Headteacher’s Blog 11/01/2019

Important Dates

 

The Autumn Term at Downham Market Academy was filled with many fantastic opportunities, events and changes for pupils. Staff have worked very hard in ensuring that the experience of students at DMA is the best it possibly can be and we thank you the parents and carers for your support as we develop the school. Below are just some of the highlights and changes made during the Autumn Term.

 

Safeguarding students

The safety and wellbeing of our students remains a high priority at Downham Market Academy.  We have invested in a new online system to record all safeguarding concerns and this provides us with analyses of patterns and trends so that we can arrange for proactive and reactive support for our students.  Our staff training model has changed this year so that all staff receive at least half-termly update training on key issues that are relevant in both a national and local context.  The safeguarding team meet regularly to discuss our approaches and evaluate the support we offer.

 

Attitudes to Learning

At each assessment point you will receive an “Attitude to Learning” grade for each subject that your child studies.  In order to achieve “outstanding” or “good” AtL grades, students must be demonstrating a very high and very consistent level of engagement so it is extremely pleasing to see a high percentage of “outstanding” and “good” grades being awarded by teachers.

 

Uniform

September saw the introduction of the new uniform; grey skirts/trousers with navy jumper and blazer bearing the new Academy logo. Year 7s are all wearing the grey and navy with the majority of the rest of the year groups having a large uptake. 

 

We have had a very successful term fundraising for notable charities with many staff and students joining in for some fun along the way by hosting non-uniform days;

Friday 21st September 2018; Jeans for Genes raised £420.38

Friday 16th November 2018; Children in Need raised £759.80

Friday 14th December 2018; Christmas Jumpers for Save the Children raised TBC

 

School Site

The school were successful in securing a £1.3M bid for uplifting the windows and facades of the school. This work began in the Autumn Term with the walkways and some of the windows being completed. The positive transformation will continue be completed over the coming months.

 

SEND provision

The Autumn term saw a change in the SEN team at the Academy. Natalie Paine is now SENDCo with Bev Ireland taking on the role of Assistant SENDCo. Communication with the team is now organised centrally with a designated new email address senco@downhammarketacademy.co.uk. New lunchtime activities are up and running with chess club, revision support and wellbeing sessions taking place in the SEN room. Afterschool homework support is also available on a daily basis with staff on hand to help and advise the students in the SEN room.  If you have any queries regarding SEND provision please don’t hesitate to contact the team to discuss.

 

Staffing

DMA have made several exciting appointments that have strengthened the teaching and provision for your child. New staff receive comprehensive inductions and this has led to a consistency of a professional approach to teaching and learning and promotes excellent progress for students.

DMA are now engaged with the Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) program to support new teachers in to the profession and we have established a 100% pass rate for all of our newly qualified teachers (NQT).

Staff at DMA receive weekly training opportunities covering wide ranging areas – currently all teachers at DMA are working on projects that will impact directly on a specific group of students

 

Lessons at DMA have the added WOW factor

Throughout the autumn term departments across the academy have been developing and delivering WOW lessons for students across all years. These lessons have immersed students within a subject by involving all their senses and allowing them to experience a topic from a different point of view. So far students have recreated the Battle of Hastings on the school field, experienced the Monserrat volcanic eruption, stepped inside a chemical reaction to understand how elements are separated using electricity, taken their dance performances to a new level across the school building and tackled challenges to solve a mystery to name but a few. The total immersion of students within the concepts enabled them to experience the topics in a completely different way with responses from the students including “that was truly memorable”, “I feel like a real scientist” and “doing it this way will really help me remember this in my exams”. These lessons will continue throughout the year to provide additional learning experiences for students.

Additionally the school have invested in painting large expanses of wall with whiteboard paint. This enables whole classes to be taken out of a classic classroom space and learn in a more effective and interactive style. This has not been limited to just using large white board walls but also to pupils acting out geographic processes, dramatising novel scenes, or hula hooping in maths to collect data for analysis. Finally moving to 100minute lessons has boosted the learning experience of pupil’s at DMA. It has led to pupils being out to go greater depth in each lesson, which has led to greater levels of understanding.

 

Opportunities outside of the classroom

Since the start of the 2018-19 academic year students have been given the opportunity to attend multiple extracurricular trips and events.

There has been the chance for Year 8 students to see live drama and Year 9 students have been to the NEC to learn about Computer Sciences and its role in progressing technology within society along with a London Museums visit with the intention of raising awareness of the wider world around them; and to raise aspirations and inspire career choices. A few students were chosen to represent the Academy in a Technology tournament and some attended a Rugby Tournament in October.

There have been various opportunities for year 10 students to attend live drama, workshops, PE fixtures and The Tate Modern Art Museum in London.

There have been several trips for Years 11, 12 &13 which have been curriculum based and well supported. During these visits students have been able to discover, explore and learn about the greatness of STEM; collect primary data for GCSE courses; view live professional performances, which forms part of their set study and above all provided a positive experience for all attendees.

This autumn saw opportunities for students to take part in a number of new initiatives:

Brilliant club, a term long programme which allows aspirational students to hone their academic skills working with a PHD tutor from Cambridge and attending seminars at the University. Great Books was also launched, a philosophy and debating club asking Sixth Form students to consider questions such as ‘Can we be sure of our own existence?’ Additionally a group of year 8 pupils are part of a Latin class after school on Mondays.

 

English department

There was an exciting use of the breakout spaces throughout the department with students writing answers on the new whiteboard walls as well as demonstrating their understanding through performing key themes and moments from various novels, plays and poems in different locations. The 21st November saw a magical journey to Warner Brothers Studio’s for Year 7s to experience the magic in the making of the Harry Potter stories. Students were able to witness first hand how J.K Rowling’s imagination was brought to fruition; to enable millions of viewers to enjoy the magic.

 

Science Department

Year 7 went to the Science museum in November to explore the wonders of Science and Technology through the ages from the computer used to invented the internet to the first plane to cross the atlantic. A group of 29 students visited the Sanger Institute in Cambridge on 30th October, with a focus on the work being carried out on genetics and particularly the Genome project. Google from London ran an “Internet Citizens” workshop for 150 Year 10 students at Ryston in December. This was attended by Elizabeth Truss and a very interesting and fun time was had by all.

 

Parent Survey

It is important as a school that we consult with parents and ask their views on how we are developing and progressing as a school. Please click on the link below or use the QR code to answer short survey

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/GTQ6B6B 

 

SEND Pre-learning and homework support now available

Spring term pre-learning for core subjects is now available via this link http://downhammarketacademy.co.uk/life-at-downham/send/ . Homework support sheets for Year 7 science and maths are also available to download.

In addition we offer a homework support club in the inclusion room Monday – Friday before school from 8am and afterschool, Monday-Thursday 3-4pm, Friday 3-3.30pm.

 

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