After the recent half-term break we now find ourselves at exactly the half-way point of the current academic school year. Staff and students continue to make every effort in teaching and learning to ensure the progress and success our learners deserve.
I have previously informed you about all of the many changes which have taken place in the new Academy over the past eighteen months and I am pleased to say that they are all now embedded and we are now pleasingly seeing clear evidence of the positive impact which these changes are making. There is an increased sense of pride in the Academy from both staff and students, there is improved behaviour and most positively of all, a clear shift in growing levels of student engagement through consistent demonstration of positive attitudes towards learning. The standard of teaching is constantly escalating, the building itself has improved as a learning environment, our new rewards and sanction systems are now familiar to all learners, whilst proving very effective and our new uniform continues to provide an identity for our learners which they are proud to wear also.
New Staff Joining the Sandhill Team
As Easter approaches, the Academy will be further adding to its staff roll. The summer term will see a total of nine new members of staff joining us. These include two new Assistant Headteachers, a new SENCO in charge of Learning Support and additions to English, Science, Humanities, Modern Foreign Languages as well as to the Hearing Impaired department. A full list of Academy staff and useful contact numbers are listed on the Academy website.
Exam Season Approaches
Our Year 11 students return on the back of the recent very well attended Parent’s Evening event and are all aware of current progress and the areas which they need to continue to work hard on in order to gain their predicted examination success. They will be undertaking a period of mock examinations over a two week period from Monday 7th March and this will provide them with the experience of how the final exams will take place. In preparation for the final GCSE Literature exam, the entire Year 11 students attended a showing of J. B. Priestley’s ‘An Inspector calls’ at Newcastle Theatre Royal earlier this month with the English department, a worthwhile experience to support their studying of this GCSE play.
School Visits Excite
In Year 10, a group of high achieving students have attended two visits with Mrs Watson and Mr Blake, the most recent being to Leicester to become involved in a sporting initiative whose patron is Dame Kelly Holmes. In Art and Design, students in both Year’s 9 and 10 continue to be heavily involved in projects in partnership with The Baltic in Newcastle. Year 10 Parent’s Evening will be taking place on Wednesday 16th March.
On Thursday 4th February Sandhill View was visited by Olympic gymnast Craig Heap. Craig was on site speaking to students as part of the ‘Living for Sport’ programme which the Academy is involved in as a school and his presentation to a number of year groups had a heavy focus upon ‘growth mind-set’. His advice, thoughts and the example set to our learners by Craig as a role model was very well received by our students and we plan to build further on the range of guest speakers who come to visit and raise confidence and aspirations over the next term and a half.
In Year 7, students have continued to receive increased input into building literacy skills. Sandhill View has been lucky enough in recent weeks for Year 7 students to receive talks and readings from acclaimed novelists Joseph Delany who wrote the critically celebrated ‘The Spook’s Apprentice’ and also Philip Ardagh who has experienced literary success as author of the popular ‘The Grunts’.
Monday 22nd February saw Sandhill View visited by Northumbria Police Dog Unit as part of a wider community initiative by our local police. A small number of police service dogs were brought on site to meet students and staff and officers delivered educational presentations and hosted discussion in relation to staying safe, substance awareness and instilling confidence around animals. This initiative was again very well received by all students and hugely informative for our students.
Students Make Their Voices Heard
In response to student voice, there have been further additions made to provision for students. Over recent weeks we have increased the number of bins and recycling facilities available to dispose of waste. This has both brightened the external environment and has also demonstrated how much our students care about keeping Sandhill View litter free, with clear evidence in a reduction to litter on site. This will be further built upon this half-term through our anti-litter campaign and recycling competition.
Students have also told us that they would like increased access to confidential advice and guidance on topics linked to health and well-being. I have recently written to you to inform you that a new drop-in service with a trained and well qualified counsellor will begin operating each Friday and Monday lunch-time on site from Friday 26th February. This was indicated as a main priority for students in the recent student survey and we have acted swiftly and appropriately to improve this aspect for our learners. In addition to this, students are also requesting storage facilities be made more widely available to them to enable safe and secure storage of bicycles and scooters. Sandhill View is keen to promote healthy living and road safety and this is currently being investigated in conjunction with members of the student council form representatives.
I am also pleased to report further sporting successes for our youngsters who represent the Academy in a range of competitions. In reference to just two examples from many, congratulations go to the u13 girls who made a great start to their CVL. Their first game was against Castle View where regardless of the poor weather they managed to achieve a 4-0 win. In their second game they played Houghton Kepier and were 1-0 down at half time but Lateesha King scored in the final 5 minutes to create a final score 1-1. Well done to all girls for a superb team effort and their commitment to after school leagues.
On the back of a European-style winter break, Sandhill View’s Year 8 boys team eased themselves back into competitive competition with a second-round cup tie against a competitive Houghton Kepier side. Prior to the encounter, the squad spoke of the need for a professional approach towards proceedings – with an Arkless Cup semi-final place going to the winners. The result ended in a convincing 5-1 victory for Sandhill View. We look forward to informing you about future results.
We also continue to engage with our feeder primary schools in advance of Year 6 students joining us next academic year in September. A range of taster and booster sessions for students in our feeder schools in both Year’s 5 and 6, as well as Buddies Week and information about Summer School for Year 6 students will be released over coming months. Planning is already well underway.
I look forward to providing you with further news and updates in the near future.
Richard Carr – Head of School