Jul
13

Sports Day success

To continue our fine Primary Transition work this week we welcomed students from various Primary School year groups to participate in our Primary Music Festival on Tuesday. It was wonderful to talk to both staff and students who had an excellent day and commented positively upon the importance of exposure to musical opportunities at an early age.  Both peripatetic and traditional music teachers joined forces to provide a splendid experience and it was a pleasure to see so many happy students enjoying their day.  Well done to everyone involved.

 

I am delighted to let you know that the Academy U13 boys cricket team, representing Cambridgeshire, won the 6 counties “Chance to Compete” tournament on Tuesday beating schools from Essex, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Suffolk and Norfolk. This is genuinely a fantastic achievement and one that we are very proud of. Congratulations to everyone who has been involved with the team.  You have not only performed exceptionally well but have conducted yourselves with integrity throughout the season and I look forward to following your progress next year.

 

Six students represented the Academy at the Swavesey science challenge on Wednesday. The challenge is made up of tasks that test not only scientific understanding and the ability to apply this to unfamiliar situations and also the ability to work as a team. The students excelled and were great ambassadors for the Academy.

 

On Friday, sixty Year 9 students participated in a Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) day. The students had to design and build water storage devices and water level sensors. In addition to this, they had to market their design and deliver a presentation to the rest of the group. The enthusiasm of the students was fantastic and it was encouraging to see them complete activities that bring together the different STEM subjects into one task.

 

There were sporting opportunities for all students in Years 7, 8 & 9 throughout the day on Wednesday during our Sports Day. There was a large array of traditional sporting and athletic disciplines to take participate in which included track events, shot putt and long jump.  To ensure that all students had an opportunity to compete there were alternatives such as speed stacking and boccia.  To further encourage the “Olympic Spirit” facilities in Archery and Triathon enabled students to access sports that are often difficult to access.  Alongside the sporting achievements I was particularly pleased to witness staff running sessions full of enthusiasm and encouragement.  As a result students displayed passion and commitment towards their specific event and on numerous occasions I observed staff and students working in collaboration and celebrating what they had achieved.  All students competed to the best of their ability on the day and I was exceptionally proud of how they conducted themselves.

 

I would like to thank all staff who helped to run the events on the day. You were an inspiration to students and your kindness and support was greatly appreciated.  A special thank you goes to the PE department for taking on such a massive event, your organisation and support of those around you was first class.

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.

Dec
15

Christmas Concert followed by Cup Victory

For the final blog of 2017 I’d like to focus on some seasonal items.  Last Friday was our Christmas concert over at St Wendreda’s Church.  Once again, I was amazed by the standard of the musical items produced by all the students involved from Year 7 all the way to Year 13.  It is always encouraging to see students grow and develop as musicians over the years and this year is no exception.  There was a range of seasonal and contemporary performances which displayed a high level of technical expertise, but also of teamwork and genuine enjoyment.  The number of younger participants was very high and certainly bodes well for the sustainability of the event.  I would like to thank the Year 13 students for their contribution to the music department and wish them all the very best with their university applications and offers.  They have certainly been excellent role models for the younger students and have always conducted themselves in exemplary fashion.  Well done to those parents and friends in our local community who came out to join us at the event.  There was certainly a healthy audience to support those performing.  Finally, a big thank you to Miss Griffin and Mrs Furlong from the music department who have worked tirelessly to put on such a lovely concert.

In other news, on Thursday December 14th, The Year 7 Girls’ Football team beat St Ivo 4-3 in a thrilling National Cup round 3 tie. This was a great team performance, in which the girls, came from 2-0 down, showed the sort of effort and determination that encompasses the values we wish to see in Neale-Wade students.  Player of the match Amy Hunt scored 3 fantastic goals whilst Kiera Swanson coolly slotted home the winner with 3 minutes remaining.

I have sent out a letter to all parents to wish them a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  Enjoy the break and I look forward to resume working with you all in January.

Dec
08

Business as usual

Today was the final day of our Pre-Public Exams (PPEs) for our Year 11 students.  I would like to say how well the year group have conducted themselves during the examination period.  The PPEs are an important period for both students and teachers as they enable both parties to highlight where there are any particular gaps in knowledge.  The following lessons after the PPEs give teachers time to plan in order to fill these individual gaps after analysing their students’ results and it gives students the opportunity to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to improve their grades.  The early signs are that the year group has made progress and, if they keep working hard and maintain their positive attitude towards learning and assessments then they will do well in the summer.  So, well done this term, Year 11.  There is still much hard work to complete, but you have taken a positive step forward.

Elsewhere throughout the Academy a wide variety of lessons have been in effect.  I have had the pleasure of judging the catering assessments in Year 9, Year 12 Drama students performed their first production piece, Year 7 maths were working on co-ordinates, Year 7 geography were seen using some exceptionally technical language to explain why a river meanders, Year 11 construction students were laying brick walls and Year 10 catering students working on the effects of food on our bodies.  Business as usual, and this will be the case next week and for the last two days of the following week before we break up for Christmas.

To round off the week we put up our Christmas tree in the atrium today, as I’m sure many families will this weekend.  There will be a prize giving ceremony around the tree towards the end of next week for those who attained the most positive points last academic year as a small thank you for their efforts.  Enjoy your weekend and I look forward to seeing you next week.

Dec
01

Charlie Calvert wins National Award

As we move into the final month of 2017 there is certainly no decline regarding the number of fantastic achievements involving students at the Academy.

On Wednesday evening I had the honour of being invited to the Cambridgeshire & Bedfordshire Young Person of the Year Awards (YOPEY) in Cambridge.  Neale-Wade Academy student and local Police Cadet, Charlie Calvert had made it through to the final round of this prestigious national award.  In a very tense final award ceremony we were treated to ten wonderful accounts about young people who had really made a difference in their local communities.  Each of the young people involved had, truly, made an outstanding contribution in their own way but I take great pleasure in announcing that Charlie Calvert won the overall award and is the Cambridgeshire Junior Young Person of the Year for 2017.  I am very conscious that Charlie’s achievements are a genuine combination of his own positive personal qualities but also shaped when families, schools and local groups such as the Police Cadets work together to achieve the same positive outcomes.  Very well done, Charlie.  Everyone at the Academy is very proud of you and we look forward to your future success.  Further details of Charlie’s contributions can be found on our website at:

http://www.neale-wade.org/news/?pid=3&nid=1&storyid=94

A distinct theme of the evening was the overwhelmingly positive effect that young people have on society as a whole as witnessed by all who had received a nomination in the country this year.  As highlighted during the ceremony, by YOPEY themselves and their associated sponsors in the business world, they continue to be disappointed by the negative portrayal of young people in the media in general and asked all involved to continue to challenge these negative, base stereotypes.  I have the privilege of working with several organisations who do operate to benefit young people and I am hopeful that I will have some exciting news that will be of benefit both to the young people of the Academy and a section of our community.  I will definitely continue to seek to mobilise young people to do good.  It’s always better to actively make a difference rather than criticise from afar.

I would also like to mention the Girls’ Under 13 football team who, despite a narrow 1-0 defeat in the Nation Cup this week, impressed me greatly when I had the great pleasure of being able to see them play this week.  After having gone 1-0 down in the first half the girls showed tremendous resilience and determination until the final whistle.  They were unfortunate on a number of occasions as shots from the Neale-Wade team whistled past crossbars and posts or were saved by the opposition goalkeeper.  At the final whistle there was a rousing “three cheers” from both teams and, despite the defeat, the girls were proud of their performance.   Like after any defeat or disappointment we adopt a growth mind set.  We go again.

Finally, remember next Friday we are holding our “Bobble Hat Day” to raise money for Scotty’s Little Soldiers.  In the evening, at St. Wendreda’s Church, is our annual Christmas Concert which begins at 6:30pm.  Have a wonderful weekend and see you all on Monday.

Nov
24

Resilience

Resilience is a  term that is being increasingly used in education.  In an age where young people are expected to achieve higher academic standards than the previous generation.  Let’s make no bones about it, current GCSE qualifications are more challenging for young people than their parents may have sat.  Elements of A Level study are more common in the current set of GCSE specifications and the breadth of content is wider than ever before.  It is possible to achieve a good GCSE grade in some subjects without completing many of the questions.  However, students may feel that they have “failed” due to the fact that they were able to access only a small proportion of the paper.

Resilience means to restore good mental and emotional health following adverse and challenging situations.  It is not an individual’s natural inner characteristic but rather shaped by experiences and opportunities.  Therefore, it is important for young people to engage in as many positive opportunities as possible both in and out of school.  These will be enjoyable but ultimately build resilience.  Conversely, negative or lethargic experiences such as long periods engrossed in social media reduce resilience.

Therefore, as we have seen from a variety of my blogs this academic year, it is important for students to partake in extra-curricular activities alongside their academic studies to promote their resilience.  Programmes at the Academy such as our Student Ambassador, PiXL Edge initiative and Duke of Edinburgh award for older students provide a much needed social stimulus alongside activities linked with curricular lesson such as sporting and musical activities.  Hence, opportunities to report on success in this area such as on Monday, the year 7 girls football team beat Deepings School 11-0 in round 1 of the National Football competition are vital and much appreciated.  An excellent team performance all round and I am sure that the girls will continue their success but are mindful that if there are future defeats then they will come back stronger.

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