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Head’s Corner – December 2006

December 15th, 2006

I am now well into my third year as Headteacher at Harrow Way Community School, and as I sit down to prepare my seventh contribution to the Harrow Way Eagle I have been reflecting on the fact that life in a secondary school is constantly varied, sometimes moving at breakneck speed.

It can be exciting, tiring, sometimes difficult, but never boring!  The year got off to a flying start with a full Ofsted Inspection three weeks into the term.  Having been last inspected in 2002 and with a new headteacher and a changing profile we knew that we were due to be inspected but such events can never be taken in one’s stride. Schools these days are given only a few days’ notice of an inspection and so really a great deal of preparation has to be done well in advance and then constantly reviewed so that the school is always ready for such an occasion.  The whole event was obviously a highly pressurised experience because so much rests on the outcome. Readers can therefore imagine how absolutely delighted we were to be described by Ofsted in their report as ‘a good and improving school’.  In fact we received a grading of ‘good’ in every main area of the work of the school inspected by the team.  I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the staff, governors and students for their success in helping our school improvement programme.  Although we are thrilled with the outcome of the report there is certainly no room for complacency and work has continued apace as we work on implementing our School Improvement Plans in all aspects of our work.
The future of the Harrow Way Eagle
The last edition of a ‘hard’ copy of the Eagle has been circulated  Future editions will be published on our website, although we will retain regular written communication through a newsletter published at least termly, the purpose of which will be to draw parents’ attention to key dates and events.
School Population
Readers may recall that this time last year I was able to write that our year 7 intake had increased by a massive 38% on the previous year.  This year we appear to have done even better with a 45% increase on the baseline year in question.   We are therefore confident that we are going to be fully subscribed for September 2007 and I am delighted by the confidence and trust that the families of Andover are placing in our school community.  It is a clear indication of the increasing standing of Harrow Way School within the local community and it is my intention to work with staff and governors to ensure continuing improvement in our school.
Office Depot
We are delighted with our association with Office Depot as their adopted school which is a real coup for us and for them and I am sure readers will wish to read the full article.
Specialist School Application
You will recall from my last contribution to Head’s Corner that we are compiling an application to become a Specialist Maths and Computing School.  Plans are now well underway for our submission and we will of course keep you informed.  We are also building on our high quality Arts provision at Harrow Way by seeking to attain the Artsmark Gold Standard.   The application was submitted in November and if successful will provide us with a quality stamp of approval.  We expect to hear in the Spring.
Staff
This Christmas we say goodbye to Mr Dawes, teacher of Design & Technology, who has worked with us this term.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his services.  Staff joining us in January include Mr Woodcock who has already been teaching Science for us on a supply basis and who will be entering a full time contract after Christmas.  We are also delighted to welcome back into the fold Mr Zayne Essop who will be rejoining the Design & Technology Department after a break of one term.  We were very sorry to hear of the death in service of Mr Tony Baitrum earlier this term and our sympathies and thoughts remain with his family.  We are pleased to welcome Mr Roger Bromley as a Site Assistant who joined us in September.  We have also increased our classroom based staff with the appointment of two cover supervisors, Mrs Julia McLachlan and Mrs Alison Harris.
School Website
We have taken on the hosting of our website ourselves and as a result have made significant upgrades to the service.  The content is expanding all the time and we were delighted this week to have been able to provide streaming video of our entire recent production of ‘The Tempest’. 
Primary School Links
We continue to meet with our family of primary schools each half term and this forms the basis of our very strong links both inside and outside the classroom.  This term, we have worked with pupils from all of our family of primary schools and I was delighted this week to be invited to Kimpton School’s Christmas production which I thoroughly enjoyed.  Also last week I was able to attend the African Art Exhibition as part of the ‘Better Lives, Better Chances’ project at the Guildhall hosted by Shepherd’s Spring Junior School.
Premises
In line with our programme of school improvements we are continuing to develop our premises to make them increasingly fit for purpose, which is especially important as numbers in school begin to increase.  For example, one of the classrooms has been refurbished as a temporary drama room, safety barriers have been erected around the exit to the school and traffic calming measures put into place as part of the ‘Safer Routes to School’ programme.  We are also in the process of significantly upgrading the number and quality of external lights around the site.
Parent Consultation Day
Our new parent consultation day system has been reviewed and as a result, in response to comments from parents and teachers, we have reintroduced a traditional Year 11 parents evening in the form of a clinic.  The PC days themselves are proving to be a real success and I am delighted that so many parents are able to make the time during the day to attend their meetings with the Group Tutor.  Our next PC day takes place on Wednesday 10th January.  By the time you receive this edition of the Eagle you should have received my letter regarding the January PC day.
Uniform
I have had very many favourable comments regarding how smart the students look now that they are in blazers, collars and ties.  We are always looking at ways to improve students’ dress and I would like to draw your attention to my end of term letter which you should have by now received.  This attends to matters of uniform in more detail, particularly the wearing of scarves to school.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank parents and others in the community for their continued support of our work here at Harrow Way Community School and on behalf of the Governors, Staff and Students we wish you all a very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

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