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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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Head's Blog

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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

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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

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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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