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Principal’s Weekly Update: 9 March 2019

This week saw the Academy marking World Book Day by continuing our work to encourage students to read as a means to not only increase their cultural literacy but also as an enjoyable pastime and a way to support their mental wellbeing. As such, we welcomed author Alex Scarrow back to the academy on Monday to inspire a love of reading via his range of teenage fiction novels which include the ‘Time Riders’ series. Year 7 students engaged superbly with the sessions he led and he was subsequently kept busy with book signings at lunch whilst our Prefect team issued free books to students.

Groucho Marx once said, “I find television very educating. Every time someone turns on the set, I go into another room and read a book”. With this in mind, we all paused at 1pm on Thursday to ‘drop everything and read’ with staff and students taking a welcome fifteen minutes out of a busy day to relax with a book and promote reading for pleasure.

Elsewhere, Year 9 students completed their GCSE Preference interviews whilst Year 11 interviews for entry to Astrea Sixth Form continued with Mr Taylor and Mrs Andrews; our thanks to those parents/carers who were able to attend these meetings. On Tuesday, we also welcomed parents/carers to the academy for the Year 13 ‘Final Furlong’ information evening; my thanks, once again, for your support of this event.

Whilst promoting World Book Day on Thursday, I did pause and wonder whether we should be actively promoting International Women’s Day on Friday. This was brought into focus upon receiving an email from the parent of a student who asked what we were doing to raise awareness of women’s rights and equality. Miss Bell, our ‘Most Able Champion’ responded by highlighting a number of aspects of our curricular provision which address this matter. This includes encouraging girls through Further Maths and the Maths Olympiad, the ‘Women in Engineering’ trip and lecture, Warwick University engineering residential, Year 9 STEM (Science. Technology, Engineering and Maths) day run by the Smallpiece Trust, Year 9 Physics reward lunch, Lego Mindstorm Robot Challenge, VEX Robotics competition, Year 12 Girls in Mathematics residential at Cambridge University, Year 12 ‘Women in STEM’ residential at Cambridge University and the Arkwright engineering scholarships.

Whilst many of these STEM opportunities are open to both genders, staff at the academy, actively and routinely encourage girls to engage with these events and we are rarely left disappointed by either their participation or achievements (for example, 100% of our female applicants have been successful at receiving Arkwright scholarships, compared to 40% of the male applicants). Last year, one of our female Year 13 students achieved 6A*s in her A Levels (all in STEM subjects) and she also represented the UK in the European Girls’ Mathematics Olympiad twice, winning medals both times. She is now studying Mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge.

My own week finished with meetings with students in Years 7 and 10 who have displayed outstanding habits of learning and subsequent academic achievement, as indicated by recent progress reviews which were sent home. As ever, it is a privilege to be able to express my admiration for their efforts and to also listen to their feedback on the academy.

Lastly, I wanted to finish by sharing some lovely feedback from a member of the public which reflects how well so many of our students behave whilst they are with us at the academy. Your children are not only working hard to enjoy academic success but also developing good character; be proud. “I just wanted to congratulate the pupils on their behaviour this morning in Priory Park. Some groups of girls doing PE, shouted good morning to me on my run and gave me a little cheer! A credit to the school and lovely to see.”