Our Principal's Blog
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.
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
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
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.