It’s October!

I was speaking to our Year 11 students this morning following a great assembly on Debating. More about that later. As I was speaking to them it suddenly dawned on me that we had said goodbye to September and were almost a week into the month of October. Why is that important? It’s because the past 5 weeks have flown by and it was a timely reminder that the year will too and they need to be utilising their time in lessons and at home to maximum effect. I could see them doing the math and, when I met some of them afterwards, they got the importance of the message……. thankfully.

Mr. McAteer has been doing assemblies all week alongside Ms. Morgan and two of our Literacy champions. I love assemblies and the messages we try to convey to our students through that forum. Ms. Morgan and the boys spoke about the Readathon charity and their desire to raise money for children’s books for use in hospitals. I am always filled with pride when I see our students being selfless and wanting to do great things for others. The qualities of our Beckfoot Upper Heaton learner were evident in abundance this week and I love it!

Mr McAteer talked about Debating and the power of that in developing outstanding young people who are resilient, tolerant, respectful, confident and aspirational. He spoke about the skill involved in researching a topic and creating an argument around that to persuade an audience that they are right. In a slightly staged manner Ms Armitage and I debated about the future of Single Use Plastics. I felt I was the winner but that was only in my head or so I am told. She was far more persuasive! Regardless, the skill needed to Debate well is a skill that many employers look for and we are determined to create as many opportunities as possible for our students to be exposed to this in the future. It all begins tomorrow with a whole school debate and the start of this year’s debate club. Brilliant.

Our staff have been busy investing in themselves and the craft of teaching over recent weeks. Indeed, over 30% of staff have been on Beckfoot Trust residential courses to learn about teaching and learning but also to work alongside Trust colleagues to learn from one another. This type of collaboration is exciting and, ultimately, the beneficiaries will be our students. I am thrilled that our staff here are so determined to become better every day and to always put students first in their work. Special.

Our careers strategy has begun in earnest over the past week too. Under the leadership of Ms Lowther and Ms Armitage we are seeking to bring careers and future aspirations of young people to the fore of our work. We have a very strategic plan to allow all our students from Years 7 to 11 access to a high quality careers information advice and guidance programme. We want to ring them into contact with employers and organisations who can support their dreams. We want students to better understand the links between attendance, attitude to learning and exam success on their future. It’s very brave and exciting work.

Last week Year 10 and 11 had a launch with Vicky Garner from the Local Enterprise Network focusing on career planning and the labour market. That was quickly followed by a presentation from Building my skills - ESH Construction - Rebecca Shaw that was launching a project that will see Year 10 have 5 contact points throughout the year with this company culminating with a 1 to 1 Interview with a professional outside of school. A really exciting project which focuses on employability skills. This week we have yet another company, Futures First, working with Year 9. The company is based in London but work with local volunteers from the business world to hopefully inspire students, contextualize their learning and ultimately realize their potential.

Lastly, our Open evening was a huge success. We had over 400 visitors, a record for our school, despite the torrential rain. The school was alive and buzzing with activity in every area from Science to PE and Humanities to English, Maths and IT. We had lots of current students working with staff to add a vibrancy to proceedings and I was hugely proud of their work and the comments from visitors about them. As always, I enjoyed telling prospective parents and students about our journey and just how special 2018 has been for our school. It was an amazing night and a real collective approach from everyone within our school community. I am excited for our future!

Thanks for reading.
Simon

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