Another year, another step forward

At the time of writing we have just received our Key Stage 2 results which, as with the Key Stage 1 results last week, show improvement both in attainment and in the progress made by the children in Year 6 and in Year 2, when compared with 2014. We now look forward eagerly to our results both for the 6th Form which come out on August 13, and for Year 11 with their GCSEs coming out on August 20, and hope to claim a full house of improved outcomes for 2015.

It’s been a busy year being part of the new multi academy trust, no named Academies South-West, moving into our completed new building in September, though there is still work to be done on some of the landscaping; this starts on the first week of the holidays, and as ever improving the opportunities and outcomes for the young people who attend Dartmouth Academy.

I would like to thank all parents and staff for their support over the year in helping every child who attends Dartmouth Academy do as well as they can. I’ve enjoyed working with you to achieve this common objective.

Last week saw an excellent sports day where many parents witnessed children of all ages participating in a range of sporting activities, working collaboratively to create a great day. The fete last Thursday and the Friends stall, selling refreshments on sports day, between them raised almost £1000 towards playground equipment for the primary phase of the Academy. These two events show what we can do when we all pull together.

I was sorry to miss the big community events held here on Friday night called the Big Bash but I gather it was enjoyed by all who took part. It will be the first of many similar events allowing the community to use and gain the benefits of facilities on the Academy site.

Next week is the last of the year and sees Activities Week taking place for Years 7 to 9 and work experience for Year 10, alongside a variety of events taking part in the primary phase culminating in the “Moving On” assembly for Year 6, as they step up in September to become a part of the new Year 7 cohort, along with others who will join them from local primary schools; who we met at the Transition Day last Wednesday.

I would like to wish everybody a relaxing safe and enjoyable summer break and I look forward to seeing you all again fresh and ready to go on September 2.

Nick Hindmarsh

Key Stage 1 SATS – great results for Year 2!

Having now submitted the results to the government I am delighted to congratulate Miss Carr, and the whole Key Stage 1 team for the excellent work they have done with your children.  I would also like to thank our parents for the support you have shown us, helping all Year 2 children to achieve this excellent set of results.

Overall in every one of the tests the results are considerably up on last year and are better than schools nationally in 2014.  (2015 national results will not be available until December.)

Really good news as the children start Key Stage 2 in September, as they move into Year 3!

As one year draws to an end…..

This year has been “interesting” as we have moved across to join Academies South West.  After 9 months of this new multi academy trust the future is now starting to take shape with a shared clarity of purpose across the whole organisation being the next step.  Bringing three local school organisations together with a common purpose does take time but is now happening at speed.  All of us have seen advantages from the formation of the trust and all have experienced teething issues, which are being ironed out.

Next year is an exciting one for Academies South West and with it for Dartmouth Academy.

Schools are about children fulfilling their potential and this remains our focus, here in Dartmouth and across Academies South West.

In less than two weeks time we bid farewell to another Year 11 cohort as their exams end on June 12th, two weeks ago we saw another Year 6 cohort complete their KS2 SATs and next week Year 2 will complete their KS1 SATs. During all this the 6th form are taking their AS and A level exams and BTEC assessments.  So the annual cycle continues – as they depart and move on so those below them step forward to fill their place.

As one year ends so the planning for the next continues.  In September we aim to provide care and learning support before and after school and to reintroduce adult education.  Please make sure you follow the news on these exciting developments in our newsletter.

This has been a busy term with lots going on, what’s new?

As we approach Christmas and the end of our first term as part of the new Multi Academy Trust, real working with Kingsbridge Community College and Our School Federation is beginning to happen. One thing that is clear from our early meetings and early work is there is a shared determination to ensure that this becomes a joint effort over the next 2 to 3 years and beyond that leads to better standards for children and students in all six schools across the Trust.

We have seen staff from the different schools meeting up to talk about their work and strategies for improving what we do for the children in our communities. Last week we had our Certificates Evening where we presented the GCSE certificates to last year’s Year 11 students. Our Guest of Honour was Roger Pope, Principal at Kingsbridge Community College and also the CEO of the new Trust. Roger shared some pearls of wisdom with parents and students about how to achieve success – and my secret that I am an avid Apprentice viewer!

This term we are having a major push on homelearning and reading. I am delighted to see the significant change this extra homelearning is having in terms of the work the students are doing and on the progress they are making because of this. The regular reading all children and students are doing is great to see, with one Year 11 student having already read more than 1,300,000 words!

You also, no doubt, have noticed that there is a much wider use of homelearning blogs by subject areas across the Academy and not just in the secondary phase. Indeed the greatest increase in the use of blogs is probably in Years 5 and 6, which is good to see.

The aim of the homelearning blogs is to allow students to share and see one another’s work, to comment upon this and in so doing, better understand what is being learned and assessed. We are finding this type of homelearning better engages the children and students leading to faster and more effective progress.

In the primary assembly last week we put up our Christmas tree, to much excitement, followed by much mirth and laughter at the thought of the big fat man coming down the chimney coming in less than four weeks time. This makes me all the more aware of the build up to Christmas and the three weeks left until we break up.

Please do take some time to look at the Academy calendar on the website to make sure you don’t miss the carol concerts that are taking place at St Saviour’s and St Clement’s churches. In addition to this there is an Early Years and Foundation Unit Christmas play in the Newcomen Hall. More information about this will be on the website and sent out to parents through the newsletter and other means.

Today, as I write this, I can hear the band getting ready to go down to town to perform in the Candlelit celebrations that take place today and tomorrow, Saturday 29th.

I know how much effort children and staff put into making sure these are fun and celebratory events and I know, also, that they appreciate the support that you, their parents, carers and relatives, show for them through your attendance – thank you!

I look forward to seeing many of you in the coming weeks.

Nick Hindmarsh, Principal

Inclusion at the Academy

The Academy now has a track record of three years of academic improvement, alongside which we have moved into a new building that offers children of all ages a far better environment in which to learn, play and socialise. A facility for our community too.

While we are no longer a community college we absolutely know that it is our role to serve our community and to hear what members of the Academy community have to say and the wider community too.

We know, too, that many in our community do not have access to the same opportunities for extra-curricular activities as those in more advantaged areas of the South Hams and the UK generally. For this reason we set aside money to specifically enable access to all the opportunities at the Academy to all families.

Only yesterday I was looking at the data for participation in residential trips and music tuition as I wrote my Pupil Premium report for the website, governors and Ofsted. This shows there is no gap in participation in these activities between the advantaged and less advantaged within the Academy community. We use our Pupil Premium funding to ensure all children have access to the same life chances regardless of their family circumstances. We, in fact, go beyond this by allowing very flexible payment schemes and even more generous subsidies where a parent comes to discuss their circumstances with us.

That this needs to happen at all is, I believe, a sad indictment on society but we do all we can to ensure every learner has access to the same opportunities whatever their background.

I know I speak for the leadership team and the governors of the Academy in saying this is a personal and collective moral purpose.

I am sure we do not always convey this message but please do speak to us where you feel this is not the case as this is simply wrong!

Nick Hindmarsh, Principal – Dartmouth Academy

Welcome back to the new school year!

The Academy is now in its 5th year and the foundations we have put into getting the curriculum and teaching right are bearing fruit. It has been great to see the children and students back – the noise and vibrancy that comes with them really brings the building to life!

Results are as good as last year’s record and in some respects even better. This summer two thirds of Year 11 gained a grade C or better in English and nearly two thirds gained a grade C or better in Maths. I am sure you will agree that it is critical that young people leave school with the qualifications necessary to mark their way in the world. Both of these outcomes are better than Maths and English outcomes nationally!

Not having the Academy ready for full occupation on September 2nd; and the delayed start, for which I apologise, was frustrating in the extreme, I do not like to let people down, or to be let down but I am sure that it was equally frustrating for parents, children and neighbours too.

We are assured that the remaining surfacing works will be completed by the 14th, when the contractors finish the access from Milton Lane, the car park surfaces and any remaining paved areas.

As I am sure you will be aware we have now formally left E-ACT and joined with the Kingsbridge Academy Trust. This new trust includes the 4 primary schools that make up the Our School Federation, Kingsbridge Community College, and Dartmouth Academy. The name of the trust will change following a consultation exercise across the schools’ communities.

The aims of the trust are very simple, and easy for us to fully subscribe to; to deliver outstanding education across its schools. The close proximity of the 6 schools allows for real and effective cooperative working, accelerating the pace at which standards can be raised.

We have seen huge changes in the past 12 months and I, for one, look forward to seeing these bring further sustained improvements to Dartmouth Academy children and students and to all students and children in the new Trust.

Nick Hindmarsh

Principal

 

 

The end of our 4th Year

As we approach the end of the Academy’s 4th Year we have much to celebrate and much to reflect upon.

Last week I had the privilege of working with Year 9 during Activities Week – and what a great bunch of young people they are. Hardly a moan or sore foot throughout the hike I took them on around Dartmouth and the SW Coastal Path! It reminded my why I came into teaching and so enjoy working here at the Academy.

This year has seen further improvements in students’ and children’s progress and we anticipate further improvements in the summer! Clearly we also have experienced a massive, and hugely positive, change in their learning environment. The new Academy buildings have finally made us feel and live the all-through vision we have described to others for over four years but not lived until this term.

When we return in the autumn Leadbitter will have left and the car park (phew!) will be completed, as well as new playground space for the students and children to enjoy. Personally I am delighted with the way in which everyone has managed cooped up on the site for this term, with their play space reduced.

For the next twelve months we will still see Leadbitter staff on site as they ensure the snags are ironed out and everything is left functioning as intended.

When we return in September we will be a part of a new multi-academy trust, working with Kingsbridge and Our School Federation and look forward to the wider opportunities and benefits joint working across the South Hams will bring, to young people, the community, and colleagues alike.

As always at the end of the year we say farewell to another generation of students, to whom we wish the very best in their futures. Again, as always we say goodbye to staff who will be developing their careers elsewhere. However, this year we will also sadly lose a number of colleagues for budgetary reasons.

This is never a positive experience for all affected, both those who are staying and those who leave. What I do promise is that the staffing reductions have been made with the focus on minimising any negative experience for our learners. As we go forward we need to continue to seek smarter ways of working so that we can achieve more with fewer resources. One element of this drive for greater efficiency will be increasingly close working across the multi-academy trust, where economies of scale will allow all members to operate more efficiently.

I would like to wish all readers of the Newsletter the very best for the summer and I look forward to continuing our work with you in September.