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The Big Picture

posted 7 Jun 2013, 06:56 by Web Admin
Submitted by admin.rpa on Tue, 02/21/2012 - 09:40

It is often difficult in schools to remove oneself from the day to day routines and see the big picture. Things change constantly because, firstly, you are dealing with people but you are also dealing with other organisations whose pressures often impact upon schools directly or indirectly. For us in RPA, the daily close ups are about the learning, day in, day out. I often take parents and carers around the school and they are almost unanimous in expressing their enjoyment at what they see in the classrooms. Parents of younger students are very keen on the Year 7 base - and I am delighted to announce that this has been named "The Acorn" by two of its current incumbents, Charli and Chi.

I am also pleased to say that the quality of what is going on in the classroom has been recognised more widely than RPA: congratulations are due to Mr Costello who applied for the prestigious national Specialist Leader in Education role and was accepted. Another staff member, Mr Cook, has been asked to apply in September. We are hugely proud of this accolade, which recognises the commitment, skill and expertise of Mr Costello, and we will be even more proud if Mr Cook is also accepted; it will be rare to have two from one school, when many have none. Four of our teachers are also on the Advanced Skills Teacher programme, a national award, and one which they are working at through the AET.

We recently hosted a visit from a primary school which is one of the hundred Teaching Schools designated by the government to lead on training teachers. 80 of their Year 6s spent the morning at RPA and, by all accounts, loved it. They have asked our English department to work with them on developing staff skills in teaching and assessing students at Level 6, which the government has introduced as an option for primary schools. We are pleased to be able to help our colleagues, and Ms Durling and Mr Potapov will be leading a session this term.

So much happens in a school that it is truly difficult to list everything, and, of course, it would fill all the available space. So here are just a few examples. We have been invited to become a partner in a project run by Orleans Park Gallery to commemorate the Queen's diamond jubilee: 10 of our students will do a combined history/art project with the Gallery. We have begun a taster set of Mandarin lessons with an experienced Mandarin teacher to see how our students take to it. Although we are not currently teaching this language, it is on our radar for the future. Please remember we began Latin this year with the current Year 7, which will continue next year. We are shortly to launch our alumni website through an organisation called Future First and the link for this will appear on the website.

So, we believe the small pictures are developing nicely..but what about the big picture? As far as we are concerned, there are two major areas we are working on at the moment: the new build, due to start in July 2012, and the 6th form, due to start in September 2014. For the former, please refer to the Building Bulletins from Dr Rinne. I can tell you that the architects have all but completed the first draft plans, and staff and students will be consulted shortly about these. There will be some new build and much refurbishment and remodelling. The contractors, Carillion, have much experience on working with schools, and have assured us that disruption will be minimal, made easier by the fact that we have a relatively large "foot print" to work from.

The building programme incorporates ideas to help implement our second big picture item, the 6th form, currently planned for opening in September 2014. This is something I am currently working on, supported by a group of governors and staff. We have written an Education Brief, a draft Business Case and discussed how best to consult with the local community, students and parents and carers. Once completed, extracts from these documents will appear on the website. This is a fantastic opportunity for RPA and will result in a hugely changed school, in my view. Our thinking at the moment is around subjects to be offered, Information, Advice and Guidance provision, and enrichment opportunities. Please email or write to let us know your views on these areas - or anything else you want to raise about the 6th form.

It is very important that the bigger picture does not obscure the smaller one, and we are mindful of the need to keep both these plates spinning. I hope, indeed believe, that we are succeeding.