2nd December 2022

Dear Parent/Carer

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!

Take care,

In partnership 

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

Dear Parent/Carer

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

Dear Parent/Carer,

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 info@garstang.fcat.org.uk 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

Dear Parent/Carer

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:-

  1. 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 info@garstang.fcat.org.uk and I will look into it.
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. Parents forum - I think we will try to do one a term like we did last Thursday with questions and responses.
  5. 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.

  1. 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.


In partnership
Sean Bullen, Interim Headteacher