As we reach the end of the autumn term, and the beginning of the festive season, it seems an appropriate time to reflect on my first term in post as Principal of Ormiston Rivers Academy.
This term has certainly brought some challenges, particularly in terms of managing student and staff absences as a result of Covid and other general winter ailments, as well as keeping on top of the changing rules and guidance. However, it has been heartening to see how the whole school community has consistently risen to these challenges and have continued to work together to overcome them. This is a genuine strength of our academy and illustrates our core values of “Aspiration, Independence, Resilience and Respect”.
Of course, the term has also brought some fantastic achievements. Students in year 11, 12 and 13 have undertaken PPE examinations, in which they conducted themselves superbly. We have successfully appointed two new Parent Governors, Mr Nicholas Gilmour and Mr Daniel Winfield, as well as some very strong new appointments to our staff team, including two new Vice-Principals, Ms. Dijana Piralic and Ms. Leanne Abbott-Jones. We now have one break and lunch time, and have introduced a new payment system, in order to improve and streamline this service for our students. We have enjoyed visits from our OAT Head Office team, including our CEO, Mr Nick Hudson, our Regional Director, Ms. Margaret Wilson, and the OAT Safeguarding team, who conducted a thorough review of our safeguarding systems and procedures, which were found to be secure and robust, as well as several visits from OAT Lead Practitioners in many curriculum areas. In addition, we celebrated “World Mental Health Day” on 11th October, and “Children in Need” on 19th November, as well as anti-bullying week, “No Pens Day”, “Senior Mathematics Challenge”, the “Bebras Stem Challenge”, Elite Scholar Programme, and the reading intervention programme, amongst many, many other events, strategies and innovations. I hope that this gives you a flavour of the wide variety of experiences that we continually strive to provide for our students, in order to give them the very best opportunities.
This week, we have held honours assemblies for every year group, and it has been wonderful to be able to celebrate and share students’ achievements, progress and attitudes to their learning journeys, and to our core values. Congratulations to all those nominated, and especially to those who received awards.
On Wednesday we hosted student Christmas lunches for around 400 students. It was lovely to see the academy’s community spirit come together in this event, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all involved. I would like to thank our fantastic catering team for arranging and organising this; some of whom came into school at 5.00 a.m. on Wednesday to ensure that everything was in place for lunchtime.
Today, we have held our annual “Christmas Jumper Day” in aid of the “Save the Children Foundation”. Staff and students alike have enjoyed this event, which marks the end of the autumn term, and allows us all to move into the festive season, in preparation for the year ahead.
I have shared some photos of these two events below, which I hope you will enjoy.
Just a quick reminder that there will now be a staggered return to school in January, with Years 10, 11 & Sixth Form returning on Tuesday 4th January and Years 7, 8 & 9 returning on Wednesday 5th January. A letter in this respect has been sent today, and can also be found on our website.
Finally, I would like to thank you all for your support and encouragement throughout my first term, and to wish everyone a well-deserved break, a happy and enjoyable Christmas and all good things for the New Year to come.
With very best wishes,
Jo Williams, Principal