Our Principal's Blog
3rd April 2020
This is truly the strangest end of term letter I have written in my 6 years as a Principal. I wanted to write to you to outline how Ormiston Rivers Academy will proceed from 20th April 2020 if, and only if, the lockdown and restrictions remain in place. The Coronavirus will be at its peak by this point so it is safe to assume that everything will remain the same on that date. I am finding it surreal to even write that sentence to you.
Thank you for the feedback we have had over the last two weeks. I will always be totally transparent with you; your positivity and comments of support have made me very emotional. I have never felt such kindness and love from a community before, and my staff feel overwhelmed by the emails and messages of gratitude.
Year 11 and Year 13
We have now received information from Ofqual regarding how GCSE/A level grades will be organised. Please refer to my previous letter, which you can access here. We will not let you down, and I will keep parents and students informed at every step, what we know; you will know.
As you are aware we have been sharing e-Vouchers for students in receipt of Free School Meals. The Government has now announced the new scheme this week so we will be setting this up over the next few days and further information will be shared once we have this. If you have any questions regarding FSM please contact our Academy Business Manager, Mrs A. Mahoney, at: Amahoney@ormistonriversacademy.co.uk
The SEN team are in contact with each student that may need support with work set remotely. I thank Mr Costello and Mrs Gosling and the Learning Support Assistants from the bottom of my heart for the extra work they have put in to make sure work is accessible to all students. They have also set up a separate “Google” classroom and are supporting students as much as possible . If you need any further help please do email them directly. Rcostello@ormistonriversacademy.co.uk
On our website we have created a Rivers’ Home Study Hub which incorporates resources, mental health support, fun activities and a range of activities to help you and your child. If you haven’t looked at this so far; please do so. Again, a massive thank you to Miss Ingate who has been working super hard in creating this resource for you all.
After the scheduled Easter holiday break, all students will receive a wellbeing call, using the contact details we have recorded. This will enable us to monitor the welfare of all of our students and pick up on any learning issues, whilst monitoring their mental health. We will also be making calls to you if your child has not logged in to the Google Classroom so far. I appreciate that this has been a difficult few weeks, but we must now use this time to get used to this new way of working. If you need any support in logging in, accessing the classroom please do contact us so we can support you. Email: email@example.com
During the Easter break there will be no extra work set, as this is the usual break for students and staff. We will be open on selected days for our key worker students, who have indicated that they need this service. However the break is a good time to rest and to recharge for the weeks ahead. If you are a key worker and have not already informed us of the days you need support for your child, please contact us urgently as, based on current information, we are not open every day during the break so this does need to be planned and arranged. Please contact: Jedwards@ormistonriversacademy.co.uk
When we return after the Easter break, we will be amending the way we are using the Google Classroom. As you are aware, it was necessary to set this up very quickly and we have, hopefully, given students and parents/carers the time now to get used to how it works. When we return the expectation is that students will submit their work to their teachers by the agreed deadline online. Teachers will also be posting online lessons to make it more interactive and informative for students. Staff will also be feeding back on submitted work and will be sharing details of this in the Google classrooms when we return. Further information and instructions will be issued by Mrs Bennett when we return.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I wish you all a safe, happy and healthy Easter Break. We miss you all deeply, but we must keep to the Government guidelines. We must stay indoors and stay safe, to support our NHS, our key-workers; and indeed, each other at this difficult time.
We are trying to help each and every one of you to navigate through this difficult time. We genuinely are here if you need us. Drop us an email, stay in touch. We are right behind you and will do all we can to help you through the challenges of the next few months. We are in this together.
When we are back; we will be stronger, we will be more united and we will really appreciate and nurture the relationships that have always been there.
13th March 2020
Last Friday evening the Town Mayor organised a Civic Reception which was held at the academy. I am pleased to announce that the following students and staff won awards:
Jessica Hearn - Burnham Town Council award for Performing Arts
Oliver Vallance - Burnham Town Council award for Performing Arts
Edward Farthing - Burnham Town Council award for Performing Arts
Sandra Carroll - Burnham Town Council Teachers Award
Imogen Smith, Emma Lawrence, Tayla Barclay - Well-being Award for Epic Dance
Angela Mahoney - Burnham Town Council Educational Champion Award.
Well done to all concerned.
On Monday Evening I attended our A level Drama production of “The It” which was in partnership with the National Theatre “Connections” project. It was a brilliant drama production that had me gripped from start to finish.. It was lovely to see a range of students participating from Year 10 to Year 13. Some of the students involved have been part of this annual show for the last five years, and I know that the Year 13’s will be sad to no longer be involved.
It has been a busy week for the Performing Arts department with the Year 13 Drama exam last Friday, CAPA Dance exam on Wednesday and on Thursday a Dance and Drama showcase. We are very fortunate to have such dedicated, talented staff that give up so much of their time for our students. As a result the performances were all incredible and I have no doubt that many of our students will be the stars of the future.
I am constantly impressed and awestruck by the incredibly diverse range of talents displayed by our wonderful students. To this end, we have put together a brochure to celebrate the wide variety of activities and achievements which have taken place during my first 100 days as Principal. I hope that you will enjoy seeing these and that you will join me in celebrating and congratulating our amazing students.
Mrs Emma Baker
6th March 2020
On Monday, many parents of children in Year 6 were excited and anxious to find out whether their child had secured a place in their preferred secondary school. As a parent myself, I remember this feeling last year when my daughter was finding out about her Reception place. As an Academy I am really pleased that we are over-subscribed again. However, sadly that does mean that not all children in our local area received a place. I am currently working with the Local Authority to see if we can expand, as we would love to be able to take all the students who put as down as first choice but, unfortunately, we do not have the physical space in the academy at the moment. I will keep you posted with any developments in this respect over the next few months, but this will be for 2022 intake onwards.
Last term we had several students enter and compete in a public speaking competition, "Make Yourself Heard". This was a national public speaking competition where all OAT Academies competed. Our students were up against other students in the southern region. The competition was tough, but eventually the Trust selected eight exceptional regional finalists, that entered into the final nail-biting round. Members of the Executive Team at OAT Head Office had the difficult task of choosing the final KS3 and KS4 winners, but after much deliberation, one of our students won!
KS3: Adam Feakins, Ormiston Rivers Academy: "Autism"
I would also like to make a special mention to another student who made it to the regional finals; Tyler May.
Adam and Tyler have made the academy very proud, I would also like to congratulate all who took part; they really made themselves heard and a special thanks to Miss Flack who organised this on behalf of the academy. Adam will now get to “make himself heard” at the OAT Annual Awards ceremony in London on 19th March and I can't wait to see him perform. Both finalists won book tokens, and Adam also won tickets to watch a performance at The Globe Theatre, plus accommodation in London, which is an amazing prize.
Mrs Emma Baker
28th February 2020
Welcome back, our students had a wonderful ski trip in Austria over the half term, a massive thanks to the staff involved who made the trip so enjoyable. It has been wonderful to watch the videos and see photos from the fantastic enrichment opportunity.
This week, we launched our "Super 6" with students and parents in Year 11,students on Tuesday were shown useful practical ways of how to revise and every night staff are running revision sessions for them. We have also launched a reward scheme to go with this, first celebrations regarding this will take place in assembly on wednesday. An app for your phone has been designed with the timetable of Super 6, strategies and mental health support is all featured, so if you have not downloaded this the link is https://orasuper6.glideapp.io/
This week, we have been preparing students in Year 10 and 11 for next week PPE exams, timetables have been given out today. On Thursday we had our Sixth Form Parents evening which attendance was very high, we are in the remaining weeks now for Year 13 and Year 11 so the pressure is on for these students. However the staff are here to support in anyway we can, so please do let us know if we can help further in anyway.
Today I have been able to get around and see most of the students in lessons, I love walking into lessons and talking to the students. It is the best part of my job, the students are amazing at this academy and it has been great seeing them perform dance routines in the corridor, from making frames in Technology, to completing coursework in Childcare and Retail, making pasta in Food and preparing for the PPE exams in RS.
14th February 2020
Wow! Another half-term has flown by, coinciding with my 100 days in post as Principal. Reflecting on the 100 days, I am really proud of the achievements we have made as a school in such a short space of time. In the next few weeks, I will be sharing a brochure with you to reflect some of the amazing highlights of the past three half-terms.
It has been fantastic to see some really high quality work today across all year groups whilst walking around lessons. Students were all working hard and taking genuine pride in their work.
Over the last few weeks we have launched our new Careers Programme. I know from your feedback previously that this was an area of the school that you were not fully aware of. As a result, our Careers Lead, Miss Compton, has worked incredibly hard to bring a wide range of external organisations in so that our students have a rich and varied offer; from mock interview skills for Year 11, to masterclasses in law, sport, teaching and university trips. This programme will continue to run through all year groups. If you have any contacts in the industry who would be willing to support our students, please do let us know.
Today we have over 100 students venturing to Austria to hit the ski slopes. I wish them all safe travels and a wonderful time. I am looking forward to hearing about their adventures and to seeing all the photos upon their return.
Next week we are running a number of revision sessions for Year 10-13 students. All the information is available on our website or Facebook page.
I wish all of our students, parents, staff and wider community a wonderful half-term.
7th February 2020
I am so pleased to announce it has been a week of celebrations in the academy.
On Monday we were told that we won a Bronze award for the Young Carer support we offer to our students to ensure that those who are young carers are still enabled to access an excellent educational experience.
In addition, every year we nominate students in various categories for the Ormiston Academies Trust Annual Awards. We are delighted to announce that two of our students were selected as winners in their respective categories, and will therefore be attending the ceremony in London with Mrs Baker in March. Bradley H has won the award for “Most Improved Student”, and Edward F has won “The Creativity Prize”. Both students will attend the ceremony in London with Mrs Baker in March, and will also receive an overnight stay in a London hotel. Well done to both students, who were selected from hundreds of entries across all OAT academies nationally.
On Thursday I attended the Essex Teaching Awards at Hyland House in Chelmsford with Mrs Bennett, Vice-Principal, where we supported our Performing Arts Team who were shortlisted for “Team of the Year” and Miss Marable who was shortlisted for “Secondary Teacher of the Year”. I am very pleased and proud to announce that both the Performing Arts Team and Miss Marable won their respective categories. We were the only school present to win two awards. This is an amazing and very well-deserved achievement. Congratulations to all concerned.
Finally, on Thursday, we received confirmation from the Department for Education that our 2018/19 GCSE results place us as the 2nd highest performing non-selective school in Essex for student progress. The academy achieved a Progress 8 score of +0.43, compared to a national average of -0.03. In addition, both the academy’s Disadvantaged and Most Able students made the best progress of all non-selective Essex schools, ranking the school as the most successful for these measures. These outcomes place the academy in the top 9% of schools nationally.
Congratulations to all concerned on these amazing achievements!
Mrs Emma Baker
31st January 2020
It has been another fabulous week as we say goodbye to January. Our “Make Yourself Heard” school finalists presented their speeches to a panel of teachers, myself and our Regional Director on Wednesday. Adam and Tyler were amazing at delivering their own speeches that were very personal to them, and I really hope they make it through to the finals.
Following feedback from parents and students, we have created a number of “masterclasses” for our students which started recently. This week we held a Cardiac Physiology masterclass and a Sports Therapy Masterclass. This would not be possible without the support of many of our parents or their contacts, who have very kindly given up their time to come in and talk to the students about these roles. If you feel this is something you would be happy to do, then please do contact us.
We have also had a PhD tutor in this week to work with a range of students in Years 10 and 12 who are part of The Brilliant Club, and there have been two external trips this week. Some of the Year 7 and 8 students visited Oxford University with the English Team and many students who are attending the ski trip in February went to the Snow Centre at Hemel Hempstead on Friday afternoon to get some valuable practice in.
This week I have been meeting with students in each year group, who achieved the most progress last term. So far I have met with Year 11, Year 10 and Year 9, and it has been wonderful to get to know these students better and to gather their opinions of the school. The students have been very honest with me and it’s great that they are recognising the positive changes in the academy, but also highlighting additional areas that they would like to work with me on developing. One of their requests is introducing more water stations around the academy and how, as an academy, we can recycle more. This is something we are currently discussing and I will share more information on this over the next few weeks.
Mrs Emma Baker
24th January 2020
This week has been another wonderful and busy one in the academy. I met with the "Get up, Stand up” team to discuss fundraising ideas. The students have chosen to raise money for cancer charities and, as part of the charity day in February, students will be donating money in return for no homework for a week. This will only apply to students in Years 7-10, and further information about this will be shared in assemblies next week.
On Wednesday we hosted the "Rotary Young Chef" competition. It was amazing to see our students cooking amazing dishes and being supported by Dan Hull. The event consisted of the students cooking a three course meal on a budget and with the theme of “Healthy Eating”. They were judged on the quality and presentation of the food, and on how well they met the brief. Huge congratulations to Lenny, who has made it through to the Regional Final.
Also this week, we have offered a wide range of enrichment opportunities for our students. We ran a Law Masterclass, which was very well attended, and some of our Year 10 students visited “Jimmy’s Farm” in Ipswich to see how a farm operates. On Thursday, a group of Year 11 girls went on a STEM trip to Cambridge University, and students from Years 9-12 also visited Cambridge University as part of the Brilliant Club. We are very fortunate that our staff are so keen and willing to plan and run additional enrichment opportunities to give our students the very best experiences.
Mrs Emma Baker
17th January 2020
This week all students have been informed about our new initiative; ” Make Happen” in assemblies. The programme is designed to raise aspirations and support our students in considering careers, university study and higher level apprenticeships. This term we also start our Careers Masterclasses. Students can attend those that they are interested in and can get invites from Mrs Compton, the Achievement Directors or through their mentors. The first Masterclasses and dates are below. If you are a parent and think you could offer a session on your area of work do get in touch! We are also very fortunate to become the very first school hub for “Make Happen”, so more events and initiatives will be shared with our students over the next few weeks/months. We have also shared with all students/ parents the new extra curricular timetable, so please do encourage your child to take part in the wonderful provision that we offer after school.
We have had a very positive week and it has been lovely to celebrate the many fantastic achievements of our wonderful students. It was a real honour to hand out so many certificates this week to our students in a range of categories from attendance, subject awards, reading, merits and progress.
I would finally like to thank all of our students. Over the last two weeks I have been really impressed at how they have returned to school with such positive attitudes. The new behaviour systems in place are having a positive impact around the academy and it has been great going into lessons and seeing students being really engaged and enthused. I am really proud of our students and I am excited about the future at Rivers.
To view the Careers Masterclass information, click here.
To view the current Extra-Curricular Timetable, click here.
10th January 2020
t has been a pleasure to welcome everyone back to school for the first week of the Spring Term. It has been a busy week in the Academy, as always. Before we returned, I had a conversation on New Year’s Day with my family about New Year’s resolutions, and this sparked an interest in the psychology of New Year resolutions. The word ‘resolute’ means to be purposeful, determined and unwavering. I am sure, like me, we all make our resolutions with the best of intentions – we want a new start, a chance to make a change, an opportunity to do something differently, do something better. But often, this is much harder to achieve than we think. We can always find reasons not to do something – too busy, too tired, too difficult. It seems that being ‘resolute’ isn’t enough – we need to find other ways of changing and adapting our behaviour. What is required, it seems to me, is a genuine commitment to wanting to change, to make a New Year’s “decision” rather than a “resolution”. I then began to reflect on what might be a New Year resolution, or rather, a New Year’s decision for our school. What would we want to change, to do differently, to do better?
At this time in the year, it is worthwhile re-visiting what we all agree is the common aim of our school. Our vision statement says that this is ‘’ deepening learning, raising aspirations”. It is this commitment to raising expectations that drives me every day; and one that the teachers here at school have spent some time considering what this means for us all in our classrooms, and in our lessons. Our commitment to all our students is to absolutely prioritise the progress and learning that takes place in our lessons throughout 2020. However, for me the little things also matter. Getting to school on time, dressing smartly, bringing the correct equipment and showing respect for all are four simple things everyone can do. When the little things add up it makes a big difference. We are committed to providing challenging work that makes our students think and stretches them at whatever level they are at; to asking interesting and thought provoking questions of everyone in the class to make sure they are all engaged, not just compliant; and to giving all of our young people opportunities to complete work and undertake challenges that they can be really proud of. These commitments will help everyone to do well and, although we may not always get it right 100% of the time, we remain determined to try our best.
If I could make a New Year’s resolution for all of us, it would be simply this – to find moments of joy in our lives. Often, the reality is that we can’t change what events are going to take place; our exams will happen, for example; they will come and they will go. The one thing we can change, however, is how we feel about this, and how we react to situations. Let’s choose to be positive, to tell ourselves that we can, and we will. Let’s stop worrying about things we can’t control, and embrace the possibilities that come with every new day. Of course school can be a challenge, but one that we are well able to meet and to do so joyfully, with resolution, with courage and with a smile.
Already, our students have shown their dedication, commitment and determination this week in our first ever Swimming Gala competing in the district relay competition held at South Woodham Ferrers. Both teams competed brilliantly which resulted in the boys’ team making the medley and freestyle finals. In the respective finals they finished 6th and 4th to top off a great experience.
Well done to everyone involved, we hope this a step towards an even more successful event next year.
Next week we have our first honours assemblies celebrating the many achievements of our exceptional students, which I am really looking forward to.
Mrs Emma Baker, Principal
19th December 2019
The end of term is upon us and, with it, the anticipation of the festive season ahead. We have had another very busy but successful term and I hope that you have enjoyed reading about school events and activities, and some of the many achievements of our young people in my weekly blog or on our Facebook or Instagram pages.
As the end of the autumn term draws to a close, I would like to take this opportunity to provide an update about some aspects of Academy life, and to thank you for your overwhelmingly positive support throughout my first term.
There have been many high points to celebrate this term: our Year 7 students have made a successful transition, settling quickly into Rivers and our first data collection has provided us with positive progress indicators. Our Year 10,11 and Sixth Form students have been busy with their GCSE studies, completing assessments and ‘mock/PPE’ examinations which have provided them with valuable practice at completing examinations within a formal and invigilated setting. It is clear that everyone has worked hard.
Community and Charity Events
As Christmas draws closer, it is inevitable that our minds start, albeit briefly, to drift away from the hard work of our day-to-day Academy business, towards the festive period and I am proud to say that the ‘Spirit of Christmas’ is very much alive at Ormiston Rivers! As an Academy I am so proud of the charity fundraising activities that have taken place since September, and we have raised a significant amount of money for various charities. This is remarkable - thank you for your continued support. On the last day of term, we raised money for “Save the Children”. Last week the Performing Arts team showcased “We Will Rock You” which was truly fantastic and it was wonderful to see so many talented students from our academy involved, and also to welcome students from our local primary schools, who thoroughly enjoyed being part of the show. On Tuesday and Wednesday this week, we served our students a fantastic Christmas lunch, which was enjoyed by all.
Uniform and standards
I would like to thank you for your continued support in maintaining the high standards of uniform that our students have displayed this term. Members of the local community and visitors to the Academy compliment the students on their high standard of uniform and the pride they take in their own appearance and that of their academy. It is important that we maintain these high standards and our young people are ‘dressed for learning’ as we believe it mentally prepares them for school life and beyond. I would ask that all parents/carers support this stance and ensure that students are wearing blazers, the correct skirt/trousers and appropriate school shoes when they return after the Christmas break. This term we have reviewed the current behaviour standards and expectations and have made several changes to ensure that all students are fully engaged and are given the opportunity to benefit from the very best teaching. A separate letter has been shared providing more information about this, and is also available on the website.
As we enter the period when we may experience our most severe weather and when difficult travel conditions can apply, I would like to remind you of arrangements should we suffer from disruption. A decision to close the Academy is not undertaken lightly and I will only close the Academy for health and safety reasons. It is an extremely difficult decision and I have to take into consideration a number of things such as staffing numbers on site and if the bus company can safely pick students up. We will make any decisions on potential closure as soon as possible on the mornings affected. If the Academy needs to be closed for any reason, we will use our text messaging service which means that you will receive a text message to your mobile or home phone number, and this will automatically send you an email if we have your address on our system. We will also use the Academy website and social media where we will be able to post more detailed information regarding the closure. It is, therefore, essential that we have your current and up to date contact details at all times so please communicate any changes to us as quickly as possible if you have not already done so.
All in all, it has been another very full term in which much has been achieved. I am sure that you would wish to join me in thanking all of the staff and governors of the academy for their continued hard work and commitment to our students, who themselves have worked hard this term. Now it is time for a well-earned break for everyone. I would also like to take this opportunity to extend my personal good wishes for you and your families and, on behalf of everyone at Rivers, wish you all a happy and safe Christmas and a peaceful New Year.
I look forward to your continued support during 2020.
Friday 11th October
Dear Parents and Carers,
On Wednesday we had our Regional Director Mr Bowers in the academy who spent the day in lessons, looking at books and meeting with students. It was lovely to hear the positive feedback and Mr Bowers commenting on how smart and polite our students are. Mr Bowers joined me on the morning gate and was very impressed with the punctuality of our students and how happy our students are. As I mentioned at the start of my first week; the students have truly blown me away and continue to do so on a daily basis. Walking around the academy daily, the atmosphere is calm and purposeful. The students look the part and now the focus is on what they are learning in lessons and attendance. If students are not attending, they are not learning. Students with 100% attendance are three times more likely to gain great GCSE grades and significantly more money long term than those that do not attend. Can I ask you as parents/carers to ensure your child is attending every day and only remains absent if really unwell.
On Thursday evening we ran another training session for teachers, we also invited another school to join us so we could work together. I think it is very important that we support other schools but more importantly share good practice and learn from each other.
Following on from your feedback survey many of you mentioned that you were not aware of careers guidance in the academy, so I wanted to highlight what we offer at Ormiston Rivers.
Having access to impartial and independent careers guidance is crucial for all our students; it assists them with making well informed and clear decisions about their next steps and their future. Careers guidance can also inspire, motivate and raise student aspirations.
Our impartial and independent careers advice and guidance is provided by Directions IAG Ltd who are Matrix Standard accredited. The Directions IAG Ltd Careers Adviser, Louise Brazier, attends the Academy every week so students have regular access to careers guidance services. Louise is a very experienced and fully qualified Careers Adviser who is a member of the Career Development Institute.
The support on offer includes:
One to one careers guidance appointments (parents and carers are also welcome to attend)
Advice on post 16 and post 18 options
Advice on higher education and apprenticeships including degree and higher apprenticeships
Support with GCSE option choices
Support with CV writing, job hunting skills and interview techniques
Careers Advice drop in sessions every week
Up to date careers information
Up to date local and national labour market information
Students can access the above services in the following ways:
Speak to Louise in the Careers Room on a Wednesday during break or lunch time to book a time.
Ask their Mentor, Achievement Director or Mr Knight to arrange an appointment for them.
Sixth form students can arrange an appointment through Mrs Head.
Or students/parents can book an appointment via email on firstname.lastname@example.org
Mrs Brazier is also available after school for careers advice and parents/carers are welcome to attend their child’s appointment if required.
Parents and carers can contact Louise by telephone: 01621 782377 or email : email@example.com
I hope you and your child can make use of this excellent service.
Just a reminder that if you are on Facebook and not following us, please do follow us for daily photos/ videos of what is taking place in the academy.
Mrs Emma Baker
Friday 4th October
Dear Parents and Carers,
First of all I would like to thank you for completing the survey that I sent out a few weeks ago. Getting your feedback is important to me and as a result I have looked at your views and you will see over the coming weeks/months some of your suggestions put into place. I will then send out another survey towards the end of the academic year to assess the impact of the changes made. I have also sent out a staff survey this week, and I am planning to do the same for students. I will also be meeting many student groups face to face over the next few weeks to hear their thoughts and suggestions.
Over the weekend it was lovely that the academy choir performed at the Burnham Carnival. If you missed this, then please do follow us on Facebook to see some of the footage plus daily videos/pictures of activities in the academy on a day to day basis.
Last night was our Sixth Form Open Evening which was very well attended. When students join us in Year 7 they need to think about it being a seven year journey as I hope that most of our students will elect to stay on to our wonderful sixth form provision.
We have also had a very busy week of tours for prospective parents. The highlight for me has been watching the confidence of our sixth formers who are leading these tours. On many occasions I have accidentally bumped into them as I have been walking around the academy and it has been lovely to hear them speak so eloquently about their experience at Rivers. Our students are a true credit to the Rivers community.
Mrs Emma Baker
Friday 27th September
It has been another intense and purposeful few weeks here at Ormiston Rivers. During this short half term, we have been putting a considerable amount of time and effort into not only the everyday life of the school and providing the best lessons and experiences we can for our students, but also investing a significant amount of time into our own internal professional development as teachers and leaders. As a staff body, we try our best at all times to be reflective and thoughtful, to ensure that we are keeping up-to-date with the latest evidence-based research that exists extensively now in education, and are flexible and confident enough to share outstanding practice and consider ways in which we can improve.
A number of staff will be involved in a school-based research programme that will be looking at a range of topics and I am looking forward to seeing how these projects have a positive impact in the school. On Tuesday evening staff were exploring what really makes an outstanding lesson and how staff need to take risks in lessons to push themselves and students. We are also exploring how we, as teachers, might move our students from an attitude of compliance to engagement. This is crucial in creating the successful, motivated, autonomous learners we would like them to be in school, as well as preparing them to go into the world of work and/or further study well prepared and with the attributes of motivation and perseverance they will need to be successful. It was a really valuable training session and all teachers have all agreed to try various strategies in our classrooms to challenge and support our young people to develop these skills.
On Tuesday, several students visited Ipswich to watch a performance of “We Will Rock You”; ready to inspire them for the school show in December. On Wednesday we had several students on a geography trip and at the local university for a STEM trip. On Thursday we had information evening for Year 11 parents and carers. Regretfully, I could not attend as I had to be in London for an OAT Conference. However, the feedback was very positive, so thank you to the staff involved.
Just a reminder that Thursday 3rd October is our Sixth Form Open Evening 6-8pm so any parent in Year 11 or 10 please do come and have a look at the wonderful provision we can offer and how to apply. Friday 4th October is non uniform day, in aid of Red, White & Blue Day. We ask students to donate £1 towards this good cause. Many thanks.
Mrs Emma Baker
Friday 20th September
The start of term has been exciting and a busy time for all of us here in the academy. Our Year 7's have made a fantastic start to the school year and are already impressing all of their teachers with their work-rate, commitment and desire to do really well in their lessons. All the other students have made similarly impressive starts, with lessons being purposeful and engaging and by displaying excellent behaviour throughout the school.
The year begins with lots of information evenings for those students and parents starting new courses (GCSE's, Year 11's and our new Sixth Form pupils). Next Thursday we have our Information Evening for Year 11 students starting at 6pm and ending at 7pm. This is a great opportunity to meet key staff who will talk you through how to support your child in this important year. There will also be the opportunity to purchase revision guides and useful resources.
Last Thursday was our Open Evening which was a fantastic night that really showcased the strengths of our academy. During my speech I asked the Sixth Form Leadership Team to talk about their experiences at the academy. Being new to the academy myself, I felt it was important for parents to listen to students that had attended our academy and fully experienced Rivers' school life. The student speakers set the tone, speaking confidently and eloquently to a packed hall about their experiences here at Ormiston Rivers. It was genuinely inspiring. Their words spoke more eloquently about the academy than mine ever could.
Over the course of the evening I managed to visit nearly all of the academy and was absolutely blown away by what I saw. The commitment of the students, the organisation, the activities, the sheer quality of the work on show was genuinely outstanding. The site looked amazing as always – no litter, no vandalism, and really well-presented, from the Science Block, to the sports hall and the Library. I was very, very proud.
Of course, the whole idea behind Open Evening is to show our academy in the best light possible to ensure that we continue to be extremely popular and over-subscribed. I felt that we did this and in doing so it really felt like a huge team effort – so well done and thank you to all the Ormiston Rivers family!
Please do feel free to book a tour over the next few weeks to see how the Academy works on a normal school day.
Mrs Emma Baker
Why not follow us on facebook to see our latest news and events and open evening pics?
Team English on Open Evening: Guess the literary character...
Monday 16th September
Reflecting on my first two weeks at Ormiston Rivers and I cannot believe how quickly the time has gone. My priorities this term are to raise standards of expectations and uniform. And, to be out and about as much as possible so I can quickly build relationships with students and staff and therefore get a real insight into the life of the academy. Last week, I started my meetings with staff beginning with support staff and over the next month I will have met every member of the team. I will also be going into the local primary schools so I can meet the Primary Headteacher’s and future students.
It has been wonderful to get into assemblies and lessons to see the students learning. I have been very impressed with how the students are responding to the challenging activities the staff are setting them.
A key area that I want to develop is communication, we have launched a new website which you are aware of and now have created a Facebook page. The aim of the page is to showcase the daily activities taking place in the academy and remind you of key events. Please do follow us on: https://www.facebook.com/OATOrmistonRivers/
This week as we enter our third week of the new term, we have our Open Evening. This takes place on Thursday 19th September 6-9pm. It is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the academy, so younger students get to meet the staff and walk around our wonderful academy. The key for me on this evening is for parents/carers to talk to current students to discuss what they think. During the evening I will be delivering two speeches regarding my vision for the academy moving forward.
This summer we saw the Year 11s achieve the best results ever, which bodes really well for what is to come next. We will continue to do our very best to maintain the high standards and expectations we have set for ourselves as an academy for the rest of the year. Thank you to the parents who are continuing to support us on this journey and I look forward to meeting you.
Mrs Emma Baker
Challenge in our classrooms: Our year 10 and 11 artists were developing ideas for a street festival this week, exploring the challenges of successfully working as a team to deliver in-depth research within a tight timeframe.
Monday 9th September
Welcome to my first Principal Blog of the academic year. I thought it would be a good idea to set up a blog so every couple of weeks I can give you all updates on what is going on in the academy.
The 2019-20 academic year has got off to a flying start this week. Monday was a staff training day focusing on our Academy priorities, before we welcomed our Year 7 and 12 students back on Tuesday then all students were back in on Wednesday.
During our training day on Monday, staff received training on teaching and learning, as well as important briefings on safeguarding and inclusion. There was also time put aside for staff to work in their faculty prepare for the year ahead.
The Academy Site
A huge amount of work has gone on across the Academy Site over the summer. This includes:
Completion of new windows in MfL and Business studies. The whole site has been painted including all corridors and main areas.New signs around the academy have been put up in each area plus inspiring quotes for our students and staff to read. We have also moved across to Google/Gmail for our email, this is the first stage of improving technology and we will start to use google documents and introduce this to students over the next few months.Several office and room changes have also been made including moving my office to the heart of the academy.I want to pay a public tribute to our amazing Site Team, IT Network manager, contractors and administration staff who have achieved an astonishing amount in a very short space of time. The Academy looked wonderful when the students arrived on Wednesday!
Focus on behaviour and standards
In my first assemblies on Wednesday, I spoke to students about our expectations of their behaviour and uniform. The policy has not changed however the expectation is that all students will adhere to the policy. Our students have responded well, so thank you to the parents/carers who are supporting this. Together we will ensure that our students look smart and will continue to be consistent with this.
Over the next month, we will be launching a Facebook/Instagram page which I will share with you. On this we hope to have daily activities/information for you to be able to access. We have also created a brand new website, which I am sure you will agree looks fantastic. Please have a look if you haven’t already had the chance. Special thanks to Mrs Ingate who has worked extremely hard on this over the summer and last few months.
My overwhelming feeling over this first week has been one of immense pride. It is an honour to be the Principal of Ormiston Rivers. I am working with such dedicated and expert colleagues in the teaching and support staff, and so many wonderful students. I am excited about the year ahead – there’s no limit to what we can achieve.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.
Mrs Emma Baker
All posts will also appear in the whole school Rivers News Blog, here.
25th October 2019
Ormiston Rivers Academy Celebrates Success in GCSE Results.
Last week we received the news that Rivers Academy has been ranked by the Government in the top 10% of all schools in England for GCSE results.
In national league tables released by the Department for Education, Ormiston Rivers’ provisional Progress 8 score – which measures improvement from Year 7 to Year 11 across eight subjects, including key academic subjects – was +0.4.
This means that we added two-fifths of a grade to every subject taken by each student than expected when they joined the school aged 11.
I would like to congratulate all of our students and staff for these results, which demonstrate their hard work and commitment over the past five years. We look forward to continuing our journey of success.
Now that we have reached the end of our first half term of the new academic year, I would like to thank the staff, students and parents/carers for the warm welcome I have received. It has been an absolute delight to take over as Principal and the last eight weeks have flown by. Every day the students continue to amaze me, and I feel very lucky to be able to lead such a great school. This week a small cohort of students produced their own version of “Peter Pan”. They have spent hours working on this wonderful production to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital, as part of the OAT #iwill project. It was lovely to watch the performance after school on Monday and to see all their hard work pay off. I am now looking forward to the next school production of “We Will Rock You” in December .
I would like to wish all staff and students a wonderful, safe and restful half term, and I look forward to welcoming everyone back on Monday 4th November.
Mrs Emma Baker
18th October 2019
Enrichment is a big part of school life at Ormiston Rivers Academy and we are very lucky that we have such dedicated staff that go above and beyond and who offer a wide range of enrichment activities. A timetable has been shared so please do encourage your child to try something new. Our sports teams are performing brilliantly and I am looking forward to watching some games and matches over the next few weeks. If you are not following us on Facebook I would encourage you to, as we are posting daily activities/ photos/videos of lessons and sporting news. I hope parents/carers are finding this useful.
Just a reminder to you all that we are a nut free school, please ensure your children are not bringing in any nut based products as we do have a number of students that are allergic and we do not want to put any student at risk.
This week Nick Hudson, the Chief Executive Officer of Ormiston Academies Trust came to visit us. It was a great opportunity to show him around our amazing academy. He was very impressed with what he saw when I took him around and he also had the privilege of spending time with some students to find out from them how they feel to be a student at the academy. I’m very proud to say that all students spoke honestly and eloquently about their happy experiences at Rivers, and their hopes and dreams for the future!
Mrs Emma Baker
15th November 2019
Last Sunday I had the absolute pleasure of being asked to represent Ormiston Rivers Academy at the annual Town Remembrance service, held at Burnham Baptist church and then at the Town Memorial. It was an extremely moving service and it was an honour to be accompanied by Mrs Damps, our Academy HR Manager, and by Oliver and Ruby, two year 7 students; who represented our Academy in an exemplary manner. On Monday 11th November, we held a whole-school assembly during period 5 where our students who are members of the local cadet and cub/scout services proudly joined in our own Remembrance Service, led and organised by Assistant Principal, Mr Wright. It was a very moving assembly and I was very proud of the maturity, respect and involvement of all of our students.
This Wednesday, we held our very first “No Pens Day” which is a national activity, participated in by many schools across the Country. The idea behind this initiative is to increase and improve students’ communication skills and it was wonderful to see how the students responded to the activities that the staff had planned for this; ranging from role play activities, various communication games and making 3D dinosaurs in Maths!
Below are a range of photos from the day. These have also been posted on our social media page on Facebook and we have also now created an Instagram account, after listening to student feedback! So please follow us on Instagram on: “oat_ora”.
Mrs Emma Baker
8th November 2019
It has been a productive first week back, starting with the PPE cycle for Year 11 students. I would like to congratulate them for a promising start for this first round of internal exams.
This week our PE team took our students to compete in Essex cross county. It was great to see so many of them involved. I believe sports are very important to school life and the skills students learn from being part of a team are invaluable. Congratulations to Blake Winfield who finished 4th in the Yr 7 boys’ race and Fran Turner who finished 8th in the inter girls’ race (Yrs 10 and 11). Both have qualified to represent Mid Essex at the Essex Championships later in the year.
We have also had a number of external visitors join us this week, looking at Science and our varied range of curriculum subjects. It was lovely to hear how well our students represented us, with the visitors commenting on how polite our students are and how smart they looked. They were also impressed with the learning taking place and the many opportunities our students have at Ormiston Rivers. We are very fortunate that we have a great team of staff who do go above and beyond on a daily basis. Today we have a large group of students who are off to climb Snowdon this weekend - a wonderful opportunity and experience for them. I wish the group a safe, rewarding trip and look forward to hearing all their exciting stories upon their return.
Mrs Emma Baker
13th December 2019
It is the penultimate week before we break up for the Christmas holidays, but we have remained busy as always. This week we have had Dan Hull in again to cook with some of our Rotary Young Chef contestants. It went really well; the standards are definitely getting higher, and the students have received some really helpful feedback and ideas on how to improve the aesthetic appeal of their dishes. Thank you to Dan for his valuable input. We look forward to the competition in January. Our Year 10’s have had their first round of English PPE Exams this week, so we are looking forward to receiving the results of these in January. We have also had a visit from Mr Stephen Capper , the Labour candidate for the Maldon district, who came to discuss the election campaign with some of our students. It was really interesting and useful for the students to hear the different political viewpoints, following Mr John Whittingdale’s visit last week.
This evening I will be watching the students perform in our school production of “We Will Rock You”. I was lucky enough to see snippets of this over the weekend while they were rehearsing, so I am looking forward to watching the full show and the performances from our talented students. I personally feel that we are very lucky to have school shows of this scale, as this is something that often gets cut back on due to time. However we are very fortunate to have a dedicated, hardworking staff team that have given up countless hours for planning, rehearsing and the technical time to put the show together. So can I take this opportunity to thank our Performing Arts team and all staff and volunteers that have supported our students in making the show a reality.
6th December 2019
We are starting to get into the Christmas spirit at Rivers this week! Decorations have started to go up around the academy and we are busy planning our Christmas lunches for students in the last week of term. Just a reminder that on the last day of term we will break up for the Christmas holidays on Thursday 19th December. School will end at 1.30pm and buses will leave once afternoon registration has been taken. The morning will consist of lessons as normal; students must remember to bring in the correct equipment for learning.
We will also be holding our final charity event for 2019 on the last day of term; raising money for Save the Children as part of their Christmas Jumper event. Students are encouraged to donate £1 and wear a Christmas Jumper with non-uniform. Please note: short tops that show midriff, strappy tops and ripped jeans are not permitted. Students may be asked to go home to change, or be placed in isolation, if their clothing does not conform to our expected protocols. I would also remind you of the Academy’s policy on hair colour and jewellery; this still applies on non-uniform days.
As always, the academy remains busy and productive. This week, students in years 7-10 took park in Ormiston Academies Trusts’ “Make Yourself Heard” public speaking competition. Each student performed their speech brilliantly in front of an audience of Year 7’s and staff - not an easy thing to do. Well done to everyone involved! On Wednesday, MP John Whittingdale visited the academy and spoke to students interested in a political career. Students also had the opportunity to ask Mr Whittingdale key questions that matter to them about the forthcoming General Election. Next week, students will have the same opportunity with Mr Stephen Capper, the local Labour candidate. We have also invited representatives from other political parties to visit and hope that they are able to participate.
I look forward to continuing to support our students in demonstrating their keen social and political awareness with similar student-led initiatives in the future.
Mrs Emma Baker
29th November 2019
This week we have had drop down days for Year 11 in Business and Technology , The Royal Shakespeare Company’s live version of ‘Taming of The Shrew”, and many sporting events; to name just a few! I had the privilege of watching the Year 7’s play at a Rugby festival at William De Ferrers on Tuesday evening. Despite the cold and rain and unfortunately not winning on this occasion, the students played really well and have so much potential to do even better next time. Similarly, massive congratulations to the Year 8 rugby team who won the top group on Thursday night, after 3 wins in a row! This puts them top of the district until their next tournament in the new year. They beat Boswells, St Martins and Great Baddow along the way. The B team, although they didn't win, made massive improvements tonight. We are absolutely delighted to see so many taking part and enjoying competitive rugby and the many other sports on offer at our academy. Well done all!
Also this week, signs of attendance for mentor groups have gone around the academy. Attendance is so important because, if students are not in, they are not learning. I am pleased to report, however, that our attendance has improved compared to the same time last year, so thank you for your continued support in this matter. Uniform is still strong, however, just a reminder that students should not be wearing rings/bracelets to school.
As part of your feedback from the parent survey and social media we have been looking into suitable storage (lockers) for students’ belongings. A further survey in this respect will be sent out next week from Mrs Mahoney. Please do let us know your views, and thank you for your continued communication.
22nd November 2019
It has been another busy week in the academy. On Tuesday evening I met with all staff to review what we have achieved together in the 54 days I have been in post as Principal. It was pleasing to discuss how standards are improving, how smart the students are looking and how attendance has improved by +0.5% in this short space of time. I would like to thank you all as parents/carers for your support in these matters. Over the next few weeks we will be looking at the current sanctions and rewards in place and focusing on teaching and learning.
On Wednesday and Thursday I attended my first two day OAT Principals’ Conference in Nottingham. During the two days it was wonderful to see Tyler May in Year 10 representing the academy as part of the OAT National Student Council. Videos of her speech and more photos are available to view on our Facebook and Instagram pages.
I also had the enormous pleasure of picking up four Awards for Rivers, and will be sharing these with staff at Monday’s staff briefing. The awards we won were:
Most improved sixth form results (Academic)
Most improved sixth form results (Non-academic)
Best Progress within the trust for “Most able” students
Best progress within the trust for Performing Arts subjects
All of this would not be possible without the amazing staff that we have in the academy who go above and beyond every day, as well as the great partnership work we have with you as parents/carers and, most importantly, the students who have worked so hard to achieve these results.