Once again, it has been a very busy term at Workington Academy. Despite all the challenges facing the students this term, student behaviour, attitudes and responsibility have been exemplary and in spite of many different and sometimes difficult circumstances, there is much to celebrate across all year groups.
Over the Autumn term, our largest ever Year 7 intake have made an excellent start to their secondary school career; building new friendships, developing their Form Group teams, involving themselves in new experiences and clubs, developing new skills and settling into life as secondary school students.
We have been delighted with the way in which the Year 7 students have adapted to their new school and surroundings and they have subsequently won numerous awards in recognition of their success and achievements both in and out of lessons throughout this term. Students have shown great dedication and passion for learning, which has been recognised through the awarding of high levels of rewards points and more recently ‘stars’, numerous ‘Super Seven’ and ‘Headteacher’s Recognition’ Awards, awarded to students for outstanding effort, progress and achievement displayed both in the classroom and at home.
Year 7 students have also contributed well to our wider school community throughout this term, taking part in a range of academy extra-curricular clubs, ranging from sports, arts, music and drama. Many have also attended homework club and are leading the way in the Accelerated Reader programme across the Academy.
In the run up to Christmas Year 7 students have been displaying ‘Christmas Kindness’ in a variety of ways, completing ‘Christmas Kindness Challenges’ both in and out of school and showing their support for the local community by creating festive pictures, baubles and sending cards and well wishes to community members.
Years 8 and 9 have also spent a lot of time this term focussing on kindness, and the importance of kindness in society. Now, more than ever, we need to look out for each other; this is a sentiment that has been echoed during tutor time each morning since September. Groups have been working together on their own kindness projects, in a bid to spread some much-needed joy around our community. Kindness activities have included preparing hampers to be delivered locally to care homes, sending messages of hope and gratitude to key workers in the community and collecting goods and funds for local charities.
The students themselves have also embarked upon their own well-being journey, with the introduction of ‘Wellbeing Wednesdays’. The most recent focus has been on the theme of happiness, and what this means to us. Students have been sending in their favourite songs to Workington Academy Radio and these can be heard live each morning on ‘Happiness Hour’, which is broadcast between 8am and 9am. This has been something which has truly brought students together.
‘Language for Learning’ also returned this term. During our extended tutor time students explore the etymology of words commonly used across the academy. This has been embraced by the tutor groups, and is having an impact on the improvement of vocabulary and language across the curriculum. This also allows students to work together and reflect upon their own learning.
Three of our Year 8 students have had their creative writing published in a book. Our fabulous authors, Amy, Abigale and Grace entered the creative writing competition last year and were over-joyed to discover they had been selected to have their work published. Our Librarian, Mrs Taylor is very much looking forward to the quality of this year’s entries, which our current Year 8 students are now working on.
Year 10 are now a full term into their GCSE courses and have been showing great maturity and resilience as they start to complete their end of topic assessments. The students have also started to prepare for their post 16 choices by exploring options available to them during tutor time. This has involved them looking at skills and qualities needed for employment and looking at the different types of further education and training available to them. Students have also been preparing for work experience that will commence in the summer term. Many students have now written to local companies and organisations to secure a week-long placement. This will give students an insight into the world of work and further develop their confidence when exploring future career paths.
Some of the Year 10 students have been selected to take part in the ‘Brilliant Club’ giving the students an opportunity to work with a Graduate to explore the diversity of businesses. The students this term have also been focusing on mindfulness during form term and this has been well received by all students who, at times, may have felt the pressures of Key Stage 4.
Year 11 students have had a very busy term. They have completed a successful set of trial exams during which time the students’ conduct and attitude towards these exams was exemplary. Year 11 students have also been supplementing their revision by attending period 6 additional classes for Maths, English and Science. The focus of these sessions will change in the new term so that the students receive coverage of all their subjects.
Students in year 11 participated in our ‘Futures Week’ where they explored information relating to their options at the end of this year. Students learned about sixth form, apprenticeships and the local college, exploring what these opportunities could offer them. Thank you to all parents that attended the evening sessions to find out more. Students greatly appreciated the one to one virtual interview with employers, helping them build confidence to speak about themselves. Overall the student feedback showed that the week was highly successful, helping students to make the difficult decision regarding their next steps. Applications for West Coast Sixth Form are now open, we have already received a number of applications from students from a range of schools. Interviews will take place in late Spring term when we hope we might be able to meet applicants face to face.
We are continuing to work with Inspira to offer our students one to one independent advice and guidance regarding their future. These are conducted virtually with the advisor who can offer information on how to achieve the career pathway that the student is interested in or offer advice on possible pathways if they are still unsure. Sixth form students have engaged with many virtual events this half term including virtual university and apprenticeship fairs and masterclasses provided by the University of Cumbria to help students to build their skill set and knowledge prior to making their applications to university or apprenticeship providers. The university application process has been the main focus for Year 13 this half term. A huge well done to all our applicants who are now all beginning to receive offers.
Most recently, our head girl and boy have been busy organising our Reverse Advent Calendar appeal, collecting toiletries for Armathea Care Home and Workington Hospital which has been a huge success. Thank you to all families who donated to this, we were overwhelmed by your generosity.
Students in Years 7 to 11 have all been involved in collecting ‘stars’ as part of our’ I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here’ themed rewards initiative, with students awarded stars in return for their displays of respect, responsibility and resilience in and out of lessons. The students in each year group who have collected the most stars, named the “Kings and Queens of the Castle” have been awarded certificates and prizes as part of the Rewards Assemblies and Celebration Events for all year groups taking place this week. These celebration events have also included awards for progress, achievement and effort across all subjects and attendance for throughout the Autumn Term.
We have enjoyed Christmas lunch with all year groups, entirely funded by the generous donations of local individuals, community groups and businesses. A full list of donors will be published on our website. The atmosphere in each of our five Christmas lunchtimes has been lovely, and the students have all enjoyed getting into the festive spirit. Further festivities can be seen on the website and on social media, with our four short Christmas concerts, containing music, drama and readings. The response to these has been amazing.
It has been a turbulent term. You may have seen news coverage on the past couple of days of a Coronavirus national testing Programme which is to be rolled out in January. Many of the details on this remain unclear, and I will write to you in early January with details of how Workington Academy will be involved. Alongside this we recently we have been involved with discussions with officials from Cumbria County Council about a pilot programme to test all students upon their return to school. At the time of writing, some schools in Cumbria have elected to be involved. As the programme involves the school being shut during the testing, we considered that with the national programme being simultaneously introduced that the benefits of the Cumbria County Council scheme would potentially be outweighed by the uncertainty and disruption caused, particularly in a large school like Workington Academy.
This afternoon the Government has made an announcement that there will be a staggered school start at the beginning of term. We will contact you once arrangements for this have been made.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of the school community a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. The Academy re opens at 8.35am on Monday 4 January 2021.
Mr D Bird