Academisation update

As you will already know, we have been given the green light by the Department for Education to form a multi academy Trust with Romiley Primary School. It was a long process to get to this point, but now that things are starting to happen we thought it a good time to give you an update. Our new multi academy trust will be called ‘Helix Academies Trust’. A helix has connotations to DNA, and we want to form a trust where our vision for our schools and community runs through our DNA. We will be “Nurturing learners to influence, challenge and lead the communities in which they live.”

We believe there is a difference between equipping learners to fit in to society and nurturing learners who understand that whoever they are and whatever they end up doing, they influence the world around them. Every learner, both adult and child, has a unique and powerful voice.

The name is also a nod to Stockport’s industrial past of hat making (HAT). We believe it is also significant because the more strands there are to a helix, the stronger it becomes. Through a closer working relationship, we will become stronger.

After our proposal was granted, we have had monthly meetings with the DfE and the local authority. Contrary to the belief that some still hold, we are working closely with the local authority and will continue to do so after converting to academy status. The local authority is supportive of our plans. We have now registered Helix Academies Trust with Companies House and have set our target conversion date as 1st September. September is a good time to start a new academy trust, as an academy’s financial year runs from September to August, in line with the academic year.

There is still lots to do before then, but if there are any more updates, we’ll keep you informed.

Best wishes,

Joe Barker

Short but effective

No, not a quote from one of my school reports, but instead a summary of this half term. A short ‘five-weeker’, but in that time we’ve squeezed in a full set of Year 11 trial exams, helped 300+ Year nine students choose their options for next year and raised attendance to the highest sustained level since September. We’ve done a lot more besides of course, and in particular we’ve been really encouraged to see the number of books loaned from the Hub (our Library) continue to rise too. I may have said it before, but if students ‘turn up and read’ then they are half way there!

Today though I’d like to focus on our Year 11 cohort who have, like I say, just completed their full set of trial exams. Students have collectively sat over 3000 exam papers, giving them a good impression of what the ‘real thing’ looks like. The vast majority of the year group have taken the tests really seriously indeed. This has been shown by the increased attendance, the comments from the invigilation team and the early feedback from Year 11 teachers who report that levels of effort in answering the questions have been high. This is so important as it means we can give proper, meaningful feedback to students to help them in the coming months. Years ago, I’d say that too many of our Year 11s didn’t take the old ‘mock’ exams seriously enough. ‘I’ll try for the real thing‘, they would wishfully say to themselves to make themselves feel better. I’m increasingly confident that we have tackled that dangerous attitude head on, and that the current Year 11s are leading by example.

Before I finish on the theme of the trial exams, a final thank you to my colleagues for all the hours of marking and feedback preparation. I know all too well how long it takes to do this job properly, and so thank you.

Thank you to everyone for your ongoing support,

Have a great week,

Joe Barker

Up and Up!

Last week I mentioned how our Year 11 cohort have really risen to the challenge of the Trial Exams, both in terms of their efforts in the exams themselves and in their attendance too. More broadly, there’s really positive news about attendance overall. Whilst attendance tends to go up and down over a school year, often starting high at the start of a term and then dropping off, at MHS we’ve been bucking that trend recently. Not only were the last couple of weeks before Christmas really strong, but the first three weeks of the new year have been very positive too and improving week by week. To be a percentage point above the national rate doesn’t sound like much, but in attendance terms it is and we’ve been at that level for most of the year since September. However this term MHS attendance is rising, with the school almost a full three percentage points above national rates last week – and over five points above in one year group. That’s massive! Also, the percentage of students classed as persistently absent (with an attendance of under 90% across the year to date) is over 6% points below other secondary schools. We’re not complacent though, and there are definitely areas that we need to work on, but we should also recognise positives where they exist.

Well done to everyone who is contributing to this excellent and very encouraging picture. And it’s not just those with 100% or nearly 100% attendance who deserve the credit – well done to all those who have struggled with attendance and who have managed to improve recently. That’s just as important and just as significant. If we can keep this up then EVERYONE WINS, so fingers crossed. If the key to success in school is to ‘Turn up and read’ (and it really is) then more and more MHS students are at least half way there.

One week to go until half term, let’s make it a good one. Turn up and read!

Have a great weekend,

Joe Barker

Marple Hall School
Hill Top Drive
Stockport SK6 6LB Headteacher: Mr Joe Barker
Tel: 0161 427 7966
Fax: 0161 426 0931