Dear Parent / Carer
I write as Chair of the Temporary Governing Body of Ashington High School for the last sixteen months to thank you most warmly for your support during this school year, and to bring you up to date with changes at the school.
We were put in place by Northumberland County Council to run the school and help it to improve until a permanent decision was made by the Department for Education in London about how AHS will be run in future. This has taken much longer than we hoped. However, it is now certain the North East Learning Trust (NELT) will sponsor Ashington High School to convert to becoming an academy within the NELT and will be given responsibility from September 2017. This is a good way forward, compared with the sponsors that some other schools have been given, since NELT is a respected organisation with a proven and impressive track record of running a number of successful schools in County Durham and the leaders of NELT are very keen to work with the staff here to help Ashington to flourish.
Ashington High School is already well placed to move positively forward. The staff and students, with your support, have worked extremely hard over this last year to raise standards and to give your children a happy and successful education. It has been a year of great change in courses and examinations and the staff have made sure that students have been well prepared. The governors have seen high standards of teaching and of student behaviour, which I am sure that you will have appreciated yourselves. Of course, we can always learn from others, and the staff welcome the additional support and ideas that NELT will provide.
Our work as a temporary governing body will cease from the end of August 2017, as was always intended, and NELT will create a new governing body within their structure. Wisely, they have invited members of the existing governing body to apply to join the new governors in order to maintain continuity and local community involvement.
On behalf of the Temporary Governing Body, I would like publicly to thank Mr Douglas, the senior team and all of the staff at Ashington High School for their hard work and dedication to the students and community of Ashington and to wish them and you every success. I am confident that you will see continuing improvement and a bright future.
Chair of the Temporary Governing Body
Artist Jamie Evans visited school this afternoon to speak to our students in years 8,9,10 and 12. Jamie is a former pupil of Ashington High who is now a successful painter. After graduating from Newcastle University with a degree in Fine Art, he had his first show in London called ‘Asymmetric Yellow’. It was then that things started to happen for him; the gallery was just off Brick Lane and Emeli Sande who lived close by came in and bought one of his paintings. This led to the rapper Sizz Beatz getting in touch and inviting Jamie to show at the Stolen Space gallery in London. The show was successful and Jamie has since sold paintings for several thousand pounds. He has recently returned from showing in Bremman, Berlin and is off to Miami in December. His message to students was clear; follow your dream, don’t feel you have to follow the same path as everyone else as anything is possible!
You can check out his work at www.jamielawsonevans.com and follow him on Instagram
I am writing to introduce myself and The North East Learning Trust – a growing multi-academy Trust founded by The Academy at Shotton Hall in Peterlee. Our Trust family currently consists of five schools, with Ashington High School along with Bedlingtonshire Community High School and Sacriston Primary School in the process of joining.
By joining the North East Learning Trust, Ashington High School is signing up to our shared vision, that every child experiences excellence every day – a vision I am personally committed to and firmly believe in.
The Trust has a team of dedicated and talented professionals who are experienced in school improvement and who will be deployed to support Ashington in a range of ways including teaching and learning, HR and finance.
The Trust team consists of myself, Lesley Powell, as chief executive officer supported by Toni Spoors and Dr Janice Gorlach as deputy CEOs. Each of us is an accredited national leader of education and practising Ofsted inspector with scores of teaching years between us. We are supported by 60 specialist leaders of education deployed across the trust who are able to offer subject specific support and advice. English specialist and director of our Trust’s research school, Louise Quinn, will be posted part time at Ashington from September 2017 along with maths specialist, Claire Trainor, to encourage rapid improvement across these core subjects. We are also fortunate as a Trust to employ some extremely driven non-teaching professionals; Lee Alexander, our Director of Finance, Alix Borthwick our Director of Communications and Marketing, Deb Piggett, our Director of HR and Joanne Barker our Governance lead.
I want to assure you that we are sponsoring Ashington with the best of intentions for your children and your community and plan to work hard to bring about rapid improvements.
I am happy to personally speak to any parent about our plans for the future and will keep you updated on the school website and through letters home in the coming months.
Lesley Powell, CBE
Chief Executive Officer, North East Learning Trust
Information on Trust schools:
Browney Academy is a small primary school in Browney, close to the city of Durham. There are currently 85 pupils on roll and staff at Browney pride themselves on giving each and every child the individual care and attention they need to thrive at school. In Browney’s most recent Ofsted inspection they were graded as ‘good’ with ‘outstanding’ features for behaviour and safety, leadership and management , SMSC and the Early Years. Browney’s latest SATs results are well above nationals in all areas since joining the Trust, with rapid improvement in literacy and numeracy being seen across the school.
The Academy at Shotton Hall
The Academy at Shotton Hall is a fully comprehensive Academy in Peterlee which provides a vibrant and stimulating environment for over 1200 11 – 16 year olds. In their most recent Ofsted inspection they were judged to be ‘Outstanding’ – their second consecutive outstanding award. In 2016, 81% of Shotton Hall students achieved A* – C grades in both English and maths.
Teesdale School is a secondary school and sixth form set in the idyllic market town of Barnard Castle in Teesdale. The school teaches 636 11-18 year olds. In 2016, 71% of students achieved A*-C grades in English and maths alongside excellent sixth for outcomes.
Diamond Hall Junior School
Diamond Hall Junior School has just over 300 bright and bubbly 7-11 year olds who learn in this slightly larger than average junior school in Sunderland. In their latest Ofsted inspection, Diamond Hall Junior School was rated as good with inspectors commenting that an increasing proportion of teaching is now outstanding.
Easington Academy is 11-16 academy based in Easington in East Durham. The school’s 750 children learn in a new building with bright, modern class rooms and facilities. In their latest Ofsted inspection, Easington Academy was awarded good and their most recent exam results saw 70% of students achieving A*-C grades in both English and maths.
Dear Parent / Carer
Another busy and productive year for Ashington High School is coming towards a close and there are a number of updates I would like to share with you.
Firstly, I’d like to thank all students, parents and staff for their support this year. Our second year as a secondary school has flown by and things are settling well after the upheaval of last year’s reorganisation. The vast majority of our students continue to respond positively to the developments that have been made and school life is progressing well.
End of Term and Summer 2017 staff training day
Please be notified that having looked at the school calendar and reviewed our plans for the remainder of this academic year we have decided to move back our previously published staff training day from Monday 3rd July to Monday 17th July. School will now be open as normal to all students on Monday 3rd July, and will be closed for students in Year 7 to 10 on Monday 17th July.
Year 12 students have a pre-arranged trip to Northumbria University booked for Monday 17th July and this will still go ahead as originally planned. Thursday 20th July will be the last day of term for Year 12 students.
Challenge week activities will run again in the last week of term on Tuesday 18th and Wednesday 19th July, and House Sports Day is scheduled for Thursday 20th July. A separate letter about Challenge Week be given to students and Mr Walton will be talking to students in assemblies about the chance to once again access a wonderful range of activities.
School closes for the start of the summer holidays on Friday 21st July at 12.20pm. School transport will be ordered for this time for students who require it.
Summer Progress Exams
Summer exams for Year 12 students have started well this week. Testing sessions are also planned in core subjects for Years 7, 8, 9 and 10 students as you will know from Mr. Redpath’s letter. I must stress again that for our youngest students these tests are not something to be worried about. They are about providing practice and experience for students in a more formal setting; we are more concerned with attitude and conduct as well as getting our students ready for the exams they will eventually sit. When Summer Progress Exams are completed and marked we will write out to you with a summary of your child’s performance.
After some awful incidents that have made the news recently (Manchester and London terror attacks, Grenfell Tower fire) I’d like to reassure parents that the school complies fully with all existing health and safety regulations and will continue to update our practices as necessary and whenever updates are released. We are in touch with Northumberland County Council and local Police officers whenever a serious incident occurs locally or nationally and follow all official advice with regard to student wellbeing and safety. A minute’s silence was also observed very respectfully by students for each of the terror attacks.
School re-opens to students after the summer break on Wednesday 6th September 2017; Monday 4th and Tuesday 5th are staff training days. Please note the staggered start to the first day back:
• New Year 7 and Year 8 students should arrive for 8.40am.
• Year 9, 10 and 11 students are required at 10.00am.
• Post 16 students to join us at 11.30am please.
North East Learning Trust
You may recall that back in June last year our Chair of Governors wrote to parents about the school’s position with regard to Ofsted Special Measures and the legal requirement for the school to become a sponsored academy. This letter highlighted an organisation called the North East Learning Trust (NELT) as one that had shown an interest in sponsoring Ashington High. Work has been going on throughout the year with NELT and the school will become a sponsored academy as part of the NELT Multi Academy Trust in September. Schools who join NELT sign up to share a simple vision – that every child experiences excellence every day, something we can all agree is the right aspiration for our children. Our Chair will write to you again before the school year ends, in the meantime click on the document below to view a fact sheet about NELT in full screen mode. A letter from NELT to parents will also be sent home in due course.
Finally, I would like to thank members of staff who are moving on from Ashington High School this summer. We have a small number of teachers moving on to new opportunities. We wish them well in their future ventures and appreciate all that they have done whilst they have worked at Ashington High School. In their place we have made four excellent new teaching appointments and I am very excited about the group of staff who will be working with our students in September.
This will be my last letter to you as Interim Principal, as next year under the leadership of NELT I will return to my previous post of Senior Vice Principal. Leading this school for the last two years has been the proudest achievement of my professional life to date and I have enjoyed every day of the incredible opportunity to be the Principal of Ashington High School. I have worked in Ashington for 11 years now and from where I stand it is clear the students, parents and staff in this community are working harder than ever to ensure the provision on offer is of a good standard. I believe the school has made great strides in the last couple of years and I look forward to some excellent exam results this summer and many more success stories over the next few years.
The last thing that remains is for me to wish you all a wonderful summer break.
With very best wishes
We will be running ‘Challenge Activities’ for Year 7, 8, 9 &10 students on Monday 18th and Tuesday 19th July. This has traditionally proved to be an extremely popular event in the school calendar. Students can sign up for specific activities via Frog – click on the documents below for full details.
Ashington High School students recently took part in SAFE week. The campaign – Safeguarding Awareness For Everyone (SAFE) week – promoted a variety of activities to raise awareness for protecting our students.
The message for Safe Week was to provide information and tools on how our students could ensure they are safe over the Summer and who they could speak to outside of school alongside parents if they are worried about their safety.
Students found the week enlightening and reported feeling that they knew even more on who to speak to if they felt unsafe, including their tutor, teachers or members of the Care & Guidance team.
Ashington High School students had the opportunity on Wednesday 7th June to vote in Ashington High Schools General Election.
In tutor time they were taught about our democracy and the UK electoral system. Students also had the opportunity to view all political party broadcasts and discuss who they feel should best represent our country.
Results showed that Ashington High School students voted in line with the General Election outcome for the Wansbeck constituency, voting Labour across all Year Groups and as a whole school.
I am sure you, like all of us, are shocked and horrified by the recent terrorist attacks in London and Manchester and are potentially worried as to what this means for your child and any planned school trips. As we have a number of local and national enrichment activities coming up over the next few weeks, and several residential experiences including time in Spain and London, I felt I would write to you to outline the school’s position and our planned course of action.
I have talked things over with our trained and experienced staff who are leading our trips, and we are absolutely agreed that it is important that, wherever possible, we do not allow such atrocities to dictate our lives. It is with this in mind that we intend to continue with all trips and visits as planned, and continue to offer wonderful and enriching experiences to our students.
However, the safety of your child is of course the most important thing to us and therefore we are continually looking at published advice from the Security Services and the Foreign Office and school trip risk assessments continue to be submitted to Northumberland County Council for scrutiny. Current advice does not recommend postponement of school trips, however, if there are any changes or updates that do affect the status of any of our trips we will contact you immediately to discuss these.
Whilst continuing to offer planned trips is a choice we can make, it is only you and your child who can decide if you / they still want to participate. If you do decide to withdraw from a trip that has already been planned, and if deposits have been paid and submitted to a travel company, we will work with them to try and retrieve any money back to you. This however will be at the discretion of the travel company not ourselves. If money for a deposit has been paid to school and we are still in a position to refund this we will.
Please also note, our overarching aim is to support you and your child so if any situation arises where losing a deposit would leave you in a difficult financial position then do get in touch and we will do what we can to help reach an acceptable resolution.
We will support any decision you choose to take over these matters, but I must assure you that I am confident that if we follow all relevant expert travel advice our students will once again have a superb, and safe, experience in the range of activities on offer for the remainder of this school year.
If you would like to discuss this further please do not hesitate to get in touch.
During the Easter holidays one of our Year 8 students, Cerys Ford, saw an advert for a ‘Young Writer’s Group’ with the Live Theatre in Newcastle and decided to apply for a place. She was required to submit an application detailing why she would like to take part and what she could offer along with her idea for a duologue. Cerys worked very hard on her application during a family holiday, and was thrilled when she found out that she had been offered a place.
There will be seven other young people aged between 13 and 17 (Cerys was offered a place even though she is still 12) attending the group on a weekly basis at the Live Theatre on Newcastle Quayside. Supported by the Theatre’s Literary Manager, Writer in Residence and Creative Associate, they will write a duologue which will be performed at the Theatre’s Summer Festival in August.
Cery’s idea for her duologue was a conversation between two 14 year-old girls discussing the thoughts, realities and perceptions of life in care vs family life. Below is an excerpt from Cerys’s application and the mind map which she used to help organise her thinking is shown above:
“I would love to be part of this unique opportunity to express new emotions with new people through the art of writing. It would help me develop confidence and knowledge with a growth of ability. It would be a brilliant experience and would help me break down the barriers of school restrictions.”
“I would be interested in sharing ideas and meeting people with similar thoughts and interests, and creating a product both collaboratively and alone. This project presents an opportunity which is not part of my everyday experiences and will allow me to express new thoughts through my imagination.”
As you can imagine, Cerys’s parents are very proud of her, as is the school!
Dear Parent / Carer
I am writing to inform you about Operation Encompass. This is a new innovative project which schools in Northumberland are participating in, and one which is run in partnership with Northumberland County Council and Northumbria Police. Many other Local Authorities both nationally and locally have successfully implemented Operation Encompass.
Operation Encompass, which commences May 2017, aims to support children and young people who are affected by domestic abuse. Witnessing domestic abuse is really distressing for a child or young person, who often see the abuse, hear it from another room, see a parent’s injuries or distress afterwards or can be physically hurt by trying to stop the abuse.
As a result, following any domestic abuse incident being reported to the Police, the Police will make contact with Children’s Social Care who will then communicate relevant and necessary information to nominated school staff. This will ensure that the school is made aware at the earliest possible opportunity and can subsequently provide support to children in a way that means they feel safe and listened to.
Each school has members of staff (key adults) who have been fully trained in liaising with Police and Children’s Social Care when required, and will ensure that the necessary support is made available to the child or young person following the disclosure of a domestic abuse incident.
I believe that this project demonstrates our school’s commitment to working in partnership to safeguard and protect children, and to providing the best possible care and support for our pupils.
In the meantime, if you would like to speak to someone further about the project or require further information please contact our key adults in school who are Jamie Robinson (Designated Safeguarding Lead) and Julie Phimister (Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead).
You can also find out more information here
Vice Principal (Care, Guidance & Inclusion)