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Principal’s blog

14th November

This week I would like to focus my blog on two aspects. Firstly, the modern perspective of SEN inclusion, and secondly, the importance of oracy as part of cultural capital.
This week I have been reading lots of research on the modern education system and how the teaching of SEND students has changed. It is clear that at National we are at the forefront of developments as much of the research talks about differentiation and appropriate intervention happening within the classroom and eludes to ‘waves’ of intervention. The research also summarises good practice in ensuring that teaching staff have access to SEND data and information on strategies to support lessons- both of which we have in place. If any staff or parents feel further improvements can be made, or if they need more advice, please contact Clare Stones on
I have mentioned the idea of cultural capital before. In essence, this is a phrase that encapsulates the idea of the wider education that is usually delivered by the social environment that the student experiences. The theory I have been reading this week discussed oracy and its importance in ensuring social mobility. To summarise briefly, the research shows that if a student has good qualifications but cannot speak clearly and without using local colloquialisms, they may be disadvantaged when it comes to finding some types of employment. Please can all staff consider this point, and where appropriate correct students when they are using slang or colloquial language. If we all do this, it will make a difference to the employment prospects of many of our students.

7th November
Each week I make sure that I dedicate some time to reading educational reports and material to ensure that I remain at the forefront of all educational issues.
This week there has been a lot of information regarding the national performance tables, MAT’s, transition and intervention. It is pretty much accepted that all schools carry out intervention but this overused term does disguise a wide variety of work. Much of the research regarding intervention tends to focus on the additional work carried out by TA’s or focuses on work completed outside the classroom. Although this work is clearly important the vast majority of ‘intervention work’ is carried out by the class teacher during ‘normal’ lessons.

The most recent report from the EEF made direct reference to the fact that their ‘intervention effectiveness’ reviews assume that effective in-class intervention should take place and would include use of TA’s, differentiated work, varied teaching styles, student groupings, literary and numeracy prompts, using visual aids and much more.

So why am I writing about this? Well, all of us need reminding about what intervention really covers, as too often I read and hear about intervention being in terms of ‘extra’ lessons, sessions or revision periods.  Whilst this of course does have its place, please take this opportunity to remember that intervention takes place all the time and the quality of this aspect has a huge impact on student progress over time.

31st October

Well, here we are at the end of the first half term.  We have all packed a lot in and the students have benefitted considerably from all the activities on offer.
In every school I have worked at there has been a risk at this time of year for staff and students to become tired and for work to build up.  Whilst I accept that staff and students have worked hard; it is vital for us all to ensure that everything we have planned to do is completed so that all students get a consistent great education, day in day out, regardless of the time of year or the faculty/subject area.
Last night was the first ever DALP Star awards and I’m really pleased to note that NCEA made up almost a third of the selected nominations.  NCEA had governors, teachers and support staff all represented and our academy was judged to be the winner of ‘overall academy of the year’.
Clearly this is another fantastic achievement and represents the collective effort of all the academy staff and students over a considerable amount of time.  In addition to receiving overall academy of the year, we were also awarded:
* Teacher of the year – Kirsteen Bardell
* Partnership and Collaboration – The HSFC set up team
* Leadership and Management award – Shaun Veasey
Well done to all those colleagues as well as the many runners up in the other categories.

I hope all our students and staff manage to recharge their batteries over half term.

17th October
Progress is the new focus area for education and I am very pleased this is the case.  Gone are the days when it is ok just to focus on the C/D borderline students and I feel that reviewing progress is a much fairer comparator between schools.
At the National Academy we have always ensured that we do our very best for all students and as such we have always focused on progress. To put this into context, we have never considered it OK for a student to achieve a grade C if they are expected to achieve a grade B.
This drive to maximise student academic performance has meant that our curriculum has been well thought out and offers a broad and balanced experience for students of all abilities.
Progress 8 is a new government measure that broadly looks at students overall progress across 8 of their subjects. This measure always includes maths and English, and at National also includes science, as well as options subjects. Our progress 8 score for 2015/16 is positive and ahead of all our local schools, which reflects not only the hard work of our students and staff, but also highlights the strong curricular package and consistent performance between subjects.

I look forward to further success in the 2016/17 academic year.

10th October

Recently I have been giving a lot of thought to leadership in all its forms and what it really means in a school setting. As you will be aware, leadership at all levels is a vital part of any effective team or organisation and that includes leading students and lessons or the leading of adults.
One of the key aspects of leadership is to ensure that you remind yourself and those who you work with why we do what we do.  Too often work life gets drawn into the operational area of work and we forget the important strategic aspects.  I really want all staff and parents to consider the following….Why am I doing this….does it benefit students/children?

If the answer is no, then I would like you to think about why it isn’t benefiting students, what could be done differently to ensure it does and then to contact me if you would like me to consider any potential improvements.

3rd October 2016

To say I am so proud to be the principal at this academy is an understatement.
* The governor meeting was productive and supportive whilst also offering challenges.
* The year 7 welcome service was of a high standard and the students behaved and listened well.
* The year 6 open evening was fantastic…..around 800 in attendance and I received so many positive comments about our students and staff that I lost count.
* The Full Academy Review (FAR) was carried out professionally and again all our students and staff really did show what we do here every single day.
The academy will not receive its final FAR report for some weeks and it is important to note that maintaining our performance and standards is vital.
I can however confirm the following FAR grades:
Leadership and Management -Outstanding
Outcomes   -Outstanding
PDBW    – Outstanding
TLA    -Outstanding
Post 16   -Good (with some outstanding features)

Overall academy judgement – Outstanding

Let us all ensure that our students and staff continue to work hard to ensure these high standards are maintained.

12th September 2016

It would be impossible to start this years blog without saying a huge thank you to all the staff and students at the Academy.  2015/16 was a tremendous year at National and it fills me with pride to be the Principal of an Academy that has such a dedicated, skilled and enthusiastic staff.
Our examination performance at both A Level and GCSE gives clear evidence of the impact of CPD, teaching and learning projects, coaching and improvement planning.  Yet again we have clear evidence that when we say we will do something and plan to do it, the outcomes are always positive.  You should all be proud of your achievements.
The start of a new academic year brings more opportunities, more students to engage with, more skills to learn, more experiences and more lives to enrich.  The start of the journey as always is to reflect on last year, celebrate the successes and identify the next areas to focus on.
We have finally done it…..  The new HSFC is officially open and ready for our students.  Completing this project in 4 months is an astonishing achievement and I would like to particularly thank Mr Heath, Mrs Wall and Mrs Boothroyd for the huge amount of dedication and work to get the building and processes/lessons ready for our Post-16 students.  The opening of this new facility is a major boost to the Post-16 students of Hucknall and I hope all students and staff enjoy using the new facility.

July 21st 2016

Quality Mark:
The National Academy has received many Quality Marks over the last 2 years and all these contribute to achieving outstanding performance in all that we do. Our current Quality Mark’s include Careers Mark, Safety Smart, Investors in Pupils, Healthy Schools and Governor Mark to name but a few.
It is essential that all stakeholders are assured that the reason the National seeks to obtain these Quality Mark’s is not to add pretty logos to our website and letterhead but is to ensure that we review and evaluate every aspect of our practice. In order to achieve a Quality Mark, the academy has to thoroughly review its work and ensure that the highest standards are reached.  Once the external reviews are completed they leave us with a report and sometimes further recommendations which we adopt whenever possible.  It is this aim that drives us to seek Quality Mark’s and I look forward to the Academy achieving more in the near future.

June 8th 2016
Achieving consistency in all that we do is essential to ensuring we deliver a high standard of education to all our students.
Consistency of rewards is vital to ensure fairness and for awards/credits to have value.Consistency of application of uniform policy helps set clear boundaries for students and adults. Consistency of approach regarding attendance expectations ensures students learn the important of attending school (work) for future life. Consistency in marking and assessment ensure students receive regular quality feedback and means they are more likely to value and take pride in their work. Consistency in use of Behaviour for Learning ensures students are able to learn and make progress in all their lessons every day. Consistency in checking all equipment means students are clear on what they must bring to school and the reasons for having the equipment. Consistency in punctuality ensures all students gain their full academic lesson time entitlement. Consistency in teaching means all students receive the best possible education we can give them. Clearly the list is not exhaustive but hopefully it illustrates why the word consistency is used so extensively. I will end this blog with this thought… If we are all consistent and apply policy and practice that is already in the academy, outcomes for our students and their educational experience will always be outstanding.

February 2nd 2016
The curriculum of any academy drives the potential experiences of all students. This area of school life falls into the ‘leadership and management’ section of inspections and as such we can assume that at National we have a strong, broad and balanced curriculum – we have been graded as a 1 for Leadership and Management twice in the last 15 months.

Whilst I do believe we have a strong curriculum, everyone needs to be aware of what this actually means. Offering the right courses at the right time at the right level is clearly important but this is only part of the curriculum i.e. the timetable is not the curriculum.  The wider educational experiences make up the rest of the curriculum and this includes visits, trips, clubs, music, drama, shows, sports, after school open evenings, student leadership opportunities, tutoring, assemblies, charity work etc.  We offer a lot of ‘extra-curricular’ activities, but the reality is that these activities are not really ‘extra’… they are an expected part of the curriculum in any school aiming to be outstanding in all areas.

As an example of what constitutes the wider curriculum, last week we held another successful gym and dance festival. This was quickly followed by a trampolining competition, visits from the National Citizens Advice Service, a PTA meeting and a school trip to Cologne.  All this of course is on top of the normal weekly duties and activities that take place.

For all parents and students reading this blog, please consider whether you are making the most of what is on offer.

October 9th 2015
All schools and academies in England are subject to Ofsted inspections on a regular basis. Our academy received a very positive Ofsted report only 11 months ago and this can be found ‘here.’

As a faith school we are also subject to further detailed inspections under the SIAMS framework, Statutory Inspections of Anglican and Methodist Schools. This inspection looks at similar aspects to Ofsted, but also looks closely at how our values and ethos influence the education of the whole child, both academically and socially. Our latest SIAMS Inspection took place at the end of September and the report has just been received. I am proud to be able to say that the National Academy has been judged to be ‘Outstanding’ in our latest inspection and this reflects our commitment to valuing every child. The report also highlights how our values are embedded in the culture of the National Academy and that this has led to very positive outcomes, both academically and socially, year on year.

A copy of the report can be found ‘here.

Enrichment activities (24th September)

Enrichment activities are a vital part of school life and at the National Academy we value this aspect highly.

Our enrichment activities start in our transition packages that we offer to all local primary schools.

There are opportunities for a wide range of sporting, creative arts and subject related enrichment on offer and an outline of these can be found at here

When students arrive at our academy we promote the education of the whole child as well as providing high quality consistent academic success.

We offer a wide range of trips, visits, clubs and other activities. If you wish to know more about these activities please find them here or here

Welcome back(7th September)

Today sees the start of the first full week back at school. Last week students settled in well and it was particularly pleasing to see the year 7 students get straight into new routines, lesson and friendships without any fuss.

Post 16 students have now enrolled on their chosen courses and I’m pleased to say that 2014/15 saw the 5th consecutive year of growth in our post 16. There was a real buzz around the post 16 area and it’s great to see students settling in well and working hard already!

National celebrates again with fantastic GCSE results (21st August)

This week National staff and students celebrated again, following the release of our GCSE results.  Maths and English results were way ahead of similar schools, with English achieving 80% A*-C and Maths achieving 74%.  There were also very strong performances in many other subjects including Science, Engineering, Spanish, French, PE, Art, RE, Resistant Materials etc.

I am delighted with the impressive results and without doubt it has been a great year.  We have built a reputation to be proud of and must make sure that we live up to this each year.

I would like to congratulate all these students who worked hard and received great results and in particular I want to congratulate Hollie Bidwell for achieving 6 A* and 4 A grades.

I hope all our students enjoy the last week of their summer holiday and look forward to seeing many of them at the start of September.

National celebrates post 16 results (14th August)

There were lots of very happy students and staff today when our post 16 students collected their results.  Hard work and dedication over a long period of time has resulted in great outcomes for our students and they are now equipped to move on to the next stage of their lives.

All students wishing to go to university will gain a place and our former students will now be moving on to study a wide range of courses including veterinary science, sports science, economics, journalism, languages, engineering, history and many other fascinating subjects.  Many students have also chosen to pursue valuable apprenticeships to further their career aspirations.

There were too many success stories to list them all, but I would like to specifically congratulate Matthew Buxton (A*, A, A) and Jordan Saxon (A*, A, B) for their very high results and finally Adam Paulson (A*, A, B) who not only achieved high results but also gained a place at Oxford University.

Well done to all our students and good look in the next step of your education.