Principal’s Round-up – 6th July 2018

The last fortnight has been hard. Really hard. Since Hannah’s death, our days have sometimes felt like we were trudging through unrelenting rain as we struggled to find a way forward through student grief and our own emotions. We did well. We stuck together and supported each other. We have come out of this stronger and closer than ever before. But despite the obvious sunny skies, we still all feel the weight of the dark clouds that have settled over us. Hannah’s death has affected the whole town and over the last few days I have really appreciated the support from the local community who have offered their services in any way that they can. If you have not visited Hannah’s memorial, I encourage you to do so. It will tell you a lot about the compassion and love our students have for one another. I commend all of our students who have looked after each other and who have encouraged their friends to keep going and to get back on track with their own lives. Whilst we are now over the shock of what happened on 23rd June, we have to now re-evaluate the effectiveness of our PSHE programme, and also ensure that we provide a suitable and fitting lasting memorial for Hannah so that we can remember her in life and not allow the method of her death to overshadow that.

As a school, it is important to return to tasks and efforts that keep the school moving forward. The teaching and learning reviews that I am currently undertaking have reminded me that teaching is such a highly skilled profession that is constantly being refined, challenged and developed to improve outcomes for students. I have seen so many improvements in increasing challenge, quality extended writing, purposeful feedback and in personalising learning. This has all been underpinned by a strong sense of commitment, energy, collective purpose and professionalism. We should be ending this year with great pride and confidence for the forthcoming year.

Whilst we know we are improving all the time, there are still issues to address. We will never run out of things to improve, we will never be perfect. Some students do not make the progress that they are capable of and some disengage with learning and education. However, we are seeing sustained impact from our work. We must all be relentlessly ambitious for development and enhancement. We have an increasingly intellectually challenging curriculum to manage and we must raise the bar on positive attitudes and behaviour without taking our eye off the ball of staff training and working on advancing the social acumen needed by young people to transition effectively into adulthood. Our priorities, encapsulated in the College Improvement Plan for 2018-19 are:

  1. To ensure outcomes result in positive progress measures (P8 at 0.25 and L3VA at 0.3). As part of this we must diminish the difference between groups of students with a special focus on SEND and HPAs.
  2. To re-imagine and re-design the curriculum at each key stage to meet new accountability measures and to ensure value for money. We need to look at strengthening EBacc as well as creating more opportunity for vocational learning.
  3. To improve and sustain a positive ethos and continue to ensure all students are safe happy and productive. We cannot allow the minority to disrupt this. So we will work on our ‘golden threads’ and emotional intelligence whilst taking a more rigorous approach to any form of disruption.
  4. To continue to improve our approach to quality first teaching through ‘the bottom line’ and SOLO taxonomies. We have not yet achieved what we set out to do: to embed this culture consistently in every classroom.
  5. To guide self- improvement through effective CPD. We will develop more coherence and structure in professional development and personalise it for different stages of colleagues’ careers. We will make greater links with our MAT family of schools to support specific needs

Despite the chill brought on by the sombre clouds of recent events, we have still found time to enjoy a successful dog show run by Y10 that raised £850 for charity; gathered Y8 and civic dignitaries together for our annual Founders Day celebration where we reflected on the history of Tavistock College and the founders of the school who gave their names to our Houses; delighted in the Y11 Prom and Graduation where joy ran alongside sadness and pride. Next week we look forward to Y13 Graduation and Prom (always very sad to say a final goodbye), Sports Day and our spectacular annual Celebration Evening. Thank you to everyone who has organised these events, given their time to ensure they are successful or just simply attended one or more of them. These contributions to school life are not overlooked, they do not go unnoticed and they have such a lasting impact on students’ lives.

And it’s not long until the summer holiday…
Have a restful weekend
Sarah