20th March 2023
Dear Parents/Carers It has been a pleasure to welcome a significant number of you to our second Parents Forum of the academic year (Thursday 9th March) and the Year 9 Curriculum Options evening (Tuesday 14th March).
You will be aware we had a Section 8 Ofsted Inspection in January 2023. We once again thank the students and the staff for a very productive two days which will result in the action points for improvement. The Ofsted report is now available on our website through the ‘Menu’ and ‘Key Information’ section of the school website. I outlined in the recent Parents Forum, we felt the report was an accurate representation of our school and it matched our internal evaluations.
As I approach the conclusion of my first term at GCA, I would like to update you on what we have worked on in school, which will also help us to react to the Ofsted report but moreover, lead to whole-school improvements. We have held a whole-staff meeting, which allowed us to plan how we will improve the school as a collaborative team. I have met and continue to meet all staff individually to ensure all colleagues have had their chance to highlight what we do really well and what we need to do to improve. I would like to acknowledge the passion and desire the staff body have demonstrated when speaking with me individually, they truly believe in helping our community to Grow, Care and Achieve. We have sought the views of our students on our toilet provision and I have also met with our Head Boy, Head Girl, Deputy Head Boys and Deputy Head Girls, as it is key to us that the students are part of the journey of school improvement.
Furthermore, we have commenced our Behaviour Review, which has a significant representation of staff and we will seek the views of our students and parents/carers at the appropriate time. Whilst this work is underway, we will continue to promote and expect high standards of conduct in lessons and around school and if this falls below our expectations, we will take swift action, as we have this term. I am aware that the student progress reports published by school have evolved but require more work to ensure they inform you of where your child is on their academic journey and how you can help them to improve. This is something we will develop further next term whilst seeking your views on our proposals.
Satinder Singh, Headteacher
3rd March 2023
This week has been an interesting week for me personally as I sustained an injury on Monday morning at school, which led to me being absent until Thursday. My recovery continues, but I wanted to explain why the students may have not seen much of me.
In addition, two other points of interest and one invitation this week. Firstly we have started our review of behaviour, which I explained was planned. Secondly, I have had the opportunity to review an initial version of the OFSTED report for factual accuracy following their recent visit, so it will not be long until that is published. Legally I cannot say any more at this point, other than to state OFSTED's view of the school did not reflect anything we were not aware of.
Finally, just a reminder in terms of your invitation to our next Parents' Forums. These take place next Thursday, 9th March at 6pm, 6.30pm, 7pm and 7.30pm. We look forward to welcoming those of you who are able to attend.
Best wishes and take care,
Satinder Singh, Headteacher
3rd February 2023
I hope you are all well.
You may be aware that through day eleven and twelve as Headteacher of Garstang Community Academy we welcomed Ofsted. The process involved a range of inspectors visiting school over a two-day period. Staff and students of GCA were ably supported by colleagues from our Academy Trust. The findings from Ofsted will be published in coming weeks and we will make you aware when the report becomes available.
I would like to thank parents/carers for their contributions to both the surveys that were conducted in November 2022 and for the ones completed for Ofsted in January 2023. In response to the survey from November 2022, I would like to share for transparency, some of our focus points for the remainder of the academic year and beyond:
Bullying – we are educating all of our young people about the implications of bullying and acting against perpetrators. This work began with the newly implemented ‘Care’ strategy and this will be followed by a full behaviour review. ‘Care’ is one of our key values. We recognise there is work to do on our culture, but the work has already started to develop our community.
Behaviour – we will not tolerate a small number of students disrupting the learning of others. Similarly, through the care strategy and other approaches, we are educating our students on the importance of engaging with all aspects of their learning. At this stage, systems and structures will be evaluated and amended, whilst ensuring there is significant exposure on rewarding students who make the correct decisions on a daily basis.
Toilets – the toilet provision will be reviewed to ensure that they are accessible to all students during social times. The views of the students will be sought to ensure their voices are heard and a consensus is reached.
Communication with parents/carers – we will review our current methods and frequency of communication and consult you on our next steps. Please note, you can also follow us on the twitter handle @GarstangAcademy to see some of the experiences our students are engaging with.
Below, you will find a summary of the questions that were asked during the November survey and the results referencing the definitive responses.
I would like to apologise for the impact industrial action has had on your child care arrangements, whilst the school was partially open on Wednesday 1st February. As you will be aware from media reports, this is an ongoing dispute between the Government and Trade Unions, which we hope will be resolved as soon as possible. However, please be mindful if a resolution is not reached, further industrial action is scheduled to take place on Tuesday 28th February 2023, which will impact on the school community.
My first five weeks in post have been eventful but it has been lovely to meet a range of parents/carers within individual meetings, at the end of a school day as you collect your children or through the Year 11 Targeted Support Evening, which took place on Thursday 2nd February 2023. I look forward to meeting many more of you during the Year 9 Parents Evening, which will be taking place on Thursday 9th February 2023.
Mr Singh, Headteacher
11th January 2023
I hope you are all well.
I am delighted to write to you as the new Headteacher of Garstang Community Academy. For those of you who I had the privilege of meeting in October, I outlined that I have spent 17 years serving students within Greater Manchester and I am honoured to now serve a community close to where I was born, raised and educated, as I am from Preston. My intentions are to have high expectations of all within the school community and to ensure high standards of inclusive teaching and in-turn learning are in place, which will lead to academic excellence for our students.
Following my first week in post, I am pleased to report that I have found the students to be welcoming, personable and helpful, especially when navigating me around the building. My impression of the students was further enhanced, through meeting with the Head Boy, Head Girl, Deputy Head Boys and Deputy Head Girls, where they articulately outlined how the school offer could be further developed. I am looking forward to working with the student body to add value to their educational experience.
In order to support students at the start of the school day, we will open the Fairsnape Dining Room when it is raining from 8:15am. Students will be welcome in this area prior to morning registration.
No doubt, there will be much for us to work on in the coming weeks and months and as a starting point we will be focusing on uniform. Together with my colleagues, we have noticed that there are instances of uniform infringements amongst certain students, i.e. trainers being worn as opposed to black shoes, shirts not being tucked into skirts/trousers, skirts being rolled up, fake eyelashes, earrings, acrylic/gel nails and nail varnish. We will spend this week addressing these infringements and you may receive some further communication relating to uniform on a more personal basis. We would appreciate it, if you could take some time to observe the uniform of your child and challenge them if you see any infringements.
As we move forward through the academic year, we will be seeking your views and opinions through Parent Forums in order to support the future work of the school.
I would like to conclude by acknowledging and thanking my colleagues for the support they have offered me during my first week as Headteacher.
Mr Singh, Headteacher
16th December 2022
This is my final message of the term. I am glad to have been able to serve GCA in some small way, providing a bridge of experience as we move from one Headteacher to another.
As you know Mr Singh will be Headteacher from January. I will revert to my role as Director of Education for FCAT, one element of that will be to be Executive Headteacher of our Garstang Community Academy.
Parental surveys indicate that most of you who have responded, feel we have improved since September. There is still much to do, and I will be monitoring the progress of the Academy very carefully in 2023. There will be no complacency.
I recognise we are on a journey, a journey of continuous improvement that Mr Singh will lead. We wish him and the academy every success over the coming years.
Mrs Rawcliffe has worked very hard with Mr Felvus and Mrs Duffy to update the timetable for January, so that we have less lessons of the same subject on the same day. This is another example of GCA trying to improve. We have also been fortunate to second Mrs Helen Cook who will work with our Deputy Headteacher, Miss Royds in the pastoral area. She will create more capacity in this area for the Spring term.
On a personal note, this has been my last term of hands on activity in a school and it has been a happy way to finish after 33 years. Some of you will know, I had a fall on the ice at the weekend and I am finishing my term on crutches with a torn hamstring. Still, I will get my 100% attendance certificate!
Incidentally, Mr Millatt organised some fantastic rewards assemblies this week - thanks to him.
We also had a wonderful evening of entertainment last week from the Spotlight group. Literally, reaching for the stars on the Christmas stage. So, on that topic, I wish you all a safe and happy Christmas and look forward to a positive year for GCA.
Yours in partnership
Sean Bullen - Interim Headteacher
9th December 2022
We are at the end of both the penultimate week of term and my penultimate week as Interim Headteacher.
I never dreamed when I became Director of Secondary for FCAT 3 years ago that I would be asked to once again serve as a Headteacher, but I have been blessed by this term at GCA, as each day is new.
I felt particularly proud on Wednesday night when I witnessed our fantastic 'Christmas Carollers’, who were watched by a captivated and appreciating capacity audience.
We also had an excellent visit to Manchester Christmas markets yesterday,
I will soon be moving to a more advisory role as Executive Headteacher as Mr Singh joins us in January as the new Head. Incidentally, he came to see the show too, which was fantastic. He will bring his ideas and his vision for the future development of GCA.
Regarding our final week, a reminder that we finish next Friday at 1.15pm. On the final morning there will be some Christmas activities, including the staff Christmas singalong which the children will enjoy. We also gave the vast majority of our students a small gift on Friday, to reflect their behaviour and work ethic this week which was organised by Mr Millatt.
We also did some training on Tuesday night to improve our use of form time in the New Year.
Finally, I am a big believer in finding out more about our stakeholder views. I commissioned two surveys. We scored very well in our recent Year 8 parental survey with satisfaction ratings for all but one measure being around 85%. That measure was to do with communication which I know we can still do better. We also asked whether parents felt the school had developed since September. 21.5% felt it had significantly improved, 52% felt it had improved, 21.5% felt it is still the same and 5% felt we had regressed. I was reasonably pleased with the results, but there will be no complacency. The issue of toilet provision came out in the comments and I am trying to improve that area.
Similarly, we completed a student survey, where we are awaiting results. It became clear that a rule we have at Montgomery and Armfield of no coats in the dinner queue was not popular. Again, we have listened to the students and changed that rule so that we now just expect coats off in lessons or assemblies. I love to be able to see full uniform as I think we look so smart, nonetheless, this is another example of us wanting to work together to Grow, Care and Achieve.
On a final note, can we encourage all students to cross roads safely. I have had a few concerns from members of the public.
On a potential World Cup Final note, let us hope we beat France tomorrow.
Anyway, all the best for the Christmas season, although I may write to you next week.
Sean Bullen, Interim Headteacher GCA
2nd December 2022
This is my latest update:
Firstly, it was lovely to meet the class of 2022 last night, when they came to collect their certificates. Good to hear about their dreams. We wish them all the very best in their lives and hope they have happy memories of GCA.
Next week we are wanting to reward all our hard-working students; I am very much in favour of rewards, so any student who does not get a C3 next week will get a small gift. It is yet another example of us trying to recognise the vast, vast majority of our wonderful students who always work so hard. I would like to thank Mr Millatt who is the senior teacher in charge of our rewards strategy.
Yesterday Mr Singh visited school again; he will of course have his own ideas about moving the school forward. I am very excited about being able to support him as Executive Headteacher from January. I know that Mr Singh will be wanting to have another parent’s forum in late January or early February.
In most schools I have worked, students are often interested in food and toilet provision. As you know, I am constantly looking to listen to both students and parents, hence why we have had both groups surveyed recently.
In terms of the toilets, we are wanting to supervise them a little more pro-actively than previously. This is not necessarily because I think there are major issues around these areas, it is just that I want to respond to a number of parental and student concerns.
Therefore, the toilets near the gym will be open all the time at breaks and lunches, as will the unisex toilets. We will look to have them supervised all the time, which is an aim we aspire to although sometimes staff are called away. The toilets in the Maths block will also be open at break.
Two other points: Firstly, anyone with a medical condition or other personal reasons can ask for a toilet pass to be able to use facilities during lessons. Secondly, where we think there is a genuine need in lessons, staff will use their discretion, whilst at the same time monitoring those who are not following systems correctly.
Finally, on a different note, let us hope England win on Sunday night!
Sean Bullen Interim Headteacher
18th November 2022
- On Monday we are hoping Mr Singh will be with us and I will be introducing him to staff and students. I am really looking forward to having him in school on Monday.
- Just to remind everyone, we are hoping that all who wish to watch England v Iran on Monday, will watch at least half of the first half and all of the second half. The match falls over lunch and we need to still have lunch arrangements in place. We are really just missing 1 hour of learning time in the year, to share this national moment. We have alternative activities available for those who are less interested. We are hoping the technology works, and we hope to watch it. Finally not all schools are doing this, but this is just one example of how we want to listen to the views of students where appropriate more often. I was inundated with requests as you can imagine! I am expecting the students to behave well to thank us for making this decision.
- Mrs Smith is looking at how we can listen to student voice more and we will keep you informed on progress in this area.
- Car parking- I have been asked by residents in the Ash Drive area , that we all please take care when parking our cars, either at the start or end of the day. We are all one community, and I hope we can be courteous with our neighbours.
- A reminder to ensure students have money on their dinner accounts, although we will always try to make sure no student misses their lunch.
- Finally , next Thursday is the face to face Year 8 Parents evening.This face to face decision is in response to the recent Parental forum.. We are utilising it to start our Parental survey process.We will then be rolling that out to all Parents/Carers. I will be especially interested to get comments about our work since September, and whether you feel we are moving forward or indeed not moving forward as you would wish us to do.
Yours in partnership, Sean Bullen Interim Headteacher
14th November 2022
As you know we are constantly seeking to be kinder as a community. A number of students have been to me to ask whether we will be watching the England World Cup match next Monday at 1pm.
This led to us having a discussion as 10 FCAT academies about this and we have decided as a Trust to be open as usual on Monday 21st November, but to allow students to watch the game. If they do not wish to watch it, they can bring a book to read, bring some homework to do or just sit quietly in the lesson and chat about something else.
This is something that only crops up once every 4 years. I remember when I was a young Deputy Headteacher at St George's we opened the school up at 7.30 to watch England v Brazil live from Japan. We can all get behind the nation together, who knows we may even win!
This supports the wishes of many of our youngsters and technology permitting we will watch the game, by utilising 25 minutes of reading time and 1 hour at the end of the day. A child has over 3000 lessons between one world cup and another , so I do not think this utilisation of time will affect their learning.
Yours in partnership
Sean M Bullen, Interim Headteacher
7th November 2022
We are now a week into the second half of this busy term. I am really enjoying my time here, especially as I feel I am getting to know both the staff and students better.
I think as a school we are moving in the right direction. The vast majority of students are very caring and always work very hard. However, we do have some students who could improve their empathy and understanding of others. To be honest I think this is partly down to Covid, when as a society we all tended to retreat into our own family bubbles. Therefore, to recognise we can develop in this area, we are relaunching our 'Care' strategy. I did an assembly last week on being Kind to all, and this week Miss Hall, Mr Millatt and Miss Rainbow are doing a follow up assembly. This small team of colleagues are also looking at how we reward students over the coming months. We particularly want to use rewards as well as sanctions in all we do.
On a final note, can I repeat my intention that we continue to communicate better. I recognise both myself and the school do not always get everything right. However, I am committed to getting back to Parents within 24 hours. Once again , if you feel we have not responded quickly enough please use the email firstname.lastname@example.org and indicate it is for the attention of the Interim Headteacher and I will get back to you that day.
Best wishes in partnership
Sean M Bullen, Interim Headteacher
18th October 2022
Visit of Satinder Singh and Parents forum
On Thursday 13th October Mr Singh came to talk to four groups of both parents and prospective parents, about 200 in all. He still attended despite having left Accident and Emergency at 3.45am, gone to his normal school for 06:00am. and having had a full day. He spoke to parents and prospective parents about his vision for the school. I think it would be fair to say that the reception was very positive, indeed we have received six unsolicited emails to that effect the day after. He came across as a man of integrity, drive and vision.
I am personally very positive that from January he will drive the school forward. As you know I was brought into GCA at very short notice to provide stability and calm experience for this term after a challenging year for the school. We have received some feedback that indicates parents feel we are already moving in the right direction and this stability has been provided by the Trust very quickly.
That being said, we also decided it was a wonderful opportunity to use the evening as a Parents Forum. We got some lovely comments, especially about the pastoral support for our students. However we also took a number of points where we need to improve:-
- Communication - we heard of examples where the school has not got back to parents quickly enough. I would hope you have already seen a slight improvement with this. I almost always get back to people within the day. I will also be asking for colleagues to improve the speed with which we respond. Indeed if we do not respond quickly enough, please email the email@example.com and I will look into it.
- Communication in terms of reports - This is something Mr Singh will look at in the Spring as many parents felt the information we gave was not good enough
- Parents evenings - certainly the overwhelming view of one talk, and comments from other talks leads me to the view that we should move back to face to face parents evening. We will do this
- Parents forum - I think we will try to do one a term like we did last Thursday with questions and responses.
- Behaviour and support - It was interesting that there were both questions about improving behaviour at the school, but also giving more support to our young people. One parent who works in the NHS spoke with great passion about the needs of young people post Covid and the fact that external services are very stretched. Under my tenure we will have an absolute commitment to supporting our young people, hence the employment of a case worker, a life coach and potentially a mental health colleague for a couple of days a week.
Equally, I expect children to behave and that is why we are firm with our disciplinary procedures and are tightening up on behaviour especially in Year 8. A full behaviour review will be completed by Mr Singh in the first months of his appointment. This is common practice for a new Headteacher, we feel behaviour is good here, but there is always room for improvement.
- There were some concerns about the amount of supply teachers at the moment. A few points on this :-
We monitor carefully the quality of supply teachers
The last week of a half term is often an issue.
Some of this is beyond the control of the school as it depends on individual circumstances and is also a national issue.
However on a positive, we have increased staffing in both English and Maths and appointed a new Head of Science for January to give Mrs Tasker (Assistant Headteacher) more capacity to monitor Teaching and Learning
So lots of things for us to think about. I have really enjoyed my first weeks here. The children are fantastic and the staff hard working. This next half term we will be having a particular push on using rewards more, our anti -bullying strategies and our monitoring of the work of our students.
Finally some clarification. From January I will still be working at GCA, perhaps not as many days and certainly not as visible. I will want to give Mr Singh every opportunity to put his imprint on the school and move GCA forward. However, I will still be here to share my 16 years of Headship experience and support Mr Singh in enabling us all to Grow, Care and Achieve.
Yours in partnership
Sean Bullen - Interim Headteacher
5th October 2022
Dear Parent, Mr Satinder Singh will be coming to GCA on Thursday 13th October to deliver a brief talk at 6, 6.30, 7 and 7.30. We are excited to offer this opportunity to both Parents at the school at the present time and prospective parents. It is a great chance to meet our next Headteacher. Children are not invited on this occasion.
Each talk will be about 15 minutes. We will try to ensure the evening runs as smoothly as possible. Try to come for your talk about 10 minutes in advance of it. We imagine 6 and 7 will be popular slots , but we will try and see what we can do. If we are absolutely jam packed we might add in a few more talks and they will start at slightly different times.
Car parking will be in the main staff car park, the front of school and the back of school if needed.
I will also be there to introduce him, and look forward to seeing you on the evening.
Sean Bullen, Interim Headteacher