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Beckfoot Trust is an organisation that links a group of local Bradford schools together so that they can collectively improve the life chances for young people within their schools. Our aim is to create a group of truly remarkable schools each with a genuine comprehensive intake. They will be wonderful places for young people to learn and grow up in. We want to make a difference. We want to create something special.

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Latest News

Head's Blog

CiN Pudsey

Posted 18th November 2022

So much to tell you...

It’s 5.30am on Friday morning and I am sat at my desk trying very hard to remember everything I want to share with you all this week. There is a lot so please bear with me.

I want to begin by thanking our Year 11 and 13 students and their families for the manner in which they have approached the Autumn series of mock exams. They have been magnificent in their approach to the things that matter. They have been at school, on time, and ready to do their best. Most, though not all, have had the right equipment with them for each exam and all have respected the rules of the exam venues. They demonstrated over the past couple of weeks that success matters to them though many still have to remember that a desire to succeed must be matched by a willingness to work hard in school, in every lesson; by a desire to work beyond lessons through home learning and revision. Those are the things that will allow our students to be the best version of themselves possible and to achieve the results that will allow them to do amazing things with their lives. I guess the biggest thing for me is the learning that will follow over the coming weeks as exam papers are handed back to students, dissected forensically to maximise learning and understanding of how and where to be better and the process of building confidence in our students really begins to take shape. The November mock exams provide incredible learning opportunities but they also provide a reality check for many that being in school every day, contributing to lessons and hard work beyond the classroom is the thing that will allow them to achieve their dreams and ambitions at GCSE and A Level.

Drama 1Continuing the theme of exams, I had the very great pleasure of seeing our Year 11 performing arts students deliver the most amazing performances as part of their exam on Wednesday. The students were "buzzing" (their words) after their performances. I know they have worked really hard at applying lots of different performance skills to their pieces but also on their confidence in delivering the most spectacular acting and dancing pieces I have seen for years. It was a real privilege to be there and to get to share in their success and happiness.
I'm very proud of them and can't wait to see what they come up with as a performance piece for component 3 later this year.  

DSC_0018As a follow-up to my last Blog, we welcomed Rugby League Physical Disability World Cup winner, Harvey Redmonds, into school on Monday. He arrived in his England kit and wearing his medal around his neck. After I managed to control my excitement at holding the medal, it was a privilege to talk to him about his life, interests and work since leaving Beckfoot. He was so interesting to talk to and such a humble young man. He spoke to our disability sports teams, our Year 11 students in assembly and managed to control the vast numbers of staff and students who wanted to see and speak to him. As I stepped away from him I couldn’t help but be struck by how he shines and stands out in a crowd. He is a wonderful example of what we are trying to develop for and with our students at Beckfoot and it was an honour to have him with us once again. Link to Mr Barnes' interview with Harvey. 

wreath (Small)This week began on Sunday actually and the opportunity for me to represent Beckfoot School as part of the Bingley Remembrance Sunday celebrations. It is my first opportunity as headteacher to attend this event and I am so very glad I did. The first thing I noticed was the sheer numbers of people that were there. It had the most incredible community feel as it was lively to be a part of it. I also noticed the incredible numbers of our students that are part of that community through their involvement in local clubs and groups. Everywhere I looked I saw a friendly face and it gave me another insight into why our students are so special. All last week we did our best to remember those who have given their lives over many years to protect our freedom and allow us to live as we do.
Our own celebration in school last Friday was so special too. Our students gathered in the atrium and all around our balconies to listen to the Last Post, to hear the words of The Fallen poem and to reflect, in silence. Over 1800 staff and students did so with such poise and respect. That is Beckfoot School at its finest and that will never change.

The week continued with our student’s involvement with the Bradford Citizens group and twenty-our other schools across the city. Our group is comprised of fourteen students across Years 8 to 13 all of whom have had listening training from Bradford Citizens, a civic action group which aims to empower young people to harness the power of voices to make positive change in the local area. This training is the same as all the headteachers have received across the district and is designed to help them hear the voices of young people and represent them to adults in positions of power. They have listened to over 100 of our students and gathered information about the issues that concern our students most about their city. 
On Wednesday they took part in the Bradford Citizens' Listening summit, which included students from the other Bradford schools putting the views of their student body forward. They led a workshop, where they listened to student representatives from three other schools and decided on what views to put forward as part of the on the three biggest issues which Bradford's young people feel affect them the most. Those issues were Racism, Mental Health, and the Cost of Living crises. 
Over the next year, they will campaign for changes in these areas, and will be working with adults in our city who have the power to do something about these problems in order to improve life for young people in Bradford. Last year's cohort worked with Trust CEOs, the Mayor Of West Yorkshire, the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, and the CEO of Morrisons, among others. This is not only very exciting, but vitally important stuff.

DSC_0060On Wednesday we had yet another first for our school. Last year’s GCSE (Year 11) class of 2022 have wanted to leave their mark on Beckfoot and decided to raise money to plant some trees in memory of their time at school. This week Mrs. Powell, who was their Head of Year, alongsi746416A6-4DCC-4B67-AB1C-BD8E80715EF0de 15 students planted 26 trees just behind the ATP. They also installed a wooden plaque that the students made by hand to commemorate their time at Beckfoot. It was so special.
There is one more tree to be planted. The most special and largest of all the trees. It is the one to remember Raees who passed away almost three years ago now. He will never be forgotten because once a Beckfooter, always a Beckfooter, and we miss him.

Today is a busy one for lots of reasons but mainly because it’s Children in Need day combined with our students drive to raise money for the Pakistan Flood victims. We have a non-uniform day which will also see lots wearing odd socks in support of anti-bullying and we have lots of food to sell to remember those who have lost everything including loved ones in those floods. Lauren, Ruby and Duah in Year 13 are leading the way along with our DT staff and it promises to be a great day where the selflessness of our students shines through once again.

The last piece of student related news I have to tell you is all about our student leaders, specifically our elected Beckfoot Student Leadership group, BSL. Over the couple of years, they have been in office, they have achieved the most incredible things. They have helped shape our Teaching and Learning policy, our PLS and rewards strategy, our food menus, our enrichment provision and secured a third re-designation of our World Class status. That is just to mention a few of their achievements. Post pandemic, weWorld Class cropped for permissionsneeded a courageous and determined group of young people to pick student leadership up by the scruff of the neck and drive it forward to ensure our young people have a voice and a genuine part to play in the direction of travel of their school. I could not have wished for a more self-determined group of pleaders and yesterday we came together to acknowledge their work but also to share a very special moment with them.
Each of them was presented with a certificate to recognise their work as part of the World Class group of schools nationally but mainly for the bid the wrote to host the next World Class symposium at Beckfoot. Amy led that bid and it was incredible. So much so that the World Class organisation wanted to recognise them as being unique and special and honoured them with an award that demonstrated their quality and the quality of their work and bid. Only thirteen such certificates have been awarded this year across the country and all thirteen to our Beckfoot students. We couldn’t be prouder and it was really lovely for our CEO, Shirley Watson, to present the awards to our students yesterday. Well done to each of them and especially to Amy for her leadership.

Finally, I wanted to provide you with some important information about the work of our Local School Committee (LSC). Our LSC is a vital part of the Trust governance structure and is a group made up of parents, trustees and staff mainly. As you know, the LSC sent a survey to families in the summer term to glean their views on how Beckfoot is doing in terms of staff and student welfare, well-being, systems and opportunities. The responses were really interesting and has allowed the group to provide the necessary challenge to myself and our school about our work here day to day. The launch of Class Charts was in direct response to the work of the LSC as a means of supporting and improving communication with families. It is working. They have listened to families in relation to Parents Evenings, the result of which is to maintain our use of online meetings with more focus from staff on what students are doing well and where they need to concentrate their efforts in order to achieve at least what they are capable of, if not more. They have asked us to ensure we keep that provision constantly under review. The LSC has also helped shaped our future parental engagement strategy which will see a change to the Family Forum provision and an increased focus on wellbeing and communication. More information will follow on what that will look like. As part of their remit they have asked me to ensure that you are aware of the mental health information on our website which can be found here

The LSC is very important to me as Headteacher and is a group that is constantly evolving and getting stronger. To that end we are currently seeking new members to join the group and have recently asked, via Class Charts, for interested parties to get in touch. It is a wonderful opportunity to get more involved in the life of the school, spend time in the building and provide the support, challenge, support that will help to keep Beckfoot moving forward and doing great things for all.

Take care
Simon


Link to Ofsted Parent View questionnaire

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Posted 4th November 2022

Shorter days and darker nights but the feeling is good at Beckfoot

Welcome back to half term two at Beckfoot. The clocks have jumped back and the resultant shorted days means we are hurtling towards winter and Christmas (I know!). My blog before the break was a really long one and I promise that won’t be the case this time.

As you know I absolutely love to celebrate the achievements of our students within and beyond school. There is very little that is more important than seeing young people succeed in whatever it is they are involved in be it academically or socially and today I want to mention just a few things if I may.

Firstly, our PE department continues to ensure more students than ever are taking part in a wide range of sporting activities eachDSC_0114 week. These range from netball to hockey, football and rugby, from gymnastics to trampolining, cheerleading and fitness, from badminton to basketball, table tennis and so much more. Last night as I returned from my daily place at the school crossing, I passed what seemed like hundreds of students, all in PE kit, busying themselves and excited about the practice or games that lay ahead for the evening. It reminded me of my own school experience and I have to admit to being just a little envious. I am so grateful to the staff who provide their time, energy and enthusiasm to facilitate such opportunities for Beckfoot students and that very much includes all the other extra-curricular provisions available through the Creative Arts, Debating, Chess and Games clubs and everything else that happens here weekly.

I would like to highlight a couple of students past and present who have achieved some amazing things just recently. Sian, Year 13,sian2 took part in the Yorkshire Senior restricted in both ladies and mixed doubles badminton. Her outstanding performances over half term means she has been selected for the Yorkshire senior county squad and will be playing for them in addition to being selected for the U19 1st team this season. She should be rightly proud of what she has achieved which also includes using her Level 1 coaching badge to help coaching the junior section at the Bradford Performance Centre and being involved with the Badminton England Youth Forum. Sian is an incredible young lady and a shining example of what is possible if you are willing to work hard enough both in terms of her academic and sporting ambitions.

My second mention relates to a young man who left Beckfoot just a couple of years ago. Harvey Redmonds is a Rugby League player who represents Leeds Rhinos Physical Disability Rugby League squad. Over the past few months he successfully trialled for the England Physical Disability Rugby League team to play in the inaugural PD Rugby League World Cup. Last week the England team were crowned thumbnail_imageWorld Champions having beaten New Zealand 42-10 at the Halliwell Jones Stadium in Warrington. It is an incredible achievement for Harvey but also a huge honour for Beckfoot given that one of our own is now a world champion. We are really proud of him and again he is a wonderful example of our belief in limitless possibilities for all if you are willing to work hard enough, aim high and be resilient in all you do.
Harvey has agreed to come in to school on Monday next week between 10:00am and 11:00am to meet our students and show them his medal. He will also be meeting our disability sports team and doing an interview for our website. I cannot wait!

Finally, I must tell you about our EPQ event in school yesterday. EPQ is the Extended Project Qualification which is an option to take in the sixth form as an additional qualification equivalent to an AS level. It is a factual, research-based project chosen by each individual and usually based on a particular area of interest for the young person. This year the projects were based on the following subjects:

  • To what extent is the UK government doing enough to tackle violence against women, in the last decade? 
  • To what extent do adverts use principles of psychology in order to persuade consumers? 
  • The impact of rewilding on people and the environment. 
  • Why have so many nations failed to beat modern guerrilla warfare? 
  • Should transgender individuals be allowed to compete competitively with the gender they identify as? 
  • How far has Margaret Thatcher's legacy influenced the public perception of the working class? 
  • How does COVID-19 affect the human physiology of the cardiovascular system? 
  • What are the benefits of peer based social interaction for young people with additional needs? 
  • The effects of and solutions to aircraft noise pollution. 
  • Was Medical Treatment Used to Treat Leprosy in the Culion Leper Colony in the Philippines Effective? 
  • Art therapies’ effect on mental health. 
  • With current scientific knowledge, will futuristic power sources be feasible? 
  • What keeps a Neutron Star stable? 

DSC_0017Each student has spent months working with their mentor to prepare for yesterday. They each assembled their presentations onto display boards in the hall and invited their mentor to question them at length about their project ranging from questions about the project itself to the process involved and the impact on their learning and future readiness for either university, an apprenticeship or the world of work. Following that, the entire sixth form visited to view the projects and talk to the students about their work and findings. Other year groups were invited to attend and do similarly during their breaks. It was an amazing event and, on a personal level, I was in awe of each student, their work, passion, energy and enthusiasm. They were simply brilliant in their delivery and warmth. I was hugely proud of them all and I hope they achieve the tops marks they deserve for the work they have put in.

Take care.
Simon


Link to Ofsted Parent View questionnaire

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Posted 21st October 2022

A few weeks to remember for all the right reasons

The past couple of weeks have been incredibly busy but also very special. There is so much to tell you that I must warn you at this point that this may well be my longest ever blog!

DSC_0002a (184)I will start by telling you about Matilda the Musical that has been performed here each of the past three evenings. I went to the final performance last night and for ninety minutes was transported to someplace magical where I completely forgot I was watching a school production in Beckfoot. I know we have a school bursting with very special young people but last night was a totally different level of proud for me personally. The cast, crew, directors, supporters and so many more, came together over the past months to create something that was really wonderful, incredibly professional and a complete showcase for the talent we have in this school. I loved that we had so many students involved and it was perhaps the most inclusive and diverse production Beckfoot has ever known. At one point, when the students were performing a number call, ‘When I grow up’, I looked around the audience and there were more than a few tears in evidence. At that point I was really struck by the job we do here at Beckfoot and the limitless opportunities we must provide for our young people as they progress through our school. I want them to be happy, successful and ready to take on the world when they leave us. For those involved this week, they are capable of doing amazing things in their lives. Of that I have little doubt. A huge thank you to the Creative team led by Ms. Kyle, Ms. Bannon and Ms. Hammond and to everyone who made the show come alive.Matilda group

Year 7 rugby

Sport continues to thrive at Beckfoot and this week our Year 7 rugby team got their Beckfoot sporting journey off to a flying start with three wins from three games at the tournament held at South Craven. It was also a special week for our Year 11 team who also had a fantastic performance in their fixture. In football our Under 19 team is through to the fourth round of the English school’s competition and will play that game just after half term.

Last year I was thrilled to be able to feature the sporting success of lots of students who are also doing amazing things beyond Beckfoot. This week I want to highlight the exploits of Abbie, one of our Year 13 students. Just a couple of weeks ago, Abbie attended the Yorkshire Swimming Gala, upper age limit, and had eight races overall. She performed brilliantly and managed to smash some of her personal best times on six of the races she entered, racing against older competitors over the age of 21. The real celebration though was her 100 freestyle, achieving a time of 58.60 over a short course of 4 lengths. Her previous best time of 1.00.10 was only achieved a few weeks before. We are very proud of her and know just how hard she works to achieve the success she enjoys.

DSC_0055We had our Careers Fair this week which was held in the Creative Arts block. It involved over 50 organisations coming in to school to share with our students the opportunities that they can aspire to in years to come. We had guests and stalls from local businesses, universities and colleges, the police, the RAF, the Royal Navy and the Army. We had lots of information about apprenticeships and careers in the NHS, the beauty industry and so much more. It was, as always, an amazing event with students coming throughout the day in the year groups. DSC_0066For me, what I loved most about the event, is seeing how our students engage with the staff who come in to talk to them. They are polite, engaged, curious and determined to be informed of what’s out there for them. For so many it is yet another opportunity to consider their futures and their readiness to go and fulfil their dreams and ambitions. It’s a highlight of the term for me and I am very grateful to Ms. Wilson, Ms. McLean and Ms. Money for their organisation of such opportunities for our students.

At post 16, there has been a huge amount happening. We are well underway with the UCAS application process with many students who are aspiring to a future in such things as medicine already done. There is a huge degree of interest, as always in many of the higher tariff courses such as medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, law, engineering and many more. There is also a great deal of interest from our students in studying at Oxford and Cambridge and some of the more elite Russell Group universities. They are working hard to ensure their academic grades allow them access to their chosen courses and, more so than ever, understand what it will take to get there.

To support our post 16 students, we are in the early stages of forging a partnership with Bradford Grammar School (BGS). We are hoping to work more closely together towards the development of a new and exciting academic excellence programme where we can further support our students in areas such as Oxbridge applications and pathways into medicine. I went to meet their team on Tuesday and had a wonderful morning talking with their staff and students and looking to explore how we can work more closely together to our mutual benefit. I am hugely excited at the prospect of continuing our long-standing commitment to being more outward facing and working with local strategic partners for the benefit of our students. Our meetings will continue after half term so watch this space.

Image(4)Continuing the theme of post 16, our Geography students spent four days on residential in the Lake District this week as part of their A Level course. They have spent time getting ready to choose their independent coursework focus by practicing a variety of fieldwork methods in different locations. After deciding on their hypotheses, they have spent a day at the beach collecting data. Last night focussed on how to effectively present their data and analyse their data using statistical analysis methods. Every single student has been absolutely superb, collecting their data efficiently, displaying excellent teamworking skills and all whilst working in the rain! Apparently, we are not to feel too sorry for them as the weather all week has been beautiful. They return today and will be ready for some home comforts this evening I’m sure. I am hugely grateful to Ms. Carter and Ms. Roberts for their time and commitment.

Ms. Denham has been leading assemblies this week focussing on Safeguarding and theme of child-on-child abuse. It is important that we never shy away from the importance of keeping our young people safe no matter what. The feedback from students has been amazing and incredibly mature. They totally get the importance of looking after one another and challenging behaviours that are not acceptable or, indeed, the norm.

As we approach half term, this week we have been recognising the wonderful efforts of our students with their Home Learning. Since launching our new strategy, alongside Class Charts, we have been really impressed with the commitment students have shown to both their homework assignments, and their independent learning in ILBs. We know that home learning can significantly increase students' progress, and so we are thrilled with how positively our students have responded. We have awarded certificates to the tutor group in each year with the highest homework submission rate, and every student who has completed 100% of their homework has been entered into a draw to win a small prize. The number of qualifying students in each year group has been overwhelmingly high, and we are looking forward to seeing this brilliant start continue throughout the rest of the year.

And finally, whilst this term has been a hugely positive and successful one for our school, this week, in particular, has been a highlight for many of the things that I have just written about but also because of a couple of meetings with two students. The first involved a Year 11 student who was worried about an incident in a lesson that left him feeling like he had disappointed staff that he respected hugely. He sat with me after school earlier in the week and spoke with a bucketful of affection for Beckfoot, his teachers and his worries about how best to address the situation. He showed envious strength and bravery but also a desire to put things right. The day after we chatted, he came to see me to let me know that everything was sorted and to say thanks for the advice. In my view it was pitiful advice but it helped him to take control and that means everything to me.

Secondly, I met a young man who had written about a learning issue he has been dealing with most of his young life. In his work he described how he felt and how his recent diagnosis and support has transformed his life. It was a humbling insight into a world that we think we know but, in truth, we really don’t. As I spoke to him I couldn’t help but be struck by his honesty, kindness and bravery. He taught me more about his situation in the minute we talked that perhaps any other learning in my career. I thanked him, we shook hands and went about our day. I know I felt richer for the experience and I hope he knows that.

Have a great half term. Please get some rest and be safe.

Take care,
Simon


Link to Ofsted Parent View questionnaire

 

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Posted 7th October 2022

Young people that will make a difference

As the weather gets colder and the nights draw in, I find myself constantly wondering about our students and how we continue to look after them, challenge them, guide them and work alongside them to ensure that school is a place where they feel they belong, a place where they can achieve anything if they are willing to work hard enough, be proactive and willing to step out of their comfort zone on a regular basis.

floodsI guess the main reason for this recent thinking is because of a visit I received a couple of weeks ago from some of our Year 13 students. Duah, Ruby and Lauren came in to see me, sat down in my office and asked me what I was doing about the flooding in Pakistan. I remember looking at them and thinking wow! I simply replied, ‘What are you doing about it?’. They looked at each other, and right there and then they hatched a plan. That plan resulted in those three students leading every assembly in school this week and speaking to every student and staff member about how we, as a school community can help. MakeDifferenceSMThey spoke with warmth and passion about helping others and the variety of ways that can we could help. They spoke about the links between our school community and what is happening in that part of the world. They were well researched, well informed and the delivery was absolutely spot on. In short, they were brilliant and a wonderful example of self-actualised young people who did not sit back and leave this to someone else. They did it and stepped out of their comfort zone every day this week to make a difference. I want more of this and I know our student leaders do too. We truly have a special group of young people at Beckfoot doing amazing things to help keep our school moving forward and being better every day.

We have been showing off our school this week to families who attended our Open Evening but wanted to see the school in action. We will do similarly next week too. It is always a joy to walk our school with families. They invariably all say the same thing and talk about a feeling, a warmth of welcome and a very calm and purposeful learning environment. I think it is a brave thing to do but I also think it is the sign of a school that is growing in maturity and confidence.

PHOTO-2022-10-06-12-13-58Yesterday we took seventy Year 11 and Year 13 students to an Apprenticeships and University Fair at Elland Road in Leeds. It is part of our 7 Up offer for students and they were a credit to our school. The organisers and various contributors heaped praise on our students for their interest and insightful questioning of providers. They spoke about their collective and individual maturity and ambition. Feedback like that is always welcome and we must never take it for granted.

Matilda PosterOur preparations for our upcoming school production, Matilda, are ongoing and it promises to be a brilliant production. Students from every year group are involved - taking on roles such as actors, stage production, back stage support, costumes, front of house and so much more. It will be our first production since we emerged from lockdown and it would be wonderful to see as many families attend as possible. The shows will be on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of the week commencing the 17th of October. Tickets are now on sale, you can view more information on our website here.

twitterI want to also remind you that you can follow our school on Twitter and Facebook. There is a lot of information shared via those social media platforms about the school and what is happening in terms of things like sport, the creative arts, lessons and so much more.

Ofsted_Outstanding_OP_ColourFinally, we believe that Ofsted will visit our school at some point this year. It has been eight years since they were last with us and that resulted in a grading of Outstanding. I will never forget that day! The new inspection framework is very different but it is very important to us that we do all we can to retain our Outstanding status as I hope you agree. To do so, we need your help. Please visit and fill in the Ofsted Parent View questionnaire. It asks a series of simple questions about Beckfoot School and will be used by inspectors to help them form a judgement about the quality of education we provide, the range of opportunities available for students, the support and guidance they receive and the growing ambition of the school to be the best it can be. If you could find the time to complete it, we would be very grateful.

Have a great week and thank you for reading.

Simon

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Posted 23rd September 2022

A lot to celebrate

Beckfoot feels great and it's exciting. After our incredible results this summer, our students have returned to learning with a vigour. They have also returned to our extra-curricular activities in their droves. It feels good.

Last week we opened our doors to students and families for our annual Open Evening event. It is one of the most important things we do at Beckfoot and is an opportunity to showcase our school, our staff, our facilities, our curriculum and values and, most importantly, our students.PXL_20220915_172307723
Over 1500 visitors came through our doors and, from the feedback received, had a wonderful evening. They highlighted the warmth of welcome they received across the school, the interactive nature of our activities, the professionalism of staff, the facilities and cleanliness and, of course, the food! However, the thing that they liked the most was how our students represented their school. Over 200 of our young people volunteered to support the evening. They operated as tour leaders, faculty ambassadors, speakers and so much more. Over 100 of them were from our new Year 7 cohort which, given they have been Beckfooters for such a short time is really wonderful. It is always a very special evening but this year felt even more so than normal. I am so grateful to all our staff and students who made it such a great event and a special mention to Mikey and Ella in Year 7, who helped me with my speech and to Olivia in Year 12 who sang beautifully. They were magnificent.

queen-elizabeth_ii-funeralThe past week was also full of opportunities for our students to reflect on the life and times of Queen Elizabeth II. They asked lots of questions and thought a great deal about civic values. They considered her length of service and her dedication to such things as her country, her faith and her family. Seeing the events of the past few weeks has provided a great deal of comfort and hope to many. We were able to remember her as a school community last Friday as we came together to observe a two minute silence. Every member of our community conducted themselves brilliantly and I am grateful that we able to do something as a mark of respect. These things are important.

Today is Jeans for Genes day. It is somethinJ4G_SECONDARY_Sticker_Sheetag we have been doing here for many years and is the first opportunity of the year for students and staff to begin to think about others and raise money for children and families affected by genetic disorders. We ask for one pound as a donation in return for the privilege to wear jeans and trainers for the day. I love it and am looking forward to the various fundraising events that will happen throughout the day. Charitable work is a major feature of our school and very much a focal point of the Strategic Vision of our Beckfoot Student Leadership group (BSL). It is also one of the qualities of the Beckfoot Learner and we will always seek to avail of any opportunity to put others first.

Finally, I wanted to share with you a moment for me that happened last night during my Leadership Team weekly meeting. We invited a number of staff to share with us their experiences and learning from a recent weekend trip to ResearchED in London. ResearchED is a grass-roots, teacher-led organisation started in 2013 whose goal is to bridge the gap between research and practice in education. Researchers, teachers, and policy makers come together for a day of information-sharing and myth-busting. They presented to us, with incredible clarity and excitement, the things they learned and the things they wished to implement at Beckfoot over the coming months; things that will directly benefit students and, in doing so, improve their life chances. It was so uplifting to know that so many staff here are invested hugely in themselves, the craft of teaching and our students. I know it sounds a little odd but the culture of Beckfoot is completely about being more outward facing, outward sharing, research informed and putting students first. As I always say, we are far from being perfect but we are determined to be better every day and that is always a little easier when you are surrounded by really good people.

Simon

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Posted 15th July 2022

We are World Class once again!

worldclassschoolLast week I wrote my blog not knowing if we would be re-accredited as a World Class School once again but I have to admit to being quietly confident. That confidence did not stem from anything other than knowing the quality of our bid and the students that were going to present on our behalf. They were amazing and I am so proud of them and the wider student leadership group who have made this one of their goals since last September – well done!

Last night the BSL group (Beckfoot Student Leadership) came to meet with my team and I to reflect on the year they have had and share with us their plans for the next twelve months. Beckfoot is in good hands and I am blessed to have such a self-determinant student body who care deeply about their school and each other. Long may that continue.

DSC_0045SSAT200-(1)This week I have taken the opportunity to reflect on the past year and to consider what we have achieved as a school over that time. Highlights include a full return to our enrichment provision including sport, the creative arts, debating and so much more. We have been able to celebrate our students through events like Senior Concert, Young Musician, Summer Serenade, Sports Day, Sports Awards, Creativity Fortnight, University Visits and a Careers Programme from Year 7, MFL, English, Maths, Science and PE Super Learning Days, Prison Me No Way, Guest Speakers and so much more. We have won a Careers Mark Award for Outstanding Practice, a Principled Curriculum Award from the SSAT, a Research Led Practice Award, again from the SSAT, for our commitment to research informed practice in our approach to teaching and learning and now World Class Schools. Beckfoot is not a perfect school but we are doing so much to make it a very special place to learn and work, and we are determined to be even better as we continue to move forward together.

Summer SerenadeOn Tuesday, I attended the Summer Serenade concert and it was breath-taking. The talent at Beckfoot never ceases to amaze me but it is the culture of the school and more especially the creative arts faculty that is the thing that stands out the most. There was a huge range of musical genres on show and the numbers of students involved were as high as they have ever been. I guess what I really love is the enthusiasm and bravery of our students to stand up in front of a packed house and deliver performances that are so special. I love these events and I am thrilled that 2021-22 has allowed to get back to normality and allow students to showcase their talent so brilliantly.

Enrichment Week promises to be a good week, it has been a long-standing feature of our school and our students are excited about the activities they have chosen. On Saturday our first trip leaves for France and there are a multitude of things happening across Europe, the UK, and more locally for our students to experience. I hope they have a great week and that they remember to have lots of sun cream and water with them each day.

enrichment weekNext week is also very special because our Year 11 students are going on Work Experience. I love the idea of our students spending a week in employment (so to speak) and to gain an invaluable insight into what life may be like for them in the years ahead. Work Experience will help them focus their efforts for Year 11 as they approach GCSE exams and it will also help with the decisions they need to make about what it will take to achieve the dreams and ambitions they have for themselves. I wish them well and look forward to visiting some of them in the workplace throughout the week.

Finally, I want to say thank you to our families for your incredible honesty and support for Beckfoot and our community this year. I am fortunate to have such incredible support from you all and I very much hope you have a very happy, relaxing and safe summer holiday.

Take care.

Simon

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Posted 8th July 2022

Students continue to lead the way at Beckfoot

DSC_0003a (24)I am always amazed when it comes to the determination of our students to get involved in the life of their school with the aim of making it better for both themselves and those to follow. A few months ago, Lucas and Sarah, alongside a few other students, wrote a paper to me outlining their concerns around food provision in school. The paper was utterly brilliant. In it they provided a very balanced view of the current situation with menus and options for all students at Beckfoot. DSC_0013They were worried about many of our young people feeling that they mattered and belonged because of this. Indeed, they provided exceptional balance to their argument suggesting much of what is already on offer is very good and needs to be kept. We sent that paper to our provider whom we have a very good relationship with. They read it and decided that they wanted to work with our students to do something about their concerns and help them make a difference. Last week that happened when over thirty of our students were joined by our catering providers and head chef to look at and taste some suggestions for additions to our menus. It was incredible. Our students tasted a whole range of food options and fedback, honestly, their thoughts. They were overwhelmed with the results and are very excited to see their choices become part of our food offer from the Autumn. I am so proud of Lucas, Sarah and the others for their leadership of this across school. They are making a difference and providing a valuable voice for our students.

world class schoolOn Tuesday this week our Beckfoot student leaders, Adam, Poppy, Amy, Jasroop, Eden and Mia went to London, accompanied by Ms. Ratahi and Ms. Khaliq, as part of the final stage of our World Class Schools
re-accreditation bid. They were amazing and demonstrated the power of their views by winning a competition for their presentation of a new idea for a Food Bank App. This is incredible when you consider the standard of young people attending that conference. I can’t wait to hear more about their trip and whether we have been reaccredited as a World Class School for another three years. I am very grateful for their time and efforts to drive this for our school and I hope they enjoyed their few days away from school.

BhangraFinally, on the theme of student leadership, we are almost half way through our Creativity fortnight. Mr Lee, the creativity team and our students have planned an incredible array of activities for this week and next. Earlier this week our students were treated to a live Bollywood style music performance outside during break times. They loved it with dancing, chanting and lots of joy and laughter on show.
There has been all manner of things happening in music, drama and art involving lots of outside visitors and performances.

 

DSC_0001a (61)aDSC_0001a (87)As part of the planned activities we held our Creativity Awards and Showcase Event last night which is a special event that celebrates the talent and work of our students in such areas as art, music, dance, food, painting, photography, illustration, animation, modelling, sculpture, tapestry and much more. It is an event that celebrates the arts and recognises the contributions of our students some of whom have now left us. It was very special and I am so proud that we are a school that continues to champion the Arts and seeks to provide an astonishing number of opportunities for our young people to get involved both through our curriculum provision and beyond. The fortnight, and all that it involves, has brought our school to life in a very unique and uplifting way this week and I cannot wait to see what is planned for Monday onwards. Thank you to everyone who has been part of the leadership of this and got involved in any way to make it special.

DSC_0013 (1)Last week, Tracey Brabin, the Mayor of West Yorkshire, was in school as part of our students leading the Bradford wide Pandemic Recovery Summit celebration. For some time now many of our students have been involved in a piece of work to get the trusted adults in the city to listen to the voices of students about the impact of the pandemic on their lives and education. It has been powerful from the outset and our students focussed very much on the theme of ‘lost opportunities’. Beth, Isla and Violet did an amazing job, representing themselves, Beckfoot School and our Trust so well in front of schools from across Bradford, many guests and of course Tracy Brabin and her team. Their focus was centred around the LGBTQ+ community and those students who have struggled with all manner of identity issues over the time they were at home and beyond. They simply need to know they are cared for, loved and that we remain true to our determination to create safe spaces for children and young people in our school and across the city so that they can thrive as they are meant to. At Beckfoot that is something we feel is never too much to ask. A special thanks also to Olivia and James who provided musical performances of the highest quality as part of that event and bringing those in attendance close to tears with their talents. Thanks also the wider LGBTQ+ group who have put in so much work this year on such an important topic. 

This week, whilst being incredibly busy, has also been very exciting. On Monday night we welcomed those Year Six students who will become Beckfooters in September and their families. It was a chance for them to come into school, meet tutors and other staff and be reminded about our values and expectations of each child.DSC_0002 It was a celebration of new opportunities and an excitement about what these young people will bring to our school in the years ahead. That was followed by the transition day on Wednesday where the students spent the day with us to experience life at Beckfoot first hand. They attended an assembly, spent time with their tutors, went to Science, PE and Design & Technology lessons, had break and lunch with us and then went home. As is always the case many arrived in the morning a little anxious and nervous but they left us feeling excited about their futures at Beckfoot and the next stage of their educational journey. We cannot wait to see them in September.

classchartsI want to thank you for your unbelievable support for ClassCharts. Your feedback has been amazing and overwhelmingly positive. In one or two instances you have suggested some possible minor changes and we are looking into that. I am delighted we have been finally able to launch this initiative. When I came back to the school a few years ago I was hearing lots of little things about communication with families and sharing more information with them about learning and the day to day experience. ClassCharts is our response to what you told us and I hope you feel it has been a hugely positive addition to our work. Given your responses I think that is the case and I am pleased.

Finally, thank you to those of you who have taken the time to respond to our Parent & Carer SurveyBeckfoot ParentCarer Survey (Small)It is important that we have your views and understand as fully as possible the quality of education and wider experiences we are providing for your children.

Take care, 
Simon

sportsawards

Posted 24th June 2022

The things that are important you will always remember

I have been looking back a lot this week. That, in itself, is unusual for me and I will explain why.

sportsawards2On Tuesday, we held our first Sports Awards celebration for three years. It was amazing. No, it was more than that. It was incredible, special, emotional and so much more. I sat and watched and listened to the various members of my PE staff talk with oodles of care and passion about young people who live and breathe sport and leadership, who take opportunities and want their school experience to be incredible and full of enrichment and excitement. It was amazing.

sportsawardsI sat with three ex students who were our VIP guests for the evening. Evie, Adam and Max came back to school having left us in the last two years themselves. They were given awards for their various contributions to PE and Sport in their time at Beckfoot and they then spent the evening handing out awards to our worthy winners. That, too, was special and it was just great to see them again.

The evening was very professionally put together and the quality of film and music something to behold. The event has moved on hugely in terms of its quality and professionalism since I last attended in 2015 and I felt privileged just to be a part of it. I want to thank everyone who attended and most especially the PE team who are an amazing group of people determined to provide the best possible opportunities for our student’s day in day out.

Yesterday, our Year 11 came together for the very last time to sit their Physics GCSE paper; it was their last exam. For the past 6 weeks they have demonstrated such determination, resilience and care for themselves and each other. They have studied, attended pre-exam presentations and sat through, in most cases, over 20 exams each. They have never complained once and have been the most incredible group of students to work with through this period. I told them yesterday how proud we are of them and said good bye. Many will be back in September but some won’t and we will miss them hugely. Regardless, we did OK between us and I just hope they get what they deserve in August because good things happen to good people and they have been the best.

We then we met with the families of our new Year 11 students last night. It was an opportunity to set the scene for the next 12 months and to explain our support structures and ambitions for this group of young people. It was a lovely, albeit warm, evening and I left feeling we got it right. I am excited to see what this next group can achieve working alongside us next year but I am really looking forward to being able to watch them grow and do special things over that time.

jeremyFinally, many of you will be aware that the Beckfoot Trust lost a very special person yesterday. Jeremy Richardson, who was the headteacher of Beckfoot Thornton, died following an accident as he cycled to work on Wednesday morning. We are devastated. He was, in my words, a really great bloke. He loved his family and he loved his school. He has done the most incredible job at that school in recent years and he will be hugely missed by that community of staff, students and families. He leaves behind his wife and three children and we are so sorry for their loss. I will miss him. I will miss the pressure I would feel because he was so dapper. I will miss that he felt I could never get way with wearing brown shoes and I will miss his counsel and support. He was one of the good ones and our light shines a little less brightly because he is gone. Please remember him and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

Take care.

Simon

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Posted 10th June 2022

Today is a day of sadness and joy

beckfootToday our Year 11 and 13 students leave us. Today they will attend their last lessons of the year and, for many, the final time they will step into a classroom at Beckfoot.

For some reason, this day always seems to take me by surprise. I know it’s coming but things are usually so busy that you put it to the back of your mind and get on with the many other day to day issues that need your time and attention.

I feel a little sadder today than most years. I guess that’s because many of these students are the first ones I really got to know at Beckfoot. In my early days these were the ones that would say hello, talk to me about school and their lives beyond school, question my allegiance to Liverpool FC and be genuinely interested in things I was doing and saying. I will never forget them. They are incredibly special young people and they deserve good things in their lives.

We have a few things planned today as well as having to ensure the exams are the number one priority. We want them to know that we care, have always cared and very much want them to be decent young people who are happy and that little bit more ready for the outside world because they went to Beckfoot.

Group-Photo-1For our year 11 students, I know they are going to do amazing things. I could not have wished for a better group as we emerged from lockdown and faced the reality of a return to GCSE examinations. Many are returning to us in September and we are very excited about their potential. They will, alongside our plans for Post 16 next year, ensure that our Sixth Form will not only thrive but go from strength to strength because they have chosen to be a part of it.

For others they want to explore new surroundings and I hugely respect that. They will undoubtedly bring a great deal to those schools, colleges and employers who will benefit, as I have done, from their presence and characters. We will miss them hugely.

For our Year 13, they have been the most amazing group I think I have ever known. They are the ones that the pandemic hit most in my view and yet they have no desire to linger on that fact. They don’t see themselves as victims nor do they wish to wallow in self-pity. It’s incredible. I very much know I would not have handled things as well as they have done.

classof22They are the ones that we said goodbye to on the 20th March 2020 with just a couple of days notice. I will never forget that assembly on that Friday afternoon. Some things will never leave you and that is one of those for me.

I want them to have happy and successful lives. They deserve that. I want them to feel that we did our best alongside them though I absolutely know that has not always been how they felt post pandemic. I want them to realise that their time at Beckfoot will stand them in good stead because nothing they will face in their lives will challenge them in quite the same way as recent years have. They are kind, utterly resilient and curious about the future. They want to make a difference and they will. I will miss them hugely but I also know that they are ready to go, ready to spread their wings and ready to take on the world. I will watch from here and be ready to help whenever needed.

For all those leaving today I feel a great sense of pride. Beckfoot has always believed in young people and worked hard to instil the values in them that will help shape their lives well beyond our walls. When they walk out the gates today, I will look at their backs and know they are very decent, extremely likable and hugely ambitious young people that continue to make us proud for many years to come but I am a little sadder today because of it.

Take care.

Simon

exams

Posted 27th May 2022

It’s half term and exams are well underway

examsOur GCSE and A Level students are now fully immersed in their exams and it has been a huge relief to most to have started. The anticipation is often difficult but especially so this year given everything these young people have faced in recent years.

We are two weeks into the GCSE exams and A Level began this week. In all cases, it would appear that the exams are fair. As expected, they are providing real challenge for our students but they are approaching each one with grit and determination. They have been well prepared and they will do their best in all cases. I don’t think we can ask any more from them in that respect.

exams3We will break up for half term today and whilst it will be an opportunity to recharge for most, for our exam students it is an opportunity to get a great deal of work done. At this stage, with the end in sight, students should be committing at least four to six hours per day to their revision. I have always believed that you get out what you put in and hard work not only makes a difference but it always pays off. I would urge each of them to give these last few weeks everything they have got and a little more. Rest will come and when it does it will be well earned. I am proud of each of them. They are amazing young people who deserve great things in their lives.

exams2Our Year 10 students have not been immune to the learning that exam season brings either. On Wednesday, they gathered in the hall and were spoken to about their futures and the importance of hard work, resilience and ambition. Our sixth form team and careers staff spoke to them about the opportunities and challenges of the next twelve months. They listened. We then handed them their mock results in the same format that GCSE results will take next summer. This was an opportunity to reflect on their current progress and attainment. It was a chance to think clearly about next steps and whether or not they were on track for success. It was a reality check with the caveat that now was the time to change what they are thinking and change what they are doing to guarantee success in their GCSE exams next year. What I do know is that we will be with them every step of their journey and will be doing everything we can to support them, challenge them and look after them. That is our job and our privilege.

Our sixth form provision is a hugely important part of our school and I love having the older students around the building. They represent everything that we are trying to create at Beckfoot. They are bright, friendly and hardworking, mature, selfless and they are the role models for our younger ones. For many, though, the sixth form experience has been hampered somewhat by the pandemic. The many rites of passage at that age were taken from them and I have worried about them. So much so that I want things to change for the better for all sixth form students.

There is no doubt that there are huge attractions for students to continue their education at Beckfoot, to stay with us for seven years. There is also little doubt that we are an academic provider of level 3 courses. But we are so much more than that. The personal development of young people is a huge part of our provision as is leadership development. Our post 16 specific tutors provide years of experience to support the 16 to 18 journey and are incredibly well supported by our award-winning careers team to ensure our students are getting into their first-choice universities, apprenticeships and careers. So why do I want change? Well, I guess I just want to be better and the pandemic has allowed me to see our sixth form through more critical lenses. I want to create something special, different with our sixth form space. I have worked with the Trust to secure funding to develop our space into something that is much more modern for our students. I will be investing in creating a much more student like experience, with a new and fully furnished common room with doors separating that element of the space from a more work centered space. We will be talking to students in the next few weeks about furnishings for the common room and study space, new ICT equipment and Wi-Fi as well as other things that will make a difference to the post 16 experience of our students going forward. It’s exciting and I can’t wait!

welcomeback(7)Finally, if you follow us on Twitter you will be able to keep an eye on things day to day. There is a piece on there this week about a trip to the Devonshire Arms. Our students were amazing and really well looked after by the staff there including one of our own who has made a really great career from himself there over the past few years. That, above all else, is what resonated with our students. One of our own, a Beckfooter, doing so well is a joy but also demonstrates what’s possible if you are willing to work hard enough.

Finally, we finish today until Monday the 6th of June. Please enjoy the break, get some rest and relax. Unless, of course, you are a Year 11 or Year 13 student!

Take care.

Simon

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Posted 13th May 2022

Sometimes you just know you are doing things right

P2,-903&904-(13)Over the past couple of weeks, we have been doing a number of curriculum drop down days where we suspend the normal curriculum for year groups and give them a focussed experience for the day. Last week it was Year 9s PE Day where they took part in a wide variety of activities including learning about nutrition, physiology, training, sport development and media. It was great - the sessions so interactive and fun. 

This week it was the turn of our Year 7s on Tuesday and Year 8s on Thursday. Year 7 had an incredible day looking at the theme of dystopia. They had no names throughout and were simply numbers with a mission to thwart the plans of the evil Number 1 (Mr. Thomas). I was hooked from the first session and so were the students. They learned so much about language, writing, reading and working together. It was so much fun and a hugely successful day helped greatly by our amazing students.   

DSC_0001Yesterday, our Year 8 had their RESPECT day. This was special because the focus was on others. Our students were encouraged to think about bullying (cyber bullying), racism, LGBTQ+, disability and sexual harassment. The sessions were jointly delivered by guests and our own staff. They were informative, interactive and incredibly educational. Our students amazed our visitors with their input, knowledge, understanding and willingness to listen, learn, empathise and change. These days are so important if we are to be truly serious about our desire to shape students, prepare them for a world beyond Beckfoot and give them the tools and experiences to thrive. We are all different and thats ok. In fact, it’s fantastic and we need to be more understanding, more tolerant and much more inclusive in all that we do. I want to thank all the staff that made this day so successful especially Mrs Lawal, Ms Khaliq, Mrs Dobson and their teams.  

indexFor the past few weeks there has been a steady increase in the levels of excitement streaming from various groups in Year 11. Of course, they are all absolutely focussed on their exams (I see that every day as I walk the building and visit lessons) but there is also something else, something very tangible. It’s the Prom and Flamingo Land! For many years now, these have been rites of passage for our students and the stories from previous cohorts only add to the wonder and expectation. 

This week has felt really strange. They have been expectant, excited and a little anxious. They know that GCSE exams begin on Monday, but they also know that they have been encouraged to take a break and enjoy each other’s company for the final times this week and that always brings joy and a few tears as they realise that their time together is almost over and soon, they will go their separate ways. 

It’s 5.30am and I am sat writing this blog in my office following the most wonderful evening last night. I want to share with you how it went at the prom, but there is also the small matter of taking a year group out for the day and wanting them to fully understand how much we like them, want to spend time with them and how much we care about them and their futures. I hope they know. I think they do. 

DSC_0076Last night was simply incredible. It was my first Prom since I left in 2015 and I had forgotten much about the evening. I arrived at the Mercure Bankfield Hotel at 6.15pm just to see if I could help in any way. Although I was early, there was nothing for me to do because the staff had it all in hand. I was quickly joined by large numbers of staff who wanted to share in the celebrations, and they looked incredible having made a huge effort to get dressed up to meet and greet their students as they arrived. That was the first ‘lump in the throat moment. Over 70 staff congregated at the front of the hotel to clap as each student, each group emerged from an incredible variety of vehicles. Also present, were large numbers of family and friends of our students. They too wanted to share in the evening even if just for a few moments and secure photos that would provide lifelong memories and points for discussion for years to come. It was such a special occasion. It is our school community coming together to ensure our young people know they are cared for. 

DSC_0048Our students came with families, in Limos, supercars of all varieties, vintage American cars, bikes and a police van!! Seeing a couple of our girls emerge from the back of a police van will live long in the memory and gave me my second lump in the throat/heart stopping moment! For many of us, seeing them arrive that is the most special part of the evening. They come together as a very special group and they know that they can enjoy themselves, enjoy each other and look after one another throughout. Being there for that alone was a privilege and I cannot thank the staff enough for helping to make it very special indeed. 

DSC_0174Throughout the evening our students had fun. They mingled, danced, ate and had millions of photos taken. They looked amazing in their choice of evening wear which ranged from the most incredible dresses to dapper suits and some very bespoke and individual steampunk outfits. I hope they all felt very special and felt great about themselves for the evening. We thought they looked wonderful and it was an absolute joy to be asked to be in numerous photos throughout the night. 

At the end they made their way home and so many said thank you. It doesn’t seem much, but those words meant a great deal to us and that we got it right for them. I hope so. 

Today we all go to Flamingo Land. It has been a feature of our Year 11 strategy for many years and I hope they have a wonderful day. I have permission to join them and I can’t wait. I don’t enjoy theme parks; more specifically rides but I will cope for one day and enjoy the company of a very special group of young people for one last time. 

Take care. 

Simon 

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Posted 29th April 2022

Welcome back to the summer term

I love the summer term. It’s full of hope and expectation. The brighter mornings and longer evenings make such a difference as does the weather. Having said that I have ice on my windscreen this morning and it’s almost May!

I am very fortunate to be in the privileged position that I am. I love my job and there has never been a day over the past 28 years where I have not wanted to come to work. I am surrounded by incredible people who share my ambition for the school but, most importantly, I am surrounded by the most amazing young people. They are the ones that make this job special, the ones that make it interesting and challenging all at the same time. They are the ones that we focus on entirely. Why do I say that?

examsAs May approaches, so do the first external exams since 2019. Our Year 11 and Year 13 students will in a matter of weeks, sit their respective GCSE and A Level exams. Most are well prepared, some are anxious, and a few are still deciding! Our job is to build their confidence to be able to approach these exams with a positive mindset and a belief that they can and will do well. Whilst every effort is being made in school there is also a responsibility on students to do their bit too. Again, most are working hard and building the knowledge that they will be able to recall and apply in any exam. They will get what they deserve; they always do. Over the holidays, others have realised that now is the time to buckle down and devote themselves to the work that is required. They will do well. A few, not many thankfully, are unsure about the merits of hard work. What we say every year is that there is a clear relationship between inputs and outputs. If you put in the work, you will be ok. If you don’t then the risks are huge. Every ounce of effort, every minute, every hour of study will make a difference. Every exam practice question done, every paper completed will make a difference. It is never too late to invest in your future and our young people know that. They should always be looking for opportunities to revise and the coming Bank Holiday weekend is a great opportunity. I spoke with the staff on Monday morning and reminded them (not that I have to) of our absolute commitment to our exam students over the coming weeks. Whatever happens we will be there for them.

sian2sian3I am also very fortunate because many students and families are keen for me to know about exploits beyond Beckfoot and I love that. Sian is mentioned regularly in my blog because she is hugely involved in her sport outside of school. Over Easter she took part in the Inter Counties Tournament, the pinnacle of junior county badminton nationally. I am reliably informed that it's been 10 years since Yorkshire Badminton won that particular competition. Sian was part of a very strong Yorkshire team and after three days they made it to the final three which included Yorkshire, Leinster and Cheshire. Yorkshire, including Sian were triumphant winning all their matches and lifting the trophy. It is an immense achievement and we are thrilled for her. She has given years of her young life to achieving this success and it is hugely deserved.

englandcheerleadersContinuing with the sporting theme, two of our students travelled to Florida over the Easter break to represent Team England in the International Cheer Union World Championships. Georgia and Scarlett represented team England against many other nations, competing against the world’s most elite cheerleaders such as USA, Mexico and China. The team placed 7th in the world which is incredible. I am in awe of such talent. To be good enough to be picked to represent your country in amazing in itself but to rank 7th in the world is incredible. Again, both girls have committed huge amounts of time to their sport. They have made sacrifices along the way to do what they have done, and we are hugely proud of them both. You can watch Team England in action below!

To finish, I always talk about hard work and how important that is. I have never figured out how to do things well, and achieve success, any other way. Perhaps it’s possible? I think not.

Take care.

Simon

York

Posted 8th April 2022

Final Blog of the Spring Term

Buzz-MagazineI was chatting with some staff and students this week about the latest edition of our Buzz magazine and how proud we were of all the amazing things that have been going on at Beckfoot over recent months. We each agreed that school feels like a great place to work and learn and that we are slowly beginning to forget about the pandemic, well at least our students are!

The Buzz comes out today and I am very grateful to our digital team of staff and students who have put in so much work to create something that we are really happy with. There is something in there for everyone ranging from music, to sport to future readiness and academic interests. I love that students are so involved in this because Beckfoot is their school and it is right that they want to shout about it.

On Tuesday we held our final Super Learning Day for a group of ninety Yr. 11 students. We took them to the Mercure Hotel for the day with an exclusive focus on Maths and English in preparation for their forthcoming GCSE exams. They were treated like young adults throughout and had the opportunity to learn in a business-like environment. Their response was phenomenal, and their feedback focused entirely on a desire to succeed not only in those core subjects but in every aspect of their education. These days are very difficult to organise and plan but the time and effort put in by the staff made it such a worthwhile activity that will, undoubtedly make a difference to our young people.

LeedsMusic and the Arts have always been a big part of what we do here every day, but I cannot remember a week which has involved so much activity as this one. Last Saturday a combination of dance students from years 10, 11 and 12 performed at Fresh 22 at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. It has been a really exciting and challenging few months for the girls who not only had to choreograph a dance routine but then had to perform it a number of times in order to qualify for the event. Not only did they qualify but they did so for the main event in the evening on centre stage. They worked so hard every day in the lead up and were incredibly self-critical and determined to perfect their routine in advance of the performance. They danced as Footfall Dance company and were brilliant on the night. Special memories for a special group of students led superbly by Darcie and Laila.

YorkAlso, this week, two other major events took place involving Beckfoot’s Creative Arts staff and students. On Wednesday evening our students were involved in a National Theatre Connections performance at the Theatre Royal in York. Following a competitive bid to be part of this project, our students were given the opportunity to work with a professional playwright and perform a new one-hour play that the playwright had written especially for this project. For anyone who has ever had to memorise a speech, lead an assembly, or similar, I think it is fair to say that it is not easy and takes incredible courage. It was wonderful to see another group of our students involved in a project on this scale. What stood out on the evening was the focus, determination, professionalism, teamwork and all round Beckfoot magic that was oozed from our students - both on stage and backstage afterwards. Most have never performed before and the memories and experiences this kind of project provides is just phenomenal. I want to thank Ms. Kyle and her team, the students of course and those staff and families that were there to support.

Also on Wednesday, the final of our First Give work was held in the main hall with presentations from each tutor group about their chosen charity. First Give is a charity whose programme inspires and empowers young people to take action to make a positive change in society. The work supports students to understand the power and importance of social action whilst also developing them as leaders with a social conscience.

904 presenters (2)Each tutor group had representatives that spoke about their chosen charity, why it was important to them and why they exist. They each chose a different one to support in the hope of winning the £1000 prize for their chosen focus. I stood and watched each tutor group talk about the work of their charity and why it was important to them. The students spoke about work in our city aimed at supporting those with mental health issues, homelessness, employment, and animal welfare to name a few. It was humbling and I can only imagine how proud their tutors were of them.

In the end it was tutor group 904 who won the money for their chosen charity, The Cellar Trust, A Bradford based charity offering a range of services for people who are having difficulties with their mental healh.

 

St GeorgesWednesday was proving to be a busy day and Mr Lee was determined not be outdone. He, alongside Mr Stimpson, took a group of forty-five students to perform in the Bradford Proms at St Georges Hall. Our Senior band opened the show with a bang, leading the way for a brilliant evening of performances from schools across Bradford. Our Juno singing group then performed as part of the Bradford Blast Choir with and sang with confidence and maturity. Indeed, our students shone brightly throughout the evening and were all absolutely brilliantly brilliant as both performers and young people. To perform on such a big stage in front of a packed-out audience is not easy, but our students loved it and represented themselves, their families and our school wonderfully, leading the Bradford district with two stand out performances. Again, I want to thank the staff, the students and those staff and families that were there to support.

I know Beckfoot is a special place but this week more so than ever. I am so fortunate to have such a committed staff who seek out every opportunity to make our students feel special and to have access to moments that will live with them forever. That is what our culture is totally focused on. It is about ensuring we are changing lives both socially and academically.

Finally, we held a planned fire practice yesterday. For those that read regularly, you will know that I worry intensely about these things. I worry because they are such a public test of school culture; I needn’t have worried. It was amazing. 1900 staff and students exited the building in silence, lined up to be registered in silence, waited patiently in silence and return to the building in silence. Everyone knew what was expected of them, why it is important to get it right, and I was almost overcome with pride watching it all happen before me. I have worked at 6 schools throughout my career and I have seen lots of fire drills go wrong, often badly wrong. Standards are so important as is clarity of expectation. Our students were incredible, and I need to remind myself regularly never to take that for granted. I won’t.

Have a wonderful, happy and peaceful Easter break. Stay safe, look after those around you and those you love.

Simon

Lois

Posted 1st April 2022

Hard work matters

It has been only a week since my last Blog but so much has happened that I needed to share with you a little earlier. Most of my news relates to the importance of hard work and the belief that you mostly get back what you put in regardless of what it is you are trying to achieve.

SSATI would like to start by sharing the news that we were informed this week that we have been successfully accredited by the SSAT (Schools Students and Teachers Network) for two key areas of our work around the quality of education provided at Beckfoot. These awards recognise that our practice is amongst the most exceptional nationally under the SSAT's Framework for Exceptional Education. The two areas we have been awarded transforming practice in are: 

  • Engaging with evidence and research 
  • Principled curriculum design

I want to thank everyone who has supported these bids and for the hard work, dedication and determination I see every day to ensure Beckfoot continues to provide the best education possible for our community. The impact on our students 'lived' experience is what matters most, and it is for that reason that I am so thrilled and grateful.  

Year 11 revision sessionA few months ago, we shared the decision to make changes to our curriculum in order to ensure every child had access to a breadth of study that would allow them to stand alongside any student in the country and compete for the best jobs and university places. In doing so we will ensure every child will study the core subjects, a humanities subject and a modern foreign language. We are excited by this decision and very much want to ensure our students get the very best teaching and experiences possible as we seek to develop them as young people with a deeper knowledge of such things as cultural capital. Last week we held a modern foreign languages Wider Learning Day for Year 8. Despite the fact that we teach French and German here, we did not allow them to utilise those languages throughout the day. Instead we asked them to communicate in so many different ways ranging from sign language to a whole host of other languages including Urdu, Punjabi, Spanish and Ukrainian. There was also a little bit of Gaelic (Irish language) thrown in by me for good measure. It was a wonderful day and I am so grateful to the MFL team and all those visiting staff who supported the day including colleagues from Hazelbeck. 

We held our Year 11 mock results day yesterday and the reaction from the students was the best I have known in many years. We shared the results from their mock exams in the format they will experience in August. Despite knowing their results already because we want them to learn from their exams, they have never seen them all together in sealed envelopes. Many were delighted and a few less so. Regardless, we asked two questions of them all. Firstly, did they achieve what they need for next year and secondly, did they achieve what they want. There is a difference. That being that they will only be happy if they achieve at least what they are capable of and a bit more. If that is not the case then we ask that they let themselves be driven by that ambition and aspiration and to keep working hard, attend school every day, stick to a revision plan outside of school and be relentless in their determination to be the best they can each day. We also reminded them how special they are and that they have the most exciting futures ahead of them. They have the small matter of GCSE exams left to hurdle and we will be with them every step of the way because they deserve every ounce of support and guidance we can provide.

We followed mock results session with some input from a long-time friend of the school, a company called INNER DRIVE. They deliver practical, interactive workshops based on the most recent research to help students develop their mindset and acquire the key skills for success. It is something we have done for a few years now and it is a different experience from our students that really helps. 

HockeyIn sporting matters most of you will know the amazing things our PE staff do here each week. There are so many opportunities to get involved in a huge range of activities before, during and after school. This year we have added to those opportunities in the form of a Hockey club run by two members of our English department, Ms. Senyk and Ms. Ratahi. This week they played their first competitive fixture as a mixed sex and mixed age group. They were brilliant and won the game 4-0. They were thrilled but not as much as the staff. I love seeing new things happen at the school and continuing to provide those moments that students will never forget even when they reach my age! 

LoisTo finish I want to highlight a few students who are doing amazing things at Beckfoot. Firstly, Lois in Year 12. Lois was employed as a Youth Peer Researcher for a report commissioned by the The Young Foundation following an intensive application and selection programme. The Young Foundation is the UK’s home for community research and social innovation. As a not-for-profit, The Young Foundation brings communities, organisations and policymakers together to shape a fairer future, driving positive change and supporting collective action to improve people’s lives. Lois spent the past 6 months interviewing students (mostly ours) and her work is featured heavily in the report titled, Beyond the ‘foggy and uncertain’: supporting young people’s futures. The report highlights the effects of the pandemic on young people but also their needs and wants at the present time. The report highlighted the views of young people across the country and it is a publication that makes you sit up and want to help. In the Yorkshire and Humber region, young people want help, guidance and support in areas such as the use of drugs and alcohol, mental health and future readiness. I was delighted that she felt, from her research, that Beckfoot is doing most of the things that young people and our students want. We are invested in post pandemic work because it matters hugely and will do for some time to come. You can read the full report here.

Behaviour and AttitudesSian, also in Year 12, is no stranger to my Blog. She continues to excel in the sport of Badminton.  She has recently been selected to represent Yorkshire U18 at the Inter Counties Tournament over the Easter Holidays to be held at Nottingham University. In junior badminton this is seen as the pinnacle for any young player at county level. There are only 5 girls & 5 boys in the team and selection was based on performance during this season. Her selection is an incredible achievement in itself. Sian is also on the Badminton England National Youth Forum. She put forward a video with ideas and thoughts on what she believes Badminton England should do to improve the sport at junior level throughout the country. They were impressed & invited her on to the forum as an ambassador for junior badminton nationally.  She has already been invited down to Milton Keynes later this year to discuss ideas and how to implement them. I have little doubt she will make a difference to the work that will follow in the sport for years to come and we are proud of her because of all she does and will do well into the future.

To finish, I want to mention Zac in Year 11. He has been at the Bradford City academy since the age of 9 and last week found out that he has been offered a scholarship with the club for the next two years. Zac and his family are thrilled as are we. He is a very talented young man who is both humble and ambitious. He has realised his dream because he has worked so hard for it. He joins Ben and Dillon, also in Year 11 and all three will continue to pursue the dream of becoming professional footballers at their respective clubs in the years ahead. We wish them well, are proud of them and will keep a close eye on their development.

The theme of hard work is central to everything I have shared with you in this Blog. It is something that matters to me. I have never figured out how to achieve anything without working hard and its importance is something that was very much part of my upbringing. I will always be grateful for that.

Take care.

Simon

 

 

 

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Posted 25th March 2022

The things that give a school its ‘soul’

The past few weeks have allowed me to really think about our school and what makes it so special and often unique. I think about our staff, our students, our families and wider community and what it means to be associated with Beckfoot and I can’t help but feel that, over many years, this place has touched so many lives for the better, created life long memories and friendships and provided life chances for so many to go and make a difference in the world. The past few weeks have provided me with opportunity to reflect and begin to think about our next steps. Here is why.

justdance2On Friday last, we asked our students to really think about others and, in doing so, try to better understand what it is like to live in the shoes of someone less fortunate, even if just for a few minutes. Comic Relief always allows us to do that. It was a fantastic day with lots of activities and opportunities to raise money. Non-uniform proceeds help, but so too do the many students who organise events such as Just Dance, bake sales etc. I am unsure as I write how much we have raised but it will be a few hundred pounds I am sure. I am very grateful to the Student Leadership charity group and the staff who supported them to make a difference.

On Wednesday, the Beckfoot Young Musician of the Year concert returned. It had been a long and busy day by the time the concert started and I sat in my seat. What followed over the next three hours was nothing short of spectacular. 9.30pm arrived and I had no idea where the time had gone because I was lost in the music and the atmosphere. I forgot I had to say something to the audience and that I had to present the students with prizes! Thank goodness others were on hand to help!

200-(13)I listened to the KS3 and KS4+ finalists and then to the various ensembles with some Groove Tubes and Soul Band thrown in for good measure. It was amazing, and I loved every minute of it. I guess what really struck were three things. Firstly, the talent we have at Beckfoot and this was only just a small representation of that talent. Secondly, the commitment of staff and students to the arts and the hours that go in to being able to play, sing and perform. And thirdly, the relationships that were so clearly evident on the night between staff and students. I felt very proud of that especially. That is culture and doesn’t just happen. It takes years to build that trust and care and we have it at Beckfoot in abundance.

Of course, there are those that win and those that don’t on the night, but it felt very different to me. It was about the music, the performances, the audience and allowing me and others to just enjoy the talent we have here for a few hours on a Wednesday night. For that I am so grateful. You can view the list of participants, winners and a full gallery of the night here.

In other news, we continue to drive forward on our agenda to ensure Beckfoot students are Future Ready young people. Today we are taking the entire Year 10 out to various universities and colleges to give them a flavour of what is out there for the post 16 and post 18 options. It is a huge organisational undertaking and I very much feel that these are the days that help students to be reminded of how important their education is and the opportunities that they will have access to if they have ambition that is matched with a determination to succeed. I hope they have a wonderful day.

stopThis week was also very special because this was the week that we delivered our STOP assemblies. Those assemblies were about Safeguarding our students and ensuring they understand their right to a happy and safe childhood, their right to be free from abuse of any kind but also their duty to help us to do that work well and look after each other. The assembly talked about those things but also about the 'Everyone’s Invited' agenda which stemmed from the Sarah Everard tragedy and the Ofsted review of Peer on Peer abuse in schools across the country. I guess you have two choices when you read such publications; you can deny it is a problem at our school or you can acknowledge that it is a problem here as it is everywhere. That is the truth. We want our students to understand that it is never okay to be the victim of abuse of any kind, that it is never okay to be made to feel uncomfortable about yourself in any way and it is not okay to normalise any kind of inappropriate behaviour. It is time we made a stance as a school and be part of a determination to stamp out Peer on Peer abuse in schools and colleges. To help we have also created an email address stop@beckfoot.org to help students report issues to us so that we can help them to overcome and deal with issues appropriately. The feedback from students has been overwhelming and nothing like we have experienced in many years. Our young people ‘get it’ and they want to help in any way they can to better educate all members of our community about what is safe and acceptable and what is not.

Finally, to return to my opening paragraph where I talked about the impact Beckfoot has had on so many. Over the past few weeks we have been interviewing for a wide variety of roles within the school. Some teaching but mostly for administrative and support staff roles. I always make a point to sit with candidates first thing and talk to them about the context of our school and what it means to work with us. On almost every occasion over the past few months I have met at least one past Beckfooter who wanted to return to the school and work with us. It not only reminded me that I am getting older but, listening to them talk about their experiences of our school, it reminded me that, whilst we are far from perfect, we get a lot right and we care.

Take care

Simon

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Posted 11th March 2022

Spring really does bring change

Every year around this time, it always feels a little different in school. I’m not sure if it’s because we are nearly through the worst winter has to offer or if it’s down to the brighter mornings and longer evenings. I think for me, it’s the latter. I love coming and going from work when things are brighter and the sense of optimism that seems to bring. There is so much happening in the world right now that we need to try to remain positive and ensure our young people do similarly. Nothing is more important. 

Ukranian AppealWhen I wrote my last Blog on 18 February we were breaking up for half term and the world was a very different place. When we returned last week, things had changed because of the humanitarian crises in Ukraine. We have all watched with unenviable sadness the situation unfolding and the impact it is having on the country. We have staff and families with links over there and we all very much wanted to do something as a community. We liaised with several local charities and communities to find out the best way to offer support. We began to collect essential items that will make a difference to those families and children displaced from their homes. We have been overwhelmed by the generosity that has been shown over the past week from all of you. It has been humbling, not only because of the amount of support that has been shown, but because it matters so much to our staff and students. Thank you.

We have been acutely aware of the impact this ongoing situation has had on many families and we have run assemblies all week, led by Mrs Senyk, to explain what has been going on, why it is happening and how we can help. We have also included much of this into our Humanities curriculum to be taught this week and next. It is our small way to show we care, and I very much hope it is making a difference to us all.

solutionsnotsideslogoThe crisis has also reminded us of the ongoing situation of war and unrest in other areas around the world and our Post 16 students are meeting me later to consider how best to raise awareness and show support for other families in places like Yemen, Palestine and Israel. I love the passion they have for wanting to make a difference and we will hopefully look at both education and charity work to help those children and families too. We have already booked a sixth form lecture in May, from the charity Solutions not Sides, who will talk to our students about the Israel-Palestine conflict and how best to help in a non-political manner. I have worked with this organisation many times before both at Beckfoot and my previous school, Upper Heaton. They are an amazing charity and I am very much looking forward to their talks.

Our Year 9 students dressed up last week to undertake their first ever interview experience. Our Careers team, who were responsible for our Careers Mark award last term, have the most amazing plan for students to ensure they are future ready by the time they leave Beckfoot. These interviews are led by local and national employers, universities and charities. They are an incredible experience for our students and the feedback has been stunning. I loved seeing them in their best attire and taking the process seriously. So many of them were nervous beforehand but fully immersed themselves in the process and gained so much from their time with these people. I am very proud of them and feel they will be more than ready to make a difference in the world beyond Beckfoot when the time comes.

202Since our return our Year 11 and 13 students have been incredibly busy taking mock exams. They have been amazing. It has been a challenging fortnight, but their energy, resilience and ambition has continued to shine throughout. The experience will also help them to learn a great deal about what they know and what still needs to be learned. I believe strongly that mocks are not something to be feared. Indeed, the opposite. They are designed to build confidence, support learning and next steps, providing a reality check of where a young person is with their knowledge and understanding. The staff are devoting hours at this time to mark these exams and provide the highest quality feedback that will support learning and revision over the coming weeks. It will make a difference without doubt. I want to thank those staff and students for everything they have given since our return and I very much hope they use the experience to motivate themselves to give everything they have in the final push over the few remaining weeks we have left.

I must also thank those Year 10 students who have also undergone mock exams. For most of them it has been their first experience of such an environment. They too have been wonderful and need to be highlighted. We have sent messages home to make it clear how well they have done at such a young age and again, I want to thank them and their families for their efforts and support.

DSC_0014Finally, I wanted to tell you about World Book Day. It was such a success and the atmosphere in the building was superb. We had so many staff and students involved through dressing up, reading in lessons, highlighting the benefits of getting involved with books and literature for vocabulary and life in general. There is no greater gift than the gift of reading and the places a book can bring you to in your mind. Year 7 students each received a book and every student a book token. I want to thank everyone who got involved most especially our LRC staff who co-ordinated the day and transformed the library and its staff into Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory for the day. Very special!

Take care

Simon

Lara Logan Ben

Posted 18th February 2022

It’s half term at the end of today...

We finish school this afternoon for half term and we will reopen again on Monday 28 February at the normal time.

It has been a strong half term for us and has very much set the standard for 2022. As usual there has been lots happening, and our school community feels a really great organisation to be a part of. I will tell you why.

I have spent much of the past few weeks interviewing for a wide variety of roles in school including one or two teaching roles. It always feels special to show candidates around the building when it is alive with students. It always amazes me that they invariably all say the same thing when we ask them about their views on our school (I am always interested in the view from fresh eyes!) and they talk about how calm the place is, the purposeful nature of each classroom, the relationships between staff and students, the buzz and the feel of the place. I know we are not perfect, but we have a very special school and it is always nice to be reminded of that.

cropped-BradfordSoupRunLogo-1-768x664Last week we were reminded of our role as a community school when we received a letter of thanks from The Bradford Soup Run, a charitable organisation that provides food and clothing to those in need. It also does some very special work over Christmas and New Year for those people. This year, as we have been doing for a number of years, we were able to donate over £500 to help their cause. They were very grateful and wrote to us to tell us so and also to inform us how the money was spent. Our students are incredibly aware of the need to be constantly thinking about others and to also understand the responsibility we have to care for those less fortunate. We do a great deal each year to support various charities and events and it feels good to know we are continuing to make a difference.

I have mentioned in previous Blogs about the work being led by our students on the Pandemic Recovery. They have already done so much work on this issue including presenting to school and council officials across the city and working with other students to ensure there is a coherence to their message about the impact of the pandemic on young people especially. They have focused on a wide range of issues including friendships, mental health and lost opportunities and this week they have written to leaders to continue to push for a joined up, collaborative approach to supporting young people to recover from the impact of the last two years. They know what they want to see happen and by when. It is powerful to see them work and the strength of their desire to make things better for themselves and others is humbling. I will keep you updated.

I want to thank our Year 7 parents for joining us last night for our virtual parents evening. Over 98% of you attended and the feedback thus far has been fantastic. The students have only been with us a short time, but they have settled in very well and are beginning to shine as we would want them to. Their personalities are emerging, and we are excited about their future. They are the next generation of Beckfooters and they will help us shape the future of our school as they progress through the school. That is the exciting bit.

World Book Day is immediately after half term on Thursday 3 March. WBD logo-anniversaryReading is a gift and such an important skill to nurture and develop. A love of reading is something that I want to develop in all our students for lots of reasons but mainly because it has the power to provide a wealth of experiences, feelings and emotions that can often not be found in any other way. For some it has the power to transport you to another world, for others it is about the emotion of the text and for the likes of me it facilitates a complete break from everything else and allows me to learn, to feel and to be taken on a journey that is so completely different. I love to read sporting autobiographies and I am currently reading Siya Kolisi’s book 'Rise'. He was the captain wbdDSC_0028of the South African Springboks rugby team that won the world cup in 2019. His is a fascinating story of hardship, resilience and self-belief. He very much reminds me of our belief in ‘Limitless Possibilities for All’ because he represents the view that you can achieve most things in life if you are willing to work hard enough, have someone believe in you and, most importantly, believe in yourself. There are lots of things planned for World Book Day and the staff get a little giddy too! More to follow.

DSC_0002We had a very special and thought provoking curriculum collapse day on Monday for Year 9 students. It was based on the work of the Prison Me No Way charity and, as always, didn’t disappoint. Our students were incredible. They were engaged, respectful, inquisitive and very curious throughout. They were challenged to think about their behaviour and attitudes both in and beyond school, about their friendships, their selflessness and most importantly, about actions and consequences. Our students got a great deal from the day and I want to thank the many who have been in touch to thank us for the experience provided. The feedback from the leaders of the day arrived yesterday and they described our students as ‘amazing as always’. They enjoyed our hospitality too!

I want to mention a few very special achievements this week.Lara Logan Ben Firstly, Lara and Logan in Year 9 have been selected to represent West Yorkshire in the upcoming English Schools Cross-Country championships in Kent. They have been selected from hundreds of young people across the county and it is an incredible honour and achievement for both of them.

I also want to mention Darcie and Laila in Year 12 who have established a dance group call Believer. They have worked with other students in school to choreograph and perform a dance routine to be considered for FRESH 2022. We heard this week that not only were they successful, but such was the quality of the work that they will perform on centre stage at FRESH 2022 which takes place at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in April. They are all incredible young people and we are very proud of them and wish them well.

Finally, I want to thank the staff, families and students for all they have done and contributed to the life of our school this year already. As I said earlier, school feels very special and that is because we are a genuine community that wants to be better every day, that wants to take risks and very much sees the value of putting others first. Long may that continue.

Have a great half term, stay safe and we will see you all again on the 28th.

Take care

Simon

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Posted 4th February 2022

The drive to be better is so important to us

I often find myself thinking about our school and the experience we are providing for all members of our community every day, something we call the ‘lived experience’. It’s simply about what it’s like to be a member of staff and or a student at Beckfoot and is what we are doing here good enough. Almost always I can’t help but feel we need to continue to drive up standards and be better at what we do. I have always been like that, I guess.

So, when we go through a period as we have done in January, I also punctuate those thoughts with moments of real pride and an overriding sense that we are doing lots of great things at our school every day because we have such an incredible and committed community of staff and students. I will explain.

Over the past couple of weeks my leadership team and I have been sitting down with Year 9 students to talk about the options process and to think clearly about GCSE study but also about the dreams and aspirations those young people have. When it was done, we came together to reflect on the process and each of us concluded two things. Firstly, that the process and the time it takes is worth doing. But, secondly, that this group of Year 9 students have been incredible. I say that because we all had to mostly sit and listen to the students. They came prepared! They spoke about how seriously they were taking the process, how they felt a real sense of responsibility to get it right because they were highly invested but what really made it special is that they are ambitious and they all want to lead happy and successful lives where they can find a good job and thrive in their lives beyond Beckfoot. We had to remind ourselves that they are only thirteen and fourteen years old. Incredible! I want to thank Year 9 students, their families and tutors for the manner in which the Options process has been supported and enhanced.

Similarly, we had yet another wonderful evening last Thursday when we were finally able to welcome Year 11 students and families into school to talk to us about Post 16 options, specifically our Sixth form provision. Despite the challenges the past few years have brought, our students remain determined to shine and to secure the next steps that will allow them to do exactly that. They spoke to staff, asked questions of our Post 16 leaders and were totally invested in their futures. They want to have genuine options in September and understand, better than ever, that GCSE success will give them those options either here or elsewhere. I love evenings like that and last week did not disappoint. 

In other Sixth form news I wanted to let you know that Misha, in Year 13, was offered a place at Cambridge University to study law next year. I have very strong views on the opportunities that exist for state sector students post 18. We have a determination to ensure our students can access any course they want for two reasons. One, they are willing to work hard and earn the right. And two, that they feel they can because of the young people they are, their talent, their characteristics and mostly because they are special. Misha is just one example of what is possible with hard work and determination and we are as proud of her as we are of all our students.

Time to Talk display (Large)In other news I want to thank Poppy in Year 9 for her leadership of the Time to Talk week that has been taking place in school since Monday. Poppy and her team of students have talked in staff briefings, organised health professionals to be available and visible all week, planned a whole host of activities to raise awareness of mental health and created badges and stickers so that almost two thousand staff and students could show their support for anyone that doesn’t feel ok. Indeed, she has driven home the message that it’s Ok to not be OK. Thank you to Poppy and everyone who made this week special.

princessI must mention Mohammed-Ali in Year 8. He wanted to raise money for the Little Princess Trust to do his bit for that wonderful charity. The Trust provides real hair wigs, free of charge, to children and young people who have lost their own hair through cancer treatment and other conditions. He raised £500 in total and we could not be prouder of him, his selflessness and his values.

I would like to draw your attention to our Family Forum which took place virtually last week. It was based on the topic of Safeguarding and took the form of a presentation by one of my deputy headteachers, Alex Denham. The feedback received has been great so far. Have a look and let us know if you have any questions.

Finally, I have been doing a lot of recruitment over the past two weeks in readiness for September. I will share more about that in time. Part of the process is showing off our school to candidates and listening to what they have to say when we ask them about us. The feedback is always the same and I never tire of it. We have a calm, purposeful school with amazing students, facilities and culture. I know that, and I see it and feel it every day. We have so much going on and I am grateful to the staff for what they do both in lessons and through our enrichment programme. It is very special but then again, I have already mentioned that!

Take care

Simon

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Posted 21st January 2022

We are getting a lot right at Beckfoot

As you know, I love this school. It has been a major part of my life for almost twenty years and I very much believe it is a school that cares passionately about young people and their futures. To me, Beckfoot is a school with real ‘soul’, a place where teachers can teach, students can grow and thrive and, most importantly, it is a happy place.

Last week, following two years of hard work and constantly improving practice, we were awarded the national Quality in Careers Standard. This is awarded to schools and education providers who can demonstrate the importance they place on careers and howDSC_0004 (1) they support students to make decisions about their life after school. It is given to schools who are continually working to improve the chances and opportunities of all its students. Achieving the national Quality in Careers Standard demonstrates, clearly, how we all embrace, promote and endorse quality careers education and recognise the part it plays in the overall success of our school and students. Because we offer a high-quality programme to all students from Year 7 to Year 13, we were graded as Outstanding, the highest possible judgment that can be awarded. Our ambition is to continue to provide world class careers opportunities for our students, continue to introduce them to the world of work and support them fully to make decisions about life after school whatever they may be. I am hugely grateful to Holly McLean and Sarah Wilson for leading on this work and for all they do every day to make a difference to the lives of our young people.

Year 9 Options Booklet 2022Last week also marked the beginning of our GCSE options programme. The students have been very excited at the prospect of having some genuine input into their educational provision for the first time. We have made the decision to ensure all of our students have access to as broad and balanced and fully inclusive education provision that we can provide. As a school we must ensure that students are not disadvantaged in any way as a result of our curriculum offer and so we have made changes to the options process this year. In order to provide the right balance, we have chosen to move from three options subjects to four. In the past we have always insisted on students choosing either History or Geography whilst strongly encouraging them to continue with a modern foreign language. This year we have made the decision to include a language and a humanities subject as part of the core offer whilst still offering students the choice of a further two options as has always been the case. We feel this is the right thing to do and we are thrilled with the response received thus far. We feel our students will be as prepared as anyone in the country, regardless of background or circumstance to challenge for the very best post 16 and 18 courses, university places, jobs and apprenticeships as a result. I want to thank all students and families for their attendance and involvement during the virtual options evening last night.

Next week is one of the highlights of my year when I get to sit with students from a Year 9 tutor group and listen to them talk about their options and their ambitions for the future. Each year I am amazed at their maturity, their consideration, their passion and their dreams. Our Strategic Vision is very much based on the belief that anything is possible if you are willing to work hard enough. I shall be reminding them of that but most importantly, I am just looking forward to spending time with them and listening. I can’t wait!

I want to also thank our Year 12 students and their families for attending our virtual parents evening last week. Over 98% attended and it was an ideal opportunity to talk to staff about progress, enjoyment and the wider contributions students are making to school life. I have been thrilled with the success of the virtual evenings and it will be interesting to see how these might develop as we emerge from the pandemic. We will see.

Finally, I want to end with a thank you to all members of our school community for the support provided in relation to our Covid measures. I cannot thank you enough for helping us to keep our community safe and the positive responses to the constant requests has been humbling. As a community we have changed a great many things including how we operate day to day in school, our communications with families and the limited access to the building to mention but a few. Whilst this has not always been easy, you have always supported the view that we must stay open and we must educate our young people to the very highest standards possible. I am aware that not all schools have had such positive support and for yours I am very grateful.

Yesterday we lifted the rules around the use of face coverings in lessons in line with government guidance. Next week we will do similarly in terms of their use on corridors and in communal areas, again in line with the guidance. Having said all that, we will always respect the wishes of individuals to continue to wear masks in school if that is what they want to do. We will also continue to adhere to our risk assessments and monitor the virus locally and nationally. We know this has not gone away and it will still continue to shape much of our work. However, I very much want to do all we can to ensure that the school experience for students returns to as close as we can get it to normal. They need that and deserve it.

Take care.

Simon 

Beckfoot Night 2

Posted 7th January 2022

Welcome back and Happy New Year!

I very much hope that you all managed to enjoy the Christmas break and have a much-needed rest. The Autumn term is always long and busy but we continued to make progress and I was delighted that there were no interruptions to our delivery throughout.

This week we managed to get all of our testing into 2 days and I am so grateful to the team for their work to ensure we could have everyone back in lessons by yesterday. There were very few positive cases and that meant that attendance this week has been hugely positive. It is so important for students to be here every day and learning. For each day they are away they are having to catch-up and that is not helpful as we continue (I hope) to emerge from this pandemic. I guess the simple message is this, get to school every day, get involved and Enjoy, Learn, Succeed.

Things are already busy, and we have already launched our Year 9 Options process. I love this time of year and the excitement that this brings. It is the first time for each of these students that they have a genuine say in their educational provision. As long as they approach it with curiosity and maturity they will choose well. That makes all the difference at GCSE and will enable them to maximise their chances of success in the years ahead.

We are taking a cautious approach to bigger events planned this month and we will continue to hold most parental events virtually. That will include, for now, the Year 12 parents evening and the Year 9 Options evening. More details will follow.

We are, though, hoping to hold our planned Post 16 Open Evening later in the month with an appropriate Risk Assessment in place. Again, more details will follow.

As I write this shorter Blog, I am very thankful that both the Met Office and the BBC weather forecasts were completely off the mark overnight. We were expecting heavy snow from 1am and it has not materialised. We arrived on site earlier at 5am to welcome a large team of gritters and although they did the job, it was not the white blanket we were expecting. My view is that we will always do our very best to remain open whatever the weather. In making decisions, I have to ensure three things are right. Firstly, that the roads are clear, and it is safe for staff and students to get to school. Secondly, that the site is safe and will be throughout the day. And thirdly, that all can get back home safely at the end of the day. These things are not easy to determine always. Often you get it right but on occasion that is not the case and you have to live with that. What I always want you to know is that we do things to the best of our ability and put our students, staff and community right at the heart of all we do.

Take care.

Simon

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Posted 17th December 2021

Have a great Christmas holiday!

We have reached the end of a long term. I think that today is a good time to end and allow staff, students and families a time to breathe, refresh and, hopefully, enjoy a well-earned few days away from Beckfoot.thumbnail_DSC_0002

Last week was yet another special week for our school community as we celebrated our Red Carpet events. Over 92% of our students accessed the various events because they have shown, since September, that their attitude to learning, selflessness and sense of pride in their school has been exemplary. Our students got involved additional PE, Art, Computing or Gaming and the week ended with Year 11 students gathering in the atrium for pizza and a chance to talk to friends in the most relaxed atmosphere. I loved the week, especially the fact that more and more students are getting it right!

This week we had our annual Christmas lunch. Our catering team went all out in providing a memorable feast that included something for everyone. Huge numbers of students opted to sit and eat lunch together and they were served throughout by senior staff who also wanted to clean up for students as a way of saying thank you and wishing them a very merry Christmas. I want to say a huge thank you to our catering team who are incredible people that care deeply about our students and want to provide the best for them every day.

b (41)We have had two parents’ evenings since I last wrote. Both were held virtually, and both had attendance of over 97%. Lockdown forced us to think about events such as parents’ evenings differently and the feedback from lockdown gave us the confidence to know that the system is preferred by the vast majority (not all of course). The feedback has been hugely positive, and it is, for me, a real indicator of the strength of our community. I have worked in many schools over the years and the support and challenge we receive from our parents is very rare and hugely appreciated. Thank you.

Finally, at the end of a very long term, I could not have wished for a better ending than our traditional Christmas concert, aptly named this year, ‘Christmas is Beck’! There were upwards of one hundred and fifty students involved and both evenings this week were a huge success. The talent we are DSC_0071blessed with here is truly staggering and I am so fortunate to have Mr. Lee, Mr, Stimpson and an amazing, dedicated group of peripatetic staff who give time to share their love of the Creative Arts and performing. What we saw over two evenings was emotion, passion, dedication and joy. We had so many involved from Year 7 to Year 13 and the future for the Arts in school looks exciting. As I said last night, areas such as these are what gives a school it’s ‘soul’ and I could not have been happier or buzz draft new3_Page_01prouder than I was this week.

I want to thank the staff for their continued commitment to our school and students. They are my greatest resource and they are the strongest group I have ever worked with.

I want to thank our families for your continued support and often challenge.

I especially want to thank our students who breathe life into our school and make it come alive every day. They are very special to us. Please do have another look at our Buzz magazine here.

Finally, I want to wish you all a very happy, peaceful and safe Christmas holiday and New Year. We have a staggered start in January (click here) and we look forward to seeing everyone then.

Simon

Beckfoot Night 2

Posted 26th November 2021

Lots to be proud of!

It is early on Friday morning and our students are having a day off so that our Beckfoot Trust community of staff and other key stakeholders from all ten schools can come together to explore the theme of ‘Belonging’. Essentially, we feel that belonging should not be a privilege for some, it must be a right for all. We have a number of very respected speakers that will challenge us all to think about how we can further develop the sense of belonging in our community. It promises to be a really exciting day and I am sure I will be letting you know much more about it in the next week or two.

One week ago today, our school community very much felt like a place where we all belong but also a place where our students canDSC_0001 amaze you with their selflessness and a determination to put others first. They were adamant that we would make this year’s Children in Need day one to remember and they didn’t disappoint. We had raffles, bake sales (the best ever cakes in my view!), sports activities, staff activities and so much more. We also had our traditional non-uniform day and the students raised over £1500 for the charity. We even got a response to our Tweet from the director of the event that evening! For me the day has always been about putting others first and our students have always understood that. Despite all that is going on in the school, they know they need to get it right in lessons and maintain the highest standards of themselves. They stand up forDSC_0003 what they believe in and put so much work into making the day special. CIN day is about our students working together as community contributors and making a difference. They certainly did that last Friday and I am very proud of them. Special thanks go to Mrs. Dobson and her team of student leaders.

FEkKxzAXMAAoIiNLast Friday also saw Beckfoot students contribute to the follow up Pandemic Recovery Summit which involved schools from across Bradford focussing on the key themes of Anti-Racism, Mental Health, Poverty and Disadvantage, LGBTQ+ and Student Voice. Beckfoot was asked to lead on an area of focus for both our school and the city in helping to determine next steps to support young people to recover from all things Covid-19 related. It also focussed on lost opportunities as a result of the pandemic and ways to better provide support to address FEkKxy_X0AYl2z3those going forward.

Our students focussed on LGBTQ+ and Student Voice leading the fourth session of the day. I listened to their presentation from my office and couldn’t believe that they would be capable of such maturity and consideration. The audience included members of the council, local politicians and others who can help make a difference based on the views of young people. They too were stunned at the quality of our students, their articulacy and passion. I was proud of them but also felt that we have an additional responsibility to continue the recovery work at Beckfoot and lead the way for both our students and the city.

I want to mention our Year 13 students who have sat their November mock exams since I last wrote. They too were incredible in their approach to the challenge of a week of exams. The learning that will come from those will be hugely important and beneficial to them as they progress towards Christmas and the new year. I want to thank them for their energy, commitment and patience throughout the week.

Continuing the theme of Post 16, we had our Virtual Sixth Form Open Evening last night. It was necessary to do it this way because our Covid numbers are falling dramatically, so bringing large crowds into school is not the right thing to do just yet. Having said that, we are determined to hold a face to face Open Evening early into the new year and will communicate more about that in due course. We dedicated our school website to the event and provided all the information needed for students to make an informed decision about next steps at Beckfoot. The staff have really thought about our provision and the information that is needed to help with those next steps. There is so much on there so please feel free to have a look.

Our Sixth Form students have also been helping us to revisit and reconsider our approach to the Sixth Form dress code. They considered our proposal which was about a more business-like appearance which we used as a starter for ten in our consultation with them. They were incredible in their approach to that process and met with us on several occasions to present their views and those of the wider sixth form community. The result is that we will be making some changes to the dress code that will involve a total ban on sportswear and hoodies but will keep the rest pretty much as it was. They want to be able to express themselves differently as post 16 students and I am happy with that. They fully understood the need for a democratic process but also their right to present their views in a very mature and balanced manner. I loved their passion, their preparedness to talk and their willingness to compromise all in the knowledge that we would arrive at a decision where the majority would feel listened to and happy. I want to thank our student council and others for their work in helping to get this work done. The new dress code is now on our website.

Finally, I want to mention two of our Key Stage 3 students. Fearne in Year 9 has recently been selected to represent West Yorkshire in Netball. This is a huge achievement and honour for Fearne, her family and Beckfoot. She is completely dedicated to her sport and studies. She manages to find a balance but also remains so humble about her talent and success. She came to see me last week and sat down and talked me through her journey to this point, including the moment she found out she had been selected, and the excitement felt by her and her family that evening. She is a very special young lady and we wish her every success for the season ahead. From Netball to Scooter Riding; Carter, a Year 8 student is an amazing Scooter rider and competes on the national and international stage to the highest level most recently competing in Barcelona at the world championships. Despite his young age he took part in the U16 competition where he not only qualified but finished in the top 12 riders. That achievement means he will return to Spain in July to compete once more. Carter now ranks number 11 in the world and he rarely says anything about his sport or his achievements; it’s incredible! He is supported hugely in his sport through some major sponsors who provide his equipment and expenses. He was happy for me to share the link below of him in action.

https://becbd-my.sharepoint.com/:v:/g/personal/beckeh_beckfoot_org/EUtY3VqlFZ5BsYySyO0It48BgAAmNFELxt8YXSoYTHFDFg

I want to thank you for your continued support for our students and Beckfoot. I will write again just before Christmas.

Take care.

Simon

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Posted 12th November 2021

A busy start to November!

November is busy!

We are two weeks into this half term and already so much has been going on since we returned.

Yesterday, as is traditional at Beckfoot School, we remembered those who have fallen in battle and gave their lives so that ours could be better. Mr Darling co-ordinated the activities and we had lots of displays around school to remind staff and students of the importance of Armistice Day. At 11am Key Stage 3 students and their tutors remembered by observing a two minute silence and through various tutor time activities. The rest of our community gathered in the atrium and around the balconies on the first and second floors. After some brief words as to why we had come together the entire school fell into silence as The Last Post was played. It was such a special moment and incredibly emotional. As I stood on the stairs and looked around, I was reminded that Beckfoot is a very special place to work and learn; long may that continue.

Year 11 have been busy this week sitting mock exams in the hall. They have been the most incredible group of young people in the way they have approached these exams. Whilst it has been a long week with lots of challenges, they have risen to the task each day and made it very clear just how important learning and success is to them. I know that Mrs Powell and Mrs Harris are very proud of them and see this week as one of the most important in the Year 11 calendar because of the learning that will inevitably come from it. Well done and thank you to every member of the Year 11 community, their teachers and the exams team.

Attendance is creeping up slowly and surely to the levels we would normally expect, and I am grateful to students and families for their resilience in ensuring learning is the number one priority for all. It is so important that this continues so that we can continue to teach each of them well and make sure they are not disadvantaged as a result of the pandemic. That is our obsession and that is what we are determined to do. Please continue to make attendance a priority every day and support us in giving our young people the very best chances as a result.

Last week we had a busy end to the week. On Thursday we had a fire alarm practice. Many of you are well aware of my feelings about such events and what they tell you about a school’s culture. Despite very little sleep the night before, which is normal, I was thrilled with the manner in which all students exited the building, lined up in silence and returned to learning, again in silence. Approximately two thousand students and adults were clear of the building in just under five minutes and the respect for the process and the safety of others was palpable. I was thrilled and am very grateful to everyone who made it such a success.

On Friday we had our safeguarding review day which involved key school staff working with a team of external support staff lead by a trained Ofsted inspector. Whilst the day was intense and very challenging, it was a day of great learning and reassurance. We are doing so much here (quite rightly) to ensure our students are well cared and safe. Our systems are strong and very robust. Nothing is more important, and I am grateful to all involved in this critical area of work for our school and getting it right each day.

Finally, as you know, I like to share information about students when I can. Ben in Year 11 has, this week, signed scholarship forms with Blackburn Rovers. He will work with them over the next two years and we are very proud of him. He has been with the club for ten years and this has been the dream throughout that time. He has sacrificed so much over the years and dedicated himself completely to his goal whilst maintaining the highest standards in school. We wish him every success for the future. He is a very humble young man and very much deserves everything that comes his way because he understands the importance of hard work.

Simon

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Posted 22nd October 2021

It's Half Term!

Wow. Where have the past seven weeks gone?

We finish for Half Term at 2.45pm this afternoon and we reopen on Monday 1st of November as usual. Whilst it has been a busy few weeks, it has also been incredibly uplifting to be in school every day and watch our students embrace the challenges of returning to a new normal. Unsurprisingly, they have been magnificent, and I am so very proud of what they have achieved and how they have coped.

Looking back, we have returned to normal lessons whereby students can navigate the building once more and learn in specialist classrooms. They have missed that. Extra-curricular activities have returned as have sporting fixtures and creative performances. Students are having music lessons, our Beckfoot Student Leadership (BSL) is alive and kicking and we are seeing more and more students just sitting and talking to each during break and lunch times.

blog333It has also been a challenging few weeks in terms of dealing with the on-going pandemic. A relatively small number of students have had to isolate due to Covid and others remain anxious about how the nation is addressing the problems that are still present every day. That is understandable. What I would say, however, is that school is where students should be because it is a safe space where learning is our priority. Teaching face to face is what makes the biggest difference to young people and they need to be in school in order to make progress. I cannot stress that enough. Indeed, our GCSE and A Level students understand more than most the additional stress that school absence can bring. So, if it is a decision between being at school and not, choose school every time!

This week we had a Graffiti artist, Mohammed Ali, visit school to work with over forty of our year 9 students. He is incredibly well known in the art world and was an absolute pleasure to work alongside. The work created was, quite simply, stunning and will go on display in the Creative Block just after half term. He left with a really strong impression of our school, our students and our community. He was full of praise for our ethos and values and the drive to expose young people to a wide variety of experiences as we seek to build their cultural capital throughout their school journey.

This final week has also been busy on the staff development front too. We have had Wendy Bradford, a highly regarded consultant, working with staff on our Curriculum Intent and Implementation work. In simple terms, she has been looking at our new learning ambitions for students and how that is working in practice in lessons. She was very complimentary and gave us wonderful points to help us continue to develop that work going forward. She will return in the new year to continue that work which is incredibly exciting because it is totally centred on the student experience.

Added to that, we continue to work with Helen Morgan on our Instructional Coaching model for all staff. I am dedicated to working with professionals to support our staff to develop as practitioners and she is very supportive of our ambition for teachers to be able to continue to improve aspects of their practice in order to benefit themselves, their maturity as teachers and, ultimately, our students. It is a very important piece of work for us and will be for a number of years ahead.

I am telling you about this work because I would want to know as a parent/career, that my child is accessing the best teaching possible and that all staff are constantly being supported to be better every day. That is about culture, about ambition and about being both strategic and proactive.

I want to thank you for your support for our request for students to, once again, wear face masks on corridors and in communal areas. We took this decision following a small but sustained rise in cases in one year-group in particular. We will, of course, keep this under review. I was delighted with the response by students and families and everyone simply accepted this as something that was not a big deal and designed to help us keep our young people safe. As always, I am grateful for all feedback because it helps me try to get things right which doesn’t always happen - I know!

Lastly, thank you all so much for your support regarding the decision to stop allowing students access to mobile devices during the school day on school grounds. Again, I have been overwhelmed by the support for this and the sheer number of you who, like me, are worried about the amount of time young people are spending on phones etc. I also know that some of you have had one or two concerns and I have appreciated your honesty whether via email or direct conversation. Ultimately, I just want them to spend quality time with friends in a safe space that is school. I want them to be taught well and learn brilliantly. I am convinced this will make a difference as it has to many schools across the country. Our students totally understand the decision too which is great. It doesn’t necessarily mean that all of them like it, but they do understand which I am delighted about. So, immediately after half term I would like to remind students and families that mobiles phones can be in bags, but they must always remain out of sight and switched off, so they are no longer a source of distraction. Should they need to use their phone, they must do so under the supervision of an adult which will sometimes be for learning and sometimes for contact with home.

And finally, in sporting news, well done to Alannah in Year 7, who recently competed in the Yorkshire Women’s Artistic Gymnastics four-piece competition in Sheffield. She completed some incredible performance throughout the competition including a silver medal winning routine on the floor! Well done Alannah.

I also want to mention Rayyan in Year 7 and Aydan in Year 10, who took part in the ITF Union British Open Tae Kwon Do championships in Northampton recently. Both achieved a number of medal winning performances in the Sparring and Patterns competitions which we are very proud of. Well done to them both.

Have a wonderful, safe and restful half term and thank you for all you do for Beckfoot and our young people.

Simon

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Posted 15th October 2021

An explosion of talent and broadening horizons!

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The past few weeks have been as busy as you would expect, and I am delighted overall with the attitude towards learning across the school. Students are engaged, enthusiastic and, above all else, showing us every day just how thoroughly decent and caring they are.

We are continuing to serve their imaginations in all manner of ways, most recently through the vehicle of manufacturing and careers. Last week Mr. Wilkes ran assemblies and activities for all students on manufacturing and the opportunities that exist in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) world for our young people. This was followed by a Year 8 Drop Down day where those students were challenged to overcome STEM based challenges and, in doing so, demonstrate their resilience, creativity and innovative thinking skills. It was a huge success.

This week the theme of manufacturing continued for Year 10 Engineering students when they attended a Manufacturing Live event with Mr. Newton, where representatives from a wide variety of companies talked about the opportunities a career in engineering can bring.

This week we held our annual face to face Careers Fair. We had over 37 different stands with a mixture of employers, trainers and educators who inspired our students and staff to be excited about the opportunities locally, nationally and internationally for them. It was a joy to see them talking to the various professionals about their dreams, aspirations and ambitions for life beyond Beckfoot and so many of them were happy to share their learning with us throughout the day. I love these types of events because they provide so much context to what we are trying to do for students every day here. It is one thing to tell students something, but it is often a very different message when you can show them! A huge thank you to Sarah, Amanda and Holly for all the work that went into the event.

On Tuesday evening we had a great session on all things Curriculum for members of our Local Schools Committee (LSC). As many of you know, the LSC is our form of local governance and is a group that is tasked by the Beckfoot Trust Board of Directors to hold me to account on all things related to students and staff including things like wellbeing, performance, opportunities and culture. If anyone wishes to know more about the work of that group please follow this link https://www.beckfoot.org/about-us/governance/local-school-committee/

And so, to yet more sporting success. Last week we received the news that Eve Midgley, Year 13, had been selected to be part of the Leeds Rhinos U19 National Performance League Netball squad for the forthcoming season. This is a huge achievement for her and is very much a stepping stone to international honours and a possible career in the sport for Eve. She is an outstanding young person and is a role model for our younger girls – she truly represents everything that we believe young people can achieve with hard work and determination… #thisgirlcan!

Continuing with the theme of Netball, we have had wonderful news this week about girls in Years 7-10 who have been selected to represent Bradford Schools in Netball this year. They are:

U13 - Ella Harrison, Annie Grogan, Rosa Dixon, Alice Slater

U15 - Katie Eccles, Fearne Midgley, Joanna Oddie, Sophie Burrows, Vini Vangala

Well done to all the girls who trialled and to those selected. It is a very special honour to represent your city and we wish them all well in the weeks and months ahead.

Finally, it is half term at the end of next week. We will break up at 2.45pm on Friday 22nd of October. I hope you all have a well-earned rest and stay safe, especially as we enter the season of fireworks and bonfires.

Take care.

Simon

 

 

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Posted 1st October 2021

It's October Already!

I cannot believe that we have already been back a month. The past four weeks have flown by and I am delighted with how our young people have settled. They seem happy and that is incredibly important to me.

A lot has been happening as you can imagine and we are beginning to get used to being able to utilise our building as it was intended and there are few, if any, students having trouble finding their way around. The use of our stairs for one-way travel has made things easier and our students fill the school with the Beckfoot Buzz we have missed for so long.Year 10 shot putt

Extra-curricular activities are back, and I am thrilled. Seeing students involved in Sport and the Creative Arts during SPA time and after school is wonderful to see. Our Arts and climbing clubs restart in earnest next week and there is so much choice for students to get involved with. The offer ranges from a huge variety of sporting and creative activities to areas such as debating, student leadership, academic clubs and so much more. I am very privileged to have staff that are so dedicated and willing to give their time so freely.

We had our European Day of Languages last week and everyone got involved. Staff had to wear stickers with a greeting on for students to be able to read and understand. We had over 50 languages used. I was personally disappointed that the Irish Language (Gaelic) was not one of them and so I broke ranks and made my own! Dia Dhuit (pronounced jee-ah-gwitch) in Irish is hello or in its literal meaning, God be with you. I did my very best to educate as many staff and students as I could and was amazed at the linguistic skills of so many throughout the day. Perhaps it could be a part of our curriculum offer in the future! On a more serious note the day was a great success and highlighted the importance of language to our students. Not being able to fluently speak a Modern Foreign Language is one of my greatest regrets and I am very considerate of the need for that not to be the case for our students. Languages are important, they broaden horizons and open doors in a global world, and I loved last week for this reason.

DSC_0063We had our Year 11 Aspirations day last week also. We had some very cool young people with us for the day having travelled up from South London the night before. They are called Revolution Hive and they spent the day with our Year 11 students talking to them about their aspirations, hopes and dreams. More importantly, they worked with them to think about their attitude, their mindset and strategies to be successful not only in their GCSEs but also in life. It was a fantastic day and our students got a great deal from it.DSC_0160

We followed the day by inviting parents and carers of Year 11 students into school that evening to talk to them about the year ahead. We talked about our desire to create an environment for students built on support, care and challenge throughout the year but also about how we can work more effectively as a school with families. It was a lovely evening with just the right balance of message, I think. There were also a few tears as we showed the Derek Redmond video with his dad. It never fails to move anyone who watches it.

We had our second Curriculum Drop Down Day for Year 7 students on Tuesday. The focus was on Forensic Science as they tried toDSC_0155 discern who was the sporting cheat from Ms. Denham, Mr. Cooley, Mr. Darling and myself. They analysed a variety of samples and looked closely at other forms of evidence as they strived to reach a conclusion. In the end, most identified Mr. Darling as the cheat and they were right! That evening, our Year 7 parents and carers were invited into school to hear about the day from staff and students. They also got to see some of the school and visit a science lab which is where students did most of their work earlier in the day. Again, it was a very special event and it was really lovely to welcome families into our school once again.

And finally, I want to continue to share news about students who are doing great things in sport and other activities at the moment. Abbie, in Year 12, has enjoyed incredible success in swimming in recent weeks and months. She competed in a gala in Bolton last weekend winning a silver and bronze and qualifying for the upcoming national finals. Abbie is now ranked number 2 in Yorkshire and number 15 nationally and across Britain which is pretty special in my view. It is testament to her commitment and dedication to her sport over many years and we wish her well as the season progresses. She deserves all the success that comes her way.

Annie, in Year 11, has also been doing amazing things in her sport recently. Annie entered the RDA Regional Championships in two events, Show Jumping & the Countryside Challenge. She did incredibly well and went through to the National Championships. The results were shared last week, and Annie was ranked 1st place in both her events meaning she is now a double National Champion! She is so humble about her success and the dedication it has taken for her to reach this standard. Both girls are an inspiration to us all.

Take care.

Simon

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Posted 17th September 2021

A new school year begins!

Welcome back!

A special welcome to our new Year 7 students and those joining our Sixth Form from elsewhere. Both groups have already proved to be an amazing addition to our school.

I have been humbled by the manner in which our entire school community has accepted and embraced our re-opening and testing plans and more so by the manner in which they have approached learning since our return. It is an absolute delight to me that we have made such a strong start but it’s also important to remind ourselves that we each have to play our part to maintain that strength and build upon it as we progress through the year.

I have loved having the opportunity to talk to staff and students face to face once again. I have missed their characters, humour and energy. Walking around the school during lessons and break times has been a pleasure and it is so good to be getting back to some form of normality. Our students are navigating the building really well as they move from lesson to lesson. It is so easy to forget that, for so many of them, this is new. They tell me they are loving the opportunity to learn in new areas of the school and enjoying the specialist facilities that we have at Beckfoot. Long may that continue.

I want to thank every parent and carer who has trusted us with our plans to open. We had an attendance figure of 97% last week and that is stunning. We have been making slight tweaks to our plans each day as we learn more and more about the flow of students and how to make things better for them.

I have tried to get in to as many lessons as possible since our return and I have loved what I am seeing. I have been struck by the a72maturity of our young people and their determination to learn well. They have been engaged and happy to contribute fully to lessons which is exactly what we expect of them. Beckfoot has a special ‘soul’ and I have seen this at every turn.

I had the opportunity to visit our Oracy workshops with Year 7 on Friday. I listened to them stand up in front of their peers and introduce each other. I watched them tell of their dreams and ambitions for the year ahead and beyond and I loved the purity of their messages and confidence they needed to have to simply stand up and speak. I really want them all to become more effective communicators and this type of work will help.

Untitled-1Our Open Evening last night was an overwhelming success. We had our busiest ever evening with huge numbers of prospective students and their families coming to visit. Our building fizzed with excitement because we are proud of our school and we love to show it off. We had over 200 students who attended as volunteers to help throughout the evening. They were so happy to be with us and the feedback already has highlighted the role and impact they had on our guests. Our faculty areas came to life with all sorts of interactive activities and the whole event had a warmth about it that we are proud of.

I want to give a special mention to Kian and Lily in Year 7 who both made speeches last night. They described, in their own words, how they felt about Beckfoot after only being with us for 8 days. They spoke with great confidence and passion about their new school, the opportunities that exist and their hopes for Year 6 students and families on the evening. I could barely tie my shoes at 11 years old and I am so very proud of them both for helping me and representing our school so well.

Our extra-curricular timetable began this week with loads of activities available in Sport, Creative Arts, Debating and so much more. Our staff and students have missed the additionality that these activities provide, and it is so great to see waves of students getting involved in all that is being provided for them. I cannot wait for sporting fixtures and performances to return soon to our fields and hall in the weeks ahead.

We have had lots of special news this week including being awarded with the Music Mark award for the quality of our music provision across school and our contributions to music more widely across the city. I am thrilled for the team and our students because this recognises what they do week in week out and it so deserved for Matt, Mike and the team.blog3

We had news that Ms. Mitchell in English, has been accepted onto the SSAT Leadership Legacy course for 2021-22. This is an incredible opportunity for her to develop and shine as a participant and practitioner and she follows in the footsteps of Ms. Towler who completed the course last year.

And finally, I want to share news about two students who are doing great things in sport at the moment. Sian, in Year 12, has had an incredible summer in badminton winning national ranking titles and beating England players in the process. We are hopeful that she too will soon get to represent her country if she keeps progressing as she has been doing. Ben in Year 11, travels to London today to prepare to play for Blackburn Rovers against Chelsea tomorrow. It is another wonderful opportunity for him, and we all wish him well.

Thank you again for your support and the strong start to the year that support has facilitated.

Take care.

Simon

Simon Wade

Posted 21st July 2021

Thanks and Rewards

It’s Summer and we are looking forward.

On Monday the nation moved a step closer to normality. Whatever your views on that decision are, there has been a notable lift for all. Of course, we must continue to look after ourselves and stay safe but, it will hopefully mean a return to normal from September and we can begin to look forward to a better educational experience for all.

I want to thank our students for their amazing attitude over the past 16+ months. They have demonstrated that they can handle anything that is thrown at them. They have continued to come to school, engage positively with learning and make us smile every day. That is special and they must never forget how Brave, Resilient and Unique they are.

I want to thank our families for the unwavering support for our school and the decisions taken. I know we have not got everything right, but I do know we tried. Your support and, sometimes, challenge has always been appreciated and I hope you feel we have done our best for you and your children.

Finally, I want to thank the amazing staff. I am very fortunate to lead a school and staff that cares passionately about young people. The staff have been incredible throughout and I want them, and you, to know how grateful I am.

On Monday, we had a very special day.ice cream reward Over 1100 students were rewarded for their outstanding behaviour and attitude to learning They get it right every day and are doing amazing things at school. We were thrilled with the weather and each student got a 99-ice cream with a drink. They were then able to relax on the field in the sunshine with friends. Their appreciation and manners were humbling, and they very much deserved the treat.

We will return to school in the week commencing the 6th of September. Due to the requirements for us to provide Asymptomatic testing for all our students, there will have to be a staggered start to the beginning of term. We will provide all the necessary details to you today (click here) and ensure we have all students back in school before the end of that first week.

I would like to wish you all a happy, restful and enjoyable summer break. Get some rest and be ready to do the most amazing things in the next academic year.

Simon

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Posted 2nd July 2021

Pushing the re-set button!

June to June (and Tuesday) has given us all a lift...

On Monday we launched our new academic year. We were not able to do so last year and there has been a determination from all the staff and students that we just get on and do it this time around.

Our students and staff have loved the change and the opportunity to push the reset button so to speak. Students have moved to different parts of the building and the change of environment has provided a much-needed boost for everyone. Our new Year 10 students have begun their GCSE courses and they have also had the opportunity to move from lesson to lesson as a result. They have loved it and made a strong start. Thank you to all our families for ensuring students are well turned out and prepared for learning. It is so important that we continue to insist on the highest possible standards of learning through to the summer term. Our students deserve that.

Our new Year 11 students have been busy sitting mocks in the Sports Hall under strict exam conditions. They have been magnificent, and the experience will be invaluable to them as they prepare for GCSEs next summer. We have been hugely impressed with them all and thank them for the manner in which they have approached the week. Fingers crossed for good results for them but also that they learn a great deal from the feedback from their teachers.

Next week is our Transition Week for new Year 7 students. Despite the current pandemic we are able to welcome those young people into school on Wednesday, albeit in bubbles. I am so delighted we can do so as it will undoubtedly help them to better understand our school, get to know the place and our staff a little better, but more so for them to know that they are so important to us. In a matter of weeks, they will be Beckfooters and will begin a journey with us that I hope will last for seven years.

Finally, something very odd happened this week. I was lost for words! Following the fantastic result on Tuesday against Germany, a Sixth Form student burst through a set of our exit doors and came running towards me as I was on duty at breaktime. I had no idea what was wrong as he came to an abrupt stop with the biggest smile on his face. He composed himself and simply asked me ‘how are Ireland doing in the Euros?’ I was completely lost for words which rarely happens. He then began to giggle and was quickly joined by a good many others keen to understand if I thought ‘it was coming home’. I simply stated that I was delighted for England and felt they had a gilt-edged opportunity to do something remarkable for the country at a time when it is much needed. That was not the response they wanted!! A few other words were said, as you can imagine, but I loved the fact that they were excited about something again and felt they could involve me even for just a few minutes. This is a very special job and moments like that are priceless.

Oh...and by the way, I really do hope it’s coming home!

Take care.

Simon

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Posted 18th June 2021

Rites of Passage

On Monday I arrived at work knowing that there would be an extension to the restrictions we face as a result of Covid 19 and felt a mixture of sadness and relief. I have no problem operating as we have been doing if that means we can continue to keep students and families safe and continue to play our small part in ensuring that we can come out of all this by the 19th of July. Our students have done all that has been asked of them and I know I am fortunate to have a staff, parents/carers and student community that are supportive of what we are doing regardless of individual circumstances.

My sadness comes because of the impact of the extension on so many of our plans but mainly the plans to join our exam students on their Prom evenings. We had booked those events in July and the extension has forced us to cancel them in line with the current level of restrictions and DfE guidance. This is the second year that our students have missed out and I am devastated for them. I see events like the Prom as a rite of passage and we were all very much looking forward to spending an evening alongside wonderful young people. I am so sorry that I have had to take the decision that these events can no longer happen. I look to the future and hope that this never happens again.

Our TAG (Teacher Assessed Grades) process is almost complete. We have uploaded all our marks to the exam boards and we now await next steps. The plan for us is to have Results Day face to face in school. Those days are also a rite of passage and last year we had to send the results out electronically. It was tough not to be with our students as we would normally be hence our determination to do as we always have this summer. As a reminder, the exams results dates have changed this year and will now take place in the same week in August. Our A Level students will collect their results on Tuesday 10  August followed by our GCSE students collecting theirs on Thursday 12 August. More details will follow.

We have made plans to ensure our students can move up a year on Monday 28 June as part of our annual June to June curriculum provision. It means that, although we still have to maintain our bubble provision at Key Stage 3, our students will be moved to a new area of the school and begin their new year’s work immediately. It also means that our new Year 10 and 11 students can operate as one large bubble and move between rooms. I’m excited that we can move forward like this whilst sticking to our very robust Risk Assessments. Our students have been amazing in coping with our arrangements and it has not been easy on them. I hope they can continue to thrive in the remaining weeks until the summer. I know they can.

In sporting news, we were thrilled and proud to learn that one of our Year 7 students, Charlie Palmer, has been selected to play for Yorkshire County Cricket U12s this season. This is a great achievement as he is one of only 24 players selected in his age group across the whole of Yorkshire. In the coming weeks, Charlie will play in a number of games against other county opposition and we wish him well and hope he very much enjoys the experience.

Continuing the sporting theme, our Beckfoot Table Tennis Coach, Hans Soova, was recently presented with the prestigious National Pride of Table Tennis Contribution to Table Tennis Award. Hans has been a fantastic coach and role model for so many of our students over the years. In that time, we have had the privilege of getting to know him and his amazing life story. He is an incredible person and this Award is much deserved.

As you will be aware from recent Blogs, our Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme continues to thrive at Beckfoot. DSC_0034Over 100 students initially signed up to complete the challenges as part of the programme and, last weekend, they completed the Bronze expedition by walking to Blackhills campsite. On the Friday, the students spent the day on our front field learning how to pitch tents and cook for themselves. When I first learned of the activities, I was a little concerned that few of them would manage to eat given they were in charge! How wrong I was.DSC_0038 As I visited each group I was staggered to find that they had cooked, washed up and cleaned the area around their tents ready for the next challenge. They were cooking pasta mainly, but some groups were stirring in all kinds of wonderful sauces and some were even adding things like chorizo! However, one group left me staggered. As I approached them, I could see punnets of strawberries. They had finished their meal by melting large bars of chocolate and then dipping their fruit into the chocolate to eat. Amazing. I want to thank all the staff that supported both days especially Ms. Roberts, Mr. Owan, Mr. Hines, Ms. Osborne. I also want to congratulate our students and their families for their enthusiasm, good spirits and care for one another. I am thrilled that we have been able to continue to deliver this Award in school and I know many of them will now go on to achieve their Silver Awards and possibly even Gold in the years ahead.

Emma benchFinally, I want to let you all know that we have taken delivery of and installed a memorial bench for Emma Taylor who sadly died last summer. The bench is at the front of school and it has already been a joy to see it being used by our students. Emma was an amazing young lady and her family have worked with us to ensure she is never forgotten as a most wonderful and special person and student.

Take care.

Simon

Entrance

Posted 28th May 2021

Half Term and a very special day!

It’s half term and this is a very special day for our school community.

Today we say goodbye to our Year 11 and 13 students. It’s always a day you think you are prepared for but rarely are. We have watched them grow over the years into very special young people each with gifts and talent that have, hopefully, been nurtured with us. I guess this year, more than any other, will be very poignant. Each of those leaving today has had to deal with the most difficult of circumstances. They have seldom complained but often worried about the impact of the pandemic on their learning, futures and wellbeing. They have shown remarkable resilience throughout and have made it to this point because of the support they have had at home, in school and from others around them. I often ask our students to be kind, to look after one another and I have seen them demonstrate this during the past 2 years. I have little doubt they will make an incredible difference to the world and will miss them greatly. All any of us really want is for them to shine brightly as they leave us and begin to make their way in life. I have little doubt they will. 
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I want to say a huge thank you to the staff and students for their efforts in making the recent assessments work without fault. Our students have had a good experience I think and know what it is like to sit exams in a formal and proper fashion. This will be a good learning experience for them I’m sure. They showed maturity, determination and real focus throughout and I hope they feel they have done their best; that is all we have ever asked.

I also want to thank the staff for their incredible efforts in marking vast numbers of papers as part of the TAGs process. Most have given up their evenings and weekends over the past month to ensure we have time to dedicate to calculating TAGs for each student in each of their subjects. The staff here are amazing in my view but what they have done over the past few weeks has been exceptional and I am very grateful to them all.

We had our annual Post 16 graduation evening last week, albeit virtually this year. The virtual world has become somewhat normal for us all and enables us to continue to celebrate the achievement of our students. I want to congratulate all those nominated as well as winners in each of the subject areas. I especially want to congratulate Alisha Ali for winning the Debbie Murray Award for excellence in Chemistry and to Hope Gambill for winning the inaugural Emma Taylor Award for outstanding contribution to the community. 

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The Sixth Form is a very important part of our school community and they set the tone and example for so many of our younger students. We love seeing them around the building and are very much looking forward to the new cohort who will be joining us in June for their transition week and in September as our new Year 12s.

Continuing the theme of Post 16 we are constantly evaluating our practice to ensure an outstanding curriculum and enrichment provision for our learners. From next year our Sixth Form students will have access to a variety of weekly lectures from staff and outside speakers to be delivered on a wide range of topics including Adoption, Neurolinguistic Programming, Fluorescence and Cultures of Memory. It is the first time and we are very excited about it. Watch this space!

Duke of Edinburgh continues to thrive at Beckfoot, and we have recently launched our 2021-22 Bronze Award programme with Year 9.DSC_0080 Over 100 students have signed up to complete the challenges as part of the programme. Last weekend, joined by Ms Roberts, Mr Owan, Mr Hines, Ms Osborne and several other staff, the students set off walking from school at 9am and finished at 3pm. This was their first experience and will be followed after half term with 2 days of challenges culminating in a walk to Blackhills Camp. It promises to be an eventful and exciting few days and I hope they enjoy the challenge and all the Award has to offer over the coming months.

Finally, I hope you all have a very happy and restful half term. We remain hopeful that Boris will announce good news on 21 June and that we can proceed as planned with our June to June timetable. Whatever happens we will continue to look after one another at Beckfoot and make the best of things together.

Take care.

Simon

Entrance

Posted 14th May 2021

Staff and students make Beckfoot special

We have almost come to the end of the Year 11 and 13 Assessment exams and our students have been incredible in their application and attitude throughout. They never cease to amaze me when it comes to dealing with change. Our students have worked hard over the past few years and especially so in recent months. They have coped with an ever-changing landscape and adapted to everything they have been faced with. Uncertainty has been the biggest challenge for all and despite their worries and concerns they have shown that they can cope with anything and have done throughout with a smile. They are very special young people.

Extra-curricular activities are back, and I am so happy. We have students involved in sport, the creative arts and a whole host of other things in recent weeks. School is alive and buzzing with excitement long after 3 o’clock and it is exactly what we all needed and wanted for so long. Last night there were over 150 students taking part in a whole host of activities and the screams, shrieks and laughter to be heard has been missing for too long. I am so grateful for all those involved in creating these opportunities for our students.

DSC_0030 (Medium)On a similar theme, our Duke of Edinburgh award scheme is back. Last week over 100 Year 9 students signed up for the Bronze Award and many other in older years are continuing with their efforts to secure Silver and Gold awards. Ms. Roberts and her team do an incredible job and their efforts have never dwindled throughout lockdown with so many students completing a variety of tasks and challenges and gaining much coveted awards that will always demonstrate their commitment to leadership, consideration of others and care for their local area. I’m excited to see what our new cohort get up to on their journey with the scheme. Watch this space!

Eva Bell, in Year 8, has been making headlines on social media and the local and national press this week. On May 7th Eva had 16 Eva Bell 2.galleryinches off her hair in aid of the Little Princess Trust and the premature baby unit in the NHS. She has a close connection with both and decided to do something to help. Eva initially wanted to raise £150 but has, to date, already exceed that target with over £1000. She is a shining example of what we are trying to create at Beckfoot. She is selfless, caring, driven and totally determined in all she does. She is also very persuasive and has managed to get a good number of staff to donate. That in itself is impressive! Well done Eva.

We are, as many of you know, continuing to move forward at pace in terms of our work around curriculum development and teaching. We began that work last year and in January and February we worked with a consultant (an Ofsted HMI) to help us quality assure our work in the Core Subjects, SEND and Humanities. This week we have been working with an additional Ofsted HMI consultant, to do similar work with the remainder of our faculties (Creative Arts, Modern Foreign Languages and PE). What has emerged is that we are doing great things at Beckfoot and our plans going forward are very strong. Ultimately, this work is focussed on the quality of education we are able to provide for our students and I am excited by our plans for the next couple of years. I guess the most important thing is that the staff are excited too. They are determined to provide the very best curriculum and learning opportunities possible and that is very much part of the ‘soul’ of Beckfoot.

I have written to families this week about face coverings. The Bradford Public Health Advice differs slightly from that of central government. The main difference is about the use of face coverings on corridors and communal areas. Like many parts of the country, Bradford is being cautious in its approach and we agree with their advice. So, from Monday, students will not be required to wear face coverings in lessons but will be required to do so in all other areas of our building. This will not apply to outside spaces. The requirement for public and school transport remains. For me this is a very positive move and means our students, who have been amazing when it has come to adhering to expectations, can further continue to get back to some form of normality.

Finally, for many of our students and their families, it was Eid-ul-Fitr yesterday and I very much hope it was a wonderful day for all those celebrating. From what our students have been telling me, I have little doubt it was.

Take care.

Erin Firth

Posted 30th April 2021

Well done Jackie!

Last night, the annual Telegraph and Argus Bradford Teaching Awards ceremony took place virtually. Beckfoot staff were shortlisted in three award categories which is something that has never happened before.

Our school nurse, Jackie Drew, was announced as the winner of the Support Staff Member of the Year for her work over the last 8 years at Beckfoot but more recently for her work in supporting the school, staff and students through COVID. She is a wonderful, selfless person and I could not be more proud of her. Well done Jackie.

Claire Smith, our Year 8 Nurture Lead, was also shortlisted in the Secondary Teacher of the Year category. Despite not winning, I am also incredibly proud of her and all she has achieved since joining Beckfoot. She has a wonderful career ahead of her. Well done Claire.

In other news, we are looking for your support with our annual Trust surveys. Today we have sent out the surveys for students and parents/carers. These are important to me because your views matter and help us shape our work in the future. I feel we have made huge progress at the school and did our best through lockdown to do things to the best of our ability. I need to know from families and students whether you feel the same way or, indeed, if I am utterly deluded! If you could find ten to fifteen minutes to complete one for us by Monday the 10th of May, I would be extremely grateful.

Our Assessments for GCSE and A Level students begin on Tuesday next week. Staff have prepared them really well and I wish them all the very best of luck. Despite everything these young people have been through, we feel they are in a good place to shine do amazing things in the coming weeks. We are determined to look after them and provide them with all the support they need to do well. They are very special young people who will change the world in the years ahead.

Finally, if you are a follower of us on Twitter then you will know just how much is going here every day from Poetry competitions to the UK Maths Challenge, from music, sport and drama work to the developments happening around Teaching and Learning. It is an exciting time at Beckfoot and there is much more to come. We are in the midst of working on our new School Improvement Plan for 2021 – 2023 and I feel our ideas will continue to drive the school forward whilst staying true to our values and continuing to place our students and staff at the heart of all we do.

Have a wonderful long weekend.

Simon

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Posted 16th April 2021

Welcome Back

I hope you all had a restful and relaxed Easter break. It seems a distant memory as I write but it was nice to enjoy a bit of family time and refresh.

The summer term has begun and with it comes a lot of things to look forward to. I especially like the longer days and the improving temperatures though I was disappointed in that respect this week!

We had a visit from Emma Pinnock from the Equal Group this week as part of our work around Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. This is a major focus for Beckfoot School and the Trust this year. Emma visited lots of lessons and spoke with a great number of staff and students throughout the day. This followed a number of meetings and interviews prior to Easter with myself and key members of my team. It was wonderful for her to spend some time with us and she felt strongly that we have a very special school full of the most incredible staff and young people. She said lovely things about our inclusive approach and is determined to help us to improve even more.

Assemblies this week have been focused on careers and futures. I mention it because it involved a local business and an ex student, Mollie, who has forged a wonderful career with a great company whose work is focused on social media. It was incredible to see Mollie again; see how she has flourished since leaving Beckfoot but also her desire to give something back. I guess the best thing for me was our students seeing what is possible with hard work, resilience and determination and that there are opportunities out there for each of them whether that be locally or beyond.

We have received some additional information about how things will work for our exam students this week and have shared that with those students and their families. Of course, there is more to come, and we will share everything in the days and weeks ahead. It was nice to be able to provide a little more clarity bit also to share some of the nice things we have planned for them this half term.

I believe very much in rites of passage for young people. I felt very proud that we were able to give last year’s cohort a special send-off even though it was at short notice, but I will always regret that they didn’t have a Prom or a proper results day. This year, restrictions permitting, we have booked Prom dates for both Years 11 and 13. We plan to make their last day special too with the usual shirt signing, food, speeches and tears. Those students have given so much to Beckfoot and endured so much too. They will always be special to us and I want them to know that they matter, and we care. I am not sure I ever had that at school, but my staff and I are determined to do all we can to say goodbye properly to them.

Between now and then there is much work to do. Our students continue to work hard, and they have been amazing this week. We have asked them to no longer wear coats inside and that has been a non-issue for them despite the cold mornings. They very much want to do well at Beckfoot and do something with their lives. They are ambitious for themselves, their school and their futures and they continue to amaze us every day.

Finally, we begin our second school improvement plan this week and hope to complete that work by the end of this half term. Our first plan will end in July and I am proud of how we have come as a school and community since September 2019 despite the challenges of Covid. Our second plan will very much complement our School Strategic Vision 2020-23 and I am excited about some of the ideas that are already emerging for our work going forward. The thing that I am most excited about is that everything is focused on our young people and how we can be better for them in the weeks, months and years ahead. Watch this space!

Simon

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Posted 26th March 2021

Easter...and one year on.

It’s Easter and a year on from when all this started.

Tuesday marked the first anniversary of the pandemic and brought back memories of how this all began and the impact on our young people. We said goodbye to our students, tried to give our exam classes a good send off and hoped that it would only be a matter of weeks until we were back together again; how wrong we were.

Throughout the last 12 months we have tried our best to get things right. We have listened to feedback, made improvements where necessary, evolved our practice and tried to put students first when it came to making decisions. I am grateful to you for your support and honesty. It has helped us to be better.

Our students are back and doing really well. We are looking after those who are struggling and also making sure teaching is high quality and learning is strong. The vast majority of our students engaged well throughout each lockdown and their progress has been really great. Others less so and we will support everyone to be where they should be in the coming weeks and months. Rightly or wrongly, we are avoiding talk of ‘lost learning’ and ‘catch-up’ because I don’t feel that is helpful. Students are already worried and language such as that will only add to their worries.

They head off today for the Easter break and many are already telling me they plan to do some work, others saying they are going to read more and some that they are just tired and will see how they feel. Each one, of course is fine. Our exam groups will perhaps need a different approach but certainly one that allows them to feel in control of their studies and revision.Picture1

Talking of exam groups, we have sent home a booklet this week that will help them to focus their revision in readiness for the assessments in May. We have asked a number of them for feedback on the content and each has been very complimentary about the content. Indeed, they are all saying that it will help them hugely both with their revision plans and stress levels. I am very relieved that they feel that way because of everything they have been through. Of all the students in school these are the ones that have been most uncertain and anything we can do to better support them is a good thing.

Two very special events took place in the last week that I must tell you about. Firstly, Red Nose Day was a huge success. Our students in Years 7 and 8 were the driving force behind the day and did an amazing job. They raised over £1700 which is incredible especially in the midst of a pandemic. The local bank were staggered when we paid in our monies on Monday which made them feel extra special. At such a young age they are exactly the type of young people we are trying to shape at Beckfoot. Students that are selfless, considerate, driven, proactive and utterly respectful. Meeting them this week to thank them was certainly a highlight.

On a similar theme, our student leaders were involved in the very first Schools Pandemic Recovery Summit which took place yesterday. Over 20 schools and their students came together with various council leaders, Trust CEOs and other very special guests to discuss the impact of the pandemic on the young people of Bradford. It was incredible. We had representation from Misha, Erin, Evie, Jamie, Nick, Evie, Jibrail, Will and Imogen and they were a major part of the presentations as they recounted their experiences and hopes for the future as we emerge from this period. I don’t really think there is anything more powerful that a young person or group of young people telling us how they have felt over the past year and what they need to help them recover and feel hopeful about their futures. There are already plans to follow up their ideas and we will be right behind them in any way we can.

I must thank you for your continued commitment to the LFT testing process and keeping us informed of any issues. It is very important that we continue to test twice weekly over Easter so that we can hopefully have little or no interruption to the summer term. The tests have been provided to students this week to help. Any problems please let us know.

When we return after the break, we have asked that all students are in full and correct uniform. Standards are very important in any school but especially so at Beckfoot. Our uniform consultation proved very telling that our students and families love the current uniform. That is great and I have listened. We have also tried to be very accommodating in the last few weeks with uniform issues and would ask that everything is sorted for the 12th of April. Again, I am grateful for your continued support in this matter.

I have been approached by a few very eloquent (and some more commanding Year 11 students!) who were keen to continue to wear PE kit to school on the days they have PE lessons. In all honesty, until we are through this, I have to agree with them. And so, we will continue to encourage students to wear Beckfoot PE kit on the days they have these lessons. I hope it helps.

Finally, on the theme of uniform, I am asking students to no longer wear their coats around school. It was important that we relaxed this rule whilst getting through the winter. However, as we get into the summer this is no longer necessary. In classrooms where it is cold, staff may well allow this to continue but not in corridors or indoor communal areas. I hope this makes sense and you can see we have tried to be very accommodating over the past 6 months.

I hope you all manage to get some rest over the Easter holiday period. The future is looking very promising and the vaccine rollout is helping. The government are also planning to continue to lift restriction bit by bit and I am optimistic about what the future holds for us all.

Take care.

Simon

Covid testing

Posted 19th March 2021

A very special community

Our students returned to school in a staggered fashion last week and it has been very special to welcome them back to school once again. This second full lockdown has been tough and more so than first one in my view. The students have settled back into learning and they have shown just how resilient and strong they are. Despite everything they have been through, they have just got on with it and we are thrilled to be in their company once more. As I said in my last Blog, we missed their smiles, laughter and presence. Those things are back now, and I hope we never have to inflict that type of isolation on them again.

Mass Testing is done! We have completed over 6000 Lateral Flow Tests since January with over 5000 of those done in the past two weeks. The efforts of staff in making this happen,and for it to have been done without impacting on teaching and learning, has been a huge positive for us all. Added to that has been our students who have been remarkable in their approach to supporting our desire to keep everyone safe. I have to say that it has been quite a humbling experience and in an odd kind of way we will miss the process...but not too much!

I also want to thank parents and students who have supported the request to wear masks in lessons. I know that is not easy and many struggle. However, it is making a difference in school to how staff, students and families feel about being back in the building. Of course, we have a small number of students who are exempt, but they too are doing their bit andare very supportive of their classmates and staff. We have a very special community at Beckfoot, and it is at times like these especially that becomes so apparent. Please keep up the good work with the testing at home. Staff have been doing this for a few weeks now and the process is simple. If you have any issues, please let us know.

In other news, our school nurse, Jackie Drew, has been shortlisted in the Supporting Staff Member category in the Telegraph & Argus Education Awards 2021. She is a very special member of staff and has been immense in her support of staff and students over many years most especially these past 12 months. It is fitting that she is recognised in this way and we will keep our fingers crossed for her!

I had a visit from some students this week who wanted to talk to me about Sarah Everard and the issues the tragedy has raised for many of our young people. I was delighted that they felt they could come to me but more so because they wanted to do something to make a difference to young people in their school and wider community. I am hoping we will be able to put something together just after Easter and both students have agreed to help me share a message of safety and solidarity.

It’s Red Nose Day today. I love these days. Our students in Years 7 and 8 have been busy organising a variety of activities to raise money for those less fortunate. Please can you give generously if you can and thank you, as always, for supporting us with these events. It is so important to me that our students grow as selfless young people and are constantly reflecting on how they can make a difference to society no matter how big or small.

Finally, I want to ask for your help in a couple of ways. Firstly, I know many of you are now collecting students from school on an evening. Please can you ensure that you are parking safely and legally and being mindful that we have a lot of students leaving school and crossing roads at the end of the day. I need your help to keep them safe and ask that you consider the safety of others when parking and pulling out into traffic. Secondly, can I ask that you remind your children to wear a face mask when using both school and public transport. This is so important in enclosed spaces and your support, again, would be very much appreciated.

Have a lovely weekend.

Simon

Testing

Posted 5th March 2021

Missing the buzz

It’s Friday morning and already the weekend seems to be somewhat of a delaying mechanism for the return of our students from Monday. We have been busy this week, especially getting the site ready once again and preparing for the testing of our community members over the next two weeks.

I have spent a great deal of time thinking about this second period of lockdown and no matter how I try to channel my thoughts, I always return to the same conclusion; it’s been tough! I say that mainly because of what life has been like for a typical teenager in that time. Their entire world has been thrown into turmoil and everything they have always known has been either changed drastically or ripped away from them. They have not been allowed to see family or friends, they have been stripped of their activities like sport, music, clubs and other such things and they have been kept away from each other for large parts of the past year. And all of this when the days are short, the nights are long and it's cold and miserable. Not easy for adults but even less so for a child. 

Throw into the mix Live Lessons. Whilst the majority have been wonderfully engaged, many have struggled. I am talking here about students who have attended lessons regularly as well as those who have not. They are desperate to be back in school and learning alongside their friends. They crave some form of normality and we must be mindful of the need for them to transition back into learning routines in the coming days and weeks. The culture of Beckfoot is about ensuring high standards for all in the most caring and nurturing environment we can provide.

From Monday, we must try to avoid talk about 'Lost Learning' or 'Catch-Up'. I don't want them (or you) worrying about longer school days or summer schools. I simply want them back in lessons with their teachers, being cared for and taught brilliantly. I want them to get back into the swing of things quickly and for them to be supported in terms of their wellbeing, their learning, the consolidation of what was taught over lockdown and understanding that our plans will make sure they are well prepared for next steps whether that is moving up a year or taking exams in Year 11 or 13. 

On the subject of exams, I have been dealing with a number of students who have contacted me to share their worries and anxieties about exams and mocks in particular. They are terrified that the mocks are the only source of evidence we will use to determine their grades. This is despite my assembly to them on the Friday before half term! I will speak to exam year students again next week and reassure them that we want the best for them and will use a range of evidence to inform our decisions about grades. We will look carefully at what comes from exam boards in relation to mini assessments and set papers that will allow them to shine. We are on their side and we will prepare them in the most incredible way to sit papers in each of the subjects they are studying.

I want to thank you all for your support for our testing arrangements. As of last night, over 97% of you have consented to your child having three tests in school over the next fortnight. That is incredible. I also want to thank you for your feedback on the booklet we sent through to you this week outlining our reopening arrangements, system of controls and other, what I hope has been, useful information. I know you probably feel bombarded with information via Twitter, Facebook, email and text but I would rather over communicate with you all than risk you missing out on important information.

I am very excited about next week. I can’t wait to hear chatter and laughter. I have missed that buzz. We will look after your children to the very best of our ability and support them as we start to get back to some form of normality over the coming weeks. Nothing is more important than that!

You know where we are if you need anything at all.

Take care,
Simon

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Posted 8th January 2021

What a week!

Happy New Year to you all, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas break.

I wish that I were able, at this time, to add a sentence about how nice it is to have our students back and learning with us face to face. I am truly sorry that they are having, yet again, to endure further disruption to their education.

I hope that our immediate switch, this week, to Live Learning is making a difference to students and families and that it is helping in some small way to keep a routine of learning for all of them. That is very much our desire. Indeed, we have learned a great deal from the first lockdown and have prepared hugely for this since our return to school in September. I have to keep reminding myself that I am incredibly lucky to have a staff who have embraced the opportunity to engage with students in this manner and have put considerable effort into making sure that their teaching is aligned to the curriculum planned at the beginning of the year.

I want to thank the masses of you that have sent in messages of thanks and support because these are hugely appreciated by us all and make a difference. Below is just one of the great many messages received this week. Thank you all.


Good evening,
I just wanted to thank each and every one of you at Beckfoot. [My child's] live lessons are running smoothly and amazing communication daily re. the Covid processes, not to mention such great support last year.
Proud to be part of such an amazing school - below is an email to Ofsted telling them the same.

Stay safe, kind regards

Good evening Ofsted,  
I've been so impressed and thankful to Beckfoot School where my child attends, so much so, that I wanted to email to praise them. We're guilty of first to complain and last to compliment. Communication at the school is impeccable as are the processes surrounding Covid, very clear and organised and the live lessons have run so very smoothly with minimal to zero issues. Proud my child is part of such a great school.

Thank you all at Beckfoot x


I also want to thank those of you who have shared issues with us, mainly to do with electronic devices, and I very much hope we have been able to respond to each of you and provide the support you and your children have needed.

Finally, as you know, the Secretary of State has confirmed, this week, that GCSE and A Level exams are cancelled. He has also indicated that they will be replaced by teacher assessments though the detail of what that means, exactly, has yet to be shared. I know that this brings additional uncertainty for our young people and we have tried to alleviate that, since the announcement, via our various communications and the assembly on Wednesday. What is most important now is for our exam students to continue to engage fully in the online learning provision and let us worry about the details. At this stage, we are not allowed to engage in any conversations about grades nor are we in a position, in January, to be able to provide those. We have many months of teaching, learning and assessment ahead of us and we need full commitment from our young people in order for them to complete courses, submit coursework (where applicable) and demonstrate their abilities at every opportunity. Once more information is forthcoming, we will be in touch.

Please continue to look after yourselves and those around you. Help us to fight this pandemic by sticking to the rules and never hesitate to get in touch if we can help you in any way.

Take care,

Simon

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Posted 17th December 2020

It's Christmas!

What a year 2020 has been. Looking back to this time last year we were excited to finish for the Christmas holiday and spend time away from school with family and loved ones. I remember there being murmurings about some virus but there was little to know and it all seemed too far away for it to be a problem for any of us. How wrong I was.

2020 has brought many challenges to us all but it has also brought perspective and a great deal of camaraderie. As a school we have remained open throughout. We have provided food and support for families that have struggled, through no fault of their own, and we have worked hard to look after our students and keep them engaged in learning as best we could. We have not been perfect but I know we tried our very best to do things right. I am proud of our school community for all they have achieved during lockdown.

For the past four months I have had the privilege to lead this school in the most uncertain of times. I say that because Beckfoot, without its staff and students, is just a building. Nothing more. It comes alive every day when our young people arrive and it transforms into the Beckfoot we love; a place full of life and that special ’Buzz’. I have been working here for 18 years, on and off, but this term has demonstrated to me, more than any other, why Beckfoot is so incredibly special. My staff are central to that and they come here every day to make a difference. Covid 19 did not change that.

Since returning in September I feel we have done most things really well and, thankfully, you seem to agree. Our Risk Assessment has proved to be very strong and our attendance is comparable to any other year because you have trusted us. For that I am so grateful. We have had over 30 confirmed cases over the past 15 weeks and been required, on each occasion, to identify close and social contacts to send home. In almost all cases we have had the most incredible support from parents and carers which I am thankful for. Indeed, when I talk to other Headteachers it is clear we have done very well to operate as we have been doing and also to have such limited staff and student absence.

We have lots on this week but it is also very much business as usual. We want students to continue to learn as time is precious to them and us. We also want reward them for all they have achieved and things are happening all week culminating on Friday with the Virtual Staff Panto to be shown during period 5. At the time of writing I am concerned that the staff are taking things too seriously. I have heard them singing and acting and they really need to enjoy the process a little more because I know that their vocations lie in teaching and not in show business, so it should be entertaining at the very least!

Finally, I want to thank you all for your incredible support throughout this term. I want to wish you a very Happy Christmas and I sincerely hope that 2021 is a good year for you whatever it may bring.

Take care,

Simon

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Posted 11th December 2020

A challenging term

This time next week and we will be looking forward to our last day and celebrating the end of term with our staff and students. It has been a long and challenging term but also an exceptional one.

As is always the case at this time of year our students are getting excited and looking forward to the Christmas break. However, this year something is different. Our students are more reflective than ever and concerned about what many are facing this holiday and through the winter. They have united in their efforts to bring a little joy and comfort to others and I could not be prouder of them.

Our Sixth Form, led by Millie, have organised a toy appeal to support children via the work of the Samaritans in Keighley. They have amassed a huge number of toys for all age groups through local business sponsorship and the individual efforts of post 16 students. Millie is delighted that this work will allow some families to have something under the tree for their children this year and that is incredibly special.

In the lower school Hafeez and others have been collecting food for our local food bank. We have already donated a large amount of food items to the Bingley Foodbank and they were overwhelmed by our generosity. We are still collecting donations and will be dropping off what we collect again next week.  The staff at the Foodbank have said that they have enough pasta and soup currently but are happy to have anything else tinned/non-perishable, especially any sweets/chocolates for children over Christmas. If you can help in any small way, please do.

We are also happy for students to wear a Christmas jumper next Friday as long as the rest of their uniform is correct. All we ask is a donation of £1 per student/family which will go to the Bradford Soup Run, a charity that has been dear to Beckfoot for many years. Please donate via ParentPay if you can.

In October we were invited to nominate a student to be part of the First Give Student Advisory Panel. This panel will help ensure that the First Give initiative stays in touch with its core ideals of getting young people involved in raising awareness of others in their communities. We were very happy to nominate Hana in Year 10 because of her work and commitment to this cause last year and just last week we were informed by the First Give charity that she was chosen from a national field to become a member of the panel. It is remarkable and we are all very proud of her. She will be superb in that role without question.

In sporting news, Archie in Year 11 has continued his motorsports pursuits and has recently won the Junior Rotax PF International Autumn Cup. Archie is combining his studies with his love of motorsport to great effect and is a shining example of what can be achieved through sheer dedication, ambition and resilience. He has a great future ahead of him and we are thrilled for him and his family.

We have taken the decision not to close next Friday. The announcement that came from the government was not helpful in our view and I am very conscious of not impacting on students learning or families having to find childcare at short notice. We will close for the Christmas break at 2.45 pm next Friday as planned. I need to ask for your help in supporting our Risk Assessment with your children. We need them to ensure they are keeping themselves safe next week especially. They need to wear face coverings on school buses and public transport; they need to walk around school wearing them too and be extra conscious of the two metre rule at social times. I say this because, although case numbers are falling, the reality is that they are still coming through to us. Given our role in supporting Test and Trace I do not want to be calling families from Monday and telling them that students have to self-isolate over Christmas.

In addition, I will write to you all separately later today to let you know that my leadership and I have been told to work in support of the Test and Trace scheme until Christmas Eve just in case we have any reports of a positive case that we have to share with students and families.

Finally, although I will write my Blog again next week, I wanted to take this chance to thank you all for your unwavering support since March but most especially since September. We have tried our best to get things right and to communicate with you all fully and honestly. We have not always got it right but for the most part we have achieved a great deal as a result of working collectively to support our young people. They have been wonderful throughout and have embraced both the change and challenges of the Autumn term without much fuss. Indeed, I often find myself wondering how I would have coped, and I am not convinced I would have coped as well as our students. They are remarkable, unique and most of all, special.

Take care.
Simon

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Posted 23rd November 2020

A week of ‘virtual’ firsts!

On Tuesday evening we launched the first Virtual Creativity Showcase Awards on our website. It was a huge success! This event would normally be held in school in the main hall with the place filled with students and families looking at the work of our amazing students. Mr Hussain and Mr Stimpson were determined that we would not allow Covid to get in the way of celebrating the work of our talented young people and so was born the idea of a virtual event. Accompanied by Evie on piano playing a Stevie Wonder song, the event was an incredible journey into the Arts and the work of our special Creativity faculty, showcasing stunning art, music, drama and photography. So many students took part and I am very proud of all those who were nominated and those who were winners. The Creative Arts is a very important part of our curricular and enrichment work at Beckfoot and long may that continue.

We also launched our first Post 16 Virtual Open Evening on Thursday. Our Post 16 team took over the front page of our website to share all the information on the courses available, support, enrichment opportunities and what to expect over the next couple of years should our Sixth Form be an option you wish to consider. We hope it allowed you to make an informed choice about our Sixth Form provision for 2021.  All information can now be accessed in the Sixth form area of the website. Application forms must be returned no later than Friday 8 January 2021. Please get in touch with the team for any additional information or guidance.

In a week of ‘virtual’ firsts, we had our third Virtual Parents Evening for Year 9 last night. 99% of you managed to make appointments and keep them which is incredible. We are so grateful for your support for our school and students. It makes a difference to our young people when they know we are working in partnership, with their futures the most important thing to us all. Thanks also for your feedback with many seeming to prefer the online approach. Please do keep letting us know your thoughts on these evenings both positive and developmental.

The mock exams started on Friday morning for our Year 11 students. The exams will go through to Thursday this week. I know our students are anxious and we had a good assembly ahead of the first exam where I talked to them about how they are doing, what can be learned from the mock exams and how that learning will shape our collective approach to the real GCSE exams in the summer. The truth is that they are a very special bunch and doing well matters to them. They have been through a great deal of uncertainty and we are more determined than ever to look after all our students, but most especially those facing exams at the end of this academic year. I want them to try their best, learn from the experience and continue to work with their teachers, who care deeply about them, all the way through to June. What I do know is that I have a wonderful and dedicated staff who will work tirelessly to give them every chance of success and I cannot ask for more than that.

If I may, could I please ask you to support our desire to keep students safe by asking them to wear masks on all forms of public transport and when out and about in shops and in the local community. So many of them are meticulous when it comes to using face coverings, hand sanitising and keeping socially distant. However, a few, from time to time, forget and we need to keep reminding them of the need to follow guidelines and keep themselves and their families safe. Thank you in advance.

Finally, as the temperatures drop due to the onset of winter, I have been thinking about our COVID Risk Assessment in place in school. Part of the Risk Assessment is to ensure we are ventilating the building as much as possible. That means that all external doors and windows are open throughout the day to help keep fresh air circulating. That also means it is getting increasingly cold for our students. Whilst they have been great and don’t complain, I am acutely aware that for many of them it is becoming difficult. So, we have decided to allow all students to wear their coats in all areas of the building from today. They have been very supportive of our new PLS, our new COVID rules and our desire to keep them safe and in education full time. I hope this helps and that you can all understand the rationale behind this decision.

Two weeks of lockdown are now behind us, so we are now over halfway through. Keep positive and keep looking after those around you.

Simon

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Posted 13th November 2020

An eventful few days...

It’s been an eventful few days at Beckfoot and I want to share what has been happening around school since my last Blog a week ago.

We’ve had a relatively quiet week in terms of Covid and the slight spike in cases last week was not all that surprising following half term. Who knows what lies ahead but I want to reassure you all that we are determined to always stay open to educate our students and enable them to lead a largely normal life for much of their week. I say this because they are doing incredibly well at school. They are happy, engaged and amongst friends and I cannot stress enough the importance of this. I am also pleased that many of you feel able to share your concerns and we are all too happy to chat to you about these and, hopefully, put your mind at ease. Thanks, as always, for your incredible support and messages; they really do make a difference to my staff and me.

I have been meeting with my staff this week to talk about exam classes. I have been asking all 94 of them (yes, 94!) about their students and the progress they have made since returning to school. I have loved seeing the staff one to one and talking to them about things that really matter for our young people. I have been stunned by the level of preparation for those meetings, the detail they can go into about each child but, mostly, because of their care and passion for each student in their care. This week has provided yet another reminder to me about how fortunate I am at Beckfoot to have such committed and dedicated staff, further strengthened by the appointment of remarkable new staff.

The season of fundraising and getting involved in charitable causes has also arrived. Today is Children in Need day and, despite lockdown, we have asked each child and staff member, where possible, to contribute £1 via ParentPay for the privilege of wearing non-uniform. Many have been thinking about what to wear since last week and I’m sure the students have too! I love these events for lots of reasons but mainly because our students make a difference to the lives of others. They have spent some time in their tutor groups thinking about others and reflecting on what contributions they can make to those around them, and the wider world. Today will be a success regardless of how much we raise and the frustrations of not being able to do all the things we usually do.

The staff are also doing their bit and many of the male staff have embarked on the growth of facial hair for Movember to raise money and awareness of health and well-being issues facing men every day. I have paid my money and begun the journey of the moustache. At this point the feedback I have received has been mixed. In fact, it has been more pity than anything else. My children are no kinder, but I am determined to go the full 30 days and do my little bit at this time.

Continuing the theme of charitable work, I want to recognise and praise the efforts of one of our Year 9 students, Emma-Leigh, who has, for many years, been involved in a lot of charity work and is determined to make a difference to her city. She has recently received an NHS Young Hero Certificate of Appreciation Award in recognition of her work in her local area. She is currently working to raise money for Martin House and we are very proud of her.

The ‘All in Award’ cast of Beckfoot and Hazelbeck School have worked incredibly hard with Mr Lawal to produce a stunning video to celebrate Performing Arts. Click here to take a look.

As you know I really want to hear about and celebrate the achievements of students within and beyond school and this week we were told of some dance success. Emily in Year 10 and her younger sister have been selected for the Yorkshire Dance Elite Associates Team following rigorous auditions involving young dancers from across Yorkshire and the North East. Emily will now embark on a training schedule involving tuition from experts in the areas of Tap, Jazz, Ballet and Commercial Dance. It’s fantastic news and we are very proud of Emily.

Before I finish, I need to remind us all about the continuing need to keep ourselves safe. The use of face coverings is compulsory in school (on corridors and in communal indoor areas) and on all forms of public transport. Washing hands regularly and not touching the face are easy ways to help combat the spread of the virus as is the ‘Catch, it Bin it, Kill it’ approach to coughing and sneezing. Keeping apart two metres and avoiding face to face communication where possible also helps. I hope that if everyone sticks to the rules, we will get through this and look forward to the new year and a return to normality.

Take care,

Simon

Simon Wade

Posted 6th November 2020

Welcome Back!

Welcome back everyone. I hope you had a good half term and managed to get a rest from the everyday pressures of school and all the preparations that go with it.

We return to the news of a second national lockdown and that’s not easy on our young people and their families. I’m sure I would have struggled as a teenager, especially with the loss of sport and the freedom my childhood gave me. I am proud of our students for their resilience and determination and the fact that our school is open and intends to remain so throughout this pandemic. School, for me, is the best place for students to be. They are safe, well looked after, well-educated and can be with friends and enjoy a sense of normality every day. Having said all that, school is not without its challenges. We are constantly navigating our way through new challenges and it’s not easy. We have dealt with several confirmed cases this week, all of which have had minimal impact I’m pleased to say, and we are working tirelessly to reassure our students with the facts regarding Covid-19. Our Risk Assessment and the plan we created in the summer allow us to be very specific in terms of who must self-isolate and why. In all cases this week I have been so grateful for the support from all parents and carers we have contacted. We have phoned everyone since we had to start sending students home as I feel the personal touch is important in trying to reassure students and families. That will continue.

 Period 6 began this week for our Year 11 students. It is an extra lesson provided by our staff on a voluntary basis, to support students to achieve the best outcomes in their GCSE exams next summer. We had 90% attendance this week and we hope to ensure those targeted students maintain this dedication in the weeks and months ahead. It is not easy for them, but this provision is designed to encourage them to invest time into their futures now and, in doing so, help to ensure they will have the choices they need at post 16 to lead happy and successful lives.

We had our second Virtual Parents’ Evening for Year 13 last night and again it was a huge success. I feel it’s so much more personal that a written report and, despite the time being limited to just 5 minutes, we intend to stick with this provision for the foreseeable future. Our next Virtual Parents’ Evening is for Year 9 on Thursday 19 November.

Our Blended Learning Strategy is really developing, and we have had just two bubble closures since September. In both cases we have facilitated Live Teaching for all 25 lessons in the week. The staff and students have embraced this new way of teaching and learning, and it is so much better for everyone. For Post 16 lessons we are also developing our ability to deliver lessons with some students physically in school and others accessing those same lessons whilst self-isolating. We will monitor the effectiveness of this dual system in the hope that the technology will allow us to operate in this way for all lessons.

In other news, we have some sporting successes to celebrate:

  • Scarlett in Year 8 has been selected to represent Team GB in cheerleading
  • Charlie in Year 8 has been selected to represent the North East England u13 in Hockey
  • Annie in Year 10 won Gold in the 60cm competition at the West Yorkshire Equestrian Championships and silver in 70cm competition on a horse called Charlie

We are very proud of all three students and their commitment and dedication to their sport to achieve such elite honours.

We have also learned this week that Genevieve in Year 13 has achieved a Duke of Edinburgh Certificate of Achievement - Gold Award (Covid version). This is incredible and testament to her dedication, resilience, commitment and courage over the past few years.

In all cases our students are to be admired and congratulated on how they are managing themselves in these times. We must never lose sight of how special and unique each of them is.

Have a lovely weekend.

Simon

Posted 23rd October 2020

It’s half term!

What a few weeks it has been. Despite the trials and tribulations of the past few months it has been wonderful to be back at school and working alongside our amazing staff and students.

As you know, we have had our share of Covid related issues, but I feel we have dealt with them well and ensured the safety of our school community. We have provided work and a digital device where needed and we have also ensured no child has to worry about being hungry because they are away from school. I feel proud of that.

We have had to close just one class bubble since September and despite that we were able to support learning by delivering 25 hours of Live Teaching for those students throughout this past week. In truth, because of technology, it is easier to do this when an entire class is away. We are not yet at the stage where we can allow individuals students to interact with live teaching taking place with classes in school, but we are working on it. Having said that, our Blended Learning provision via Microsoft Teams and our online learning platforms has been well received because of the content and the alignment to our curriculum in each year group. As always, your feedback is most welcome.

On Wednesday this week I was invited for a three-course meal which was prepared and cooked by the students of class group 711. I arrived at 2.15pm and was escorted to my table and presented with a menu. I ordered orange squash to accompany my starter of Meatball and Tomato soup which arrived very promptly. I then had Sweet and Sour Chicken Wraps followed by Brownie Bites and Strawberries. The students looked after me brilliantly. At the end I gave my views on each course, though the empty plates were enough for them to know I was happy! They were magnificent and they all signed my menu as a keepsake of a very special and memorable afternoon.

We have also been celebrating our wonderful students by holding our Red-Carpet events this week. I have been thrilled with the way our new Positive Learning Strategy has been embedded and the fact that it focuses on our student’s positive attitude and behaviour. We had over 1200 students accessing those events this week as a result of their positive and proactive approach to their learning. They are getting it right in lessons every day and are being recognised and rewarded for it. It has been a special week for the staff and students, and I can’t wait until Christmas to do it all again.

We had our first Virtual Parents’ Evening last night. I must admit being very anxious about the whole thing. We consulted on the best route forward for communicating with parents and carers and all agreed that face to face conversations were better than written reports which can, at times, be a little soulless. The evening was a huge success and the feedback received from staff and parents/carers has been incredible. Of course, there were a few issues with technology at the outset, but these were sorted out quickly and the evening went very smoothly. This has given us the confidence to continue like this whilst we are restricted by the current circumstances and we are very much looking forward to doing it again as the year progresses.

We have been celebrating sporting success in recent weeks too. As many of you know, Creative Arts and Sport are very important to me. I want to celebrate the achievements of our students, write to them individually and mention them in my Blog. We are proud of them and understand the sacrifices involved for any young person who is doing remarkable things in and beyond school. I feel that there is a strong link between hard work and success, and one is rarely achieved without the other. We have been celebrating the following students over the past couple of weeks:

Year 7 - Harry who has been selected to represent the Bradford Schools U12 football squad for the 2020/21 season

Year 8 - Jamie who has been selected to represent the Bradford Schools U13 football squad for the 2020/21 season

Year 8 - Ollie who has been selected to represent the Bradford Schools U13 football squad for the 2020/21 season

Year 10 - Charlie who has been awarded a Rugby League scholarship with the Bradford Bulls.

I am delighted to celebrate the achievements of any young person who is doing remarkable things outside of school, but the truth is that we are not always aware. Please let me know about how your children are doing and I will do my best to recognise those achievements throughout the year.

Finally, thank you to you all for your support this half term. It has not always been easy, but you have placed your faith in us to get things right for your children. You have sent messages of thanks and support and you have also told us when you think we could be doing better; it all helps. Have a wonderful and safe half term holiday and take care of one another.

See you all on the 2 November when school re-opens.

Simon

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Simon Wade

Posted 9th October 2020

We’ve been back a month already!

Morning-3I cannot quite believe it’s October.

In the summer none of us knew what lay ahead, but our community has been amazing in the manner they have approached the new way of operating. A very special thank you to staff, students, parents and carers for the support you have each given us to facilitate a return to learning and a little more normality.

We had a Fire Alarm test on Tuesday this week. Why on earth am I telling you about that? Well, for me, this event is always a real test of the culture that exists within a school and for some reason, no matter which school I work in, I always get slightly anxious beforehand. I had little to worry about because our students were incredible in the way they calmly and silently vacated the building and followed all instructions. I was both humbled and grateful for how we all worked together to make it a safe and very smooth exercise. It is quite something to watch 1700 young people and the staff emerge from the school as they did. Really special to see!

DSC_0005I am sure many of you will be wondering how we intend to communicate with you when it comes to parents’ evenings and I am happy to say we have a plan. After conversations with several of you, we have decided to carry out virtual face to face meetings with teachers. Each meeting will last 5 minutes to maximise the number of parents/carers a member of staff can see. The technology we will use will end the meeting on exactly 5 minutes and move the member of staff on to the next appointment automatically. Appointments will be made on a first come first served basis and, although not everyone will get every appointment they require, it is a much more personal way to operate these evenings. As always, we will ask for your feedback after the first evening to see how we can further improve. This will be a first for us, so your patience and support will be greatly appreciated.

DSC_0007You are aware that we, like most schools across the UK, have had a few confirmed cases of Covid 19. We have followed the guidance as set out by the DfE and PHE. We are immediately asked to identify ‘Close’ contacts and ‘Social’ contacts and we use our classroom seating plans software to support that process. Once we are clear which students are potentially at risk, and therefore need to self-isolate, we ensure all families affected are spoken to personally about the situation, how to access work from home and when they can return. The support we have had from families of those affected and more widely has been phenomenal. For those that have ongoing concerns I have tried to ring each individually to provide reassurance. These are the times we are living and working in and I hope the communications are helpful. I know it can be frustrating that the exact details cannot always be shared.

Morning-2I cannot pass on the opportunity to remind you of our Health and Safety obligations. We require all staff and students to wear a face covering in communal areas. We ask that hand sanitiser is applied on entry to school and each lesson and we also ask that the 2-metre rule is observed wherever possible. We ask students not to mingle in groups of more than six at social times and when walking to and from school. We ask students to wear face coverings on school and public transport too. All these measures help to minimise risk, so I feel they are reasonable requests. Your support in reinforcing this message is appreciated.

DSC_0029Finally, I was delighted to welcome to school on Monday, Mr. and Mrs. Taylor, parents of Emma Taylor who sadly passed away over the summer. We had a lovely chat about lots of things but mainly about Emma. They very generously presented me with a cheque for £5000 in her memory. We have agreed to spend the money in several ways. We intend to purchase a bench to be placed at the front of school so staff, students and visitors can remember her every day. We will purchase an award, to be presented annually to a deserving Post 16 student who contributes so much to our school. 

Some of the money will be used to support any young people who need help to pursue their dream of studying medicine beyond Beckfoot and, for those that gain a place at university, the money will also fund their first stethoscope. Emma, as many of you know, was an incredible young lady who loved Beckfoot and spent seven very happy years with us. She was due to study medicine at Liverpool and we want her memory to live with us in the years ahead. I am incredibly grateful to her family.

Take care.
Simon

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Posted 14th September 2020

Welcome back!

A special welcome to our new Year 7 students and those joining our 6th Form from elsewhere. Both groups have already proved to be an amazing addition to our school.

I have been humbled by the way our staff and students have accepted and embraced our re-opening plans, and more so by the manner in which they have approached learning. It is an absolute delight  that we have made such a strong start but it’s also important to remind ourselves that we each have to play our part to maintain that strength and build upon it as we progress through the year.

I have tried to get to as many lessons as possible since last Tuesday and it has been a joy. I have been struck by the maturity of our young people and their determination to learn, despite a long period of absence from their usual style of learning. They have been engaged and happy to contribute fully to lessons which was great to see. Beckfoot has a special ‘soul’ and I have witnessed that throughout our school this week.

I had the opportunity to visit our Oracy workshops with Year 7 on Friday. I listened to them stand up in front of their peers and introduce each other. I watched them tell of their dreams and ambitions for the year ahead and beyond and I loved the purity of their messages and the confidence they showed to simply stand up and speak. I really want them all to become more effective communicators and this type of work will help.

I have loved having the opportunity to talk to our students again. I have missed their character, humour and energy. Walking around the school during lessons and break times has been a pleasure and it is so good to have life back into our building because our young people have returned.

I want to thank every parent and carer who has trusted us with our plans to open. We had an attendance figure of 99% last week and that is stunning. We have been making slight tweaks to our plans each day as we learn more about the flow of students and how to make things better for them.

Thank you again for your support.

Take care,

Simon

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Posted 13th March 2020

Sometimes you are just left in awe!

What a few weeks it has been. Full of activity and an unprecedented occurrence.

Our BSL group began the term with a great Goalball event which was the result of a collaboration with Hazelbeck. They did an incredible job raising awareness of impaired vision and how a sport such as Goalball can be enjoyed regardless of disability. I loved it! The competitive streak was there for all to see amongst the staff and students who took part. It was great fun and I am grateful we have such selfless young people in school who are constantly thinking about others.

We have been busy these past few weeks getting ready for Sports Relief. The aim is to support young people in Bradford who suffer with their mental health. Indeed, 1 in 9 young people suffer with some form of mental health issue between the ages of 11 and 19. In Bradford that amounts to approximately 6608 students. The aim of the PE Department and the Sports Council has been to ensure that collectively our students walk 6608 km in support of mental health awareness and raise over £5000 for Sports Relief. Fundraising activities have included Sponge the Teacher, Dodgeball, staff v students netball, rowing challenges, pay to play sport, cheerleading, dance and lots more. I am really hoping they raise the money they are aiming for but, regardless, it has been an amazing few weeks and I am so proud of our entire school community with the Sports Council and Ms. Holmes leading the way.

In other news we were made aware of the students who will be joining us in September from primary schools in the area. We have in excess of 1600 families who chose our school and we have been allocated our full number of students which is great. Our sixth form has also been busy, and we have received over 500 applications to study with us in September. We remain a heavily oversubscribed school and I will never take that for granted because we must keep working hard to provide the very best education we can for the families that entrust their children to us each year.

Finally, I attended the Beckfoot Young Musician event last night. Wow! From the first to the last act, from the solo to the ensemble performances I was completely in awe of our students. I saw singers, guitarists, classical musicians, bands, pianists and a harpist which, in truth, very much reminded me of home. There was also a very cool rendition of the A-Ha classic, Take on Me by the hand chimes group. I had no idea how to pick any winners but thankfully that was not my role last night. In the end the award for Beckfoot School Young Musician of the Year went to Evie Kitching in Year 12. Her piano performance was breathtaking, and she is a very talented and special young lady. The evening was a huge success and I want to thank the judges, the BSL team, Ms. Roberts and the Duke of Edinburgh team, Mrs Clark, Mr. Jackson, our peripatetic team, the Creative Arts staff and most especially, Mr Lee and Mr Stimpson for all they do in to provide a wealth of opportunities for our students.

Finally, in this time of Covid 19, I want to reassure you all that we continue to follow the advice provided to us daily by both the Department of Education and Public Health England.

Simon

Simon Wade

Posted 31st January 2020

Head's Blog

Beckfoot continues to be a busy place with a lot happening. I love to hear about how our students are doing outside of school and I am thrilled to tell you about three young people who have achieved amazing things recently.

Esme, one of our Sixth Form students, entered a competition for the Geographical Association, where she focused on fires in the Amazon Basin and was picked to represent Team UK. She is one of only four 16-19-year olds in the country to be selected. She will be travelling to Istanbul with the team in August, to compete against young people from over 50 countries worldwide. We couldn’t be prouder of Esme and know that she will represent her team and Beckfoot brilliantly whilst abroad.

One of our Year 9 students, Owen, became the boys group B Yorkshire and northeast regional champion on the 3m diving board. This is an incredible achievement and is the culmination of hours of hard work, dedication and practice.

Also, in diving, Elizabeth, a Year 10 student, competed against top junior divers from across Europe in the prestigious Ulla-Klinger Cup in Aachen, Germany. The standard was high, including competitors from the Russian & Spanish National teams. Lizzie secured a Gold in the Mixed 3m Synchro event and in the individual events took Bronze on the 1m board. Following her success in Germany, Lizzie then competed in the Scottish Open & National Diving Championships in Edinburgh. In the 3m board Lizzie came away with the Bronze medal; in the Women’s 3m Synchro Lizzie and her partner secured Gold and in the team event she also secured the GOLD!

In other news, we hosted a STEM roadshow for Year 7 students who were gripped from start to finish. The roadshow was designed and delivered in partnership with the RAF and the Royal Navy with a focus on Energy and was a huge success proving both engaging and extremely informative.

Our BSL elections were held last week and the results were shared on Friday. It was a joy to see how our candidates promoted their manifestos and sought to gain the confidence (and votes!) of the school community. I also loved the voting process which replicated how we as adults vote in local and general elections. Being elected by their peers will empower them and give them confidence as individuals to be leaders their school. I can’t wait to introduce them all in our staff meeting!

At Beckfoot we recognize the importance of effective home learning and that this significantly improves outcomes for students. We are about to launch a home learning webpage that will provide clarity for students and families around what effective home learning looks like and what, exactly, students should be doing in each of their subject areas.

Mocks begin next week, and these are incredibly important exams. They will replicate fully the GCSE experience and will be a test of what students know and where their knowledge gaps still exist. I believe that if students do their very best over the next two weeks, the information that will emerge from their results and feedback will allow them to really focus their efforts and revision over the remaining weeks. I am excited about what our students are capable of if they remain determined, focused, honest with themselves and staff and continue to aim high. I wish each and every one of them well.

Finally, I would like to invite you to our next Parent Forum on Thursday 5th March. We will be sharing with you are new Positive Learning Strategy to be launched after Easter and seeking your views on the rationale that sits behind our thinking. I will also be talking to you about uniform and, again, seeking your views on potential changes for 2021. It would be great to see you there if you can make it.

Simon

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