Apr
20

A warm welcome back

I’d like to take the opportunity to welcome everyone back after the Easter break. I am well aware that there were many staff and Year 11 students on site taking part in a variety of revision sessions, so I do use the term “break” rather loosely on this occasion.  It has been a pleasure to drop into numerous lessons this week and I have been impressed with the positive return that everyone has made.

The first good weather of the term saw the Academy gardeners back at work. This season, for the first time, students are taking ownership of some of the growing beds. They will design, plant and care for them and they will be judged by the Garden party guests on the 12th July. We are really pleased that Miss Fogarty and Mrs Howlett are also putting their gardening skills into action with 2 new gardening teams. As tradition dictates, I am already looking forward to sampling the fine potatoes that will be harvested at the party. It’s encouraging to see so many students involved in a sustainable activity of this nature.  I am well aware of the hard work that goes into preparing and caring for our own produce, so I would also like to thank Mrs Holdich for her hard work and tireless efforts at the helm of our impressive garden. The eco-friendly blue lawn line marking the garden boundary is working well and is a new addition to our outside facilities this year. Plants will soon be on sale as usual to raise funds for future garden equipment, seeds and plants.

For those wishing to be prepared, Tuesday 26 June is the date for our 4th annual Academy Race for Life to raise awareness & funds for cancer research. Information assemblies over the next few weeks will give details of how to get involved and /or support this 5 km event.  This has been a great success in previous years and I look forward to even more participants this summer.

In addition, this Sunday in March our Academy Arts Ambassadors from Year 9 will be involved in the town’s St George’s Day celebrations. I have had the pleasure of observing some excellent delivery of the performance poetry that will be delivered by these students at the event.  I experienced a very high level of delivery that included exploration of the concepts of friendship, parents and even a sense of loss.  I am confident that anyone who attends the celebrations in town over the weekend will have a thoroughly enjoyable time.  I would like to thank Mrs Liversedge for preparing our Arts Ambassadors so well, it was a delight to see them rehearsing today.  Well done to everyone involved and enjoy your weekend.

Mar
23

The immortal jellyfish

It has been an absolute pleasure to see hundreds of lessons at the Academy this week. I have been thoroughly impressed with both the quality of teaching and positive attitudes towards learning. Alongside the traditional routes to learning I have seen numerous examples of memorable activities designed to promote deeper learning. Activities involving “Forces on Flumps”, “The Jaffa Cake Challenge” and “The Immortal Jellyfish” have all been designed to stimulate interest whilst probing the deep and high order thinking skills of our Solo Taxonomy. Additionally, they are fun and provide a context to the main learning focus being delivered. I have enjoyed seeing a wide variety of learning experiences and I am confident that these will continue to grow and enthuse our students.

 

Over the past couple of weeks several of our Year 11 students have participated in the Physics Olympiad. Current standings show two students attaining a bronze medal with all other students holding commendations. Further details to follow as final standings are announced next week. It is excellent to see so many students immersed in this field of study. Well done.

 

Finally, Year 9 students of the Academy shone in every direction last night during their workshop performance of Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers. An audience of over 100 witnessed the young actors rehearse, warm-up, perform extracts and dazzle them with their knowledge in a Master-class-style question and answer session. Supported by Year 10 and 11 actors, the students answered questions on themes, rehearsal strategies, characterisation decisions and the subtlety of their staging choices. Members of the public commented on the “maturity and professionalism” of the young actors and left the performance space declaring “There is real talent in Neale-Wade’s Performing Arts Department”. Well done to everyone involved and thank you to the Performing Arts department for organising the evening. There will be another performance next Thursday evening from our Year 12 students for anyone wishing to attend.

 

Mar
16

Challenge, success and integrity

This week I have, once again, been hugely impressed with the quality and number of opportunities offered to our students by staff at the Academy.

On Tuesday, five year 8 students attended the Decisive Developers Challenge at Mott MacDonald in Cambridge. The aim of the day was to provide students with the opportunity to experience what a career in the engineering sector would involve and to compete against other schools in various challenges. The students had to demonstrate effective problem solving and team working skills to design and build a prototype of a residential tower block that met the design brief. The students were given various challenges throughout the day and Neale Wade were leading on points going into the final challenge where they were very unlucky not to win. All five students displayed impressive team work and the representatives from Mott MacDonald commented on their excellent problem solving and communication skills. Well done to Jack Day, Demi Garner, Laura Hardy, Angus Murray and Honey Wright.

Worthy of a further mention from the end of last week are the year 7 girls who took on Reepham High School from Norwich in the 4th round of the National Cup. We had previously come up against them at the indoor 5-a-side regional finals and knew it was going to be a close game. In the first half we played with the wind against us which meant the defence had to work hard and follow through every clearance. After 20 minutes, Reepham took the lead after a fantastic save by Peggy Thurlby ended in an unfortunate rebound. 2 minutes later, Neale Wade were desperate to get back on level terms, Keira Swanson made a fantastic run and passed the ball down the line to Amy Hunt where a cross was delivered perfectly for Millie Jolley to attack and score. In the second half, Neale Wade worked as a team and individually performed to the best of their ability. With some fantastic defending from the team and important blocks from Lois Lane, we were able to gain more possession and create some dangerous attacks. Lois took a shot from the edge of the box which came off the post and went in off one of the opposition to make it 2-1 to Neale Wade. Shortly after Keira made the lead comfortable and scored to make it 3-1. As play continued, Millie Jolley continued to win loose balls and pass onto the runs of other players. The final goal was scored by Millie herself to make it finish 4-1. A fantastic team performance!! The girls are now thorough to the 5th round of the National Cup and the last 16 in the country.

 

Finally, I would like to thank the BBC for their support with students not just at the Academy this week, but nationwide with the BBC School Report opportunity. On Thursday, several of our younger students had the opportunity to experience life as a journalist for a day including an opportunity to be included on the Chris Mann programme on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire. I had the honour of being interviewed by the students concerning the recent tragic events in Florida, which was covered very professionally by our students. Most importantly I was able to discuss the concept of integrity and reporting “truth”. We all felt that modern media has a tendency, too often, to print what is factually correct but can be rather lacking in integrity.

 

Have a lovely weekend everyone and I look forward to continuing to work with you next week.

Mar
09

After the thaw

As the week draws to a close I have the privilege of being able to reflect upon the various highlights that have occurred. It was a pleasure to see so many parents at Year 7 parents’ evening and even more enjoyable to speak to those that managed to see me. The evening did run longer than expected and I’d like to thank staff for their efforts in making the evening a success. Important progress points were passed on and raise the likelihood of even greater performance as our Year 7s move up through the years of their time here.

 

Further success has been enjoyed in badminton where KS4 girls are County Badminton Champions for 2018. The girls’ team played 4 games against other district winners from all over the county, the girls won 3 games and lost one. This was enough to crown them overall winners. The girls will then play in the next round on the 20th of March in Thetford. The team was made up of Tegan, Millie, Georgia, Jess and Holly. Congratulations to everyone involved. I am also led to believe that there was similar success for KS4 boys in their competition, but results will follow next week.

 

Finally, the Year 7 girls’ football team won their latest fixture in the National Cup and are through to the last 16 of the competition. This is an exceptional performance from the team and I wish them all the best in the next round. The full team line up was Amy Hunt, Amy Hall, Peggy Thurlby, Lois Lane, Amy Smith, Chloe Smith, Millie Jolley, Kiera Swanson, Amber Britchford, Megan Spencer, Evie Whytock and Chloe Richardson. Special thanks go to the following pupils referring and running the line – Luke Cable, Megan Tombs and Libby Band. An excellent display from all involved highlighting not just sporting excellence, but leadership potential being developed via our PE department. The final score was Neale-Wade 4 Reepham school, Norwich 1. ( goals from Kiera Swanson 2, Millie Jolley 1, Lois Lane 1 ).

Mar
02

Taming the “Beast from the East”

Despite the “Beast from the East” trying to disrupt the nation, it was good to see that it was business as usual at the Academy. Although March itself did not experience widespread difficulties, I am well aware that some of our surrounding areas did and I would like to thank the whole Academy community for making a concerted effort to ensure that our educational provision was delivered, uninterrupted, for the whole week. The attitude adopted by both staff and students was “spot on” and I was pleased that we can move into next week with the poor weather behind us. Due to technical issues my blog was not posted last week, but I would like to provide you with some of the highlights below.

The Duke of Edinburgh Award for young people is a nationally recognised initiative that encourages participants to step out of their comfort zone, take risks and grow as individuals. From our most recent set of results I am proud to announce that 4 students have now completed their Bronze Award and their badge and certificate is available for presentation next week. The students receiving the award who are currently with us are Hannah Howes and Charlotte Pierce in Year 10. Also receiving the award are Holly Stimson and Ethan James who were with us in Year 11 last academic year. A massive congratulations to everyone involved. It truly is a huge achievement to obtain such a prestigious and nationally recognised award. If anyone is interested in joining the scheme then please see Reverend Cliffe or Miss Griffin.

In a similar fashion 21 Year 9 students have all been given the status of Arts Ambassadors. This will mean that they will be given training on how to use the lighting and sound equipment in the hall, allowing them to be able to help out with events that use this equipment. They will also be available to represent the Academy at local events for the Arts. It is great that we have so many students who are willing to promote the Arts in the Academy and the local community. I am sure we will have many more in the future too. I am pleased that so many of our students are willing to put themselves in a position where they are willing to contribute to the happiness and enjoyment of others. I look forward to hearing about your future exploits.

Finally, on Wednesday we held our annual Careers Fair which included representatives from over 30 local business and education providers. There was certainly a high level of engagement from Year 10 students during period 5 when I visited the event. I would like to thank all of the members of our local community who visited throughout the event, which ran well into the evening. I do appreciate the support that you show us and your children on a regular basis. It certainly makes a big difference to the lives of the young people involved and I am grateful for that.

This week, I have seen some fantastic learning taking place. The most memorable situation being a Year 9 business lesson where students were locating a local business. The reasoning that students provided me with was a testimony to the great understanding they had of the topic and the enthusiasm they generated was most infectious. Well done to all involved.

Feb
09

URockets

As this is the final week before half term, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Academy community for all their hard over the last few weeks.  Teaching in lessons has been sharp and productive, students have been positive and determined and our parents responsive and supportive.  Thank you all so much and I hope you all get to enjoy some well-deserved relaxation and/or family time over the break.

On Wednesday, we had 22 year 8 students taking part in our 3 day arts event this week. They were working on a project about the Internet with UROCK, a professional theatre group, who came in to help them create and develop this performance piece. The pupils were absolutely amazing, developing and demonstrating many life skills including team work, creativity, trust, leadership and communication skills. During the 3 days, the group of students used many different performance skills  that they had already learnt in school, like still images, musicality and  body language, but were also taught new skills like recording soundscapes to enhance their performance. The end piece was a real showcase of how many different artistic skills can be used in one creative piece and how working as a team can be both enjoyable and productive. Well done to all the students involved.

Also on Wednesday, Robin Mobbs visited the Academy to deliver an all-day Physics Master Class on behalf of the National Space Academy. The focus of the day was Astrophysics and, given that the Space X launch was only hours before, we had plenty to discuss. The day started with a session on the effects of space on an astronaut including what happens to substances under low pressure. Robin who has worked with astronauts from America, Europe and Russia was able to bring in materials that are used in space flight to give hands on demonstrations to students.  Later, students looked at forces and motion and were able to calculate the speed of objects in the solar system including the Space X launch. Students were able to make links from the formulae they complete in class to the calculations needed to launch a rocket.  Another highlight was looking at the efficiency of rocket fuel. This included the lighting of fuel within a confined space. Needless to say it startled a few students!  To finish the day, students built and tested rockets and it was encouraging to see the students engage in the challenges that the National Space Academy placed upon us.  It was great to have an expert work with potential rocket scientists of the future.

Finally, a huge thank you to staff who will be running over twenty revision and booster sessions for year 11 students over the half term week. It will be good to see large numbers of year 11 students in over the week catching up with work that may have been missed or boosting knowledge for revision purposes.  Additionally, the Neale-Wade Academy ski trip departs this evening.  I’d like to wish everyone taking part a safe journey and I look forward to hearing about the trip upon your return.

Feb
02

What being a Neale-Wade student is all about

For the first blog in February I would like to thank all staff and students for their hard work so far this term. January can be a tough month. Travelling to work/school in the dark and travelling home in the dark can lead to a general malaise in some, but I am glad to say that this has certainly not been the case at the Academy.  This week we have seen a hearty variety of events and initiatives to encourage students learning alongside their regular lessons.

 

Sporting success continues in football as the year 7 girls travelled to Carlton le Willows Academy near Nottingham in the 3rd round of the National Cup. The girls started well taking control of the game and had several chances on goal. Amy Hunt worked hard up front being a constant thorn in the side to the opposition. Eventually, our breakthrough came with a well taken goal by Kiera Swanson. The girls continued to press and were rewarded with a goal by Amy. The midfield worked well together limiting the chances created. At half time the score was 2-0 to Neale-Wade. The second half was a much tighter affair as Neale-Wade pushed for more goals, Carlton Le Willow pushed to get back into the game. The defence worked well with Amy Halls and Lois Lane keeping their attacking threat at bay. Amy Hunt scored another goal in the 2nd half making the game safe for the final 10 minutes.  It was an excellent team performance with every member of the squad playing their part.  The girls are now in the last 32 of the National Competition and continue to impress.

 

On Wednesday, 120 students from year 9 and 10 participated in the Intermediate Maths Challenge. This is a national competition that challenges the most able mathematicians across 25 searching questions.  Students who display exceptional performance and finish in the top 10% nationally will qualify for the next round.  I had the pleasure of talking to several students before they took part on Wednesday morning and I was encouraged by the air of confidence that permeated through the group who had been asked to gather in our atrium.  I am sure that everyone did their best and we await the results in the near future.  Well done to all involved.

 

On Thursday around 30 students from Years 8 and 10 attended a music workshop with professional musician, Connor Adams. The workshop provided students with the opportunity to compose their own musical item, taking students through exercises involving elements including chords and melodies.  Once the song writing task had been completed students then had the opportunity to perform their piece in front of their peers.  Although this was the first time that some had given a performance of this nature it was conducted admirably and was well received by their audience.  There are some very talented musicians at the Academy, as have been mentioned in previous blogs, and I look forward to many of the Year 8 students continuing to study music next year.  I’d like to thank the Year 10 students who were excellent role models on the day, your kind and caring support of the younger students has provided a fine dose of inspiration this week and highlights what being a Neale-Wade student is all about.

Jan
26

Aspire

Already we are in the final full week of January.  I am impressed each morning that, despite the uninspiring weather our students arrive each morning with a smile on their face and are bright and cheery.  I think that it’s important to start each day in a positive frame of mind and I can tell by the way that I am greeted each morning that our students think so too.  A special mention goes to all of our Year 11 students who are arriving to revision lessons early each morning.  It’s tough to force yourself out of bed early, especially when it’s miserable outside, but it’s going to be worthwhile.  The progress that students make, who attend the sessions, has been very impressive and I encourage everyone to make the most of the time that is left this academic year.

 

This week Years 8, 9 and 10 have all been thinking about their future career paths.  The Academy ran 2 such trips this week.  Year 9 and 10 went to Clare College in Cambridge, whilst Year 8 visited University College Peterborough (UCP) for an “Eyes on the Prize” event.  We believe it’s important to raise awareness of Higher Education at an early age as this allows students to explore the benefits that Higher Education Degrees and Degree Level Apprenticeships can offer.  Cities such as Northampton, have made great strides in recent years improving their Higher Education provision and it is very encouraging to see cities even closer to us, such as Peterborough, broadening their offer with a wide range of vocational degrees over the next few years.  This provides clear economic benefits to our students as it reduces many of the increased costs of living associated with going to a university much further from home.  I had the pleasure of listening to a presentation from UCP regarding their future plans and I am hopeful that they can continue to improve local opportunities for our young people.

 

Finally, on Tuesday evening of 6 February we would like to welcome all Year 8 parents to our curriculum information evening.  Over 100 Year 8 students visited UCP today and we’d like to show you how we plan to put your children in a very strong position when it comes to choosing their GCSE options.  I look forward to seeing you then.

Jan
19

Employment skills for life

Ultimately, school provides you with the skills and qualifications that are needed in the world of work so that young people can positively contribute to society. I have great pleasure each week writing this blog to express the tremendous progress that our students make in their academic studies.  However, the “hidden curriculum” also provides fantastic social experiences that build the whole student.  An example this week occurred yesterday when we ran our Year 10 employability skills day. The aim of this was to focus on the options that our students have Post 16 and Post 18 as well as to continue to develop those skills so important to employers. As usual, we were supported by a large number of local employers. This support is invaluable as evidence suggests the more encounters our young people have with employers the more successful they will be in their future careers.  Therefore, our thanks go to Smurfit Kappa who ran a skills assessment centre. This activity helps develop skills such as communication, leadership, creativity, organisation, initiative and planning which is so important in the workplace. The Skills Service ran a CV workshop and ‘Take Your Place’, an organisation which promotes higher education looked at the pathways available to students at the end of Year 11.

 

In the afternoon students had a mock interview with an employer. Although nervous, most students were very positive about the experience and will improve with the feedback given.  This work is vitally important and prepares students for their next steps in their education and learning. Personally, I had great pleasure in helping various students with their CVs and it was extremely encouraging to speak to students about their interview feedback.  Overall, I would say that they performed just as well as many adults in that same, heavily scrutinised, situation.

 

Similar facets of student progress outside of their academic studies include participation in extra-curricular activities. For example, participation in sport is a fantastic activity that can provide young people with the opportunity to experience success in a different field of interest and transfer these skills into adult life.  This week saw our Key Stage 3 & 4 boys’ badminton teams enter the Isle of Ely competition.  The Key Stage 3 team, comprised of Oli Hubbard, Josh Hubbard, Ethan Halls, Callum Campbell and Phoenix Nightingale won both of their matches against Ely College (3-2) and Witchford College (4-1).  At times the match was tight but the team stayed together and displayed tremendous resilience, especially during some hectic rallies, to ensure victory. Our Key Stage 4 team of Alex Watts, Alex Redhead, Patrick Adamczyk and Ryan Simpson displayed the perfect all round game to win both of their games by a 5-0 margin against Ely College and Witchford College.  A combination of subtle wrist shots and powerful overhead smashes produced an outstanding example of full court dominance.  I would like to congratulate both teams who move into the next round where they will play teams from Cambridge.

 

Jan
12

Working together

As this is the first blog of 2018 I’d like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year. It’s already been a productive time at the Academy with students eager to push themselves forward at this demanding time of year.  I have been speaking with many Year 13 students who are excited to be receiving their university or apprenticeship offers.  This is the time of year where the realisation sinks in that their own academic year is very nearly halfway complete and one final drive is necessary if aims and ambitions are to be achieved by the summer.  It is heartening and refreshing to listen to so many young people excited about their own futures, and I must admit that this genuine excitement is rather infectious.  Similarly, Year 11 students are experiencing similar emotions as we held our Year 11 Parents’ Evening this week.  I would like to thank all parents and carers who attended.  Those of you that I spoke to were just as determined as staff here to ensure that the rest of this academic year will bring success.  I am confident that, by working together, we will be able to encourage those in our care to great things this summer.

Behind the scenes, pre-public exams (these used to be called mock exams, now PPEs) that were completed before the Christmas break have all been marked and a detailed analysis by subject, classes down to individual students has also been completed. The information and feedback that is received at a Parents’ Evening, at any time of year, will be based on the forensic drilling down into the paper produced by your child.  Tasks in class, including our “Green Pen” work will allow students to follow up on their exam performance with the identification of what they need to do to improve.  This week I have seen this in operation in several subjects where students are all working on improving upon their PPE performance.  With 4 weeks to go until half term (yes, that is all) our focus is on teaching unfinished parts of the syllabus but soon we will be in the revision season for the final push towards the summer.

It has been an absolute pleasure to welcome everyone back to the Academy and I wish you all every success in 2018.

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