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Update letter 2 from the Acting Principal

posted 26 Feb 2016, 03:07 by Phil Broughton   [ updated 27 Feb 2016, 06:25 by Michele Colt ]

Dear Parent/Carer,

Tracey O'Brien Acting Principal
I hope that you have had a good half term and that your child is now raring to go for the weeks ahead. This letter is the second in my update letters to you during my time as interim Principal. We have made some great strides so far this term so I would like to say a big thank you to staff, students and parents who have made that progress happen.


We have had a concerted focus on standards across the school in the last period from the highly publicised attention to our school uniform through to a re-visiting of our expectations on the presentation of work. I was extremely pleased with the response to our uniform initiative. I feel very strongly that pride in uniform reflects pride in school and sets the bar for standards of work. RPA is a strong team and it is important that our uniform reflects that to each other and to the wider community. The response from parents and students has been excellent and I am delighted with the reduced number of issues being dealt with on a weekly basis. If there is a genuine issue with uniform that cannot be resolved please speak with us and we will do what we can to help.

While many students present their work in a tidy and organised way, we do have concerns that the presentation of some students has slipped. I have been speaking to all staff about this and we are all going to be addressing this with students. Where we feel work is not good enough, we will be asking students to redo it. Please spend time with your child looking at their books to discuss their presentation.

Attendance has shown excellent upwards momentum to 94.13% this last term and we look forward to seeing a further increase as we approach Easter. Attendance and punctuality have demonstrable impacts on achievement so we are looking forward to our students reaping the achievement benefits. We are still slightly below the 95% target so your support in ensuring children attend school is vital. Thank you for your ongoing commitment.

The RPA Senior Leadership Team has been very busy this term. Both James Cook and Jack Costello have taken on more responsibility. Y11 in particular will have noticed a number of new initiatives designed and co-ordinated by Progress Leader, Mr Cook, which include one to one tuition and focussed revision groups. As always, no stone is left unturned to ensure that our students achieve what they deserve in August. We have also welcomed an additional SLT member in Mark Hartley, who has shown great energy and commitment in supporting the Y7 activity and taking on some Y11 one to one tutoring. Mark is also working with staff focusing on teaching and learning.

RPA, like many other schools, is having to manage a staffing shortage in the science department. There is a national shortage of science teachers which means that we have to be creative in our solutions. We have placed adverts nationally and are optimistic that we will resolve this issue soon. We remain committed to finding the quality science staff that we require, but will not compromise on our expectations. In the short term we have experienced senior non-specialists teaching in the area who are being fully supported to deliver the science curriculum. We will be offering Saturday school sessions for catch up.

I am always open to hearing from parents about their views of the school and what we might do to improve. I have met many parents since January and have enjoyed such discussions. To gain a wider view of what you think about our provision I would welcome your honest feedback via our questionnaire. You can click through to view it here or access it via the RPA website. There will be a two week window to complete it so please give it your attention as soon as possible.

As part of that questionnaire we will be asking you to think about what skills you or your contacts have that could be shared with our students. We can’t compete with independent schools when it comes to money! However, I have complete confidence that our parent body is a match for any school, anywhere! We already have an active and engaged business mentoring programme for our 6th form and we are looking to extend that principle across the school. I have spoken about some possible areas of support at the PTA meeting this week.

Assessment at KS3

I wrote a paper in January about KS3 assessment which is on the website. As this is an evolving time of adapting to ‘assessment without levels’, I have written an update which will be sent out this week. This should make the situation clear about how we are assessing at KS3.

Year 11 exam preparation

I was delighted so many year 11 students came in last week to take advantage of the revision sessions. We offered up to five subject sessions a day and these were well attended. If your child did not attend then it could be a good discussion point to establish why not. We will be offering these again at Easter and on Saturdays - these will be listed on the website shortly. Year 11 exams start this week for all students, I hope they have been revising hard at home.

What can you expect for the rest of this term?

The remainder of this Spring term is packed with activity. We celebrate World book Day on March 3rd where students and staff are invited to dress up as characters from their favourite books. I, myself, am running an enrichment class each Wednesday at 3pm for KS3 learners where we will explore and debate current issues. If you think your child might be interested ask them to see me. We have Y7 and Y8 parents evenings next month and we welcome our 2016/17 Y7’s at our annual Friendship Day, also in March.

In conclusion, we are expecting a half term of focus, high expectation, fun and real pride in our school. For your part, please share your views via our questionnaire and encourage your child’s attendance, punctuality and presentation!

Kind regards,

T Obrien Signature.jpg

Tracey O’Brien

Acting Principal