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An explosion of teaching excellence in the science department - RPA's new Director of Science talks to Mona Adams

posted 20 Oct 2017, 08:53 by Michele Colt

Emma Swift
is already a fan of Richmond Park Academy's students despite only having been the academy's  Director of Science since the beginning of term.  And it soon became obvious that, with her track record,  she is well qualified to recognise student potential when she encounters it.

RPA's newly appointed director is an electronic engineering and business management graduate of York University.  She also did her PGCE at York and became a teacher in 2001. In 2012, she was the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) teacher of the year.  As well as directing RPA's science faculty, she is also the  AET's  science lead for London – and will be one of their keynote speakers at the  2018 Association for Science Education's annual conference in Liverpool.   It was while wearing her AET hat that she first encountered  Richmond Park Academy.

'As an AET science lead,  I must confess that I didn't get to visit RPA very often because, frankly, the triple science results were good so didn't warrant intervention. But in February last year, Paul Mundy-Castle asked for help during a period of staff transition and I had the good fortune to be drafted into work with the team here on curriculum development'.    Emma reveals that this assignment provided her with a job-change opportunity which she hadn't contemplated but the attitude of the students to learning and hard work so impressed her that she immediately applied for the head of department job which was just being vacated.  She says:  'The students here are absolutely extraordinary with the most incredible potential and I just couldn't walk away from this opportunity to work with them. I've been teaching for 16 years and these are probably the most promising students I've ever encountered.  The added ingredient of the Head's attitude –  total focus on outcomes for his students plus support for staff -  makes for an inspiring, motivating work ethos '.

Some key questions spring immediately to mind. What plans is Ms Swift  -  as science director and 6th form lead -  putting in place to capitalise on student potential and raise outcomes? What is she aiming to achieve by the end of the term? By the end of her first year? She said, without hesitation: 'It is important, from the start, to involve parents and keep them informed about what we are doing and why. Team building is the key to success. We will work together as a department to share best practice and my aim is that, by the end of term,  all our teaching will be consistent and of the highest level.  We have already set in motion student  enrichment programmes   which will broaden horizons and highlight choice – lectures at Imperial College, a  combined 6th form trip with Kingsley Academy to the UN and the centre for nuclear research (CERN)  in Geneva, Saturday masterclasses for Year 11s,  a science club and a weekend outward bound experience to promote the importance of working as a team. By the end of the year, we aim to have significantly raised outcomes across the board with a combined sciences pass rate target  -  ambitious but possible - of   70%. For separate sciences - each to be led by a subject specialist - the result we are looking for is not only consistent progress for all but more level 7s and 8s'. 

As she teaches physics and general sciences to KS3 students and physics to 6th formers, Emma Swift says she daily gets to talk about stuff she loves. Will that passion be shared by her students? Will her teaching  - and that of her colleagues -   help these budding scientists to uncover the latent achievement potential which she spotted on her initial visits to RPA?  Watch this space ... 

Black History Month @ RPA - competition challenges!

posted 19 Oct 2017, 03:30 by Michele Colt

Richmond Park Academy are embracing Black History Month again this year with a whole range of initiatives. As well as a Black History Month menu in the Oak Tree Cafe, there are 3 competitions for students to get involved in. 

Key Stage 3 - Write an essay or design a poster about someone who has inspired you in your life. It can be about any person regardless of colour. Hand your completed entry into your tutor.
Deadline for entries: Wednesday 1 November

Key Stage 4 - Research and write a report about somebody of colour from London who has contributed positively to the world. Hand you entry in to your tutor.
Deadline for entries: Wednesday 1 November

All school - The BHM Quiz, Monday 30 October, 6 pm - 8 pm - Book your place now for the inaugural RPA Black History Month Quiz. Featuring quizmaster, Mr Mundy-Castle, the evening promises to be  a lot of fun - with some serious prizes to be won! Teams of up to 6 people are invited to register by emailing events@richmondparkacademy.org. Teams can be all students or can include parents and siblings too!

Time to get busy! We look forward to enjoying the culmination of Black History Month after half term.

U/18 basketball team's winning start

posted 15 Oct 2017, 07:25 by Michele Colt

The RPA U/18 basketball team, RPA Cougars, made a hugely impressive start to the National League season when they beat the highly rated, Richmond Knights 90-78. Congratulations to the team and their amazing coach, Mr Martin. View the video for the game and Mr Martin's running commentary!  https://youtu.be/IOE__8SOzcU

Sponsored Walk 2017

posted 15 Oct 2017, 06:12 by Michele Colt

The whole of Richmond Park Academy mobilised for CARE and The Samaritans on Friday 6 October when the annual sponsored walk took place. The running group began proceedings at noon and were then followed by the rest of the school who walked the 6.5 mile route. We were blessed with great weather which really enhanced the whole experience. You can see more images on the RPA Facebook page. Sponsorship money can be paid via ParentPay or can be brought into school in a sealed envelope for the attention of Ms Patel, Finance Manager. We want to beat our 2016 total of £5500! So, please make your donations now.

Fireworks Spectacular - BOOK NOW!

posted 30 Sep 2017, 04:44 by Michele Colt   [ updated 13 Oct 2017, 07:04 ]

The PTA organised Fireworks Spectacular will take place on Saturday 4 November this year so BOOK NOW to make sure you don't miss this fantastic community event. Doors open at 4.30pm with the fireworks at 6pm. This really was one of the highlights of last year so don't miss out, Local community, students, parents & staff are all welcome so come and join us! You can book by going to the Fireworks Spectacular Eventbrite page. 

STOP PRESS! Department for Education report stunning RPA progress

posted 29 Sep 2017, 04:04 by Michele Colt

Indicative progress measures from the Department for Education have shown that Richmond Park Academy has improved the progress that its students make by a whole half a grade since last year. The Progress 8 forecast is positive meaning that RPA will have jumped at least 0.55% since the first progress figures were announced in 2016. Speaking about the interim results Mr Mundy-Castle said, "I couldn't be more delighted. This improvement, plus the exam results this year, shows that we are on the right track. As a team we made decisive interventions last year and it is gratifying to see them having a positive outcome for our students. We must now keep on focusing as a community on continuing on this upwards path."

Extracurricular clubs announced

posted 22 Sep 2017, 02:38 by Michele Colt   [ updated 22 Sep 2017, 02:40 ]

Over 40 different extracurricular activities are now available to select for the autumn term. You can view the full range below with options ranging from GCSE Russian and trampolining to football and Art Club. There really is something for everyone so time to get choosing!

Richmond Park Academy Extracurricular Clubs Autumn 2017

 

Open evening - register now

posted 15 Sep 2017, 04:44 by Michele Colt

The Richmond Park Academy Opening Evening, for parents looking at secondary school options for their child will take place on Wednesday 11 October 2017 from 6 pm.  The evening will certainly be packed with activity, with the non freezer ice cream promising to be a big draw in the science department! All parents are very welcome to attend to find out more about our fantastic school and establish whether we "feel" right for their child. Our invitation to the event can be downloaded here. We also invite parents to pre-register to attend. Open evening is very busy so pre-register for the quickest way in!

A message from Assistant Principal, Mr Costello

posted 9 Sep 2017, 09:12 by Michele Colt

We would like to warmly welcome you to the new academic year and hope that you have had a restful break. It has been fantastic to see the students back this week and we have been very impressed with the standard of their summer homework tasks and the manner and verve with which they have approached lessons. 

We would like to take the opportunity to remind you that we have very high expectations in terms of behavior at the academy, including conduct on the journey to and from school. Students who meet and exceed these expectations can expect to be rewarded regularly via our new rewards system. Students failing to meet these standards will be dealt with as outlined in the school behaviour policy, which is available on the RPA website. We will continue to run class, no notice and SLT Saturday detentions throughout the year. 

In terms of uniform, please ensure that your child attends school on time with the correct uniform. This is outlined in the school planner and includes formal black leather shoes (no trainers), black school trousers or skirt, white collared shirt, RPA tie, jumper, blazer and a plain black coat (no hooded tops). RPA uniform is supplied by Stevenson's, Twickenham and is available on line and in store.

Start of term letter from Mr Mundy-Castle

posted 8 Sep 2017, 14:09 by Michele Colt

Welcome to the new school year. I am delighted to be writing this letter to all of you, especially in view 
of the fantastic progress we have made last year and the greatly improved GCSE and A level results.With ongoing final checks, we will be looking at around 73% of students achieving English and Maths, an improvement of at least 17% from last year. Last year when I took up the post I asked families to give me the opportunity to learn about the school and focus on the internal procedures and systems. I want to thank all of you for giving me that opportunity which has allowed the leadership team to make some changes. These have had a good impact on our improved outcomes.

I am happy to report to all families that we are fully staffed for the academic year and we have welcomed some fantastic new teachers to supplement the great body of teachers already here at RPA. Please welcome these new teachers to the RPA family and give them the same opportunity you granted me last year to settle in and help drive the improvements that our students deserve. As most of you will now be aware we will be holding Information & Curriculum evenings for parents and students next week. This event will be for all year groups, except Year 7, who will be meeting slightly later in the term to allow them to settle in. 

The schedule for the evenings are below:
● Tuesday 12 September @ 6:30 pm Year 8
● Wednesday 13 September @ 5:00 pm Year 9 & 6:30 pm Year 10
● Thursday 14 September @ 5:00 pm 6th Form & 6:30 pm Year 11
These evening sessions will give the leadership team the opportunity to explain our curriculum map for the academic year, present on key dates and events and also allow families the opportunity to meet tutors and strengthen relationships between home and school for the academic year. I look forward to seeing all of you at the appropriate curriculum evening for your child.

I will regularly update families on progress throughout the academic year but wanted to ensure that at the start of term I wrote to all of you welcoming you to the new academic year ahead. Finally, this school will continue to build on its skills going forward and will be even more successful in the coming years. I look forward, with anticipation, to seeing that huge potential fulfilled across our community.
Kind regards,
Paul Mundy-Castle
Principal, NPQH, MA (Education), AST, PGCE, AST, BA (Hons)

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