Summer success

As the end of the public examination season draws closer it has been encouraging to see our Year 11 and 13 students maintaining their upbeat attitude towards their studies. Not long until the final exam next Thursday everyone, and to those of you who have already finished then very well done.


We recognised the commitment of a group of our students of all ages this week through Carers Week. I would formally like to commend all of our students who are Young Carers in the Academy.  You do a fantastic job and are a credit, not just to the Academy but particularly to your family.  Very well done, you will all be a tremendous success.


On the sporting front the year 7 Girls cricket team qualified 2nd in their group for the County cricket finals on Wednesday. We beat St Bede’s and Parkside and lost narrowly to Stephen Perse by 10 runs.  Congratulations to everyone involved in what has been a very impressive year of sporting achievement for our Year 7 girls.  In addition, last Saturday saw the County Athletics Championships in Peterborough where the Academy saw impressive success.  The Junior boys came 6th in the 100m and won the 4x100m relay and the Junior girls won the shot putt and came 6th in the 1500m.  Our Intermediate girls competed hard in the 800m and finished a credible 4th in the 1500m.  Very well done to all who competed.  You deserve to be very proud of your achievements.  For anyone interested, results for meetings are always available on thepowerof10.info website.


Finally, I would like to thank our staff who provided our Year 10 students the opportunity to conduct their GCSE geography fieldwork in Kings Lynn this week. In fabulous weather conditions I believe that our students all worked hard and completed their fieldwork tasks to a very high standard.  Remember that there is no longer any coursework in geography and all students will need to be able to recall how they collected their data, what the results were and explain their findings in the actual GCSE exam at the end of Year 11.  This is the same process as for our current Year 11 students who are the first to experience the new GCSE syllabus.


I would like to finish by thanking everyone who has contributed positively to the Academy this week and I look forward to working with you all again on Monday. Have a lovely weekend.


Art and creativity to be exhibited

Public examinations continue this week with students hard at work in our various exam rooms across all of their subjects. As coursework has become diminished in importance over the last couple of years it is sometimes easy to forget how practical work, in subjects such as art, has to be completed over the time of a GCSE course.


It has been a pleasure this week to look at a variety of sketch books from our Year 11 students to see how their work has developed over the length of the course and appreciate, not just the skill, but the hours of time that is put into creating genuinely beautiful pieces of art. I have been particularly impressed with the progress that our students have made in their art studies over the last couple of years and I could tell that they had all been on a journey as I pored over the pages of individuals’ sketch books. I am eagerly anticipating our GCSE Art Exhibition, featuring all of this fine work, which will be on show next week.


Speaking to several of the students many are keen to pursue a career linked with art. Long deemed a career that does not reap financial benefit, art most definitely fits into the modern world and is certainly a subject that supports successful career minded people. Students express interest in careers as multimedia designers and digital artists highlighting that the global audience is out there. Similarly, art work sold via the internet continues to follow an upward trend reaching large markets. Those with an artistic bias can be an asset in any job offering a wider skillset than most. Finally, in the current climate where mental health is high on the political agenda then art can have a stimulating effect upon a person’s outlook on many different aspects of life. I was excited talking to young people with so many exciting thoughts and ideas that it makes the exam process seem all worth the while.


Well done everyone, keep working hard and aiming high.


District Athletic Success

The final week of this half term was signed off in excellent fashion by Neale-Wade Academy students.


Firstly, there was an excellent display from our Athletes at the District Athletics in Kings Lynn. Neale-Wade students enjoyed tremendous success winning a grand total of 24 medals across all events.  The meeting is a fantastic occasion covering a wide variety of track and field events that students have been preparing to participate in throughout the summer term.  I was very impressed with the students that I spoke to upon their return to the Academy.  All had enjoyed the experience and it was very encouraging to see students, who had not won medals themselves, pleased for their fellow athletes representing Team Neale-Wade that had.  Similarly, they were also determined to push for personal bests for the rest of the season and remain competitive  Well done to everyone on the day, keep training hard and we may well see you at our own Sports Awards still to come in the summer.


Our Alumni group also met this week working with Year 9 and 10 students. It’s always good to see ex-students giving something back to their previous school and encouraging our current cohort of students to aim high and achieve great things.  This initiative has become a regular feature throughout the Academy year and I look forward to seeing how it develops as it is embedded into and supports our positive ethos.


Finally, public examinations continued this week and all students conducted themselves admirably. The exams for the whole year group for GCSE Maths and English were held this week and continue after the half term break.  To support our students we will be running sessions over half term.  As Monday is a bank holiday we have Maths on Monday, English and science on Tuesday, Geography, Psychology and Science on Thursday and History on Friday.  Keep working hard and attend as many sessions as you can as it will be focused revision.


Enjoy the break and see you all when we return.


Aim high

This week, public examinations continue unabated, matched only by the tenacity of our Year 11 and 13 students attending revision sessions at every available opportunity. It was tremendous to see over 100 Year 11 students attend extra morning session multiple times this week.  Your commitment will be rewarded as it will all be worthwhile when the results are published this summer.


A special mention this week for Year 10 who had approximately half of their number sit their finance exam this week. All students conducted themselves admirably in the main hall and I am confident that everyone did their best and will maintain their hard work and enthusiasm throughout the course.  In addition, 35 Year 10 students attended a trip to Clare College in Cambridge this week to see what life would be like at one of the world’s top universities.  Speaking to students upon their return it was evident that they had had a great time and the visit to such a prestigious establishment had truly opened their eyes to what is possible if you aim high.  All students were determined, upon their return to the Academy, to continue to strive to be as successful as possible with their studies and aim for a top university place.  Many commented on the levels of independence necessary to live life at university and were very excited by the prospect.  I found our conversations most refreshing as there is a clear desire in many young people to venture out and make their way in the world and university is certainly a supportive environment in which to do this.  I am pleased that the trip was enjoyed by all, keep up your fantastic efforts in school and you can certainly achieve your goal.


Finally, I would like to thank all students in the Academy for respecting the exam conditions for those currently sitting their exams. It has been a pleasure to explain to you during lunchtime conversations that students are currently working hard in the exam hall.  You have all conducted yourselves perfectly when moving past the variety of rooms where exams are sat.  This shows that you do appreciate the concept of respect and have fully and wholeheartedly supported the concept of respecting the learning of others from our Respect Charter.


Have a great weekend everyone and I look forward to working with you on Monday.


Best wishes for the exams

It has been good to see a positive start to exam season this week at the Academy. My key focus will be on our Year 11 and 13 students who are currently taking their final exams at GCSE and A Level. I would like to say that the tremendous amount of dedication that has been displayed by the vast majority of students will hold them in good stead for these public examinations. Everyone should be confident that they have tried their best and attended many additional sessions outside of our regular lesson time. You have displayed an encouraging thirst for learning throughout the year which will have prepared you well for the final push. There is still time to make improvements, so use the extra time at home to fill in the gaps with some solid revision. However, make sure you have some down time to ensure that you are in a positive frame of mind when you walk into the exam hall. Genuine confidence will come from thorough preparation, which includes looking after yourself too.


This is exactly what I saw this morning in the main hall as almost 100 Year 11 students entered for their Information Technology exam. It was fantastic to talk to you as you waited for the exam to start and I could tell that, despite some nerves, you know your stuff and will be successful. I would like to wish everyone in Year 11 and 13 all the best in their exams over the next few weeks. The hard work will be worth it.


Finally, I would like to congratulate all of our Year 9 students who had their first experience of sitting a full day of exams in the main hall earlier in the week. It’s very important to know what to expect in the exam hall and I hope it has been beneficial to all of you. You coped exceptionally well with the situation and I am confident that your results will be equally encouraging, as they have been throughout this academic year. I am proud of the progress that you have made over the last few years and I am confident that you will keep working hard, try your best and display the extra determination necessary to make a difference.


My thoughts are with everyone who will be studying hard each weekend over the exam period. Just remember that it will be worth it and it is only for a few more weeks. Look forward to seeing you all on Monday.




Our Learning Community

This week our focus has been on preparing for the future and making sure students start to understand what their options are once they leave school.

On Tuesday, 50 year 9 students visited Lincoln University to find out what university life is really like. They experienced a tour of the campus, looked at the type of degrees that Lincoln has to offer and met current student ambassadors who were on hand to describe life as an undergraduate. Whilst we accept university is not a choice for all students we want all our young people to aim to get higher qualifications whether through degrees or apprenticeships.

On Wednesday, the Academy was one of only two schools in the country taking part in a Google Hangout as part of the pilot of a new careers information initiative. The interactive magazine show, the WOW Show, aims to give teenagers a unique insight into the world of work by showcasing ‘hidden’ jobs, such as re-housing water voles and making prosthetic limbs. The 30-minute pilot was seen by over 300 of our students watching via YouTube as well as 30 students who had the opportunity to put questions to an expert panel based in the broadcaster’s studio. The programme featured employers in construction, transport, healthcare, hospitality and digital sectors and is designed to inspire young people to think more broadly about their career options. Students and parents were also involved in research focus groups by giving opinions on information and advice given to young people about the world of work.  Thanks to everyone who supported this project. At the Academy we continue to work very hard ensuring our young people have the best information and guidance as they move onto their next steps in education and employment and these types of activities help to strengthen this advice.

Thursday evening was devoted to young people who are hoping to study at the Academy in the next couple of years. Over 500 people attended our Year 5 Open Evening eager to experience what life is like at the Academy. All departments looked splendid and had a variety of activities and resources available for students and parents. I had the pleasure to speak with large numbers of parents, many commenting positively on the culture of learning that exuded from within the Academy during the evening. I would like to commend all students who helped with tours, gave presentations, supported subjects and took younger students under their wing. I thought you displayed what a caring community we have at the Academy and I was proud of each and every one of you.

Finally, I am delighted to inform everyone that the total for our ‘Bless Your Heart’ Campaign is £1,126.35 from school and another £1,175 on the just giving page. The family involved has kindly donated £400 of the funds raised to support our Young Carers at the Academy and the rest will go to The UCL Amyloidosis Research Fund – University College London is the leading centre for research into this type of cancer. I am proud of our students who work in CORE who pulled together. These students put in a huge effort, from thinking of the original idea to selecting a campaign name, designing the posters, making and sourcing cakes, setting up and serving on the stall, to counting all the money. Thank you to everyone at the Academy that supported them in their efforts.

After such a productive week it leaves me only to wish you all a delightful Bank Holiday weekend and look forward to working with you all once more from Tuesday.


National recognition for Academy students

This week, I would like to begin by thanking all of our Year 10 parents who supported their children by attending our Parents’ Evening last night. I was impressed with the high turnout and it was a pleasure to meet so many people who were “on the ball” regarding the progress that their child has made this academic year. GO, our student progress reporting system, is an invaluable tool for parents who wish to be informed of the latest live data regarding their child. I continue to be very impressed with parents who use this information to conduct informed discussions with our staff, either throughout the academic year or at events such as Parents’ Evening. It really does encourage the best from our students when we all work together.


Earlier in the week it was a pleasure to welcome our Academy Alumni members back into school to help support some of our Year 9 and 10 students. Our Alumni members are ex-students who may currently be studying at university or employed in a variety of interesting industries. They give up their time to come in to the Academy to work with our students, talk about their own time at the Academy, what they are doing currently and explain how they made that journey. It is an absolute delight to see past students, who you personally remember from their time here, giving something back to the school that offered them those opportunities. Without a shadow of a doubt, I am aware that all students experienced a great session as it is always valuable to learn from somebody who has gone through that same process themselves. The Alumni project is an ongoing initiative that will continue to run and regularly inspire our students to future success. Well done and many thanks to everyone involved.


Finally, a special mention to Billy Griffiths, from Year 11, who has been invited to the Royal Wedding in May. I had the pleasure of accepting a request from the BBC to report the story from the Academy during the week. The finished production will be on Look East this evening. Additionally, Charlie Calvert, also from Year 11, has also been invited to the wedding. On the day of the BBC report Charlie was busy taking part in another activity away from the Neale-Wade site but, as you may remember from a previous blog, he was awarded the Cambridgeshire Junior Young Person of the Year Award earlier in the year. Both students have been involved in Academy and community projects that have made a huge difference to people in the local area. Congratulations on your achievements, gentlemen, we are very proud of you. You are fantastic students and I hope you enjoy your day at the wedding.


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.


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.



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.

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