Dear parents and carers,
Easter is most certainly one of my favourite holidays. Each day offers a little more daylight than the one before and more time can be spent outdoors. It is certainly a time for renewal and I’m delighted to report on a continuation of happenings across the Academy that bring us even closer to that feeling of back-to-normal.
Speaking of which, it’s good to have a return to a sitting exam structure and students who are taking them in the summer term will be revising and attending catch-up sessions. Year 10 mocks will be in June and we have communicated dates this week. If you have children taking exams, support them, encourage them and ensure that they make the most of the revision tools and sessions they are being provided.
As well as being the last day of term, today is our second non-uniform event of the year. Our first, for Comic Relief, raised over £1,000. Today is for the Red Cross who are our charity partner of the year. Students will shape the direction of our partnership and will learn how different charities react and operate. Given the volatile nature of the situation in Ukraine and the needs of people globally, we felt this partnership should start immediately and run for the 2022/23 academic year. Students have already been busy coming up with fundraising ideas and can’t wait to get started; in fact, I may have already spotted a group selling Sunflower seeds this week!
Other brief but exciting news includes a welcome return for our year 11 prom in June, this is an event that has been greatly missed as has Prize Giving and we hope to finalise a date shortly. The same goes for summer school which was such a great success in 2021. We hope to confirm that this will be happening again soon. Our partnership with Speakers For Schools continues at pace and we’ve already had two talks this year, one with the former chair of Arsenal FC (and one of the founders of the Premier League) David Dean MBE and the other one with the UK and ROI people director for Tesco, Emma Taylor. Both were hugely successful events that gave students a brilliant insight into the careers and the lives of successful people.
Our work into becoming an eco-school is gathering pace, we now have an eco-code and our students are enjoying driving this forward. The gardening club on a Tuesday is a direct result of increased interest in our planet and sustainability and we have appreciated the parental support we’ve had in getting this up and running. Sports fixtures are happening again and it’s good to see results start to come in again with lots of great performances and wins being recorded. We are also planning sports day this year, more details to follow. We’ve seen a resurgence in trips but the one that created the most buzz was the performing arts trip to London which left a wonderful impact on students and staff and, I think, really showed us what we’ve missed during the pandemic. I loved listening to the students talk at length about this trip and I was incredibly proud of everyone who went.
We were delighted that Madison Homer attended the annual OAT award ceremony in London in late March, 2022 to pick up the Ormiston Academies Trust (OAT) Hero award. This award is for a student who has shown exceptional commitment to supporting the wider ethos and values of the Academy. Madison leads the school council, founded a healthcare society for students who are interested in a medical career and is part of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) working party, she is head girl and she mentors younger students and provides maths tuition. Her empathy and determination create opportunities for others and we are richer for her tireless work. The work she has done with equality, diversity and inclusion has made a huge difference. Her lived experiences have given her a powerful voice that she uses to provide insights and practical support for cultural days where she helps run events. Her drive to get Forge a multi-faith room will be part of her lasting legacy. Madison is simply a marvellous person who deserves recognition for her selfless support and empowerment of others, we are incredibly proud of her.
After a successful tendering process, we have appointed a new company to run the catering. I would like to go on record to thank our outgoing company, Educaterers, who have shown great commitment to the Forge family over the last few years. It’s been an incredibly tough time for all and they have been wonderful to work with. Taylor Shaw, our new caterers, start after Easter. The switch will be seamless for students and families. There will be some visual changes in the canteen and the menus are being revised, I have attached the latest menu below. Taylor Shaw are keen to work with families and are also committed to our drive to becoming an eco-school and have already expressed an interest in using produce grown by our student gardeners. I hope that you will join me in welcoming Taylor Shaw.
There are some other areas of note that I need to communicate with you.
Given the limbo that we’ve all found ourselves in, the usual change of personnel hasn’t really happened for a couple of years. However, normality means we are having to say goodbye to some fabulous staff. This term we thank and wish a fond farewell to Mr Daly who has served the Academy for nearly 10 years and has made a positive impact on the lives of so many. Also, Mrs Robinson who has made our main office tick for three years will be greatly missed by all. We also said goodbye to Jordan Mitchell, a former student who graduated to be one of our IT technicians. All three members of staff have gained promotions and we send them our congratulations and well wishes. Our librarian, Mrs Moseley, also retired this term after 19 wonderful years of service at Forge. We wish her well in her well-deserved retirement. Finally, a special mention to another retiree, Eileen Cole, who has been a cleaner at Forge for 22 years and who we’ve appreciated and are sad to say goodbye to.
When people leave, new opportunities and new positions are created so we welcome Laura Hodgkin as our new librarian, Phoebe Elcock to the main office staff and Kyle Timmington who is our new IT technician. George Hammond is our new site apprentice who replaces Ben Foley who also left us this term, after two years, and who we send our best wishes. A big welcome to our four new academic coaches: Steph, Lewis, Becki and Fern. They will initially be working with year 11 students identified as needing extra support in English, maths, or both. In the summer term, they will start to work with students across a wider range of subjects in year 10. We are also delighted to have appointed two new assistant-principals and we’ll be sharing details of them and their roles later next term.
In addition to new staff, I’m also delighted to say that our year 7 in September will be full again with a significant waiting list. Our community continues to show faith in us and we are all incredibly humbled by the demand for places at Forge, we appreciate the trust placed in us.
I’m sure that you will join me in welcoming ALL of the new faces to the Forge family.
Parking at the end of the day
Parking for local residents continues to be an issue, we consider ourselves to be considerate and respectful neighbours, I hope that you can support us in ensuring that we can all continue to look after one another. The main issue is regarding collection at the end of the day. We recognise that we aren’t blessed with much space to cater for the huge amount of students being collected. But we urge you to be considerate by not parking across driveways or on grass verges, not parking over the yellow marking at the front of school and wherever possible please leaving enough room for the traffic to continue flowing. We do have three exits at the end of the day, it might be worth considering alternative collection arrangements.
From the 1st April, updated guidance from the Government advised people with symptoms of a respiratory infection, including COVID-19, and a high temperature or who feel unwell, to try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people, until they feel well enough to resume normal activities and they no longer have a high temperature. The guidance is the same for anyone with a positive COVID-19 test result, who will be advised to try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for five days, which is when they are most infectious. Updated guidance also advises that children and young people who are unwell and have a high temperature should stay at home and avoid contact with other people. They can go back to school, college or childcare when they no longer have a high temperature and they are well enough to attend.
Staff with a positive Covid-19 test result should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 5 days, which is when they are most infectious. It is 3 days for children and young people under 18.
For education and childcare settings from Friday 1 April regular asymptomatic testing is no longer recommended in any education or childcare setting.
Friends Of Forge (FofF)
We’ve really missed the FofF events and I am so pleased that we have two already in the diary for this academic year. Vicki and her volunteers work tirelessly to raise much-needed funds for the Academy so please support these fantastic events:
Parents workshops from Sandwell Beam
Sandwell Beam have approached us with a timetable of virtual workshops for parents starting in April. If any parents or carers are interested in any of the following virtual content from Sandwell Beam, please email us and let us know:
Email [email protected] to register an interest.
It is also important to send a reminder about medicines. If your child needs any form of medicine in school, this should be administered via reception and our first aid trained staff. Please can you bring the medicine into the Academy, in the original box, with full instructions. Students should not carry any form of medicine with them at all. If you have any concerns or questions regarding this procedure, please call main reception or email [email protected].
It can be hard to know how to talk to your child about online safety. From setting up parental controls to advice on sexting, online games and video apps, you need to understand the risks and keep your child safe. These resources from the NSPCC are well worth looking over to help you keep your children safe: www.nspcc.org.uk/keeping-children-safe/online-safety/
Thank you for your unwavering support this term. We have a training day on Monday 25th April so we will welcome everyone back on Tuesday 26th April. All of the latest term dates are on the website.
Thank you, take care and have a wonderful Easter break.
Dr Lisa Mason
Ormiston Forge Academy