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Principal’s Weekly Update: 9 February 2019

‘Scientia potentia est’ is a statement, in Latin, which adorned a whiteboard at a school in Barnsley I visited during this past week. The phrase translates as ‘knowledge is power’, a sentiment which has been expressed on numerous occasions at Longsands Academy and currently underpins our ongoing work to deliver a knowledge-rich, carefully sequenced curriculum for all students, in all years.

Our work to ensure that students have the knowledge needed to achieve success in their GCSE and A Level exams, now only 10 weeks away, staff are focussed on final ‘exam-ready’ strategies to ensure effective knowledge retention and recall. GCSE MFL mock speaking exams are taking place next week whilst all subjects will hold a second mock during the week of 11th March; more details will follow. Whilst certain cohorts of students receive targeted support, all students have access to a range of resources to enable vital independent revision and study. These include traditional written materials as well as online resources such as Doddle, Tassomai (Science), mathswatch, Heggerty maths and GCSEpod. The latter of these was only introduced in January and, already, over 10,000 pods have been downloaded by Year 10 & 11 students, significantly more than the 6000 average which similar-sized schools tend to achieve.

Following their recent assessments, we welcomed the parents/carers of Year 9 students for subject consultation meetings; my thanks to all those who attended. This afforded a timely opportunity to review students’ learning as well as focussed discussions pertaining to the suitability of GCSE courses. All students and their parents/carers will have a further meeting with a member of the academy staff after half term before final subject preferences are expressed.

On Tuesday evening, our Art department welcomed the families of our Year 11 GCSE Fine Art, Graphics & Photography students for the opportunity to view the fruits of their labours over the past 18 months. My thanks to all who gave their time to show their appreciation of the students’ impressive work.

On Friday, our Year 12 Psychology students enjoyed our annual ‘Brain Day’, hearing from Dr Guy Sutton, a lecturer at Nottingham University, on topics such as brain damage & its link to crime, the impact of drugs on the brain and even brain dissection!

On Friday evening, Year 10 students and staff braved the cold and windy conditions to sleep in the open air in order to raise awareness of the plight faced by our communities’ homeless people who routinely sleep on our streets. Our thanks to all those who have helped the students raise funds in support of ‘Shelter’ and ‘Help Refugees’ by donating cash or via our just giving page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/longsandssleepout.

Our final week of this half term sees nine Year 7 students, and one Year 11, attending a LEGO competition, all Year 9 students taking part in a CEIAG ‘meet the professionals’ event and a number of Year 11 students off to see ‘Blood Brothers’ to support their English Literature studies. On Thursday Year 12 & 13 Classics & RE students depart for Rome whilst our annual ski trip departs on Friday.

Knowledge is power and our combined efforts to ensure that our students, and your children, are exposed to, and retain, as much as possible will not only ensure that we fulfill our core purpose ‘to ensure that all students achieve the best possible learning, experience and outcomes’, but will also provide them with the cultural capital needed to be successful in society. Our latest newsletter, published this coming week, will provide you with a further insight into the multitude of opportunities open to students to ensure this is an achievable aim. Meanwhile, I have attached a number of photos to this post showing students hard at work improving their knowledge in a range of disciplines during my learning & behaviour walk on Friday; be proud.