Principal’s Round-up – 19th July 2019

On 20th July, 1969 Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on the surface of the moon. It remains a defining moment in human history. It was a time of anticipation and hope for the future, and it was a time when the world seemed to come together to celebrate human endeavour. When Armstrong looked back at Earth as the crew orbited the moon, it must have seemed very small and insignificant. Sometimes events feel like this, great achievements that diminish in our memories overtime. So, the end of term and academic year is a timely moment to look back and consider everything that has been accomplished this year and to return it to its rightful significance and importance. This was especially evident as we watched students gaining awards at the SEND Celebration morning and our Celebration evening on Wednesday. I was extremely proud to give the Principal’s award this year to Vox. Vox first formed 6 years ago under Music teacher Hannah Stephenson. When Mrs Stephenson left in 2017 we asked Tracy Harding, who had worked with us in variety of capacities before to take over. Since then, Vox have gone from strength to strength and have been regularly booked to perform at academy events such as the Remembrance services, Founders Day, Carol Services, and Celebration evenings. In November 2018 Vox were honoured to take part in Tavistock’s WWI Centenary Concert alongside Mount Kelly Chamber Choir and Tavistock Stannary Brass Band.  I was proud to stand next to some of them while they performed excerpts from Matlida to TRHs Prince Charles and Camilla on Tuesday in Bedford Square. Seemingly, they never tire! Coming up for Vox we have performances at Dickensian evening, a singing tour of local residential homes and possibly a trip abroad to perform! There is a great amount of talent in Vox but more important than that is the way they work together as a choir, they never complain, they always support each other, are solution focused and highly creative….and they do it with a great sense of fun!

When I look back just upon the last half term even, I am proud of so many achievements whether that be a whole year group undertaking work experience, a smaller focus group like the students on the Aspire programme who visited Oxford University or just a solo student seeing their hard work and talent rewarded like Rosie Andrews who gained 4th place in the final round of the National MTB Cross Country series. The long awaited performances of Matilda took place last week. And it certainly didn’t disappoint. Students from KS3 ‘wowed’ the audiences every night, and were delighted to be invited to perform in Bedford Square on Tuesday in front of Prince Charles. For a significant number this was their first experience of a large production, for some their first time on stage ever. They have worked incredibly hard, gained confidence, made new friends across year groups, been braver than they thought they were, found skills they never thought they had and genuinely changed their own story. A year ago we applied to the Royal Shakespeare Company to become one of their Champion Schools in their Change My Story project. Gaining a place on the programme has enabled us to demonstrate our commitment to the arts. We will work with RSC on a two-year programme of creative work, including professional development and training opportunities for teachers and working with five other local schools enables us to share the skills and knowledge.

The 2019 sports day took place last Thursday and proved another great sporting success. With lots of new school records set and more pupils than ever wanting to represent their college house. Athletics has been a growing strength locally and this has filtered into the college with success at local championships and many athletes part of the local athletics club. Bedford were the overall winners on the day after all 120 events across track and field. Individual houses did perform well in each year group with Bedford not making a clean sweep. Glanville were top in year 7, Tremayne in years 8 and 10, with Bedford in year 9. Onto the individual athletes who set new records alongside the pupils who were taking part and setting new personal bests while collecting valuable points for their houses. This balance of inclusive sport and elite sport is what makes sports day so special.

The house rivalry continued at the swimming gala. Here Tremayne triumphed, and we were very grateful to Mount Kelly for allowing us the use of their spectacular pool.

Whilst students will be eagerly awaiting GCSE and A Level results in the summer, it is not this that will ultimately define them as people. When we succeed in life it is always alongside others who shape us, lift us up and sometimes from whom we gain affirmation by supporting. When I read the emails and letters from governors, parents, friends of the college and staff, it is nearly always for all the extra value students add to their lives that they are remembered. So, whilst we will always want our students to gain the best results possible, we must understand too that education is so much more than this. Graduates of Tavistock College should be well rounded human beings, capable of making the most of  those opportunities that will inevitably present themselves. Not too long ago society became conscious of the need to be able to deal with change. We were told that young people could expect to have several different types of jobs over a life time. The importance of being able to deal with change has a whole new meaning and has taken on a reality that is very challenging. Students from Tavistock College must be equipped to rise to that challenge. The lessons, extra and co-curricular activities provided in Tavistock College must give skills needed to embrace these challenging times –we aspire for young people to be innovative, creative, team players ….. thinkers. They must never be cowed under threat. They should learn to stand up for what you believe in; to persevere; to be brave.

In this vein, I circulated the new Academy Improvement Plan that is a summary of all the collaborative discussions for the next stage of our journey. Please read the ‘Ambitions’ section – it is what we are setting out to achieve. We then have four objectives,and these are:
OBJECTIVE 1: Ensure outcomes for students result in positive progress measures. We will work hard to gain a positive P8 measure in the range +0.2 to +0.4 for KS4 and a positive L3VA score of +0.2 to+ 0.4 at KS5. We will build on emerging patterns of improvement with disadvantaged students and ensure gaps in student progress between micro-cohorts are reduced by improving inclusive practices. We will focus on SEND students and high prior attaining students in all subjects. Values underpinning this objective are equity, equality and self-help.
OBJECTIVE 2: Improving the quality of education We will continue to develop the knowledge based curriculum whilst maintaining a broad and inclusive curriculum for all students. Pedagogical advances will focus on strategies to strengthen challenge and progression in learning. We will widen the current approaches being used to scaffold learning to meet end point tasks and big questions. Here we will be promoting the values of solidarity, self-help and equity.
OBJECTIVE 3: Strengthening the efficacy of pastoral support and ensuring the development of cultural capital. The introduction of the ABC programme will improve the students’ contributions to their own progress and build self-responsibility for learning. The focus will be on attendance, behaviour for learning and extra-curricular contributions. We will ensure colleagues understand the importance of using emotional intelligence in building outstanding relationships predicated on trust and selfdiscipline. This objective will draw upon the values of solidarity, democracy, social responsibility and self-responsibility.
OBJECTIVE 4: Transforming middle leadership so that this becomes the drive engine for school improvement. Leadership becomes purposeful and solution-focused where it is allowed to flourish. Whilst we recognise that subjects require specialist leadership, we will take steps to secure greater alignment and more opportunity for innovation. By breathing new life into existing CPD we will re-invigorate self-responsibility, solidarity and a sense of belonging. I look forward to working with you to breathe life into these aspirations.

It is always sad to say goodbye to valued colleagues, and at the end of term we are losing 6 of our teachers and one catering assistant. I am as ever humbled by the skills of teachers and the enthusiasm of youth, and as you move forward into the holiday period, I would like to thank you for all your hard work this term, and across the year. Our school is not oversubscribed by chance, it is the daily slog that you all play a part in that has made us successful. We know there will be new challenges next year but for now lets enjoy the sun at last. Have a fantastic holiday, and I will see many of you on results days in August.