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Posted on: 22/07/2019

Ofsted have been

I have to resist the temptation to start each blog post with “what a busy week that was”! Every day seems to be busy at the moment, but I am not complaining! We are having an amazing time, welcoming lots of visitors into the school, using the building in as many ways as we can before September to test all our systems, and also we are trying to get as many community groups in so that as many people as possible can benefit from our wonderful facilities. Some important news for parents: we had our Ofsted visit and I am delighted to report that our inspector was very pleased with what he saw. He reported to the Department for Education that he feels we are ready to open!! That is great news, we have completed all the legal activities prior to opening and can absolutely focus now on all the ‘nitty gritty’ aspects of making sure we are completely ready. The building is looking fantastic, with many more furniture deliveries having taken place since parents of our pioneering cohort visited. Last week we also invited into school those people who are considering places for 2020 – it seems amazing to think we are planning for those students, our second year group, when we haven’t even opened yet! On a visit last week to one of our feeder primary schools, I met with a group of three students Jamey, Joshua and Josh, who are joining us in September. I gave them the chance to interview me, I said they could ask any question they wanted and that I would use their questions in my weekly blog. So here goes: 1. How big is the football pitch? We have space on the field for 2 full sized and 1 junior sized football pitches! Our field is BIG! 2. Is the food going to be nice at school? Yes – I spent a long time choosing the right people to provide our food as I always have school dinners 3. Did the food taste delicious at open evening? Absolutely did! Sodexo did a fantastic job of showcasing their food 4. Who is your favourite football team? I’m not a huge fan of any one team, I do love watching good sport though, so I enjoy watching England when they play. If pushed I would say Norwich as that is my dad and brother’s team (but I don’t know anything about them really!) 5. Is Miss Cockwell (Headteacher at Oliver Tomkins school) your best friend? No, but I have built a really fantastic working relationship with her, as I have tried to do with all the other primary Headteachers, especially those who work in Church of England primary schools 6. Have you been a Headteacher before? No, but I have had some experience of being in charge when the Headteachers I have worked with in previous schools have been away from school. I also have been trained by some exceptional leaders who have given me a great insight into what it is like to be a Headteacher 7. What teams will we have? I want us to have all the traditional sports teams and more – I hope we can have a table tennis team, a badminton team, a chess team and a debating team as well as football, netball, hockey etc. 8. What is the stage like? The stage is amazing – it has a sprung floor, but you’ll notice it is not a raised stage, that is because the audience is raised 9. Have you got a trampoline? Yes! 10. Are your favourite colours grey and purple? Yes – actually I do like them and pink. I chose them for the logo and uniform because I think they look really smart and actually purple is a royal colour, so gives you an idea of the importance of what we are trying to do with our very smart uniform 11. Do you have your Alive model with you? Yes – always! 12. What car do you have? I love cars. I drive a Golf GTD at the moment, but lots of people in Swindon may remember my first real love – my yellow MG Midget that always used to be parked outside the front of St Joseph’s when I worked there. I love sports cars and I have owned 4 MG cars so far, I hope to get another one in the future! 13. Are we going to fill the school a year group at a time? Yes 14. Is sixth form boring? No, absolutely not, I loved being in the sixth form at my school and cannot wait until we have sixth form students at the Deanery! 15. How do SATs affect you in secondary school? Good question to end on! SATs will be used to give us an indication of your strengths and the areas where you may need some support. We will also do our own investigating to discover more about your ability, so SATs are not the only thing we will use to help us help you flourish. We just hope that you were able to do your best in your SATs and continue to try your hardest when you join us in September. Thanks for the great set of questions! Finally, I wanted to just finish with some news about an event that happened last Saturday. Our Deanery (our local group of churches) organised a prayer day in the school, to “pray the building in”. I was overwhelmed by the response – we had over 60 people come, both laity and clergy. I am so grateful to Revered Clive Deverell (our area Dean), Reverend Teresa Townsend (one of our Local Board of Governors) and Reverend Norma McKemey for all their organisation of the event and I am so grateful of the prayers of all – not just those who came to the event, but also I know that hundreds of people are praying for us. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.Read More

This is it!!!

Posted on: 01/07/2019

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!