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65 Days - Governor, Mona Adams' end of term conversation with Mark Hartley

posted 20 Jul 2016, 05:00 by Michele Colt
Although Mark Hartley, Headteacher of Barnes Primary and big time supporter of Richmond Park Academy, has now come to the end of his official involvement in our journey towards excellence, he is already thinking of next year.  'I may be an outsider, but I share the insider passion
to make this school outstanding and I'm already exploring how I can continue to support that goal', he says.

During his 65-day assignment, Mark has observed that this is a school where impressive, exciting things are going on.  'School trips, sport, drama and art are among the big pluses', he says.   'I've seen some beautiful art work displayed round the school and would love to see even more.   I've seen academic improvements and I've worked with friendly, hard-working teachers committed to meeting students' needs. There is no doubt in my mind that this is a good school.  And a good school is one which is constantly looking for ways to improve, to solidify, to build on success.  RPA is doing just that. The senior leadership colleagues I've been working with are aware of RPA's potential but they are also aware that some departments are not as strong as they would like them to be.   With such an excellent campus, work resources and increasing local support, they are sure that the school can be even better. I agree – and that's why I would very much like to continue supporting, in an informal way, what is going on here'.   

One of the areas which Mark has been particularly involved in since he joined us is maths. 'Because you can't change too many things all at once' he says, 'there's been a concentration this year - as I mentioned when we last spoke - on consolidating Year 11 maths outcomes.  I am very pleased to be able to tell you that the Saturday revision sessions continued to register improvements in both student motivation and progress and the friends I press-ganged into supporting those sessions reported that they have thoroughly enjoyed working with students who were determined to improve'.

Tracey O'Brien, who has been so successfully holding the interim headship reins at RPA this year, says that Mark's contribution to the work of the senior leadership team has been invaluable.   'Not only has he undertaken teaching and learning observations, feeding back some real improvement practices to staff, he has provided us with a network of maths counsellors who are willing to continue supporting our students next year.   He has also established links with schools across the borough to share best teaching practices which are now being implemented  and which are challenging students to work at the very edge of their comfort zones'.

At the end of our last interview, Mark mentioned his intention to focus on improving both content and layout of student workbooks.  That work is now underway.   He has led assemblies which highlighted examples of good and bad work presentation and underlined the importance of backing up classwork with cohesive note taking, diagrammatical illustration and clear thought processing. Tracy reports:  'this important project will continue as a whole school focus for next year and because we have discovered that Mark never says no, we are confident that he will find a way to continue his work here'.  This governor suggests that  a chat over a large cup of tea with new Principal Paul Mundy-Castle might be as good a place to start as any ......