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Principal's Communications

You can find updates from the Principal below:
Principal's Update 28th January 2024

Dear all

I hope you have had a good weekend and that this letter finds you well 

I hope by now you are starting to realise that the approach I like to take is one of openness and transparency, and that I won't ever shy away from any issues but that I will always approach these with solutions and a can-do attitude.

It was a tricky week last week and whilst we are only taking about a small proportion of our young people, it was still too big a number for my expectations.  This took place against the backdrop of a really thought-provoking assembly which Ms Collins delivered to all year groups to commemorate the Holocaust.  The theme this year is the fragility of freedom and Ms Collins shared some, quite frankly, terrifying ways in which people have their freedom restricted - even today.  In the context of my letter today, the assembly was a stark reminder of just how fortunate we are.

I want to talk to you a little bit now about what I believe to be two of the biggest issues we are facing at present, and to share some ways in which we will address these.

Physical Interactions 

This was an issue last week - particularly at social times.  Some of our young people believe that being physical is the appropriate way to resolve a conflict or tension.  I also know from speaking with some of you that you also believe this to be the case.  It is not for me to comment on other people's beliefs and attitudes, but I do want to make it clear that we do not tolerate this as an appropriate way to resolve a situation at KSA.  

Students who choose to engage in physical interventions risk their place at the school and will also have their social time restricted.  On that note, I will also be letting students know this week that if they cannot behave during social time in a manner which respects the building and community, then they will also lose this privilege.  We are currently looking into how we can develop our outside space to provide more physical activities and space for those who want to run off steam in an appropriate way. 

I am not naive to the fact that young people can experience tensions, and this is amplified by the use of social media.  However, we want to help our children understand that there are other ways to seek a resolution rather than taking matters into their own hands.  We will be looking at how we can address this during our PSHE programme, and Mrs Tweed will also do some bespoke work with small groups of students and individuals.

As I said, the use of social media is particularly problematic.  At present, mobile phones are not allowed to be used during the school day at KSA.  If a student is seen with one, it will be taken and given back at the end of the day.   This is a relatively relaxed policy and many schools, including my previous school, confiscate a phone for 24 hours if it is seen.  This has proved to be a much more effective deterrent than returning the phone at the end of the day.  In terms of safety, students are given a school mobile, and you would be made aware of the situation so that there was no risk of students being without contact on their way home.  I will be talking to students this week about this being a potential policy change if we don't see a significant and rapid improvement in how children are using phones to interact with each other during the day.

Low Level Disruption

One of the best ways to improve a school's performance and culture is to make sure that we have the highest possible quality of teaching expertise from our own permanent staff.  I am well aware that at present we have some supply staff in the school who are covering for colleagues who are absent.  This is not ideal and our approach moving forward will be to overrecruit so that we can ensure all lessons are covered by our own KSA qualified teaching staff if colleagues are absent.  As I said last week, we have made some excellent appointments in Maths, Science, Business, Performing Arts, and MfL recently, and we are now looking to recruit to other subjects, particularly English.  

In the meantime, I have asked my team to put in greater support for those members of staff who are providing cover / supply to ensure children are not disadvantaged.  We also have a robust support programme in place to ensure everyone is working to a consistent standard.  Whilst we know we have some work to be done here, I do want you to be confident that we are aware where there are issues, and we are addressing these appropriately.

Linked to this, is the standard of school uniform.  The little things make a massive difference, and I was really pleased when I came to KSA that the school adopted what I believed to be a sensible approach to uniform by allowing children to express themselves in terms of things like hair colour / styles, and by allowing black trainers rather than insisting on polishable shoes.  

As you know, after feedback from students, we made the decision to allow students to wear a blazer or a school jumper.  Students have also been asking whether we can make a change to the coat policy and allow them to be worn in the school building.  I want to listen and support our children and am happy to make this change to the expectations around coats.  

However, I will be saying to all year groups this week, this comes with an expectation that they will also give a bit and meet us half-way.  This means that all hoodies, sports tops, jumpers which are not from the uniform shop, and zipped sports jackets are not allowed.  If your child arrives to school wearing one of these or is seen wearing it during the school day, they will be asked to remove it and it will be kept safely in either mine or Mr Taylor and Mrs Gant's office until the end of the day.  Please talk to your child about this as if they choose to flout this school expectation, and then refuse to comply, they can expect further restrictions in terms of their social time, and sanctions to follow.

I have spoken to all staff this week and said the focus for us as a staff body is to ensure we are welcoming students at the classroom door at the start of lessons and making sure children arrive to lessons promptly.  I have also asked all staff to challenge children consistently in relation to items of clothing which are not part of our school uniform.  

Finally, as I have said previously, for me the focus should be on the vast majority of young people who make the right choices day in, day out and our Caught Doing The Right Thing initiative is back in full swing with some new prizes selected by the children for the end of this term.  It was also great to see so many of our students and parents for our Year 11 Parents' Evening on Thursday.  I know this was the first face to face parents' evening in some time for you. 

Please do get in touch if you have any concerns - you will never find us dismissive of these and we absolutely know where we need to improve, and I am determined that we will.  I need your support and that of our children to make this a reality and I am confident that together we can achieve this.

I look forward to updating you again next week.

Mrs Giovanelli


18th January 24 - Principal's weekly update - Click here to view

15th December 23 - Principal's weekly update - Click here to view

1st December 23-Principal's weekly update - Click here to view

24th November 23-Principal's weekly update - Click here to view

13th November 23- Principal's weekly update - Click here to view

3rd November 23- Principal's weekly update - Click here to view

13th October 23- Principal's weekly update - Click here to view

22nd September 23- Principal's weekly update - Click here to view

8th September 23- Principal's Welcome letter - Click here to view