This is it!!!It is 933 days since I was appointed as the Principal of the Deanery CE Academy back in December 2016. Today is a very important day for the Deanery and me. This morning we have just completed key handover so we now officially own the building. This afternoon we have our Readiness to Open Meeting (ROM) with the Department for Education. These meetings normally take place in Sanctuary Buildings, the headquarters of the Department in London. This is because often schools are sometimes only completed and handed over in the last 2 weeks of August, meaning school staff are rushing around trying to get everything ready before the children arrive. As you will know if you have been following us for a while, we have always been due to take over the building on 1st July. It is an incredibly exciting day and a real privilege to be able to welcome those people from the Department for Education who have been working so hard behind the scenes to support us here in Wichelstowe. It is such a complicated process to open a school and we have had fantastic support from our team, I cannot wait to be able to show them our amazing facilities and present our final plans to them. Last week we were busy both in the building and out and about at meetings making final plans and receiving training that is critical for all school staff. Monday I met Tom Bennett, who is the Department for Education’s behaviour tsar – Tom has been working with lots of Swindon schools to help us create a town wide strategy for decreasing exclusions and increasing engagement in schools. On Tuesday I attended Safeguarding and Child Protection training with our Designated Safeguarding Lead. And then for the rest of the week, Mr Scutt, Ms Pickett and I were busy in school making final preparations for this week. We also invited primary school teachers in who are sending students to the Deanery next year and so we met with lots of Year 6 teachers, SENDCo’s and some Headteachers who were eager to tell us all the wonderful things Year 6 can do and also were quite excited to have a tour of the building before anyone else. We decided to make cakes for our visitors last week and so held our first Bake Off competition. Now, I must say that I am probably better with a drill than a food mixer, but I like to think that I can bake a cake. However, I found last week that I am a very basic baker indeed. Ms Pickett, our Senior Estates and Lettings manager make the most delicious chocolate cake – I was outclassed on that one. But then Mr Scutt arrived. He is, in my estimation, close to being a professional baker and his children are pretty good as well! I hope you have seen the picture of his creations on Twitter, if not take a look. I am going to secretly enter him to the Great British Bakeoff, but don’t tell him! Oh and on Thursday we launched the date for our Meet the Principal evening for current Year 5 (admissions 2020) – we have an online booking system and to say that tickets went fast is an understatement. All I can say is that it is a good job we have a reasonably large school hall in which to accommodate all our guests! That’s it for now today as I need to go and prepare for our visitors from the DfE. This is the next part in the most amazing chapter of the life of the Deanery, and one of the things I am going to say at our meeting this afternoon, is that we’re not ‘ready’ to open, we are absolutely eager to open!Read More
What really matters in educationPosted on: 13/05/2019
I officially started at The Deanery CE Academy three weeks ago and already the progress with the building and the amount that I have learnt about building a brand-new school has been mind-blowing. I have seen first-hand a very dedicated and committed body of staff that really take pride in what they do. As a result, the quality of finish is exceptionally high and I believe the hard work that has already been put in, will ensure that The Deanery will provide exceptional facilities and a wonderful learning environment for the children and staff. I feel so lucky and privileged to have started in April and be a key player in making the decisions about the direction of the school. I cannot wait to be able to show our new students and parents around the site when we open our doors on 1st July.
As well as an outstanding environment with world class facilities, we also have to deliver a rich and inspiring curriculum. Since becoming a teacher, I have been passionate about providing the best education for the students that I have taught. As a science teacher, I am committed to delivering a very hands-on, memorable and inspiring curriculum that opens the doors of opportunity. I am always delighted when children achieve their potential and then go on to really excel in their field of choice. Through my career I have also seen a lot of educational fads come and go and so it is important that whatever we decide has a reason and purpose. At the heart of The Deanery we have a number of core values as seen in our ALIVE model and so we refer to these to ensure that we make decisions that are based on sound research and add value to our students and staff. If there is no value, then why do it? So far, we have begun to look at various aspects of the school, including the format of the school day, its calendar, the timetable, induction materials and more. As we draft out these key policies and make these vital decisions, we ask ourselves what is the purpose?
There is still so much to be done and so over the coming weeks we will continue to work hard to ensure that we are ready to welcome our first students, their families and local community to come and see what an amazing school we have.