As we approach the end of the academic year, I am writing to outline to you the standards we will be setting for the new academic year 2017-18. These will focus on our key expectations for students which align with the Team Rushden Values.  This year we have raised the bar in terms of our expectations as part of Team Rushden. The vast majority of our students have embraced these and have met these expectations each and every day.  The commitment of our students in making Rushden Academy a place to aspire, explore and succeed in has been central to our transformation this year.

The further sharpening of the following 4 key areas will help us continue our journey to make Rushden a ‘good’ school.

Student Behaviour

This year has seen a significant shift in the positive behaviour displayed by our students. This has been supported by comments made from our HMI inspector as well as surveys completed in school and the positive comments made by both visitors and outside agencies when spending time at the Academy.  This has been extremely positive.  However, there still remains a small minority of students who continue to challenge our Academy values and expectations.

From September, Rushden Academy will be introducing a tariff system to make further improvements to behaviour.  This system will be designed to address those students who persistently fail to meet our expectations.  These tend to be students who regularly find themselves in detention or removed from lessons by the ‘on – call’ system.  A number of these students tend to never face the higher school sanctions of extended internal isolation or possible exclusion from school. The persistent low level disruption these students bring to the teaching and learning for the majority of our students who want to do well cannot continue and will be challenged robustly.

Student Attendance and punctuality

Attendance at the Academy rose by just under 1.5% this year compared to 2015-16. We were also able to reduce our overall persistent absence rate which indicates the number of students whose attendance is below 90% by over 5%.  These are extremely positive indicators that Rushden Academy is moving in the right direction.  We are setting an Academy attendance target of 94.7% for next year which is the national average.  To achieve this we need all our students to make every school day count.  This is a win-win situation as the greater the attendance to school, the greater the level of progress and attainment of our students. Please help the Academy reach its target by ensuring your child has the highest attendance possible.

We have also seen a significant reduction in the number of students who are late to school following the introduction of the Spencer Park gate being locked at 8.40am. This will continue with the expectation that all students should have arrived in school by that time.  The ‘Late Gate’ will continue to operate and students who are late twice without a reasonable explanation in the week will be set a 45 minute ‘Non-Negotiable’ detention on the following Wednesday.

Student Uniform

This year saw a real sharpening up of uniform expectations. One of our key Team Rushden Values is about being smart and wearing our uniform with pride.  This means that our uniform emphasises strongly the school culture we have and the values we hold.  From September as previously indicated in parental bulletins, Students should arrive to school wearing formal wear school shoes.  This means that black trainer style or leisure footwear will no longer be accepted as school uniform.  Other footwear often indicated by using a combination of fabric and rubber material are also not allowed. Over 75% of our students already meet the formal shoe school standard.  Guidance on the types of shoes to be worn to school for both boys and girls can be found here.

Can I also remind both parents/carers and students that black jeans or ‘jean like’ should not be worn to school.   In the realm of school trousers – no leggings or jeggings are allowed and that trousers advertised as school wear should not be emblazoned with oversized buttons, zips or other fashionable elements.

Should girls wish to wear a skirt to school they should wear the official grey check school skirt. All other skirts are not accepted as school uniform.

This year we have insisted that school shirts remain tucked in and that students arrive to school and leave school meeting this standard. For the majority of students this basic expectation presents no issues for them at all and has been wholeheartedly accepted as being central to our culture and values.  However, there remains a minority of students who wilfully challenge this expectation during the school day and on the school gate when leaving at 3.10pm.  From September all students who have to be regularly challenged over their shirt not being tucked in will be placed in a ‘Non-negotiable’ detention for persistent breaches of our uniform expectations.

Bullying at Rushden Academy

The Academy was very pleased with the findings of the HMI Inspector following her monitoring visit in May when she stated in her report that ‘bullying is now rare. Pupils know what to do if they have concerns and are confident that staff would deal with any incidents of bullying, swiftly and effectively, should they occur.’ We are aware that the battle against bullying type behaviours will be a continuous one, but it is clear that our robust stance this year has moved the Academy significantly forward.  Our Team Rushden Values that all our students have agreed to, have at their heart a school that focuses on supporting each other.  They state clearly our belief in valuing ‘diversity and difference’ and ensuring that everyone ‘treats one another as they would wish to be treated’.  In September, students will once again personally sign the Academy’s Anti-Bullying Charter to show their commitment to stamping out bullying within Team Rushden.

The new academic year in September provides a further opportunity to continue to build our Team Rushden culture and ethos. Our aim is to ensure that Rushden Academy is transformed and recognised as a ‘good’ school.  A school that the students, staff and community of Rushden can be proud of and a school everyone deserves.  Let us as a community continue to work together to make this a reality.

Mr R Middleton

Vice-Principal

Student Welfare, Behaviour and Standards

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