Reflection on Spring Term
As we approach the end of quite a short term, I wanted to write to you to spend a moment to reflect on the term’s activities, to draw upon your support again for the work that remains this year and to tell you about the arrangements for the end of term.
Even in such a short term, our students have found time to visit New York, Iceland and Granada (in Spain, not Manchester!) on curriculum related trips. We have also had trips closer to home, including Chester Zoo, The Lake District National Park, and Smithills. The rehearsals for our production of "Oliver!" are going very well and I know the students are really looking forward to the actual performances next term. Our Samba band so impressed the Mayor that he asked them to perform at the opening of Comic Relief’s ‘Red Nose Day’ endeavours with him, in Bolton. Our own students’ charitable fundraising efforts go from strength to strength. Just last week our Science strand generated great interest during STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) week asking us all, "What was the best invention ever?" with Science Senate students leading assemblies all week, culminating in Friday’s partial eclipse. All of that on top of the great work going on each day to secure the best possible learning, progress and outcomes for our students. So what is the end product of this ‘great work’? It is worthwhile taking a look at the school ‘league tables’ published recently. In brief, the progress of students at the Academy ranked third of seventeen state secondary schools in Bolton and OFSTED describe this as ‘significantly higher than the national’ figure. In fact, Essa students achieved almost a third of a grade higher than similar students nationally in all of their subjects. And of the seventeen secondary schools, only one school ensured that every one of their most able students left with the benchmark qualifications; that one school, of course, was Essa Academy. The students from the class of 2014 joined us for a celebration evening just last week. We should all be proud of those achievements; we know that it is our acting together to support our students that produces these outcomes; thank you.
So that brings me to the work ahead and the ‘business end’ of the year. The news has been full of stories of ever more rigorous GCSEs. This year, and for some years to come, we expect GCSEs to be harder and for grade thresholds to be raised. What I cannot accept is that this means our students should be disadvantaged. We have a mission at the Academy, that ‘All Will Succeed’. If we have to work harder, longer and smarter to achieve that, then we will.
On Friday of this week, students will leave at the normal time. E5 finishes at 12:35pm and students will be free to eat with us in the restaurant or leave for home. We expect that all students will leave the Academy by 1:20pm. I hope you have a restful and enjoyable holiday. We return refreshed from the break on Monday 13th April, when students should arrive by 8:20am in order to be in thier first session by the start tiime of 8:30am.
Thank you, as always, for your support.
Students Celebrate Examination Success
Students had an anxious time waiting for their GCSE results, which were published on Thursday 21st August. Their final written examinations were taken in June, so two whole months had elapsed, as they wondered what rewards their labours had brought. And behind the scenes, the academy (and all schools) waited just as anxiously to see not only the fruits of their students' labours and the work of all staff here, but also to see what would be the impact of changes in the way GCSEs were assessed. We had been warned that individual schools and academies would see a volatile set of results this year that might
differ significantly from previous years, because of these changes.
I cannot help but bring my thoughts back to our students' anxieties, their efforts and their futures.
This year group was to be placed under a different assessment regime that made comparison with other year groups impossible. But my determination was to ensure that their efforts did not count for less. And so the results were published; that Thursday brought many smiles to so many faces. Futures had been secured as per students' plans and progress was particularly good, especially in the core subjects of English and mathematics. As for the main threshold of 5 or more GCSEs at the higher grades (A*-C, including English and mathematics), this figure remained stable at 54% this year (55% last year). It means that the Academy has secured for a fourth successive year results around the mid-50s, where previously these had stood around the mid-20s. But with a mission to ensure that 'All Will Succeed', we continue to drive our efforts and determination for next year.
But for now, let us offer our congratulations to our departing students and our thanks to them, their parents and our staff for the commitment they have shown in helping us move towards that mission. And let us wish them, too, the very best for their now brighter futures.
As I write this message, I am reminded of the same time last year when I put together some similar words and similar sentiments. That final letter of the academic year was one of celebration and an opportunity to offer thanks.
In fact, we had so much to celebrate and share that my letter ran to two pages. Not my usual style at all! So, here is my predicament: if I begin to think about all we have done, enjoyed and achieved together just in this last term, my letter will run to three pages. You will be pleased to know that I am not going to do that. Instead, I shall turn straight to thanks.
Your children, our students, have been magnificent. Whatever the year has held for them, they have demonstrated determination, resilience and increasing maturity. They end the year as stronger, brighter, more accomplished youngsters. Their approaches to study, willingness to participate in the full life of the Academy and generosity in contributing back to community life here have made us all stronger, more confident and optimistic. Last week, we appointed our head and deputy head boys and girls. I say appointed, because they have been through a rigorous selection process. As rigorous as the one we use when we appoint our staff. But, as I said to them at the end of the week: we call it a selection process and we talk about making choices, but in truth, they selected themselves by merely being the people they are and have been in their first four years with us. They have stood out. But all of our students stand out, every day. I know that because I see it and I know that because others tell me so. My greatest thanks go to each and every individual student.
In schools, we often talk about the partnership between school and home. Schools have done that for years. For generations. So, it is important to me that we actually do things that make this partnership real. It is our common purpose, to ensure that 'All Will Succeed'; this we will secure, together. Last Friday was our final Academic Review Day of the year. The atmosphere was, as always, very positive. We know how lucky we are to enjoy the high degree of support we receive from families and so to all of our families, please accept my thanks.
To complete that formidable partnership, I would like to say thank you to our exceptional staff. Hard work always brings benefits and there are hard working staff in every school. I, though, have never met a workforce so passionate and determined about what they do; so committed to making very real improvements to our students' life chances; so single minded in their belief in the success of every single student in our care.
I am sure, then, that we are ready for a break. Our final day arrangements mean that students will be dismissed in groups from around 12:15pm, with that dismissal complete by around 12:30pm. Any student wishing to take a meal may do so before they leave, but must eat in the restaurant. Otherwise, students will be free to leave for their much deserved Summer break.
So, we can look forward to September with renewed vigour, refreshed minds and refocused efforts. Term begins for students on Wednesday 3rd September. All students should arrive by 8:20am and will go into their pod groups by 8:30am
Many thanks again for your support during this last year. Best wishes for the Summer holiday and for those of you celebrating Eid, I hope those celebrations go well, too.
Principal Jeff Ellis pictured with Head Boy Huzaifa Moosa, Head Girl Sana Ismail and their mums.
Exciting Times Ahead
Many parents will know that in September Essa Primary School will open. Plans are currently being drawn up to spend millions of pounds refurbishing an existing building on the old school site, however, in the meantime, the school will open in the building near the Lever Edge Lane entrance to the Academy. It has created a lot of excitement for us all. Not least because this takes us into a new phase of the Academy's life.
The Academy's sponsors wish to help support other children to receive the best education possible and to this end have now formed a Multi-Academy Trust, meaning that this can become a reality. This creates so many opportunities for joint working and will provide parents in this community with an education for their hildren from the age of 4 to 16. The commitment from sponsors and governors remains strong and focused. At the Academy, we remain committed to working with parents to ensure that 'All Will Succeed'.
The letter at the end of this article gives parents and others visiting this website an opportunity to find out more about this development and how to make enquiries and representations.
There has been a definite theme for the Academy in this early part of the calendar year; 'Good' might be our 'word of the term'! I have said my thanks for that OFSTED judgement to all concerned and made clear that 'Good' isn't good enough. On that, there is little left to be said and some work to be done. In my assemblies in the week before half term, I spoke to students and staff about 'Being good' and 'Doing good'. I know that, together, we are worth more than the sum of our individual parts. So our charity day on Friday 14th February was an opportunity to show this togetherness in action. It truly was a fabulous day. Our efforts were focused on two charitable endeavours that day. Cans of soup galore were brought in by students caring for the homeless and monies were raised through the efforts of the World Challenge team to help support their expedition to Morocco next year. I see our students 'being good'and 'doing good' every day. When we all do that together, with the focused efforts we saw on that day, we are better than good: we are outstanding!
Inspection of Essa Academy by Ofsted
Please click on attachment below to download the Essa Academy OFSTED report.
In January we received a visit by OFSTED inspectors. We are now able to publish their final findings and report.
In summary I can tell you that they say that Essa Academy is a ‘Good’ school. Please take time to read the report. There are some things that I would like to say about the inspection: the team was led by one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI) and not all inspections are fortunate enough to have such high level focus. In my view, their inspection was extremely thorough and their judgements were fair.
Here are just some of the things inspectors say in their report:
- “Students achieve well”
- “the quality of teaching is good”
- “students form a calm and orderly community”
- “The large majority of lessons observed were good and some were outstanding”
“Inspectors saw consistently positive attitudes and good behaviour in lessons”
“Students behave well outside lessons"
The proportion of schools judged as ‘Good’ or better has declined dramatically since last September. In this respect we can be pleased. However, as I said to HMI, even ‘Good’ isn’t good enough. Our children can be rightly proud that they attend a good school, but I want them to be able to say that they attend an outstanding school. I am sure that we all share that ambition. This we will achieve together. It is this work ‘together’ that has helped us to achieve what we have, to date. So I would like to take a moment to say some thanks:
thank you first of all to our students. OFSTED isn’t about putting on a performance. Inspectors talked enthusiastically of the strong, positive and productive relationships in the Academy. These provide the backdrop for an outstanding learning environment. It is not something that can be switched on for two days. It exists because our students are exceptional every day.
thanks next must go to our parents. Since the opening of the Academy in 2009, I have found parents to be nothing short of remarkably supportive. This provides the backdrop for an outstandingly focused and determined ethos. Our students come ready for their business of learning each day because our parents prepare them properly for it.
our sponsors and governors have offered us support and challenge in equal measure. We need this and really appreciate their time, expertise, drive and ambition. Although they are extremely modest, what they have created here should be properly appreciated and recognised.
final thanks go to staff at the Academy. ALL staff. This, I believe, is critical. Relationships between students and staff at the Academy are a real strength. Some people might think us strange that we talk about “learning” with our cleaners and catering staff. Indeed, those staff might think that from time to time. But every adult here at the Academy is certain of our mission “All Will Succeed” and understands their part in making this happen. Their determination to realise this ambition is second to none; I believe we have a workforce second to none.
And to all, therefore, may I add my congratulations.
When inspectors talk about our ‘self evaluation’, they say that we know ourselves well. For me, this is really important. You can have confidence that we know our strengths and we know the areas in which we need to improve. We have a proven track record of securing these improvements quickly and, you know, we will continue to work tirelessly to this end. We have, after all, the most important job in the world - one that cannot be underestimated: the futures of our children.
2013 GCSE Results
CONGRATULATIONS to all of our students!
55% of students achieved 5 A*-C including English & Maths.
98% of students achieved 5 A*-C.
EBacc - 23%