Our Principal's Blog
20th November 2020
Another week has flown by! I can’t believe how quickly time is passing and that we are even beginning to think about Christmas. However it is one of my favourite times of the year and I really hope that the restrictions are relaxed so that you and your families can enjoy the festivities.
Last Sunday, as you are aware, I spent most of my time dealing with a confirmed Covid case in Year 8. This was the first real case that has impacted upon the academy. I appreciate that this is worrying for everyone, but the systems that we have in place helped me work very effectively with Public Health; the Local Authority and the Trust. As part of the process I also spoke to the family involved and to all staff who teach this student, to gather all the necessary information. This is a complex process but I can assure you that as a school we have, and always will, follow the guidance at all times. I know that many parents have had concerns regarding why only certain students were asked to isolate, whilst others were not, particularly when they may, at times, have been with those that have been asked to isolate. The process for identifying those students at risk works on extremely close contact, within certain timescales. For example, only those students that have been in very close contact with the confirmed case (i.e. sat next to them, been with them for a long period of time, not just walked past), within the last 48 hours have been asked to self-isolate. We have kept year groups in bubbles to reduce the risk, and this will continue going forwards. When I spoke to Public Health England on Sunday, they commented about how effective our systems are; as many schools have not introduced year group “bubbles” and have had a much larger number of cases than us; although I realise that we have been fortunate so far.
I fully understand that this is so difficult and worrying, and I know that many of our families include extremely vulnerable people, I myself care for my elderly Nan who lives with me and, therefore, I am aware every day that I could be passing the virus on to her. There are also several members of staff who also care for, or live with vulnerable family members, but who continue to attend school every day to teach and support our students. As the Principal of the school I constantly review the systems we have in place to ensure that we are doing all that we can to keep our students and staff safe. Until and unless the Government announces the closure of schools, we will remain open and adhere to the systems in place. I truly do believe that keeping schools open (with appropriate safeguards in place) is the right decision for all of our young people.
I can absolutely promise you that I will always inform you of a confirmed case as soon as it is known. I cannot inform you of who the individual child is, because of GDPR regulations and also as a courtesy to the family concerned, but I will alway inform you of the year group. As briefly mentioned last week, we have a remote learning policy that covers what will happen if your child has to self-isolate. Fortunately, last Sunday, as I received the information at 7am I was able to contact all parents by lunch time and share with those parents the remote learning offer. This has involved a mixture of live lessons and work set via Google classrooms.
We do, of course, know that the current situation is not ideal, and certainly not what any of us would wish for. However, I would like to thank you all for your continued support and understanding. Attendance at the academy this week has remained high compared to national figures, and overall attendance is still around 94% (nationally is around 84%), so I would like to thank you for continuing to send your children in so that they are enabled to continue with their education, enjoy social time (albeit restricted) with their peers, and generally just enjoy their school experience.
The students that have attended this week have continued to be remarkable, they have asked sensible questions and continued to adhere to the systems in school. The best part of my job is talking to the students as you never know what they are going to ask or say! There is never a dull moment. I also love going into lessons and every day I try my best to get around the academy as much as possible, so that every year group sees me in a lesson or at break/lunch time. I love seeing the students smiling and engaged in the learning taking place, or just interacting with staff at break and lunch time.
On Tuesday evening, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to watch our Year 13 A-level Drama students perform their course-work showcases. I can honestly say that they were outstanding, and it is evident that their hard work has paid off. Well done to all concerned.
With the countdown to Christmas, we have recently shared our Christmas lunch information with you. This is genuinely a lovely experience, for students and staff alike. Please remember to book by the deadline via Parent Pay so that we can ensure that those that would like a Christmas lunch are included. If there are any of you with students that would like a Christmas Lunch, but are finding the additional cost difficult in the current circumstances, please do let me know, as we have had some very kind offers of support from both parents and staff, who wish to extend a “helping hand” in order that all students who wish to can be included.
13th November 2020
This week, as many recently, has felt different and strange. However, this week has been particularly difficult and poignant, as many community events and activities that would usually have taken place have sadly had to be held “virtually”. This time last year, as the new Principal of Ormiston Rivers Academy, I was so proud and honoured to attend the local Town Remembrance service, alongside other staff and new year 7 students. Sadly, we were unable to do so this year, although we, alongside many others in the local community, attended “virtually”. I know that many people locally were saddened that the usual services and traditions were unable to take place; but I also know that our local community understood the reasons and the rationale behind this, and adapted and changed to the differences accordingly.
Similarly, I will never forget my first experience of Ormiston Rivers’ own formal Remembrance service last year. This was delivered and respected to a level I had never experienced in previous schools, and is, I know, something that the entire school community values and embraces.
Unfortunately, again, we have had to adapt and change this year. However, we did, as always, embrace these changes, and were able to deliver a “virtual” assembly to all year groups to remind them of the importance of Remembrance Day and why it means so very much to so many. I would invite you to view this here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=ftYaXyE9GE0 We did, also, fly a new “Union Flag”, laid a wreath in remembrance, and held a whole-school 2-minute silence to remind students of the importance and significance of this day. I realise that some parents were disappointed that this was not able to happen at the usual time; however, having consulted many stakeholders, it was decided that it would be more appropriate and respectful to hold the silence at a time when it was possible for every single student and member of staff to be involved. I am very pleased to be able to say that, at the time designated, everyone paid their respects in the most proper and dignified manner, which I am sure you will all agree is what we would all desire. I am delighted to share some memories of this with you, in the pictures below.
It sometimes seems that however hard we try to retain some semblance of normality we then turn the next corner, only to be faced with a new challenge. I am sure you will all be feeling unsettled about the current state of affairs as you cast your mind back to how things were back in the summer. However, we will not be repeating the summer term lockdown and, as far as we know so far, it is “business as usual” for schools. The only guidance that seems to have changed so far is regarding face-coverings which are now compulsory in communal areas, but is something that we had already introduced as a safety measure prior to the new guidance.
As things stand at the moment, education will continue face to face. You may have some reservations and anxiety about this, which I am sure has not been helped by media speculation, but as a parent myself I do believe that school is the best place for children to be at the moment, both for their education and to support their mental health. As you know we continue to have systems in place to keep our students and staff as safe as possible. As you are no doubt aware, we have now had two confirmed student cases, however we have been fortunate that these students have not been into school prior, which means this has not impacted on others. I do think that, this half term we will start to get more cases, as other schools have done in the last half-term. We are quite fortunate that in our location, we have had few cases. Other schools in Chelmsford and other surrounding areas have experienced multiple cases during the last half term. However I do understand and appreciate that now that cases are being confirmed in our local area, it is, sadly, only a matter of time before this continues to spread around our small community. Consequently, I must stress that as a community we all play our part in ensuring that we contain the spread of Covid as far as we possibly can. Please ensure that you and your child/children are not mixing with others and are adhering to all the guidelines; e.g. working from home, keeping your distance, wearing a face covering and ensuring that we all regularly wash our hands and sanitise.
As Principal, my biggest and first priority is the safety of the students and staff. During school time, students are in designated areas to ensure that they are apart from other year groups throughout the day. The only possible way that students in different year group bubbles will come across each other is if they leave their classroom to use the toilet. We have therefore reminded students that they must use these facilities during their designated break and lunch times. As you know, we have introduced a staggered break and lunch to ensure that students in different year groups are kept apart, and have also introduced double lessons so that less movement is taking place generally around the academy . We are genuinely doing everything that we reasonably can to keep students apart. However I am aware that some parents have raised concerns regarding this. We are fortunate that we have sufficient space in which to keep year group “bubbles” separate. Other local schools, I know, have one big “bubble” (i.e. involving students from all year groups), and have students from every year group, rather than teachers, travelling around the school site from room to room. Whilst I realise that every school is different, and that the arrangements are very much dependent on the space available, I truly believe that we have put the very best measures possible in place. This means that, if and when we have a confirmed case, only one year group bubble may be affected, rather than the entire school community. I can also absolutely assure you that if we are made aware of confirmed cases involving a student who has been on site, then I will absolutely follow Public Health guidance regarding closing a bubble or isolating impacted students. Indeed, I find it very sad that some parents have questioned this and suggested that this would not be the case.
I am so very proud of the way in which our students are dealing with the current situation and how the vast majority of them are now getting used to wearing face coverings. Staff will constantly remind students to wear them, however I would appreciate your support in ensuring your child has a face covering. I am happy to hand these out when they have been forgotten or broken, however a small minority are persistently neglecting or forgetting to bring them, so we will be contacting the parents of these students. We will also be in touch with parents whose students are exempt, in order that we can put a system in place to stop staff from asking those that are. I want to stress to you all, as parents and carers, the importance of passing on to your children , that it is not so much about them catching Covid themselves, rather, about who they may pass it onto. If any of you has a positive test, please contact me urgently, as I must inform and work with Public Health England and Essex County Council regarding the next steps.
Please also see the additional Covid-19 information attached here.
I want to thank you for your ongoing support, and as always, we delight in the everyday activities of our students in lessons…. (please see pictures below).
6th November 2020
Welcome back! It has been wonderful to see the students back in school this week, despite the ongoing media speculation. I am pleased that almost 95% of students have been in full attendance this week. We will continue to strive for 100%, however, in light of the current circumstances, it is really pleasing that our attendance is well above the national average currently.
I sent out a letter on Monday explaining our position on re-opening and have also shared the updated guidance around face coverings. This week has been non-stop for our students; our Year 11’s, 12’s and 13’s have had both PPE and real exams this week. I believe that “mock” exams are very important for many reasons but the key is to test what the students do and don’t know, so that we can address any “gaps”. This is the first time that we have been able to formalise any tests since the spring term so it has been vital for these key year groups. We know that the summer exams are currently planned to go ahead, however with the ever-changing situation, we simply cannot know what will happen in May and June, so this year, more than ever, students need to take these assessments and examinations seriously and do their very best; as we know they all will.
Students have responded well to the longer lessons and staggered break and lunch times, with the majority saying that they like having their own indoor and outdoor space and the opportunity to purchase food at both times. Rory (Year 7) said “I feel I am learning more. It’s easier as I am not switching lessons all the time. I like that we have an outside and inside area at break time and can play football”. Isabelle (Year 8) said “I think it is good and the queue at break time is not as long. I enjoy the double lesson as it gives me more opportunities”. Richard (Year 10) said “This works better as we are learning more. We can finish our Art projects as the lessons are longer”.
This week we have given all students a reusable water bottle as the first stage in reducing the use of plastic in the school. This was in response to previous student voice, and we are delighted to have been able to act on this. We have new water refill stations around the school site and we will be increasing these over the next few months. This is just the first phase in our endeavours towards plastic reduction and going forwards we will be removing the sale of single-use plastic bottles from 1st January 2021.
We have invested in many online packages for our students to access at home on any device, and the feedback from students so far has been really positive. Below is a link to the websites and log in details. https://www.ormistonriversacademy.co.uk/digital-learning-and-revision
I have been hugely privileged to be able to sit in on some Year 13 EPQ presentations this week, it was really good to see the students present a topic that they feel passionate about, in subjects ranging from the impact of social media to population control in countries.
With the current national lockdown taking place we continue to support our students and keep the wellbeing of students at the forefront of everything that we do. As mentioned previously we have designed a well-being app for the students and Miss Corbett has made a video to accompany this.
As you are no doubt aware, next Wednesday 11th November 2020 marks Remembrance Day. As an academy we will, as always, be paying our respects, however due to the current circumstances and the timings of the newly introduced staggered breaks and lunches we will hold our two minutes of respectful silence and remembrance at 2.30 p.m. A video created by our students who are members of the local cadet forces will also be shared with you in due course.
On Friday 13th November, we will be having a non uniform day in aid of “Children in Need”, this charity was chosen by the students last term. Donations will be able to be given via Parent Pay in order that students do not have to bring in money. There will also be a separate donation link on our website for those who wish to make an additional donation and gift aid the contribution. As we will not be able to hold the usual student cake sales and activities, we wanted to provide this additional opportunity. The two catering outlets will also be selling Pudsey cookies, with all profits donated to “Children in Need”.
As you are aware we held a consultation with all stakeholders with regard to amending the school term dates going forwards, and introducing a two week half term in October. The results indicate that the majority of stakeholders (parents, staff, students, governors and local primary schools) are in favour of this. Therefore this will be implemented for the 2021/22 academic year, and the updated term dates for 2021/22 are now available to view on our website. Finally, just a reminder that we break up for the Christmas holiday on 16th December. This will be an early finish, which would usually be at the start of lunch (previously 1.45 p.m.). However, due to the newly introduced staggered lunch breaks, we will now finish at 12.45pm on the last day of term. The bus company has been informed of this change, and I will also remind you closer to the time.
Thank you, as always, for your ongoing support.
23rd October 2020
We have successfully completed our first half term and I am so proud of the students and staff. This half term has been challenging but we have achieved so much in such a short space of time. We have successfully reintegrated students back to school, after many of them not being in school since March. We have rebuilt relationships between teacher and student, as well as each other. We have eased their anxieties, assessed their learning and started to rebuild what they have missed. Our New Year 7 and 12 students have successfully transitioned and become full members of the Rivers community.
We have continued to teach high quality lessons, kept the students and staff feeling safe, reassured them, comforted them, rebuilt structures and routines. We have been able to laugh with students, make lessons fun, engage with students and remind them how great school can be. All that and it's only been seven weeks! Imagine what we will achieve in a year?
When students return after the October half term, as previously mentioned, we will introduce a two week timetable, so that we can stagger break and lunch times. We will start back on week A; your child will have received an updated copy of their timetable. A copy of the presentation that I created that was shared in mentor is available on the website this goes through in detail what the break/lunch times are for each year group.
As you are aware, since becoming Tier 2 this week, students and staff have been wearing face coverings when walking around the site. The students have been very mature in handling this and I want to pass on my thanks to you as Parents/Carers for supporting us with this. When they return after half-term, students will need to continue to adhere to this new guidance until further notice.
We are very fortunate that staff are coming in during the October half term to run some revision sessions. The sessions will be on Evolve and this information has been shared with you directly also. I strongly encourage all students to attend any session that is being run, as it will help to prepare them for the forthcoming November PPE Mocks and summer exams that will take place as confirmed by the DfE on the 12th October 2020. A link to the article is below
As you are also aware we have adapted our PE uniform to support the changes now needed due to students having to be in PE Kit all day. As a result of feedback from yourselves and students, our uniform supplier is now able to offer girls’ slim-fitting jogging bottoms, as well as new stock of girls’ ORA branded leggings. The can be ordered via the supplier website: www.yourschoolwear.co.uk.
In order to comply with government regulations, it will remain necessary for parents/carers to notify the academy if their child tests positive for Covid-19 during the half-term break. We sincerely hope that this will not be the case, but if your child does test positive during this time, please contact me directly on:
I want to thank you all for your continued support throughout this half term, and to wish you a safe and enjoyable half term break. Below is a poem especially for our wonderful students, written by Ms. Damps. We hope you enjoy it.
We wanted to write this message for you;
To all of our students; for all you’ve been through.
It may seem to you that we don’t understand,
It may seem that life’s dealt a difficult hand.
We want to assure you that we are all here,
To listen, to help, to make your path clear.
We do understand just how tough it has been,
And we genuinely want to help wipe your slate clean.
We DO understand all your worries and doubt;
And we really do care about all you’re about;
We recognise all of the stress you’ve been through,
And we’re all trying hard to just do what we do.
We do really care and we do really know;
And we genuinely want you to grow and to grow.
The reason we do what we do is just YOU,
And we want you to really believe this is true.
We listen, we talk, we watch and we seek,
To remember the things that make you all unique,
We know that, for some, school can sometimes be tough,
So, we all want to help you to smooth out the rough.
For others, of course, the opposite’s true;
But whatever the case, we want what’s best for you.
And if there are times when you think we don’t care,
It’s not true – remember we’ll ALWAYS be there.
We want you to soar; to achieve every goal,
Be fulfilled and contented, in heart and in soul,
We want all your futures to exceed beyond measure,
And all of your lives, filled with nothing but pleasure.
You have faced every challenge, every new regulation,
You have been an incredibly strong generation,
And the skills you have learned, each and every endeavour,
Will remain with you always, for now and forever.
You have shown great respect, been resilient, kind,
Supported your fellows, kept others in mind,
You’ve continued to laugh, to embrace every day,
And you haven’t allowed things to get in your way.
And these are the things that will make you succeed,
For these are the things that all of us need,
Your care and compassion, your kindness, your laughter,
Will make you stand out, whatever’s hereafter.
And so, to conclude, we are here; come what may,
We’ll be here for you always, each day after day,
And we know that your stars will shine from afar;
For we know the wonderful people you are!
Carry on being special, carry on being you;
Carry on doing all of the great things you do;
We will always support you; come high or come low;
For that is “the River’s Way”; as you all know.
16th October 2020
This week we have had a variety of activities taking place in the Academy. On Monday we ran a workshop for Year 12’s focussing on resilience, independence and organisation. This was a drop down day tailored to the students’ needs following feedback from lessons. Year 11’s were also informed this week whether they had been successful in becoming a Prefect, which is a real privilege, and I am pleased that over thirty students have been awarded this role within our academy. On Wednesday I presented Tyler May (Year 11) with her Jack Petchey “Speak Out Challenge” Award, which took place virtually in July. On Thursday we had our first virtual Governors meeting; it was good to discuss the school improvement plan and to feedback on how the first half term has gone.
Following on from the Parental Survey sent out recently, and in order to assist you in continuing to support your child’s education, we are working on providing all parents/carers a Curriculum Map for each year group. This will detail the different areas and topics that are being studied each term in each subject. This information is currently available for KS3 on the school website, the link for which is below, and will be available for KS4 very shortly. https://www.ormistonriversacademy.co.uk/ks3-curriculum
The year overview can be used as a stimulus for discussions with your child about what they’re currently covering in class, or as a guide for future areas that will be covered, should you wish to discuss the areas with your child to give them some background understanding before a topic is covered in school. Small amounts of prior knowledge of subjects, no matter how vague, can be a great ignition for whole class discussion when the area is covered, facilitating fantastic learning and enjoyment for all.
Also this week, our Vice-Principal, Mrs Bennett met with year groups to discuss teaching and learning during this half-term. It was great to hear students’ feedback on how things are going so far and what suggestions they have for next term. Their feedback and suggestions will be incorporated into the staff CPD session next week.
Can I please remind parents/carers about dropping off and collecting their child/children in the morning and afternoon. I appreciate that there has been an increase in the number of parents/carers collecting their child, however I must stress that it is imperative that you safely drive into the school grounds. Unfortunately, the academy doesn’t have large waiting bays and therefore the car park gets full very quickly. As students arrive and leave, we have had some near-misses as parents are double parking and blocking students from the crossing. Some are also blocking the disabled bays or using these spaces which are designated for students and staff who have a badge only. Can I please ask that you ensure that these spaces are kept accessible for those that need them.. Thank you for your ongoing support.
9th October 2020
As we reach the end of week 6, it has been another productive week at Ormiston Rivers. On Tuesday we had our practice fire drill, to remind students where to go in the event of an emergency evacuation.
We have been very busy providing tours to prospective parents/students.It has been very different this year, as usually we would be able to go into classrooms, but instead we have only been able to walk the corridors, but it has still given parents a flavour of our school life. We have launched the virtual Sixth Form Open Evening to our current Year 11’s this week, so students can start to apply for a place in our amazing Sixth Form. https://www.ormistonriversacademy.co.uk/sixth-form-virtual-open-event
On top of this we have also shared with Year 11 parents information regarding the forthcoming mock exams that will take place in November. Please do take a look at the information we have provided for Year 11, as I feel this is beneficial to all students in Key Stage 4.
I am aware that, this week, Scotland have announced that they will not be running formal exams for the current Year 11 cohort, however, schools in England have not yet had any update about this. Realistically, I think exams will be pushed back by a few weeks, but that the Government will enforce real exams for students this academic year. As soon as we get any confirmed information in this respect I will, of course, share this with parents/students.
This week I have also been working through the Parent Survey which was sent out last week. Thank you so much for taking the time to complete this. I have responded to as many individuals as I can and I really appreciate your honesty. As Principal, I am reflecting on the comments you have made and will start to address any areas that you feel need to be improved further, or where you feel that you need to be provided with extra information. An example of this is Careers, where some parents were unaware of the support and guidance we offer in this area. As a result we will be introducing a termly newsletter with information on what is available and how students and parents can access this. Trips and visits were also something that was flagged up. Obviously at the moment trips are not running, but some concerns were raised regarding the cost of trips and the impact of this on low income families. Again, I will be reviewing any trips taking place in the future and the financial implications of these with our new AVP who oversees Personal Development Mrs Victory.
On a positive note, over 90% of parents/carers feel that their child is safe and happy in the academy, and it was really pleasing to see that 94% of parents/carers feel well informed about the school from my updates, and that over 95% of parents/carers would recommend Ormiston Rivers Academy to others.
We will continue to listen, to take on board your feedback and to make further improvements on our journey towards Outstanding.
Below are some photographs of our fabulous students during lessons this week.
2nd October 2020
Wow, how fast is time flying by? I can’t believe we are now in October, although you can definitely feel that the weather has changed. Coats, scarves and warmer clothing have reappeared and summer clothes have been put away.
In the Spring term, when we were planning the arrangements for September, we had no real idea of how long the arrangements would be in place. Our students have been amazing at adapting to the “new normal”. However, now that the weather is turning colder and wetter we have had to look at solutions for keeping our students safe and secure, whilst still giving them indoor access at both break and lunch times. We have also learned from the original arrangements that we are wasting precious learning time as a result of staff travelling from one side of the building (bubble) to another for lesson changeovers. As a result I have been consulting with staff on the best way to move this forward. I also appreciate that some students have struggled with only having the opportunity to purchase food at either break or lunch. We have, therefore, decided that following October Half term we will introduce the following changes.
A two week timetable will be introduced, so that students will have double lessons for periods 1,2,3 and 4. This means that we can introduce a staggered break and lunch, so that each year group will have a dedicated time each day where they will have access to food at break and lunch and also have the option of being inside or outside. Lessons, for some year groups will be doubles; however within this lesson time students will also have their break and lunch time. The length of the break and lunch time (i.e. half an hour) will not change; however, the time of this may change depending on the year group. Prior to the half-term break, I will share with you further details of these new arrangements, and what this will look like for each year group.
I hope that these new arrangements will help to ease the recent difficulties of students’ purchasing food and will ensure that all students have plenty of time to both eat and relax at both break and lunch time if they wish. However, we will have to adapt our menu as a result, as our Catering staff will also need to adapt to these new arrangements. Again, we will share the revised menus with you prior to the October half term break. Everything else will remain the same, e.g.; where the students are based and which toilets, exit and entry points they use.
I have also been made aware that some of our Year 9 students have expressed discomfort due to the stools that are in place in the science rooms, which constitute their “bubble”. We are, therefore, currently working with a new supplier and the stools will be changed for more appropriate chairs over the next few weeks.
In response to the feedback received from yourselves and students, we have developed some Apps to provide you with all the information that you need. As technology plays a major part in our society, especially for our young people, we thought that Apps would be the best way forward. We have developed a Student wellbeing App, where students can access information on mental health and ask for any support they may need via our wellbeing team. We have created an enrichment App which gives access to all of the enrichment activities on offer each day. Finally we have also introduced a catering App, which lists the menu for each day/week and the cost of each option. We are also trialling an ordering service for our Sixth Form students, and so far the feedback has been very positive. All Apps work on any device and are free of charge. Please see the links below for further information.
Super 6 ( Year 11 only) https://orasuper6.glideapp.io/
Ora Enrichment https://oraenrichment.glideapp.io/
Ora Catering https://oracatering.glideapp.io/
Ora Well being https://orawellbeing.glideapp.io/
As the Principal of Ormiston Rivers Academy, I am constantly reviewing the work that goes on in the academy and my role is to ensure that we continue to improve. I hope that you recognise the hard work that goes on every single day from all staff within our school. I would therefore be very appreciative if you could complete the parental survey via the link below; to provide us with your feedback on how the academy is doing, and to enable us to review anything that may need further development; as well as allowing me to share with staff our successes, and what is going well. I am grateful for your time in completing this. https://forms.gle/ae2MZ6sQxbnQhavs5
Finally, and as I have said before, I am so proud of our academy and our students. I love walking around during lesson times when possible, and at every break and lunch time, just chatting to the students. That is the best part of the job, it has been wonderful to see students engaged in lessons and grasping new knowledge for the first time. Our Year 11 Mentor Masterclasses are now up and running, and it has been wonderful to see how the vast majority of our Year 11 students have approached and embraced this extra provision in a positive way. In all lessons that I have visited, students are engaging in a wide range of learning activities which has been great to see. On Wednesday I was fortunate enough to see our new Year 7 students making apple or banana muffins; all of which looked delicious. All academy staff have worked very hard to adapt the curriculum to ensure that all students are still enabled to access a full and rich curriculum, to ensure that they do not fall behind, that they continue to make progress, and that they are happy and fulfilled.
As always, thank you for your continued support of our endeavours..
25th September 2020
In a year where our main aim is to continue on our accelerated improvement journey with minimum change, we have had to digest an inordinate amount of upheaval in a very short space of time. We have now completed four weeks back and I am planning to make some further changes following the half term break, and I am currently consulting with staff to get feedback on the systems in place. When myself and the senior leadership team put the current plans in place, we had hoped that the restrictions would be only for a matter of weeks. This is clearly now not going to be the case so I am looking at how we can ensure that we can continue to deliver high quality lessons, whilst giving students the space for break and lunch and managing how teachers move around the academy.
I sometimes feel that the only rational place I can find these days is within the walls of Rivers Academy. Fearless pretty much sums up what we need to be. It takes courage to work in the current landscape. It takes bravery to not just sit back and let things be done to us. It takes a sense of boldness, spirit and true grit to push past the state of “merely coping” or “getting by” and rise above becoming victims to take control of our school. It will, at times, feel relentless. That’s because it is. It will at times feel hard. That’s because it is. That should not mean that we ought to tame down our purpose or mission. Our students only get one shot at it. We owe it to them to get back to providing the very best experience possible. I want to move away from blaming the circumstances for not being able to do things – obviously there are things we must do to keep people safe which means things have to be done differently.
I have found myself reflecting on my communication this week. For six months my main message and general conversational thread of communication has been about keeping safe and responding to the wealth of changes and the landscape we have had to endure. However, the purpose of my communication is about so much more than that. It is to celebrate the smaller things. The things easily missed. The little details about daily life at school. I prefer sharing the great Geography lesson I have seen or the success of our sports team or the remarkable maturity I have witnessed when speaking to our students. Our community is back and is thriving – let’s celebrate that. Therefore I am going to tone down the Covid information from next week as part of our drive to continue building our school and moving from Good to Outstanding– let’s all share the great achievements that our students make every single day.
As you are aware, as a school we have introduced our core values; “Aspiration, Independence, Respect and Resilience”. This week I would like to cover respect as part of my letter.
Respecting ourselves is the first step but if we only do that it is all too easy to fall into being selfish. If we are to respect others we need to respect differences; we need to respect that to achieve equality of outcome it will be at the expense of equality of opportunity. Things are not always the same for everyone. It is a classic argument for someone looking to justify bending the rules – what about that person or that situation. In these situations my advice is always to focus on running your own journey at your own pace, not that of other people. If you are focusing on others then who is focusing on you? Respecting others and respecting differences will allow us to achieve equity. We want to achieve excellence for everyone, but this won’t always result in an identical path for them.
I am pleased at the tolerance and support I have seen this term from our students. They have already made a great start in embracing this important aspect of our school values and respecting each other, respecting staff and respecting the procedures we have put in place to keep them safe.
Finally; sadly our community lost an outstanding man recently. David McNeil was the academy’s longest serving governor, and was much respected and admired. He was instrumental in establishing the “Interact Club” with the academy’s Sixth Form students; an initiative which sees the local Rotary Club and the academy team working collaboratively to raise funds for local, national and international charities, with great success. David actively supported all academy events, and gave generously, not just financially, but of his time and experience. David established a "Burnham" lifestyle and made many friends and acquaintances in the Town. He joined the local Rotary Club and Eva his wife joined the Inner Wheel Club and they were both members of the Burnham Sailing Club. David was engaged by the Chairmen of Maldon District and Essex County Councils to be Master of Ceremonies at the luncheon to honour Her Majesty, The Queen when she visited Maldon in 2010. He retired from Burnham-on-Crouch Town Council in July 2016 but maintained various voluntary roles, including being a Community Governor at Ormiston Rivers Academy, a role he held from 2013.
He will be very much missed by everyone at Ormiston Rivers Academy, and the whole school community will be very much the poorer for his loss. As a sign of respect our flag will be raised on Friday.
18th September 2020
We are now into week three of our new arrangements. As you are aware, we have set routines and the systems in place are so far proving effective. As mentioned previously, I have been really impressed with how our students are responding to the guidance and the measures that have been put in place to keep themselves, and everyone safe. Can I please remind you that students travelling on school or public transport MUST wear a face covering. I realise that some students find this uncomfortable, but it is necessary to reduce the risk to everyone. The bus drivers do have the right to refuse travel if this is not adhered to.
This week in the academy, our new Year 7 students have sat CAT’s tests, in order that we can properly “set” the students when they return after the October half term. This has been particularly important this year, as our current Year 7’s were not able to sit the usual Primary school SAT’s tests, due to the current circumstances. All other year groups have been given class assessments so that staff are fully aware of what students have remembered and what additional support they may need to prepare for future exams.
It has been great to be out and about as much as possible around the academy this week. The Senior Leadership team and I have been extremely impressed with how the teachers are adapting their curriculum plans and have been able to teach their subjects out of their usual curriculum areas. I have seen excellent examples in Music and Technology, in particular, alongside many other subjects, which we try to post daily on all of our social media platforms. Please do take a look at our social media sites where we regularly upload photos/videos of what is going on in the academy.
Mr Matthew Symons, our new Chair of Governors, visited on Monday, and I was briefly able to show him the Year 7 “bubble”, where all students were working very hard and enjoying their lessons. In the future, I look forward, to showing more visitors around our wonderful school, as it gives me the opportunity to show how hard our students and staff are working, and to portray our academy in all its glory; something that every single member of our school community is proud of.
On Thursday we launched our virtual Open Evening, which includes dedicated areas to showcase individual departments, our students and particular highlights of the academy. It is, of course, disappointing that we are not able to have prospective parents, students and members of the local community on site in person, as it is an event that we always look forward to with anticipation and excitement. However, in our “new normal” we are all adapting and trying to be as flexible as possible with upcoming events, and we sincerely hope that we have managed to capture the essence of the academy; albeit in a virtual manner!
Some enrichment activities have been launched this week and it has been wonderful to see so many students attending clubs and activities out of normal school hours. We will also be launching the Arts Award for year 7, 8 and 9 this term. All students interested just need to email Mrs Ingate to register their interest. It will mean meeting once every 3 weeks at lunchtime for the Art Scholars Club and working from home on an art portfolio (as well as being part of the Arts Award Google Classroom). An email has been sent to parents of students in years 7, 8 and 9 in this respect.
I thought it would be appropriate to end with some quotes from some of our new Year 7 students, regarding how they have felt about their first couple of weeks at Ormiston Rivers Academy:
'I felt nervous at first, and then it was very exciting. All the teachers have been really welcoming and nice.'
'Pretty normal, enjoyed learning and the canteen food is lovely.'
'It's been really exciting, social distancing has been well planned. I was nervous at first but I now feel comfortable.'
'It was scary, but fun and there are lots of nice people.'
'Very nerve wracking but a bit exciting at the same time. The teachers have been very kind and helpful.'
'It was a shock but once I have got used to it, it's been exciting.'
'Fun, nervous and I like school and have really enjoyed it so far.'
'Its been very fun but a little confusing. Staff have helped when it's been confusing and have made me feel confident.'
These lovely comments are, ultimately, what Ormiston Rivers Academy is all about, and every single member of staff will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that all students, from year 7 to year 13, continue to feel welcomed, supported and encouraged throughout their secondary school journey.
Have a lovely weekend
11th September 2020
We are into the full swing of being back into school life, now that all students have completed a full week. It has been amazing having everyone on site, despite the very different circumstances. I would just like to praise all of our students; they have been remarkable in adapting so quickly and accepting the new arrangements. As expected, it has been necessary to make a few tweaks along the way, however I remain confident in the plans that are in place, and I am so proud of the way in which students and staff are dealing with the restrictions and different circumstances.
Every day myself and members of my Senior Team have been visiting lessons. Again, we have been very impressed with the quality of teaching taking place, and it has been wonderful to see the students’ happy, smiling faces.
As you will no doubt be aware, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced this week that from Monday gatherings are limited to 6, with the exception of schools, offices, weddings etc. This will not affect the day to day running of our school at the present time, so the current arrangements will remain unchanged for the time being.
Next Thursday is our “virtual” Open Evening for potential new Year 7 students. I am, of course, sad that we are unable to open fully to the local community, as this is always a great opportunity to showcase our fabulous academy, students and staff. However we will do our very best to capture this online instead. Any Parent/Carer interested should visit our website for further details. Open Morning tours will take place, but will be limited to a maximum of 6 people to ensure that we remain in line with the government’s current COVID guidance.
This week the Year 7’s have been given details of how to use Google Classroom. Students in other years have access to this already and staff are currently setting up “classrooms” for each subject. We will be using Google Classroom for home learning going forwards, and in addition, if it becomes necessary for us to close for a local or national lockdown then this is the medium we will use. We are not expecting to close, of course; but are making plans to be proactive, prepared and ready, just in case. A letter to parents/carers will be shared shortly with details regarding how to log in and access Google Classrooms. We are also updating our Sims/Parent App, and will be resharing login details for this in the next week or so. At the moment, any data available to access is for the last academic year, but we are working hard to update this as soon as is practically possible.
On Thursday I had the privilege of taking Mr James Bowkett for a tour of the academy. Mr Bowkett is the Regional Director (South) for Ormiston Academies Trust. I was able to take him into most “bubbles”, whilst maintaining social distance from our students and staff, and I am pleased to report that he commented on how calm and purposeful the learning was, and that he was very impressed with how well-organised the academy was in general.
Once again, I would like to thank each and every one of you for your continued support and encouragement during these extreme and ever-changing circumstances; it is much appreciated by myself, my staff and, most importantly, our wonderful students.
4th September 2020
Despite some inevitable nervousness and anxiety about the return to school in new and different circumstances, it has been a really positive start to our first week back. It has been lovely to see all the students’ smiling faces, and to feel the “buzz” around the academy again.
I am very proud of the way in which our students have accepted and adapted to the new arrangements with such positivity and maturity. They have been respectful and sensible in keeping to their year group “bubbles”, and in adhering to the guidelines and the safety measures that have been put in place.
Clearly, in a school of our size, it has been a challenge to ensure that the year groups always remain completely separate, particularly as we have had to work within the constraints of what we have available in terms of space. Unavoidably, students from different year groups have to mix when travelling on the buses. However, on the whole, the arrangements have worked well so far, and we will continue to do everything we possibly can to make sure that we keep the whole school community safe and well. I firmly believe that we have exceeded the government guidance on the re-opening of schools, which states that “reasonable” adjustments should be made. At Ormiston Rivers, we have worked extremely hard to ensure that we have made every adjustment possible, and we will continue to keep this under review and adapt and improve the arrangements as the situation continues to evolve.
Further to the guidance previously sent to you, I would like to remind you that all students travelling on school or public transport MUST wear a face covering. Our staff monitor the students getting on and off the buses, and remind them of this expectation. However, once on the bus, this responsibility falls to the students themselves, so could I please ask you to reiterate this to your child.
Can I also remind you that students should not be on site before 8.30 a.m., to ensure that we have sufficient staff on hand to monitor their safety whilst entering the premises.
I hope the students have enjoyed their return to school, and we look forward to seeing them all again next week. I would like to give a special mention to all of our staff, who have also had to adapt to the new arrangements and routines. As always, they have risen to the challenge magnificently and have continued to deliver high quality teaching to all students, despite the very different way of working.
Finally, I would like to thank all of you for your continued support during these strange and difficult times, it is very much appreciated. As always, please do not hesitate to contact me with any queries or concerns on: email@example.com
Mrs Emma Baker
12th July 2020
As we come to the end of the academic year, it is a good time to reflect on what we have achieved, update you on some changes and look forward to September 2020. I think we can all agree that this has been the most unique and unusual school year of our lives. I have been very proud to be a part of our community over this time and have been inspired by the way people have navigated the crisis.
Firstly, can I thank you all for the continued support that you have given me during my first year at Ormiston Rivers. I am so proud of the way our students have continued to shine and respond to the positive changes made in our academy. I know the last term has been very challenging for students; working at home is not easy, but despite this our students have continued to work hard and get involved in a virtual school life plus learn new skills and learn things about themselves during lockdown. A special thanks also to the staff, who continue to go above and beyond and who have also worked extremely hard.
Our new Year 7 and Year 12 cohort have been busy working on the transition work that we have set to support them in the transition in September.
Of course, we await the summer results but I am confident that the hard work from our students and staff will pay off and prepare them for their futures. Despite finishing school life early and having no exams to sit for the majority of students, this year will definitely be a year we will not forget in a hurry. I know there is a lot of speculation around the results but we will continue to support our students and we are very much looking forward to the results day. A separate letter to students in Year 11 and Year 13 will be shared regarding exam results collection. However due to the restrictions on gatherings, we will regrettably not be able to run a face to face results day this summer. However we will still be able to offer Sixth Form enrolment and careers meetings which will be bookable, scheduled meetings and further details of this will be covered in the letter.
As the new academic year approaches, I am excited about the new staff that will be joining us and making Ormiston Rivers Academy the best it can be. Your partnership in this journey is so very important and I look forward to continuing to work with you to help provide your child with an education he/she can be proud of.
From September we have changed the school day format slightly, students will now spend longer with their mentor in the morning; the afternoon slot has been removed and the time has been added to the morning so that we can utilise this time to deliver our PSHE curriculum. https://www.ormistonriversacademy.co.uk/the-academy-day
I would like to thank you for your continued support in maintaining the high standards of uniform that our students have displayed this year. Members of the local community and visitors to the Academy often compliment the students on their high standard of uniform and the pride which they take in their own appearance and in their academy. It is always important that we maintain these high standards and that 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 continue to support this stance and ensure that students are wearing blazers, the correct skirt/trousers and appropriate shoes when they return after the holidays. Please note that students are not allowed to wear fashion scarves, and hooded tops and leisurewear are not permitted. Please look at our website for the full details. For days when students have PE or attend a sports club afterschool, they can wear the school PE kit as changing rooms will not be available.
We are all back in September but in very different circumstances. No more rotas or “virtual” learning, but there is explicit guidance as to how we must manage the situation. The Government has said that all students will return as normal, so therefore we will be expecting to see all year groups return in September in full uniform. Obviously if anything changes, I will write to you in the summer holidays with any updates. However the Prime Minister has made it very clear that the expectation is that all students will be back, full time for the new academic year.
I want to share the principles we are working on, based on legal requirements:
All staff will be back full time and on site
There will be whole year group “bubbles” that cannot mix once on site
Teachers will be travelling to students’ classrooms to teach to avoid different year groups mixing
Students will remain static in one room as much as possible, only moving for practical lessons. However, they will remain in a dedicated block/area so, depending on facilities, practical lessons may be restricted.
PE, Drama, Music Food, Technology and Art are working out how they will deliver their lessons with 1m distancing, whilst adhering to Health and Safety regulations
Not every Computer lesson will be on a computer – there may be one theory lesson, and one practical lesson with computers
We will “zone” break/lunch areas
Students will have two breaks but one of them will be in their classrooms. Staggering 6 break times would take all day, but at one of their break times, students will be able to purchase food. Food will be available but will be “grab and go” style, so if students prefer to bring in packed lunch this is fine.
There will not be staggered starts and ends to days for all year groups due to transport. Mrs. Mahoney has been working with the bus companies with regards to this. However, they do not have enough buses to stagger without impacting on learning time. Therefore, students will mix on the bus so we strongly advise all students to wear a face covering. Hand sanitiser will be available on the bus for entry and exit.
External visits will be limited and no overseas trips will take place next term; we will review this in December.
Enrichments clubs will run after school, but will be restricted due to year group bubbles, as we have usually run clubs for multiple year groups
Pre- arranged parents meetings will only take place in the large Meeting Room in the main reception area.
Parents will not be allowed to just come into school (as per our normal procedures) - they will have to make an appointment.
There will be no assemblies - we will record these and show them in mentor time
Transport will be the same, i.e. usual pick up times and year groups will mix as a result. However, we would ask parents to ensure that students have hand sanitiser and use it before boarding and on disembarking any transport. Also, please ensure children over 11 years of age wear face coverings while travelling on public or school buses – unless they are exempt.
Equipment - where possible students will be asked to bring in their own equipment as usual, so can you please ensure that they have a pencil case with a pen, pencil, ruler and rubber. If students are studying Art they will need an Art pack which will be available to purchase from our shop. Further information regarding this will be shared soon.
This is our “new normal”. It will change again, I am sure, but I will always share our thinking with you, so that you are as informed as possible, and in order to support our planning. In this respect, please click HERE to view the school plan, which details the areas that each year group will use, as well as entrance and exit points, and toilet.
Things will not return to the “normal” we are used to. So be prepared to change, adapt to our methods and be resilient to that change.
I wanted to leave you with one thought. I will not be reducing the curriculum as national leaders are suggesting. This will not happen at Ormiston Rivers Academy. Some schools will just be teaching English, Maths and Science for two terms and no other subjects. We will be delivering our curriculum in all its fantastic glory in its entirety. Our students need to experience all subjects - that is where the love of learning, and the awe and wonder of education comes from. We will supplement gaps in learning with tutors and additional support but I will not remove subjects from our curriculum. I am very passionate about this and, educationally, it is my “non-negotiable”.
Please see below the dates for the calendar for next term, please be aware that we have staggered year groups’ return in the first week as below, so please ensure you are aware of what day your child will attend.
Wednesday 2nd September 2020 - Year 7 and Year 12 return only
Thursday 3rd September 2020 - Year 7, Year 12, Year 11 and Year 10 return only
Friday 4th September 2020 - All year groups return
Thursday 17th September 2020 - Open Evening (Virtual)
Thursday 24th September 2020 - Year 7 “Settling In” Evening - Bookable slots
Thursday 8th October 2020 - Sixth Form Open Evening/Year 11 Information Evening (Virtual)
Friday 23rd October 2020 - Last day of the half-term
Monday 26th - Friday 30th October - Half term
Monday 2nd November 2020 - Return to school
Wednesday 16th December 2020 - Last day of the half-term
Please also see the website for further key dates going forwards:
I do hope that each and every one of you are able to switch off for the summer. If you have any concerns that you feel may be playing on your mind over the summer break please do contact us beforehand so that we can help to address them. Google classroom will still be available for students to access work. However this will not be monitored as it is during term-time. Work packs are also available from the main reception so please request and collect these prior to the 15th July. Please also remember that we will close on Wednesday 15th July at 1.30pm for all students, including key worker students.
Now it is time for a well-earned break for everyone when we get to Wednesday 15th July. I would like to take this opportunity to extend my personal good wishes to you all, on behalf of everyone at the Academy, and to wish you a happy and safe summer holiday.
1st July 2020
You will no doubt have seen the recent announcement by the Government regarding the Covid “catch-up” package. As the Government begins to put plans in place for a full return to education from September 2020, they have announced that an additional £650 million of funding will be shared across state primary and secondary schools over the 2020/21 academic year. This one-off grant is to support all students that have lost time in education as a result of the pandemic, regardless of their income or background.
Separately, a National Tutoring Programme, worth £350 million, is being launched to increase access to high-quality tuition for the most disadvantaged young people over the 2020/21 academic year. This will be a programme aimed at those claiming Free School Meals, or those that have claimed it in the last 6 years. This programme will help accelerate their academic progress and prevent the gap between them and their peers widening.
At Rivers we are planning a strategy that maximises this grant using an evidence informed approach alongside staff and parent input. We would therefore hugely appreciate your input and to that end would be grateful if you could complete this short survey by this Monday, 6th July.
The survey asks you for your child’s details and for the strategies that you think might work and also those that you think wouldn’t work for your child. This will help us to plan our strategy ready for September 1st. We will not be offering a Summer Catch Up Programme due to Covid-19 restrictions still in place. We will, however, be preparing work packs (either printed or online) for years 10 and 12 in order that they can feel securely prepared for the start of their examinations years.
Thank you so much for your continued support. We feel truly privileged to have such an amazing community of families working with us. We cannot wait to see more of our students in September.
26th June 2020
Once again, I want to thank you for the kindness and positivity shown throughout this period. We are still waiting for the Government’s “roadmap” for schools, which the Secretary of State has said will be shared next week. However, I wanted to let you know the lengths that we are going to to ensure education at Ormiston Rivers is still of the highest quality.
We have Year 10 and 12 back into school and the look on their faces is priceless. One student, whose natural home is not school, said to me: " I never thought I would say this, but I miss school and I miss the teachers". We never underestimate the role our profession plays in the lives of our young people. We are their "constant" - what a privilege that is.
Our middle leaders are designing the curriculum and looking at intervention to ensure there is more time for students to catch up when they return. We have asked all Heads of Department to plan their schemes of work to allow maximum time to explore any possibilities for practicing skills and learning previous content. We are also looking at the provision for exam groups when we return and waiting to hear from the Government regarding “catch up funds”.
We have created and updated our transition hub which is on our website and I know most of our new Year 7 cohort are accessing the work so far being published. We are also planning a settling in evening for our new Year 7 cohort in September and further details will be shared shortly. Our current Year 11 students are working hard on the Year 12 challenges that have been set and I know this will help them enormously in September when they enrol in our Sixth Form. We are also planning our results days for the current Year 11 and Year 13. Separate letters will go out before the end of term with further details about these days.
We have been dealing with appeals for year 6 and other year groups to obtain a place at Rivers which is full to the brim. I find this so upsetting, and I would offer to everyone if I could, but a school PAN is a legal agreement with the Government and I cannot change the rules, however much I may want to. It is amazing that we could take this school way over capacity in every year group. It is incredible to see how popular our school is - I have seen nothing like it in my career.
Assemblies and PSHE themes have been posted each week and students have been given the chance to reflect on world issues, last week focusing on eradicating racism and prejudice in our society.
We are also planning the face-to-face wellbeing meetings that have been offered to all our students and a member of the pastoral team will be in touch to discuss arranging this with you shortly. Just a reminder the deadline for completing the form is Monday 29th June, so if you would like a meeting please complete the form via this link: https://forms.gle/9AMVnFJgZiJFkQgv5
So much work is going on behind the scenes. I have never seen our profession work so hard. People assume that virtual working is easier, but believe me it is ten times harder. Learning is about interaction, relationships, smiles, group work, laughs, and debate so this is why, when planning lessons and feeding back, teachers are taking their time and really thinking about the progress of students as individuals.
I truly and firmly believe that communication between home and school has never been stronger. We pride ourselves on our relationships with our community and our parents and carers. My staff feel appreciated and supported and I truly thank you all for that. Happy teachers and staff = happy school = happy children = happy parents = happy life. I am humbled by your generous comments about how Ormiston Rivers is dealing with this situation of "not knowing" and that makes me even more passionate and determined that we will relentlessly keep improving our provision and keep listening.
Something that I keep at the back of my mind in times of uncertainty - staying positive doesn’t mean you have to be happy all the time. It means that even on hard days you know that there are better ones ahead.
19th June 2020
This week we opened our doors to some Year 10 and Year 12 students. It was an absolute delight and pleasure to welcome them back! Over 80% of students in both year groups have attended and have taken advantage of the face to face sessions with teachers.
Although we are a long way from normality, this week has felt like a very positive step in the right direction to returning to our usual vibrant community.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff for their continued commitment and determination to offer excellent learning opportunities for our students. They continue to go above and beyond by adapting to the changes required of them. Can I also thank you as parents/carers for continuing to support the school and your child/children as I know home-schooling is not easy whilst also continuing to work and carry on with everyday life. I also know, as a result of the lockdown, many of my friends have commented that they could never be a teacher and how much they appreciate the work, patience and dedication that teachers and school staff have.
I have been in contact with parents/carers of Year 12 and Year 10 students who are waiting for an update regarding exams next year. At the moment no formal guidance has been shared, only speculation that they will continue as normal. It is my belief that the Government will be working on a strategy over the next few weeks and they will formalise their plans in September, although this has not yet been confirmed. It has also been announced that the Government will be providing additional “catch-up” funding for students, but again, this will be effective from September. We are all anticipating the plans for the new academic year, and as soon as I receive any more information I will, of course, share this with you. Our staff are already working hard behind the scenes in preparation for September and we will, as always, endeavour to offer as much support as possible when we return.
On Monday 15th June, the DfE updated their secondary guidance, and this can be viewed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/preparing-for-the-wider-opening-of-schools-from-1-june/planning-guide-for-secondary-schools
This guidance states again that face-to-face teaching will only be available to key worker/vulnerable students and on a rota basis for Year 10 and Year 12. However the guidance also now states that if schools can safely accommodate more students, they will allow individual meetings with all students who are not currently having face-to-face teaching. These meetings would consist of a face-to-face well-being discussion. I am awaiting more details as the current guidance is rather vague. As you are aware, from the beginning of this current situation, we have put in place well-being calls for all students. We were one of the first schools to do this and some schools have still not offered this service. We very much hope that this has helped over the past few weeks. However I will be in touch shortly to see which parents/students would like a meeting if and when this becomes possible. I am also looking into the possibility of introducing “live” lessons in September, if we are not able to be back to full capacity at that time.
As you are probably aware, there has been a lot of media coverage recently regarding Free School Meals provision during the summer holidays. Originally, the DfE had stated that they were not going to provide funding for this, and that schools and Trusts would need to find alternative funds and ways to support this. However, after the recent campaign by Premiership footballer Marcus Rashford, the Government and Prime Minister Boris Johnson have welcomed this contribution, and have now decided that a "Covid-19 summer school fund" will be set up to help vulnerable children and families during the holiday period. Therefore, children eligible for free school meals in term time in England will receive a six-week voucher to assist throughout this period. However, the academy will close for the summer holidays on 15th July 2020, and there will be no on-site provision for key worker students during this time.
We sincerely hope that this information will be helpful to you, and, as always, we are always here to listen and attend to any other concerns that you may have.
Stay safe and well.
12th June 2020
I came across this inspiring poem which encapsulates how I feel at the moment:
“What if 2020 is the year we’ve been waiting for?
A year so uncomfortable, so painful, so scary, so raw — that it finally forces us to grow.
A year that screams so loud, finally awakening us from our ignorant slumber.
A year we finally accept the need for change.
Declare change. Work for change. Become the change. A year we finally band together, instead of
pushing each other further apart.
2020 isn’t cancelled, but rather
the most important year of them all.”
Rather than see this period as lost chances and choices, I am looking at this period through these experiences:
The Rivers’ community coming together
The incredible kindness of our students
The way our staff have gone above and beyond
The support, loyalty and commitment I have witnessed
The love and compassion I have seen demonstrated
How students and staff have embraced using Google as a learning platform
How students and staff have taken this opportunity to learn new skills
Of course we have had our struggles through this isolation period of upheaval, but looking at it from a different perspective, I have seen the beauty and humanity in the Rivers’ community.
We have been listening to your feedback about home learning and how easy (or difficult) it is for you to track the amount and quality of the work that students are completing. As a result of this, we will be turning on the facility within Google Classroom to send email work summaries to parents and carers. So as parents/carers, you will receive notifications of the work set on each Google Classroom that your child is part of. You will begin to receive emails from this service to your allocated email address(es).
As parents and guardians, you are able to choose the frequency of these emails, such as daily or weekly and you can unsubscribe or remove yourself from the emails at any time. (Please Note: “daily” means Monday to Friday. You will not receive email summaries on Saturdays or Sundays).
Again, I hope this new feature will support you and your child. This week we have been busy preparing the site ready to open for Year 10 and Year 12. Parents/carers of students in these year groups have had separate letters from me with the details of how this will work. We have worked very hard to ensure that those students returning will be safe and have followed all the available guidance to ensure this. We still continue to be open to key worker students, however we are all looking forward to having more students on site. I know the teachers are very excited to see the students next week and in this first stage of a return. Let's hope this is a way forward to bringing back more students over time. Google classroom will continue to be set for all year groups and wellbeing calls will continue. Wellbeing calls will only stop for those Year 10 and Year 12 students attending school, as we will now be doing this face to face.
Please click on this link to watch our safety video regarding the partial re-opening of the school: https://youtu.be/qSftRwz6AwU
I will update you next week about how our first week has gone. In the meantime, have a safe and good weekend.
Mrs Emma Baker
It has been a deeply upsetting few days seeing the shocking scenes unfold in the USA following the tragic death of George Floyd and the subsequent “Black Lives Matter” protests. There are clearly many factors in place in America that have led to the ferocity of the protests. A pandemic that has disproportionately impacted on the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community, the economic difficulties the pandemic has brought, which has also impacted on the BAME community, amongst others, and finally, and of course arguably, a political structure and systems that disadvantage people of colour.
It would be easy to look at the situation in America and dismiss the issues because our police officers do not carry guns, and therefore, we believe this could not happen here. Whilst the right to bear arms in the USA may add to the problems in that nation, it is, perhaps, not the root cause of the issue. Maybe, the root cause is the same both in the USA and the UK. Both societies began, generally speaking, with a largely white, generic population. However, both have grown and developed to encompass and embrace peoples from all races, religions and societies.
As a school in a predominantly white area, we have a huge responsibility to ensure that all of our students recognise the existence of racism; whether overt or otherwise. The curriculum we deliver and the class discussions we have, carefully attempt to do this at an age appropriate level. We are constantly evolving our curriculum as we better understand how to celebrate the importance of diversity. We aim to educate our students so that they are able to form their own opinions and avoid the speculation, influence and beliefs of others, whilst considering their own opinions and actions. During our PSHE lesson next week we will cover this in more detail.
As ever, we cannot do this alone. As educators, we would be most grateful if you could take the time to talk about diversity with your child/children. A series of links will be sent out early next week, which will also be added to the school website and updated regularly. Hopefully, they will be an excellent starting point to recognise the unidentified biases that we all may, unknowingly, have. During this unusual time, the majority of you will have more opportunity than ever to talk to your children. The current situation in America can be turned into a positive if it becomes the catalyst for an honest and open conversation with your children. It may be difficult, and they are sure to have questions. However, you don’t need to have all the answers, but hopefully, being open and honest about this particular situation, will enable us all to move forwards more positively into the future.
Our stance, as your child’s school, will always be: “It is not ok to be racist, abusive, or in any way whatsoever, discriminatory… People are people, and deserve to be treated as such”
We genuinely hope that you will support us in this regard.
19th May 2020
Following all the news in the media recently about the Government’s plans for easing the lockdown and the return to school for some students, I am writing to update you on the plans we are putting in place here at Ormiston Rivers.
The Government has made clear that they do not expect secondary schools to re-open at this stage, but that they would like pupils in Years 10 & 12 to receive some face to face support before the summer holidays. This is, of course, subject to ongoing monitoring of the relevant health data and any opening could potentially be further delayed on this basis. Guidance from the Department for Education has been updated regarding the scientific evidence they are using, and can be viewed via the link below.
The current provision for the children of key workers and other eligible children will continue throughout this period.
Please be assured that the safety of the children and your family and of our staff is our number one priority. We will take measures, following Government advice and beyond, to ensure that any opening for more children is done safely. Every school has had to complete a risk assessment, therefore, every school's approach may be slightly different and there are a number of factors that contribute to this.
We will be opening for more students from the 8th June, however the week beginning of June 1st your child will receive the timetable for the remaining few weeks.
If your child is in Year 10 the majority of teaching for this term will remain remote via Google classrooms or work packs that have been made available. Please continue to support your child with their remote learning. It is vital that they engage with all the opportunities offered so that we keep any gaps in their learning to a minimum. However, Year 10 will have the offer of one face to face teaching day per week; this day will be run slightly differently. Every day that your child is in school they will get one hour of English, Maths and Science and will be taught by a specialist subject teacher, but not necessarily the teacher they have had this year. In English, students will be using this time to prepare and deliver the speaking and listening component of their English Language GCSE - something that students can still participate in from home, should you choose to not send your child in to the academy. They will also have the opportunity to spend some time on wellbeing/mental health/Revision skills in preparation for Year 11. They also may have PE in the remaining time they are on site so please bring appropriate footwear. Unfortunately, we cannot offer other subjects at this stage as, following our risk assessment and DFE guidance, it would not be safe to do so and I am not prepared to put students or staff at risk.
Once on site students will remain in one classroom with a maximum of 15 students. The members of staff will rotate to minimise students moving around the academy. Students will have a usual break time but will be escorted to an area of the school where that group will remain; they will not mix with the other Year 10 group that is on site and will be in different locations and on different breaks. The students will arrive at school at 9.15am and finish at 1.30pm. For those requiring transport by bus, a timetable will be issued prior to the 8th June. Students will be allocated a desk and they will use that desk each time they come on site. A new exercise book/pen will be given so they can use this for the day and when they return, as we cannot have students/ staff sharing equipment. Can students bring in a calculator as they will need this for maths, as we cannot provide these for every student. All teaching resources will be electronic. If photocopies need to be used, they will be ‘single use’ and students will need to take them home at the end of the day.
Students will be able to order a selection of food from a menu, this will then be brought to them in a grab bag so students can eat at break time if they wish. We ask that you ensure money is on your child’s account as no transferring of money or scanning of thumbprints will be able to take place. Alternatively students can bring in a packed lunch with them to eat at break time however they cannot share items of food with the students they are with.
We do not expect students to wear their uniforms, so they may wear comfortable clothes that can be easily washed. However we do ask that the clothes are appropriate, eg: no cropped tops/ ripped jeans showing flesh etc.
Year 10 will be divided into groups and you will be notified week beginning June 1st which day your child will be allocated. It is imperative that you stick to the same day, as the groups need to stay the same and cannot be mixed. We will set where possible but staff will be differentiating to ensure all students make progress. Students sadly may not be with friends but this is a good opportunity for them to get to know others in the year group.
With regards to transport, we have been working with Fords to ensure that we can transport the students safely. As a result, extra buses will be put on to ensure that the students can safely socially distance on the bus following the guidance. We do, however, expect students to follow the safety advice as we will not have members of staff enforcing this, so we ask that you, as parents or carers, reinforce the importance of this with your child.
Parent drop off/pick up - we ask that only one parent/carer drops off and collects your child. You must remain in your car if driving, or outside the main gate if walking, and not gather at the main reception while students are entering or leaving the academy.
Reception and booking meetings - we ask that parents/carers do not come on site. If a meeting is required, please contact the relevant member of staff and they will arrange to do this virtually. Staff will not meet with parents/carers face to face at any point during this period.
Discipline - under these new challenging circumstances we must insist that students follow clear instructions at all times. If students fail to do so we will need to make contact with you, and they must be collected to ensure everyone is kept safe.
Year 12 from the 8th June:
As Year 12 students, you have selected a smaller choice of options subjects for your A levels. Therefore, you will come into the academy only when a subject that you study is being taught. For example, if you study accounting this will be on every Monday. You may be in three times over a two week timetable and you will receive further information regarding this beginning June 1st.
I know that you will have many questions about returning to school, about how things will work in this ‘new normal’ environment. We understand that you will need to feel confident about the arrangements. I hope that this letter gives you sufficient detail to allow you to decide if you wish to send your child into school. The DfE have made it clear that attendance is not compulsory; however, as a school we will make contact with you regarding attendance as part of our safeguarding procedures.
We respect that parents/carers are best placed to determine whether their children come to school, if eligible, or continue learning at home. We understand that each child's circumstances are different. For example coming to school for some children may risk the health of another family member. Whilst being in school may be an option for certain year groups, children will be encouraged to attend, not compelled. As such, our staff are committed to supporting the learning of all students whether at school or home.
What do I do now?
Please continue with your child’s remote learning. We remain open to provide childcare for the relevant families, including the children of key workers. The food voucher scheme also continues as normal for those eligible. If your child is in Years 7, 8 or 9, there will be no change in June or, probably, for the remainder of the Summer Term. Work will continue to be set on the Google Classrooms for these year groups, and we also have paper based booklets available in the main reception to collect if needed. Well-being calls will continue to be made.
Year 10 and Year 12 students will receive a bespoke timetable for the new arrangements week beginning June 1st. These will be emailed out to parents/carers.
On site, the following health and safety provision has been put in place:
Separate entrances for groups.
Strict one-way system around the academy - ground floor only will be used
Doors will remain open to reduce touching, unless it is a fire door.
Additional signage in place in washrooms with reminders about hand-washing.
Designated individual group areas, in separate areas of the Academy.
Hand sanitizer in every classroom, as well as 10 devices around the academy
Designated toilets for each group.
Designated break area for each group.
Food delivered to areas to minimise circulation within the building.
2 metre distance markers in all ground floor areas and sixth form.
Desks marked for individual students, with appropriate distancing in place following the guidelines.
Equipment will not be shared under any circumstances.
Increased cleaning throughout the day with anti-bacterial wipes in every classroom.
Staff will be supervising students at break time to ensure they stay safe.
Parents of Year 10 and 12 - we now need you to complete a quick survey (3 questions) to ascertain if you are going to send your child to school so that we can put the above arrangements in place. We appreciate that you will need time to think this through but ask that this is completed by 25th May as we need to work on the groupings. We will have to call you if not received as we need to arrange staffing and transport so need a response to the form.
We would also ask that you continue to play your part in the return to school. For instance:
No one should come to school if they are displaying symptoms of coronavirus. If your child does have symptoms please inform us straight away and apply for a test.
I am sure that many of you will have questions about this. I hope that these can be answered, broadly, by the Government guidance found at this FAQ here. However, please do let me know if you have any further questions. I will do my best to answer these but I hope you will appreciate that I will be limited to what the Government has so far made public.
Finally, I wanted to let you know how proud I have been of the students over the last few weeks. Whether they are among the small number who have been in school or, like most, they have been at home, I know that they have been a credit to themselves. A number of you have been kind enough to tell me how they are getting on, and what learning they have been doing, and of course I get updates from our staff.
Please be assured that we are taking the re-opening of the Academy extremely seriously and I am grateful for your patience as we work on the necessary arrangements.
If you do have any questions please do contact me directly. Ebaker@ormistonriversacademy.co.uk
Stay safe and well.
15th May 2020
Firstly, let me start with some good news which will hopefully come as a ray of light in dark times. Over 400 students have been nominated by a teacher recognising how hard they have been working in these challenging times. If you go onto the parent app, you will be able to see if your child has been awarded merits and the reason/member of staff who nominated them. I have been sent so many emails this week with photos of what the students have been getting up to, from competing in the ORA walking/running PE competition to making banana bread and writing amazing poetry. We are sharing all this on our social media page so please do follow us on Facebook.
I am sure that many of you are following the recent government guidance and trying to understand what it all means. Let me assure you that our current work continues; we continue to welcome students of key workers to the academy, set work to be completed remotely, ensure that our remote safeguarding procedures are followed including making welfare checks to all students.
With regard to the recent government guidance, I do need to make clear that secondary schools have not been asked to open for all students from 1st June. I have heard rumours that some parents nationwide believe this to be the message; please do not think that this is the case. The guidance states that:
“From 1st June 2020, we expect that secondary schools and colleges will be able to offer some face to face contact with year 10 and year 12 pupils. This will not be a return to full timetables or students back in school or college full time, rather some support to supplement pupils’ remote education.”
As I am sure that you can appreciate, this is a dynamic situation which seems to be constantly changing but we will develop an academy response to this request for “some face to face contact”. I am also liaising with our Trust partners, OAT, and other local Essex secondary schools to ensure that there is consistency of approach. I intend to communicate our plan for Year 10 and Year 12 students next Friday which will give everyone (staff, students, parents/ carers) time to prepare for the 1st June onwards.
Due to more key worker parents now needing to go back to work, we appreciate that circumstances are changing all the time. If you meet the criteria and wish to send your child into school, please complete the Google form which is on our website, under “Parents”. We will need at least 48 hours’ notice due to staffing and transport arrangements.
Thank you for your support and continue to keep safe, please click on the link below for a video we have made for you all.
6th May 2020
May I again thank you for your continued support and understanding while we all navigate this unprecedented situation. These are challenging times but please be assured that my staff and I will continue to do everything that we can throughout this period to support you and your children to secure their ongoing education and well-being. This week, packs of work are being delivered to those families that do not have computer access or cannot get to the academy. A massive thank you to the staff who have volunteered to deliver this work.
We appreciate that you and your children may well be anxious and, if this is causing you significant issues, please do get in touch. Contact is being made to all our families, so please do answer your phone as it is likely to be a withheld number . Despite being physically apart from one another, we are still very much ‘connected’ and will continue to support you in any way we can.
Please let us know if you are going through hard times, if you have suffered any loss or bereavement so that we can support you or signpost you to appropriate external agencies.
Most importantly, please ensure you look after yourselves and your families.
If you have any academy uniform that no longer fits your child, we would be very grateful if you would keep it handy and donate it to the academy when we reopen. We will keep these donations for distribution when necessary.
Thank you for your feedback to those parents/carers that completed the Google survey. You should al havel received a letter from Mrs Bennett on Monday regarding the changes you requested. We are fully aware that all children are dealing with this lockdown in different ways and also learn in different ways. Please do encourage your children to switch off entirely at the weekend. It is important that a clear distinction is made between the working week and evenings and weekends. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful Bank Holiday weekend. The academy will be closed on Friday 8th May, we will be opening again on Monday 11th May.
As we now know that the ‘lockdown’ will continue for another few weeks, and it is more than likely that details of a phased return to school may be announced tomorrow, we are making plans for the remainder of the Summer term. We are preparing for students to return to school, whenever that may be. Whilst we are considering many factors, there may be some that as parents/carers you consider important, that we may not have included. Please contact us if your child has specific concerns about returning to school after an extended period of absence. We appreciate it may be difficult for some students, but we will need to establish routines and positive learning behaviours as soon as possible. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to provide feedback.
Finally, I would like to thank you for all the kind messages of support, encouragement and thanks that I have received from you. I have been sharing them with staff who are truly touched and boosted by them during this challenging period. I have also been sent some great stories and pictures of what your children have been doing – please keep them coming! We have a wonderful school community to be very proud of. Our thoughts are with you all during this challenging time and especially with those of you working on the frontline.
Mrs Emma Baker
1st May 2020
I hope you are all keeping safe and well.
This week, staff have been busy planning and delivering lessons as usual using our online platform, Google. It is good to see that the DfE are recommending this platform to schools. Thank you to those parents that have completed the survey that I sent out on Monday. If you haven’t already, please do complete this by Monday 4th May, as we are using your feedback to refine and improve how we are working. The link is below:
So far your feedback has been extremely positive and it’s great that the classrooms are working and the various resources we are signposting are proving useful. We are currently working and testing other platforms for videos, as I know some of the feedback is about downloading the videos and the time this is taking. Further information will be shared shortly regarding this. As part of the survey I wanted to collate how many of our students had access to computers and whether machines were being shared, as I am mindful that most households have one main device. As a result we have created new work booklets for each year group in Years 7-10. These will include a maths workbook, plus a challenge workbook for each year group on the challenge area of the site. These new booklets have been uploaded to our “home hub” for you to download and use immediately.
Remember these do not need to be printed. However if you are struggling with sharing a device etc, these resources can be collected from the main reception area in due course. A text message will go out to each year group on different days ready for those that need to collect. Please only collect this work if you do not have computer access or are sharing a device between multiple children. Please ensure that you only come to school following a text message from the school, as the resources will not be ready if you come earlier. Also please remember the clear government advice about travelling and using your daily exercise time to collect the work. Also when you arrive please keep 2 metres apart and queue outside if necessary, just as you would when visiting any other business/organisation to keep everyone safe.
With our students spending so much time online, Mrs Gibson has sent a letter regarding how to keep safe online. Please do take the time to read this to ensure your child/children are keeping safe.
Just a quick reminder that Friday 8th May is a Bank Holiday in the UK, and, as such, we do not expect the students to be working on that day. The academy will remain open for key worker children only.
As mentioned above our staff at Rivers are working extremely hard to ensure that learning continues.
On the 20th May it is “National Thank a Teacher Day” and will mark a moment when we can come together to say thank you to teachers across the country who are making a difference, not only now during these unprecedented times, but every day of the year.
The National Thank a Teacher Day campaign is being led by The Teaching Awards Trust who are asking as many people as possible to share a message of thanks, ideally in a video clip. I would like if possible for our students to record a video message or write a message/song/picture/poem/story for staff at Rivers. If you could encourage your child/children to do this and send it to SPeterson@ormistonriversacademy.co.uk by the 12th May, it would be much appreciated.
This is a difficult time for us all and we all know that our teachers continue to play an important part in keeping our school running. Please do click on the below link to nominate and read more information. https://thankateacher.co.uk/thank-a-teacher-day/
Take care and continue to be safe.
Mrs Emma Baker
27th April 2020
Welcome back to the start of possibly the strangest summer term any of us has ever experienced.
Much has been happening over the last few weeks in the academy and I wanted to take this opportunity to update you.
A massive thank you to all parents for your help in keeping students engaged in learning at home. In total 95% of students accessed learning either online or using paper copies of work that we have sent home. Well over half of all students are regularly completing work and engaging with staff for all their lessons. This is much better than the national picture as reported in some newspapers. I know how hard this situation can be with a child of my own, so I really appreciate your efforts in this regard. It will have a massive impact on ensuring that our students don’t fall behind!
The academy was open over the Easter holidays to provide childcare for key workers. Many thanks to the staff for their help in supervision duties and organising activities during this period. The Free School Meal voucher system is now up and running and should provide further support to the community
Year 11 are still very much part of the academy. We are beginning to set up online Google Classrooms to start helping Year 11 students prepare for September. Further information will be shared shortly but you will see on our website that there is a dedicated area now for this and a countdown.
We have sent out a survey for parents to complete. We would like to know how you are doing and what we can do better to try and support you over these difficult days. I would be grateful if you could please fill it in. The link for the survey can be accessed below.
There has been a lot of speculation in the newspapers about when schools are going to reopen. In all honesty, we have no idea! What we are doing is planning how we reopen safely whenever we are given the go-ahead to do so. The Government will no doubt issue some guidance on this in due course but it is important for all in our community to understand that when schools do reopen they will have to find ways of following social distancing. This means that they will have to be organised very differently. We are currently looking at what that might look like at Rivers.
Please keep in touch with the academy through the surveys, website, email or Facebook. If there are any questions that you would like us to try and answer, please get in contact and we will do our best to help.
Take care and stay safe.
Mrs Emma Baker
Please complete the parent survey by clicking the link below:
20th April 2020
I hope you managed to have an enjoyable and restful break and that you are keeping well.
Thank you again for your patience and for all you are doing at this time. Our community has banded together remarkably to support each other through this crisis, and the strength we can draw from this will stand us in good stead over the coming days and weeks.
Students have become confident in communicating with their teachers via Google Classroom, and are settling well into the routine of asking for and getting guidance on the work that they are completing. There have been some excellent examples of independent learning and students have been enthusiastically engaging with their teachers in discussion about the subject tasks. The problems initially experienced by students trying to access additional on-line learning tools such as Hegarty Maths were soon resolved and students are now finding that these sites are easily accessible and they are able to complete the activities to support their learning.
We are heading into a rather different summer term but one, despite the uncertainty, where we have three clear objectives at Ormiston Rivers Academy that I wanted to share with you:
Firstly, to deliver really strong virtual learning that all our students can access. Our main priority is your child’s education and with that in mind, we have been working really hard to make sure excellent learning can continue through the Google Classroom. Each subject classroom brings together resources, recorded lessons where staff will now upload videos to support with the lesson materials and give you tips and support, as well as teacher interaction so that we can continue our learning.
Secondly, to ensure that everyone in our community - students, teachers and parents - have the well-being support they need to help navigate these challenging times. This is obviously a very strange and uncertain world we find ourselves in and we are incredibly mindful of the potential impact, particularly on our children’s mental health, of living more virtually, the restriction on movement and socialising and of course, the loss of loved ones. To help support you all, we are offering a range of support through our Well-Being page on our website and a dedicated Google classroom on Mental health, physical health, nutrition, tips for working from home, books, videos, music, meditation and more. We also have a dedicated team making welfare checks and supporting our vulnerable families. You will start to receive a call from a member of staff that will check in with you to see how things are going. In addition, please remember that you all have access to support should you need it via our safeguarding/wellbeing team. Wellbeing@ormistonriversacademy.co.uk
Thirdly, to continue to build and engage us as a community through fun and meaningful activities through the summer term and to equip our children, particularly in Years 6 and Year 11 for the next stage of their journey. For our new Year 7 students we have created resources to support the transition programme, a separate letter will be shared shortly for those parents. For current Year 11 students, our Sixth Form team have been working with staff on a Google Classroom to help you transition into Year 12 and help you make a great start. A letter will be shared shortly with more information on this to those students.
For those of you who have been receiving free school meal vouchers the Government has insisted that we move from our previous arrangements and that we use the Government's own scheme, which is operated by Edenred. We, like all other schools, are working closely with Edenred and the Government to deliver your vouchers as soon as possible. I know that due to the demand of this scheme the vouchers have been delayed, however this has now been set up and an email from the company should be on its way to you. So please do check your junk email; the email will come from “Edenred” not the academy. Any issues please contact Amahoney@ormistonriversacademy.co.uk
At the moment the Government has confirmed that the lockdown will continue into May. As time goes on, I know that more of us are being affected by this situation and that some of you may be facing some very difficult challenges. We are all in this together, so please do reach out to us if you need to.
Thank you for your patience and support; we are committed to supporting you and you can reach me or any members of staff with any concerns or questions you may have. Ebaker@ormistonriversacademy.co.uk
Don't forget to keep checking our home study hubs - there is new information being added all the time.
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.