Executive Headteacher's Report

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  • Executive Headteacher's Report

Introduction

I am consistently having the conversation around the organisation about… ‘wow, where did that half term go’! Polo shirts are now mostly covered by jumpers and sweatshirts, the leaves on the trees are changing colour daily and the evenings rapidly closing in. I think this can be a special time of year in schools with warm, nurturing classrooms providing a physical and emotional sanctuary and the excitement for the children of building up to celebrations such as Halloween, Gunpowder Night and Christmas.

The pupils have been completely positive about the developments on the Monks Orchard site. The new building for Chaffinch Brook Upper has been received enthusiastically by children and adults and immediately felt like school. The astroturf play area has been a massive success and is used throughout the day for lessons as well as breaktimes. The children are also enjoying the outdoor table tennis table purchased through the Jack Petchey Foundation.

A lot of my time is currently taken up with the finishing touches for the Beckmead College building and supporting the planning that is underway for College budgeting, staffing, timetabling and curriculum. It is anticipated that the building will be handed over following snagging midway through next month. The quality and size of the resource the college will offer strikes me every time I enter the site. The College is an imposing building occupying a dominant position and since the protective hoarding around it has come down it has excited many positive comments from pupils, families, staff and members of the local community.

The investments of time and capital in graduate
development programmes and teacher training are
benefitting the school at every level

The other College campus – Alverston Gardens which houses the CLT – has successfully accommodated a significant increase in pupil numbers this year. The provision has created a culture where all members of its community share a respect and focus on learning and improvement. Many of the children who attend Alverston Gardens have exceptionally complex circumstances surrounding them but manage to leave their difficulties at the gate and treat Alverston as a safe haven where they come to learn. Andre and his team are to be congratulated for facilitating an exceptional provision.

All the provisions across the school with the exception of Rainbow have opened full and most are now taking over number to provide the income to balance this year’s budget. The balance between income, admissions and quality of provision is delicate alongside the context that we are now a very big special school indeed working with a lot of youngsters who have extremely complex needs – 85 of our pupils last year received pupil premium funding.

The most contested arena Beckmead is operating within is the Bramley Bank (formerly Student Inclusion Gateway). As we have stated throughout, careful monitoring of this provision through the year will be maintained. The proposed funding changes to the Alternative Provision budget continues to pose a threat to the work of this part of the organisation.

Our children are delightful and continue to flourish

A draft Academy application has been written and will go forward when the appropriate stakeholders have contributed. The opportunities to partner now and in the future need to be evaluated and decided upon to complete the application and a meeting with the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) to discuss this is imminent. There has been an initial indication from the RSC that he is very much in favour of a South London MAT working with youngsters identified with the needs commensurate with the children at Beckmead.

The investments of time and capital in graduate development programmes and teacher training are benefitting the school at every level and it delights me to see so many outstanding colleagues develop personally and professionally through the schemes we administer and support. The strength in depth of the staff is encouraging when considering the opportunities for growth and partnership that will be presented in the short and medium term.

Our children are delightful and continue to flourish. We do of course have challenges and upsets which fit the impairments carried by our pupils however behavioural issues are invariably needs driven and seldom chosen. Within a day I can be part of a relaxation / massage session for five year olds followed by witnessing a lively debate on democracy and Parliament with 16 year olds in the CLT. It remains a privilege and excitement to lead such a diverse yet cohesive organisation defined by its values.

With thanks as ever for your time and support.
Dr Jonty Clark OBE, Executive Head Teacher, October 2016

Chaffinch Brook Lower

Attendance is 96.3% with 36 on roll.
(18 on roll at Chaffinch Brook Upper, combined attendance 94.46%)

Autumn term 1 at Chaffinch Brook site has started well with 11 new pupils gradually becoming used to the school systems and responding positively. There have been some issues with arranging transport for these pupils and we still have 3 pending, whose transport has been authorised but not yet arranged. This does cause issues as parents have to walk and catch buses during a busy time, which is not an ideal start to the school day for children who find it difficult to be in crowded places.

At Chaffinch Brook we have had 4 members of staff from Bramley Bank join our team and 2 'brand new' staff. The team is working together well and daily debriefs contribute to building good teamwork. The change of Assistant Head has gone smoothly considering how central this role is to the daily organisation of the school. Various teachers who are on the Upper Pay Scales are taking responsibility for main areas such as Curriculum, Assessment and Outreach.

Training has focussed on ensuring that behavioural systems are in place and that all staff know expectations particularly in terms of de-escalation and keeping self-regulation at the forefront of our practice. We are also working hard on improving playground games and have had a fun staff session after school, where we practised playground games to improve staff confidence on leading games to keep children ‘busy’ and engaged during less structured times. This seems to have impacted on our number of incidents this term, and we have fewer and less intense incidents than at this time last year.

This week we are focussing on Black History and will be carrying out daily activities related to this topic. The school council is working on planning and assembly and activities to raise money for Children in Need. Swimming and music lessons are part of our enrichment curriculum, with trampolining due to start next half term.

Another round of good lesson observations have taken place and performance management meetings are taking place this week. Outreach visits have started with 4 schools requesting urgent support this half term.

We have worked hard to try to recruit to the Speech and Language Therapy post but have been unsuccessful and are now looking at an agency to try to recruit as quickly as possible.

Chaffinch Brook Upper

No. pupils: 18
Attendance: 91.6%
No external exclusions

After a speedy build and a big collective effort in the holidays, including a group of staff performing the ‘Titchmarsh shuffle’ in order to lay turf around the new building, the three classes for Chaffinch Brook Upper pupils opened on time. It has proved to be a really positive start to the year with our pupils managing the transition to a different site, classrooms, staff teams and routines surprisingly well. The time spent last year on transition visits, having a familiar member of staff moving up with each class and the collective knowledge of structures that work for our pupils have helped contribute to this success.

The current timetable has been put together to allow our pupils to gradually engage with a secondary style of teaching, with specialist staff going to their classrooms to teach maths, Science and Art. Only in Yr9 do the pupils move to a different classroom, alongside a different specialist teacher. This, combined with moving from 6 to 7 lessons in a day has presented as a big change for our pupils that they have coped with really well.

One of the most significantly positive aspects of this first half term has been the big reduction in the number of incidents requiring staff to use physical intervention with children who have previously needed this strategy. Whilst acknowledging that all of our pupils will find change and learning as part of a group difficult, the boys have been more easily able to apply strategies, such as walking to the group room rather than lashing out. Over the next year I hope to see the boys start to apply similar strategies in unstructured times as well.

Our offsite curriculum includes the allotment, swimming and the gym. These activities provide a good vehicle for the development of our pupil’s social communication and social interaction skills in a real life setting. At the allotment we are moving from our old plot to a newer one, with its own greenhouse which should help us to grow better tomatoes next year!

Over the next half term I really want to focus on improving our school attendance, the current overall figure is too low although it has been heavily affected by one particular pupil in Yr9 who has a significant number of on-going issues. The Yr7 class have had a 100% attendance record with the Yr8`s not too far behind. So far one of the strategies we have tried is focused assemblies and linking the school rewards system to attendance so that we reward and promote good attendance.

I feel pleased with how far we have travelled in a relatively short time, ‘still feels like Chaffinch but grown up’ was how one visiting teacher described us. This is down to the hard work and consistent approaches that happen in the differing class teams.

Beckmead Lower School

Attendance is 90.91%

This has been a very good start to the new academic year. The first two weeks were very settled, with only a handful of recorded incidents (from 3 pupils). The past 2 weeks have been a little more challenging, with the pupils beginning to explore the new relationships they have in the class groups; however even then compared to the start of the last academic year, it remains to be a very good start in comparison. We currently have 35 pupils in Lower School and are waiting for the arrival of another year 4 pupil. There have been several referrals for places that we are currently assessing to see if we can meet the needs of these pupils.

Curriculum
The curriculum remains engaging, with the pupils all accessing their learning and appearing to enjoy themselves. The Science lessons have begun very well with the pupils expressing that they like the fact that they are doing more experiments. The teachers are working very cohesively to provide support for one another with the delivery of the subjects. We have had several meetings to further support the staff with their teaching and the pupils learning. With the new addition of the all weather astro turf, P.E lessons have been transformed (also due to the good weather), as the pupils have been able to access their lessons outdoors. Once again this appears to have brought much joy to the pupils.

Special Events
We have already begun supporting charities this academic year by participating in Jeans for Genes and raising money to support their cause. This month is Black History Month, our Humanities subject leader has put together a fun packed timetable which includes an offsite trip to Brixton market after learning about the history of Brixton. During this trip the pupils will have the opportunity to see food from all around the world (especially Africa and the Carribean) and maybe even taste a few.

We are also currently planning our Christmas festivities with hopefully a pantomime production team coming into school and performing Jack and the Beanstalk…So we look forward to that as well as many other fun activities.

Beckmead Lower School

Attendance is 90.91%

This has been a very good start to the new academic year. The first two weeks were very settled, with only a handful of recorded incidents (from 3 pupils). The past 2 weeks have been a little more challenging, with the pupils beginning to explore the new relationships they have in the class groups; however even then compared to the start of the last academic year, it remains to be a very good start in comparison. We currently have 35 pupils in Lower School and are waiting for the arrival of another year 4 pupil. There have been several referrals for places that we are currently assessing to see if we can meet the needs of these pupils.

Curriculum
The curriculum remains engaging, with the pupils all accessing their learning and appearing to enjoy themselves. The Science lessons have begun very well with the pupils expressing that they like the fact that they are doing more experiments. The teachers are working very cohesively to provide support for one another with the delivery of the subjects. We have had several meetings to further support the staff with their teaching and the pupils learning. With the new addition of the all weather astro turf, P.E lessons have been transformed (also due to the good weather), as the pupils have been able to access their lessons outdoors. Once again this appears to have brought much joy to the pupils.

Special Events
We have already begun supporting charities this academic year by participating in Jeans for Genes and raising money to support their cause. This month is Black History Month, our Humanities subject leader has put together a fun packed timetable which includes an offsite trip to Brixton market after learning about the history of Brixton. During this trip the pupils will have the opportunity to see food from all around the world (especially Africa and the Carribean) and maybe even taste a few.

We are also currently planning our Christmas festivities with hopefully a pantomime production team coming into school and performing Jack and the Beanstalk…So we look forward to that as well as many other fun activities.

Beckmead Upper School

The overall attendance is 85.37%

There have been a few challenges regarding attendance at Beckmead School, three year 9 pupils have low attendance due to a bereavement, no pupil transport in place and a year 10 pupil whose attendance is starting to decline. We have two pupils (year 10 and 11) who are currently in Secure Training Centres.

The current year 10 and 11 pupils are attending Croydon Auto Bike Scheme (CABS), SILC construction and Sporting Chances, which has been a major success; all the pupils have been attending showing progress at their selected off-site provisions. We will be using these provisions until the end of the autumn term, we will be using sporting chances for the rest of academic year due to the major successes of the pupils who are developing their leadership skills by taking the lead in sports classes, supporting others and creating lessons.

We have had a positive start to behaviour this term during the first three weeks in years 10 and 11, however the year 9 classes have been very challenging over the last few weeks, there has been two fixed term exclusions for assault on staff.

We have implemented a new rewards system in the upper school where the pupils can achieve long, medium and short term rewards throughout the term. Pupils will be collecting the points for behaviour, attainment and bonus points for outstanding efforts.

The pupils have been very successful in the Special football league winning their first round of fixtures. A year 10 pupil has been selected out 1000 young people to attend a Jack Petchey residential trip and is currently raising money for 60 hours of community work.

The new Astro turf and outdoor table tennis has been a great success this has improved the number of pupils playing outside at break and lunchtimes, they have also been used as an intervention to manage pupil’s behaviour. The new art room and science labs have also been a success enabling pupils to access B-Tec and GCSE accreditation.

Community Learning Team

Number on roll: 18 Attendance: 72.2%

It has been quite a pacey start to the new academic year for the Community Learning Team (CLT). There has been a great sense of growth in terms of our staffing, curriculum offer and expected pupil numbers. The growth in staffing has been matched by the number of new pupil admissions although we are yet to reach full student capacity.

With the successful appointment of a full time and highly experienced Art teacher, we are now able to offer two accredited qualifications in the subject: The Arts Award and the Art GCSE. Our Citizenship course (Personal and Social Development) is delivered by another newly appointed teacher and will be accredited by ASDAN. We are pleased to add that our Independent Living Skills course (Food Tech) is now going to be accredited at BTEC level as part of the Jamie Oliver Home Cooking Skills programme. This is currently being delivered by a newly appointed member of staff (agency) who has kindly offered to lead the course and has detailed previous experience delivering the subject.

In consideration of the changes within our expanding provision the CLT has maintained a good sense of cohesion. Subject leads and support staff working in specific curriculum areas have quickly forged positive and effective working relationships, which has transcended into a positive and purposeful atmosphere across the campus. Many of the newer staff initially commented on an embedded sense of solidarity and shared ethos emanated amongst the staff team. Although well received, this feedback also acted as positive reinforcement regarding our positive team building in spite of the many changes.

Between July and September 2016 we have welcomed a total of 10 new boys. Eight of these pupils are statemented as having additional needs and referred via local SEND, the remaining two pupils have joined through referrals from Croydon Fair Access Panel (FAP). We are anticipating up to 10 additional pupils from FAP and a further four statemented pupils.

Behaviour has remained good with no incidents or exclusions. Although with the concentration of new pupils and those with quite specific additional needs we have seen an increase in the number of pupils presenting more challenging issues. This mainly relates to a small cohort of highly disaffected pupils who are consistently reluctant to engage in learning, partly as a result of historic difficulties with their schooling. Many of our current cohort also exhibit quite explicit difficulties around literacy. The literacy coordinator has overseen the implementation of a range of interventions aimed at developing pupils’ confidence in literacy and bridging gaps in subject knowledge.

Pupil attendance remains one of our greatest challenges with a number of pupils presenting historical issues regarding persistent absenteeism. This is in addition to some inconsistent attenders amongst our general cohort of pupils. We are pleased to report that we will soon receive targeted support with pupil attendance from a designated EWO working in partnership with alternative provisions across the borough through Croydon’s Commissioning Service. We are hopeful that this will have a positive impact on overall attendance.

Bramley Bank

Number on roll: 18 Attendance: 72.2%

It has been a good start for the Bramley Bank; the team are slowly adjusting to the new ways of working and have embraced a solution focused approach to supporting our pupils so they are able to be successful in mainstream school.

Bramley Bank currently has 19 pupils on roll, 13 pupils who are attending full time gateway classes and 4 attending part time intervention groups. The remaining 3 pupils are currently attending mainstream school fulltime and are dual registered for a fixed term period until the reintegration has been finalised. An additional 2 students are scheduled to begin their mainstream full time placement after the half term, with 3 pupils starting the phased transition. 7 of our students have Education Health and Care Plans, 3 of whom are awaiting specialist placements from SEN. Continued close links with SEN has meant that all three pupils are currently being considered by special school placements and should be placed relatively quickly.

Attendance at Bramley Bank is currently 75.17%, attendance had been greatly affected by delays in transport being implemented for pupils expected to return to Bramley Bank as well as one pupil having a delayed start to their mainstream school. This has meant that pupil who normally would have had 100% attendance, have been marked as absent due to parents not being able to bring them into school.

Our pupils are busy enjoying topic based celebration for Black History Week, with Gateway 1 taking a trip along the Underground Railroad and Gateway 2 focusing on key historical figures in the civil rights movement. Black History week has facilitated lots of nurture table conversations on equality and respect; demonstrating how the SMSC curriculum is integrated into our everyday practice.

The Behaviour Support Team currently has 25 open referrals for students experiencing challenges in their social, emotional and mental health at mainstream school. Link School Visits will begin next half term with potentially 16 schools in the borough receiving half-termly visits from a BST Worker to support school strategic approach to behaviour.

Report contributions from:
Dr Jonty Clark OBE, Judith Azzopardi, Andy Millard, Andre Genas, Deenisha James, Anna Mansaray, Dean Monfries, and Michael Nelson