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That was the week that was

posted 7 Jun 2013, 07:11 by Web Admin
Submitted by admin.rpa on Mon, 03/12/2012 - 10:30

No, I am not old enough to have seen this programme, but I always liked the name, alliteration being one of my favourite literary devices. And last week certainly was a week (and a half). Every evening was packed but important.

On Monday evening, Governors were pleased to hear how much teaching levels have improved in just 2 ½ years, rising from just over 50% ‘good or better’ lessons in 2009 to 70% - our target for the end of the year is 75%. This rapid rise in teacher skill is due to many factors: the highest expectations; wide-ranging and frequent staff training; Teacher Learning Communities (where colleagues work together following a set structure to talk about teaching and learn from each other); and our own initiative, Operation Outstanding.

On Tuesday, we had the Year 7 Parents’ Evening, one of several events in the year when parents can meet with staff but, here, they meet with subject teachers. The feedback on their child’s first 6 months at RPA was overwhelmingly positive. We always issue questionnaires at each parents’ evening and it is so useful to read about what parents like about us - as well as what we should do better, too.

On Wednesday, the Friends of RPA (FoRPA) met under new ‘chairwomenship’. Lea Heron and Fiona Heath, Year 8 parents, are jointly chairing this group and we are determined to keep it growing as quickly as possible. Our current projects are the approaching local and primary school fairs, which we hope to attend, but also our new build, the plans for which have, quite literally, just been finalised. All parents are invited to come to the next meeting on April 25th at 6.30pm in the seminar room where a Friend - who is also the parent governor involved with the buildings planning team - will present the plans. This will be the key theme of this FoRPA meeting and we hope that as many of you as possible will be able to attend.

Artwork by ScarlettSuper Thursday heralded two major events within the space of a day: in the morning, we underwent an inspection from an Arts Council assessor, following our application for Artsmark Gold. We held this award until it elapsed two years ago but we were unable to renew it as the Arts Council decided to put a moratorium on it while they completely revised the criteria, raising the bar for the status in the process. Each department - music, dance, art, drama and technology - had to produce a portfolio to support the application and the inspection was like a mini Ofsted with lesson observation, student interviews, staff interviews, tour of the school and, finally, senior staff and governors. The outcome will be in early May but, as he left, the assessor said that, while he could not say what this would be, we should take note of the fact that he went considerably over his allocated time, due to the sheer passion of the interviewees for the arts and the amount of things we had to show him.

That afternoon we hosted our third - and best ever - Friendship Day. Year 6 children with places at RPA were invited to the school for a fabulous feast of sandwiches and cupcakes, (made by Sarah Hoitt, our wonderful kitchen manager), and the chance to do activities and tours around the school (in particular, the Acorn), and to meet other children who will be coming in September. Parents were able to socialise and meet the staff and new and current parents. Part of the event comprises a concert with the kind of mix that the Artsmark assessor had already approvingly noted, ranging from classical violin, to jazz, to Whitney. A lovely evening, enjoyed, hopefully, by all.

The culmination of the week was the Jack Petchey Speak Out Challenge finals for Richmond and Merton, hosted here at RPA. This was a mammoth task for Keira Pritchard whose organization was outstanding. Students from 17 schools spoke on a range of subjects from war to ‘gingerism’ to single mothers. Shiba Khider, our representative, spoke with huge passion and power of child labour and how we can help reduce it. RPA students again provided the entertainment. This was quite simply a show stopper; one of the principal organisers, sitting beside me, had been looking at his notes but as Michelle, the first singer, segued from the initial notes of ‘The Greatest Love’ into the the familiar higher tones, he looked up, astonished, and yelled: “Go girl, sing!” Later, he told me he used to be a singer and that both Michelle and Nkem, who covered Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”, were hugely gifted. He has agreed to judge our RPA’s Got Talent show if his diary allows. Even more flattering, the Deputy Mayor, sitting beside me, was truly captivated by the singers and told me - and then the audience - that she HAD to come to our next event (indeed all our events) so she could hear more of our talented students! At the end of the evening, a teacher and Kimberlie, separately, told me it was the best event that they had been to (and Kimberlie has been doing this for 6 years). A fabulous way to end the week that was last week.