Thursday 3rd May marked a whole year since we opened a dialogue with our families and communities inviting comments on Boston Spa joining the high achieving GORSE Academies Trust (TGAT). I know that many of you share my frustration that, having undertaken an open, comprehensive and legal process, Boston Spa has been left waiting for more than twelve months for a process that should take just twelve weeks.
Governors’ conviction that the partnership with TGAT is the right strategic direction for Boston Spa has been undoubtedly confirmed as TGAT have moved from three ‘outstanding’ Ofsted judgements to seven in an eight month period. This is a remarkable achievement, and sits at the core of Governors’ decision making.
I marked our one year anniversary by updating our families in a letter. Today I have written to Vicky Beer, the Regional Schools Commissioner, pressing her for a resolution that allows Boston Spa to join TGAT, enabling us to begin September 2018 exactly where Governors had envisioned that we should start September 2017.
Thank you for your continuing support, it has meant so much to us all. Your patience, loyalty and support through this last year has been magnificent; it has been a real highlight of the last twelve months, and every email, social media post, letter, phone call and kind comment has been valued.
LESSONS FROM AUSCHWITZ
As part of our partnership with the Holocaust Education Trust, two Sixth Formers, Adam Stowe and Amreeta Sehmi, accompanied by Mr McKeogh, went to Poland this week. Adam takes up the story:
Oświęcim is a town in Poland. It boasts a large market square surrounded by shops. The buildings are brightly coloured and beautiful to look at, particularly in the glistening sunshine as was my experience. There are two churches in Oświęcim and one synagogue. No Jewish people live in Oświęcim today. During the World War Two occupation of Poland, the army barracks in Oświęcim were used to house enemies of the Nazi regime. The barracks expanded, their functions changed. The German name for Oświęcim is Auschwitz.
Auschwitz-I was a concentration camp. There was still death on a mass scale. It is now a museum and a memorial. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the scale of terror that still lingers in Auschwitz. Rooms are filled with human hair intended for textiles production. Tons of kitchenware are piled high brought by the prisoners from their previous homes. How were they to know they wouldn’t need it? Clothes, hairbrushes, shoes; each occupies a room from floor to ceiling. And then you look at each item and think about the person who once owned them.
Auschwitz-II Birkenau was a death camp. There was death on an industrial scale. A railway line divides the eerily flat site in two, occupying the entire length of the camp.
At the gates of Auschwitz-II the railway line connects to the rest of Europe. Hundreds of small chimneys indicate where the victims were housed if they weren’t immediately selected for death. Some of the huts still stand, partially restored. They were manufactured as stables capable of holding fifty horses, instead, they held hundreds of humans. The gas chambers sat at the far end of the camp alongside the crematoriums, submerged underground. Now they are rubble, destroyed by the SS days before liberation. Beside the collapsed chambers lies the memorial, a series of uneven steps and platforms culminating in a row of plaques. Three candles lit by myself, Amreeta and Mr McKeogh burned on the plaques, the flames flickering as we exited Auschwitz.
Prose struggles to communicate my personal experience of Auschwitz. I can only hope my descriptions lend some sort of semblance to my journey, Amreeta’s and Mr McKeogh’s. It has had a profound effect on all of us.
It was timely in a week when our students visited Auschwitz that we also, in partnership with Stonewall, launched our ‘No Bystanders’ campaign. All our assemblies watched the above video where the dialogue is entirely made up of prejudicial language that is likely to offend. None of the behaviours illustrated are acceptable in our school community and, as such, the video was a really effective tool to challenge us as to the power found in our words.
The aim of our work with Stonewall is to ensure that we continue to protect the entitlement of all our students to be free from any form of bullying behaviour while empowering them to stand up to any who are choosing to present those behaviours. In doing so we ensure that Boston Spa Academy remains a safe and harmonious environment where all continue to thrive.
STUDENT VOICE WITH GOVERNORS
On Wednesday Governors met with representatives of Years 7 to 10 to listen to the student voice. It was powerful feedback of Governors, who having made the decisions that have brought so many changes to our school, now heard first-hand how it feels in school some two terms later. As always on these occasions I was proud of the feedback from Governors which highlighted the rigour, maturity and consideration given in the students’ answers.
TARGETING THE HIGHEST GCSE GRADES
We were pleased that Sir John Townsley was able to lead a session for Year 11 students aiming for the very top GCSE grades. Using an article written by Camilla Long in the Sunday Times (about Hugh Heffner) he highlighted the importance of forensic reading skills, identifying the difference between answers that would earn a grade 7 or 8 and those for grade 9. It was really good to see Year 11s continuing to discourse over lunch.
Students in Year 9 Textiles are working to a design brief they have set themselves. Viviana Duarte-Dong is focusing on the theme “Paris in Love”, a modern take on Parisian style. She has completed four initial designs using mixed media which she will now develop into a final design. I thought her work was exceptional.
NEWS FROM BANGLADESH
Last week was the start of the Bangladeshi New Year, Pohela Boisakh, a festival which is celebrated with processions, fairs and family time. Any event celebrating Bangladeshi culture is precious to the communities, and Pohela Boisakh is no exception.
At our partner school, the Narayanganj Government Girls’ High School, they celebrated with a colourful program, including a rally, music, dance, and a fashion show. In what we would describe as a ‘non-uniform day’ the students rejoiced in the opportunity to fill the school with vibrant colour.
In Bengali the traditional greeting for Pohela Boisakh is শুভ নববর্ষ “Shubho Nabobarsho” which simply means “Happy New Year”.
HOT CHOC FRIDAY
Grace Anderson and Melody Simpson joined me for hot chocolate today. I never fail to be impressed by the maturity I find in dialogue with our young people. It was a pleasure.
Well done to all of the following, who worked so hard last week as to be sent to see me for recognition during PD Hour: Alicia Howitt, Madison Bolton, George Duncan, Holly Hemingway, Daniel Hemsley, Ava Bagshaw, Lucy Foster, Emily Adair, Dulcie Parish, Scarlett Williams, Jada Marshall, Ibti Hasan, Millie Edwards, Cerys Bevan, Julia Cole, Katy Geraghty, Allix McGrath, Angel-Marie Cook, Emma St.John, Maddie Roberts, Tilly Brown, Taylor Wise, Aaliyah Toor-Keita, Amelia Edwards, Alyssa Legault, Hugo Burns-Danforth, Matt Ferguson, Arabella Williams, Emily Tucker, Dion Clements Smith, Georgia O’Brien, Isabel Couldwell, Fynnlay Wiltshire, Meg Beesley, Nia Hopkins, Alex Coggins, Charlotte Hemsley, Eve Kavanagh, Elizabeth Lloyd, Eloise Lambe, Lily Wilkinson, Sarah Mohamadi, Saskia Benjamin, Maddie Tue and Emma Richardson.
I was pleased to meet with Owen Laurie this week and congratulate him on his selection for the U18 Yorkshire team for Crown Green Bowling. An impressive achievement at just 12 years old, and we wish him success in his next fixture against Derbyshire.
Yesterday our Year 9 girls travelled to Crawshaw Academy for the first rounders fixture of the season.
They had a steady start against St Mary’s – narrowly missing out on a win despite a great catch by Maddie Thompson and some lovely fielding; final score 5-51/2.
In the second game against Leeds West, our girls fielded first and held off the opposition, only giving then 31/2 rounders. They then stepped up to bat with confidence with some great hits from Hollie Waite, Eve Kavanagh and Lauren Ball. Final score 8-31/2.
In the final game the girls faced a tough Cardinal Heenan, batting first the girls were a little phased, but still managed to collect in the half rounders, scoring 41/2 . Our opponents were strong and although trying hard, we narrowly missed some catches and stumps; the final score 41/2 to 10.
There was great teamwork by all our girls and good tactical awareness, particularly for the first games of the season. Player of the tournament was Maddie Thompson for some great catches and tactical play in the field. Miss Morgan was really proud of them all.
I am very grateful to the PE team, ably supported by other colleagues too, who will take students down to the Skegness Festival of Football this weekend. It is a measure of the consistency of their support for extra-curricular sport that this will be the 15th consecutive year in which we have participated.
I always hope that one of these years we will win the tournament, but it is always a tough competition. Many of the teams are club sides, who will have creamed the best from perhaps three or four different schools, but we wish our teams well. You can follow their progress on Twitter using #BostonInSkegness
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