13 Jan Head teacher’s Blog 13.01.19
Over the next few weeks, following on from the sad departure of the long-serving and much-loved Mrs Bates, a team of enthusiastic and inspirational students, alongside the expert tutelage of the wonderfully committed Miss Mann, will begin to give our library a new direction that is more befitting of the new vision of Daubeney that is in place for 2019 and beyond. Our student library team, unsurprisingly, is full of students who are not only excelling at both English literature and English language but also who have a genuine love of books and the role that they can play in improving young people’s lives. Reading for pleasure, in my opinion, is the key to unlocking academic potential in our students in all of their subjects, and not just in English, and although I know that so many of our students are already strong and enthusiastic readers our aim will always be to ensure that more and more of our young people have the love of reading light switched on in their minds. Earlier this year, of course, we released our reading for pleasure list to all members of our community (if you missed it, here’s a link: http://www.daubeneyacademy.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/Reading-List-2018-2019.pdf), with our message being that although there is no obligation to read all of the books on the list it would be wonderful if as many members of our community as possible (young and old!) were to try to read as many of the books as possible. Clearly, to buy all of the books would be very expensive, but I have been genuinely overjoyed to hear of some students and parents aiming to set up book clubs or sharing schemes and it would be similarly heart-warming to find out if any further such initiatives were likely to happen. There is, of course, perhaps an even better alternative to a book club, namely our library, and I know that our reading for pleasure list will continue to play a prominent part in what this superb space at the heart of our school becomes over the next few weeks and months. Last week, during one of my daily searches of educational news articles on the internet, I came across a truly inspirational story about how some schools have even remodelled their libraries to look like the books that they have on their shelves (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-46814487), and, you never know, it could be that we aim to do something similar at Daubeney at some point soon.
The learning that takes place in lessons each day, of course, is very important, but as students progress through secondary school a much greater emphasis than ever before is placed upon the independent learning that a student does in their own time outside of school and our students in Year 10 are beginning to realise how vital it is to be fully prepared for the exams that await them in 2020. Although the GCSE courses all end with final examination papers, the learning that is necessary for each subject can’t be left until exam season is upon us, and instead it is essential that those extra bits (an hour every day outside of school, at least) are very much in place now. Our homework menus, for all year groups, that are published to parents and students on the first day back after every half-term break or longer break (summer, winter, Easter) make clear exactly what needs to be done and when it needs to be done for and I would urge any students or parents who are not making the most of this organisational resource to get on board with it now before it’s too late. Many of the tasks set for our students are done so via our Google Classroom app, and if parents wish to also download this onto their own personal devices (using the same login details as their sons or daughters) they will be able to see how many tasks have been set and, crucially, whether or not their child has actually completed them and handed them in on time. In addition, our subject areas have active Twitter accounts that are definitely worth following, as they regularly post links to articles that can deepen the learning of the students in their classes (#DeepenYourLearning is a hashtag that we use on purpose!), and either parents or students are encouraged to also make this most of this free opportunity to strengthen subject knowledge and understanding about key ideas and concepts in school. At Daubeney Academy, we are committed to providing our young people with everything that they need in order to improve their lives, but we cannot force them to read for pleasure outside of school or to spend their own time deepening their learning online rather than spending hours scrolling through pictures on Instagram; if they did choose the former over the latter, however, imagine how successful they could be?