board meetings with senior leadership and faculty sub leaders which provide opportunities to swop ideas, make joint decisions and share feedback. 'Because our principal is a stickler for detail and his questioning is always forensic, staff are consequently more accountable for individual progress and overall standard setting. It's a very motivational set-up and I'm already feeling – and seeing – benefits'.

Mr Doy also sees engaging with parents as a top priority. He plans to set up information evenings for parents of his Year 11s so that information about text books, homework requirements, the availability of IT research sites and so on can be shared, enabling parents to be better equipped to support student learning.  In episode two, he will roll out the programme to Year 10 parents as well.

Three RPA staff are currently being groomed for senior leadership – and Mr Doy is one of them.   He's just embarked on a 2-year teaching leaders course which will include challenge days, seminars and online group sessions. 'It is just as important for teachers to take on new challenges as it is for our students', he says. 'The course will require me to work to clear targets, just like my students, The current  target in the history department is for 80% of them to pull off A-C GCSE grades. Special assemblies led by our principal are honing in on the importance of resilience and self-determination.  And yes, there's a stronger possibility than last year that we can meet that target'.

Good news, indeed – and history in the making.



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