First GCSE residential this week…

As we rapidly approach the Christmas break I have been delighted with the focus of our students. Year 11 in particular has been simply brilliant. I was fortunate to be able to spend time with them as they were working on their English IGCSE coursework. The English Faculty and the Learning Support Assistants did a magnificent job ensuring that all of the students were achieving their target grades and above in the 3 pieces of work.


Today (13/12/13) our first Wyboston Lakes residential commenced. Forty students and five members of staff departed this morning for 2 days of intensive science and mathematics teaching. Educational research has proven that residentials work well and often result in rapid progress being made in learning. I am confident that the sessions that will be led by Dr Spibey (Head of Science) and Mr Samuel (Vice Principal) will have a massive impact on those students. There is another residential planned for next Thursday and Friday with a different cohort of students with the  focus solely on mathematics.


Our students attended King’s College Cambridge Carol Service on Tuesday. We are very fortunate to be invited to this prestigious event and those that attend always have a great time. Our own Christmas Concert was a resounding success in front of a packed house. A large number of students were involved and there was a very eclectic mix of music and performances ranging from Beethoven’s Allegro Molto e con brio sonata in c minor being played from memory to Beat Boxing from another student. Ms Brownhill, Mrs Griffin and Mrs Furlong did a fantastic job in organising the event. I am always amazed and impressed by the maturity and ability of the performers.


The annual Varsity Rugby match between Oxford and Cambridge Universities was played at Twickenham Stadium this week and 48 of our students attended along with members of the PE Faculty. As usual our students were a credit to the Academy and they enjoyed a high class game of rugby that saw Oxford victorious for the fourth successive year with a score of 33 points to 15. Ours students were of course supporting the Light Blues and enjoyed the game despite the score line. I am delighted that so many of our talented players were able to experience the atmosphere in such an impressive stadium. I am sure that they will have been inspired by the event.


Maintaining the sporting theme, some of our students took part in the District Badminton Championships in Ely this week. Alex Watts (Year 7) played brilliantly to win the U-14 title against students from Years 8 & 9. This is a significant achievement and augurs well for the future. Our U-14 Girls team played exceptionally well and were victorious in the team competition. The team members were; Ella Redhead, Katie Ingram, Hana Howsam and Naomi McGarvie. It is good to see competitive opportunities being made available for Badminton and our success highlights the potential that our students have in a wide range of sports and activities.


Mrs Copeland (Head of KS2-3 Transition) has promoted an excellent activity this week. She has arranged for our Year 7 students to produce a Christmas Postcard that is then posted to their Year 6 teacher at their feeder primary school. I think that this is a really nice thing for them to be able to do and it reinforces the links between primary and secondary school provision.

This week, the Computing and IT department have been taking part in the international ‘hour of code’.   Over 800 students at the Academy have developed code in the last seven days, contributing to a global total of over 12 million coders.  Using materials discovered by Mr Hunneyball students from Year 7 to Year 13 have been challenged to develop an hour of code.  Following a pep-talk by President Obama and other well-known individuals they had to complete a JavaScript challenge to code an animated Christmas scene.  Some students managed to complete this incredibly rapidly including Aaron Smith (Year 13) who only took four minutes and six seconds.   With the initial challenge complete students were able to progress onto Python, Ruby and further JavaScript programming. I was taught how to tackle the challenge by Thurston Bradley in Year 11. It took about ten minutes for him to show me what was required and thankfully I managed to pass the test and receive my certificate from Thurston. I thoroughly enjoyed being taught a new skill by one of my students.


On Thursday (12/12/13) there was a Quiz Evening that organised by our sixth formers. The event was well supported with over 80 people taking part. It was particularly pleasing to see so many staff in attendance with the older students.


Today the National Blood Service attended the Academy to deliver an informative presentation to our sixth formers as to why it is important to be a blood donor. I think that this type of presentation is essential as further develops the work that we undertake at the Academy and reinforces the need for our students to be responsible and caring citizens.


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