Sunday, 2 December 2012

School Traditions

Friday's assembly was a special one: naming the first set of Student Responsibilities for Sandymoor:

One of the nice things about being part of a community is the chance to celebrate events and significant dates. In families, birthdays and anniversaries can be important times in the year, where the family gets together to celebrate these milestones. And at the big events, such as weddings, etc, it is a chance for the wider family to get together for a celebration, with members of the community meeting for the first time in a long time.
These events are part of what holds the family together; the joint celebrating of the good times.
And in school communities, it is important to mark specific things as well. That is why we have the birthday celebrations in school, as a community we are celebrating each and every one of our personal milestones. . .
That was why we celebrated the school’s official opening the other week – and from here on in, the first Friday after half term will be a celebration event in the school calendar. We will meet, formally, as a community to celebrate what the past year has held for us and look forward to the coming year.
And traditions are important to communities too. I don’t know about you, but in my family, there was, for example, always a present left under the tree to be opened on Boxing Day (because my parents didn’t want all the excitement to be over on the one day!). And, of course, it’s always important to leave a carrot for Rudolf on Christmas eve ….
The formality of a community’s traditions are part of what helps to define the community. Those who take part in the tradition are a stronger part of that community. And so in a way, Founders’ Day will become a tradition here at Sandymoor. Something that helps us understand who we are as a community.
And today we start another tradition. Student leadership roles. These are posts people have applied for and some people have been disappointed by not getting the post they wanted. We have selected a team of student leaders who will have the opportunity to have a real impact on Sandymoor school, taking responsibility for clear and specific parts of how the school works as well as having an input into how the school grows and develops.
Before I announce the post holders, however, I do want to stress the responsibility that these people will have. Each person I announce now will have to promise to try their hardest to lead by example, to hold the school and the reputation of the school.
It is a huge honour to be given the responsibility, but with that honour comes the serious business. Each and every one of these people will be given specific jobs to perform and they will have to show us that they can do this.
But without any further rambling, I am pleased to appoint the following:
Head Girl:                            Rebecca Edwards
Deputy Head Girl:            Jamie To
Head Boy:                          James Laff
Deputy                               Jack Kirkbride
Form Captains:                 William Webb (Yr07)
                                            Alfie Rowland (Yr08)
House Captains:               Tyler Willcott (Darwin)
                                            Rowan Hobson (Einstein)
Prefects:                            Annie Hilton     
                                            Eleanor Watson
                                            Sophie Betteridge
                                            Georgia Coakley
                                            Aaron Davies
                                            Chantelle Stewart
                                            Sydney Cato
                                            George Stoddart
                                            Daniel Fenelon
                                            Sean Poutney
                                            Connor Whitmore
Charity Prefects:              Nicole Smith & Callum Thornton
Sports Prefects:               TJ Robertson & Rebecca Fenelon
Arts Prefect:                     Jessica Rooney
School Newspaper:        Chris Harrop
Well done to every one of them! I will be meeting with the Head Boy & Girl to discuss the specific roles for the prefects next week, and the Head boy / girl & deputies, form & house captains will form the school council as well.
Another Sandymoor tradition has begun.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Friday assembly - National Anti-Bullying week

This week has been National Anti-Bullying Week. In fact, the whole month of November has been Anti-Bullying month.


In the student survey most of you completed, 60% of you said you have never been bullied here at School. And while that is a high number, it does mean that 40% of you have experienced bullying here. And that saddens me. What is interesting is that 91% of you say that you have never bullied someone. So either it's a very small number of you who are bullying the rest, or there is a difference of opinion about bullying. I think it is the latter; you have different opinions about what bullying is.


So, simply put, bullying is any behaviour that is intended to cause distress or harm. It can be physical, or mental. It can be subtle, or full on. It can be online, or whispers in the corner.


It is not disagreeing with someone else and having an argument or falling out over something.


Bullying is usually about power. It is when someone feels that they can make themselves feel better by making someone else feel worse.


When you have an argument with someone, or fall out over something, you can say nasty things, or even be physical towards them. This is not bullying. It is not good, and people get hurt when they fall out, but there is still the chance and willingness to put it right.


The thing about bullying is that it is one person having power over someone else. In the extreme, it is a bully physically threatening the victim & causing harm. Persistent, real, physical harm.


But it's also the more subtle control. Making someone feel small, or making them doubt themselves. Making their successes feel like nothing.


Or there's the bullying by excluding. Making someone feel like no-one wants to play with them or be with them.


You've all had many talks from different people about bullying, and yet it still goes on. A significant number of you have said that you feel like you are being bullied. And so it is going on.


There's three things I want to say about bullying. One thing aimed at anyone who has been bullied and two things to everyone.


To anyone who feels bullied:

It is hard to imagine it, but it can and will stop. You can make it stop. First of all, in the short term, a piece of advice:- No-one can make you feel small, inferior, without you letting them have that control over you. It is you and who you are, and you can choose how to respond.

Now, you may well say to yourself; what does he know? He's the head teacher - no-one bullies him. I know more than you realise. I was bullied at school, by a significant group of other students. I do know how you feel.

Also, you can take control. Don't lash out and fight the bully, because that will only get you into trouble as well. I know about that too - I did lash out once & got into a lot of trouble because of it.

Instead, tell someone. It will not make things worse. The bully wants you to believe that, so they can go on bullying you! Instead, tell someone. An adult.


In the same survey you took, a quarter of you said that you wouldn't speak to anyone if you were bullied. And I can appreciate that, but if you don't do something about it, nothing will change. And that is a horrible place to be, mentally.


Here in school, you can talk to any adult you trust and feel will listen. In an ideal world, you would tell your form tutor, Mrs Simpson if you are in year 8, or Ms Mooney if you are in year 7, but if they are not around, or you would rather talk to someone else, that's absolutely fine! We are also creating an email address, so you can report the fact that you are being bullied when you feel safe to do so, without seeming to go to talk to an adult. And you can come and talk to me at any time too.


To everyone else:

First of all, you all have the potential to be a bully. Anyone can find someone weaker than themselves & use that person to make them self feel better. But how sad is it to rely on putting someone else down to make yourself feel better?! Do you really value yourself so little that you have to make someone else feel bad in order to feel ok yourself?


We've had a few instances this week of behaviour that falls below what I expect of you and that saddens me. It's not always been bullying, but aggressive, hurtful behaviour is never acceptable. And it's not just the physical that saddens me either - there has been a number of occasions where some of you have really upset others by what you've said, or how you've behaved.


Sometimes it can be hard, because you get frustrated with someone else, but that's what it's all about - being tolerant and understanding that some people see things differently to you. It is important to be humble enough to accept someone else for who they are. Even when (no, especially when) they are annoying you with how they are.


If you want to be 'big' or impress others, do it by showing how tolerant and accepting you can be of others. That's the really impressive thing.


And finally, to all of you, we are a community. That means we all accept responsibility for everyone else. Not one of you can look me in the eye and say that the bullying is nothing to do with you. If any of you allow someone else to hurt another member of the community, you are no better than the bully yourself. That may sound harsh, but it is true. We all need to look out for each other.


Saturday, 10 November 2012

Founders day speech 2012

Founders day was an amazing success! Thank you to everyone who turned out at 3pm to see Graham Evans, MP perform the official opening ceremony and unveil a commemorative plaque.

The dining hall has full to bursting to hear the Chair of Governor's report & the Headteacher's report! Then everyone enjoyed the tour of the school, the amazing travelling zoo and finally the fireworks. Sandymoor school is well and truly open...

The Headteacher's report is reproduced below:

They say in politics that you judge a government by the first 100 days. Well, interestingly, counting back 100 days and we get to the 1st August! So what has happened since then?

Well, by the 1st August, it was the summer holidays. I had already visited over 30 potential parents in their homes, attended numerous meetings and events, and was looking forward to spending the summer getting ready to open the school. 

The site was still an empty field, although it did have temporary security fencing around it (which had been up since early July and the Summer Fair. I don't think I had ever been more excited by fencing than seeing the fencing that surrounded our site...

But all our staff had been appointed and everything was still on schedule. Although the weather was not kind, things were still progressing. During the summer, we had training days with all the staff and further planning meetings. Dave Guest from the BBC did some filming in preparation for their 'features' on the school. 

And then on the 21st August, the buildings arrived on site. With just two weeks to go, it was all hands on deck & at times the building site looked like something from Challenge Anica, with up to 60 workmen on the site at some points!

Monday, 3rd September and we open! I can now confess to being incredibly nervous that morning, after a completely sleepless night, standing at the school gate, waiting for our first students to arrive. The first student walking towards the school, in the Sandymoor uniform .... what an amazing sight!!

And it's been non-stop since then. We opened with no mains electricity (running on generators), water from a temporary supply and mobile phones our only communications. With 19 students when we started, we are now at 37, with a maximum capacity of 45 this year. Our intake is truly comprehensive, with a significantly greater percentage of Free School Meal students and students with special educational needs than Halton's average. 

On our open events, we had over 150 different families come and visit the school and we have high expectations of being full for September 2013. Sandymoor School is most definitely going from strength to strength!

One good milestone to see, just in the last couple of days, is work beginning on Wharford Lane, where the site for the new school is. To quote from the building company's brief:

"To enable the delivery of Sandymoor Free School".

This first Founders' day has been a true celebration of an enormous amount of hard work and determination by a lot of people. We would not be where we are today without a group of five ordinary people, like you and me. Like your parents. They decided to say that they wanted to make a difference & start a school here, in Sandymoor. Because they wanted to provide more choice for the people in this part of Runcorn. 

And I am so excited to be leading such an inspirational team of people in making a difference. It has been an incredibly tough journey for every member of staff here, and I want to publicly thank them for all the hard work they have put in to helping me make the vision a reality. They all inspire me. Thank you.

It is about you, however. This is all about you. Our students. Everything about us, and all the planning, long nights and heart-aches, it's all about you. 

This is all about giving you the best possible opportunity we can give to help you become the very best you can be. That is what education should always be about and it's a shame that it sometimes isn't, because politics or personal ambition gets in the way. But I promise you here and now that here, at Sandymoor, that is what it is all about. You. And helping you become the very best you can be.

Friday, 9 November 2012

First Founders' Day Assembly

It has been a long time since my last post, but things have been a little busy recently! Anyhow, like buses, you wait for ages, then two turn up in short succession ....

Today, 9th November, 2012, Sandymoor School celebrates it's opening with it's first Founders' Day. There's lots of exciting things going on during the day and the official opening is at 3pm, with speeches, food, drink & fireworks.

And there is a lot to celebrate. Two posts today, the first being the Assembly I gave this morning to the school. I will follow this later with my official speech for the opening ceremony.

Today is a special day. Why? Why not!

But today we celebrate the founding of the school. Today we celebrate what we have here and what we have achieved.


Why today? Again, I say why not! We chose today for a lot of reasons, none of them, in themselves, special. Today is the first Friday after 1/2 term. It was the date a VIP said they could make. That's about it.


It's a birthday for some people. In fact, around the world, for quite a lot of people! Apart from Jess, here, it's the birthday of a hero of mine: Carl Sagan. He actually died in 1996, but if he was still alive today, he would be celebrating his 78th birthday today. Carl Sagan was sort of the Brian Cox of my youth. When I was your age, he had written a book which was turned into a TV series called Cosmos & it blew my mind away! It was one of the things that made me want to go into Science. He recalls a similar experience. To quote from him:


I went to the librarian and asked for a book about stars ...And the answer was stunning. It was that the Sun was a star but really close. The stars were suns, but so far away they were just little points of light ...The scale of the universe suddenly opened up to me. It was a kind of religious experience. There was a magnificence to it, a grandeur, a scale which has never left me. Never ever left me.


For all his life, Science was a passion, that excited him and inspired him to do his best.


The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counter-intuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But or preferences (our wants) do not change or determine what is true.


But back to today, here, and now. Today is a celebration of what we have achieved. What we have done, together. And it's no small thing.


18 months ago, a group of ordinary people decided to have a go. They had a desire to do something big, something grand, something special. They didn't think that at the time (& probably don't to this day), but that is what they did. A group of five ordinary people, like you and me. Like your parents. They decided to say that they wanted to make a difference & start a school here, in Sandymoor. Because they wanted to provide more choice for the people in this part of Runcorn.


Now, starting a school is not a simple task! They had to pass a huge number of tests set by government, to ensure that the school is fit for purpose. And that, in itself, is good, because we don't want anyone opening up a school.


After all, you are the future of this country. Of this planet! And your experience in school will shape how you go on into adulthood.


And so these parents, just like your parents, with busy lives, things to do, jobs, kids, and everything else, took on another task. Founding Sandymoor School.


Countless meetings long into the night, sometimes overnight, many long trecks to Sheffield, Leeds and London to meet with officials, and here we now are.


I've said this before, but it is worth saying it again. These five ordinary people, through determination and persistence, have achieved something extra-ordinary. And as an inspiration for a school, I could not wish for better. It proves that any of you could, in fact should aim to, go on and do something extra-ordinary!


But we have also had to turn the dream, the idea, into reality. I know a lot of you were looking at this site during August and wondering how the school would be ready! But as you know, it was. We were running off generators to start with, with water in a temporary supply (in fact that is only being sorted today), and only mobile phones, but we opened.


And to me that also tells us something; it's not about fancy buildings or things like that, but people who make a difference.


And I am so excited to be leading such an inspirational team of people in making a difference. It has been an incredibly tough journey for every member of staff here, and I want to publicly thank them for all the hard work they have put in to helping me make the vision a reality. They all inspire me. Thank you.


It is about you, however. This is all about you. Our students. Everything about us, and all the planning, long nights and heart-aches, it's all about you.


This is all about giving you the best possible opportunity we can give to help you become the very best you can be. That is what education should always be about and it's a shame that it sometimes isn't, because politics or personal ambition gets in the way. But I promise you here and now that here, at Sandymoor, that is what it is all about. You. And helping you become the very best you can be.


And now I am going to apuse and read a poem. One of my favorites, by a poet called Louise MacNeice and it is called 'Prayer Before Birth'.


I am not yet born; O hear me.

Let not the bloodsucking bat or the rat or the stoat or the

club-footed ghoul come near me.

I am not yet born, console me.

I fear that the human race may with tall walls wall me,

with strong drugs dope me, with wise lies lure me,

on black racks rack me, in blood-baths roll me.

I am not yet born; provide me

With water to dandle me, grass to grow for me, trees to talk

to me, sky to sing to me, birds and a white light

in the back of my mind to guide me.

I am not yet born; forgive me

For the sins that in me the world shall commit, my words

when they speak me, my thoughts when they think me,

my treason engendered by traitors beyond me,

my life when they murder by means of my

hands, my death when they live me.

I am not yet born; rehearse me

In the parts I must play and the cues I must take when

old men lecture me, bureaucrats hector me, mountains

frown at me, lovers laugh at me, the white

waves call me to folly and the desert calls

me to doom and the beggar refuses

my gift and my children curse me.

I am not yet born; O hear me,

Let not the man who is beast or who thinks he is God

come near me.

I am not yet born; O fill me

With strength against those who would freeze my

humanity, would dragoon me into a lethal automaton,

would make me a cog in a machine, a thing with

one face, a thing, and against all those

who would dissipate my entirety, would

blow me like thistledown hither and

thither or hither and thither

like water held in the

hands would spill me.

Let them not make me a stone and let them not spill me.

Otherwise kill me.


A prayer, or a cry out, for us to do everything we can to make this world a safe place, a good place, for all children.


Which leads me to another reason why today is special. Or at least Sunday. Because Sunday is the 11th November. The 11th of the 11th. In most of the world also known as Remembrance Sunday. The day where we remember those people who have lost their lives in conflicts around the world from the first world war up to today and soldiers losing their lives in Afghanistan. It's not about glorifying war, but remembering those people who paid the ultimate sacrifice for just what that poem by Louis MacNeice is all about - trying to keep the man who is beast or who thinks he is god come near innocent children.


And so I would like to end with a traditional act or remembrance. I am going to say a short poem and then I would appreciate it if we could then hold a minute's silence in honour of everyone who has died in conflict or war:


They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.


Thank you. Now, let's have fun today!

Monday, 3 September 2012

First assembly

Well, here we are and welcome to everyone! Sandymoor school is celebrating its first ever first day of term and we are all new boys and girls. So that means that a whole section of the usual ‘start of the school year’ assembly has gone out of the window, but get used to that, because we do ‘do’ things differently here. That is one of the reasons why we are all here, because we want to do things differently. Better. Our way.

But we all have a past and it has had a hand in shaping who we are now. There is no denying that, even though a lot of people do. But we should celebrate our pasts, acknowledge then for what they are and learn from them. Move on from them. There is certainly no point in worrying about what we did in the past; there’s even a bit in the Bible that says we shouldn’t waste time worrying about the past (Who of you, by worrying, can add a single hour to your life? – Matthew 6:27, if you want to look it up!)

One of my favourite poems is about making decisions and living by them. It’s called the Road not taken, by Robert Frost. It tells about the feeling of being made to choose between two routes and the emotions of choosing which one. But it’s not about choosing paths, it’s more a metaphor about choices we make in life.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood

and sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveller, long I stood

and looked down one as far as I could

to where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

and having perhaps the better claim

because it was grassy and wanted wear;

though as for that, the passing there

had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

in leaves no feet had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --

I took the one less travelled by,

and that has made all the difference.

Choose the route you want, rather than the ‘popular’ one. Don’t go with the crowd, but what feels right for you.

Reflect, however, and learn? Yes. That’s what History is all about – understanding the past so we can see what went wrong and learn from it.

What about my past? Well, I’ve been very public since getting this job, so there’s probably not a lot you don’t know about me. But, in a nutshell, covering stuff that’s not so well known – I went to a rural secondary school, but didn’t like it, mainly because the teachers didn’t seem to care about me. I was middle of the road in terms of grades, so not one of the high flyers, but not one of the who needed the ‘special’ attention either. So I was left to find my own way. And I did, going to college to do my A Levels, and getting an unconditional offer to study Physics at Imperial College, in London. Not bad, considering I was the first in my family to go to university too.

One thing I learnt from it, however, was, when I became a teacher, the determination that I would never do that; never let any student think they didn’t matter because they were doing ‘OK’. And now as Sandymoor’s head, I can promise you that I will never give up on any of you.

And although this is Sandymoor’s first day too, it also has a past. 16 months ago, 5 ordinary people, just like your mums and dads, aunties and uncles, decided that Sandymoor needed a school and, using a new piece of government law, went about doing so. Over that time, they have worked through countless long nights, sat in endless meetings and jumped through un-numbered hurdles to get to this point. In doing all that, they proved themselves to be anything but ordinary and at the same time proved that anyone can be extra-ordinary if they want to be.

Every one of you has the potential to be extra-ordinary and I see it as my duty to help you find that extra-ordinary spark inside you.

And not giving up is crucial. If we gave up whenever things got a bit tough, or changed our mind for the easier path all the time, we would not be in a good place now.

It is, I think, important that Sandymoor school has opened its doors in the year the Olympic and Para-Olympic games came to GB. These athletes have so much to teach all of us, in every way. Dedication, determination, regardless of their ‘past’, they have done everything necessary to be the very best they can be. And compete in the races & competitions, celebrating another’s victory as enthusiastically as their own win.

They all have pasts, in a lot of ways no different to yours or mine. In some cases, significantly more trying than ours. Mo Farah, for example, or Victoria Pendleton. Or any of the medal winners, both in the Olympics and Para-Olympics, still continuing.

But I want to finish by focussing on the South African sprinter, Oscar Pistorius. Before he was a year old, he had to have both his legs amputated below the knees. And yet by the age of 11, the age some of you are, he was playing Rugby, Water polo and Tennis for his school and competing in his region in Water polo and Tennis. Don’t ever say you can’t do something, until you’ve worked and worked and worked at trying to do it first.

When he was a baby, his mother wrote him a letter that he was not to open until he was an adult. In his autobiography, he quotes from that letter:

“The real loser is never the person who crosses the finishing line last,” she wrote. “The real loser is the person who sits on the side, the person who does not even try to compete.”

I have never sat on the side, the people who founded Sandymoor school have never sat on the side, the teachers who will teach you have never sat on the side. I expect each and every one of you to try your hardest, to aim to be the very best you can be and to never sit on the side.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

How Sandymoor is different part 4 - Community Engagement

'No man is an Island'

Parental Involvement

Parents/Guardians are an essential element in the success of any young person and at Sandymoor we want to work in partnership with every family.

In the term before joining Sandymoor, we like to do a home visit to the family home. One of the school tutors will arrange to visit, to discuss the specific nature of Sandymoor and answer any questions you may have, as well as start the process of building the relationship betweeen the school and home.

During the school year, the students' Individual Development Plans are available, securely, online for parents to read, giving them information about their child's progress at any time through the school year. This replaces the traditional 'school report' sent home at the end of the year, often when intervention can be too late.

At regular points through the school year, there are opportunities for parents/guardians to come into the school for an 'IDP review'. Throughout an IDP review week, there are a number of opportunities for parents to book to come into school, where they will meet with teachers as appropriate to discuss progress to date.

Local Community

As part of the Community Engagement lessons, strong links with local community groups are forged. Students develop the skills of project work through delivering a service to a local group, working together to ensure it is of the highest quality and then delivering the product. This could be a 'befriending' service to a local handicapped or elderly support group, or something more tangible, but it will be developed by the students, working with the group.

International Community

We are living in a global village, with modern technology shrinking the world. To enable Sandymoor students to become leaders in this village, we have links with groups around the world and students mirror the project model locally on a global stage. Working with an group providing education, for example, in Africa, there is lots Sandymoor students can learn from them whilst providing support to young people the other side of the world.

How Sandymoor is different part 3 - Pastoral Support

With the emphasis on the individual child, Pastoral Support is also an essential aspect of Sandymoor. Each student has three adults specifically associated with them as part of the pastoral structure; an Academic Tutor, a Personal Tutor and a Business and Enterprise Mentor.

Academic Tutor

The Academic Tutor is the person who the student will see each day, primarily for morning and afternoon registration, but also to ensure that work is all up to date. The academic tutor monitors the academic progress of their tutees against the baselines identified at the beginning of the year. Whenever a student falls below their progress targets, the academic tutor will investigate the reason and update the IDP with agreed actions to bring the student back on track.

Personal Tutor

The Personal Tutor will have less regular contact with their tutees, but will meet them as a group a number of times a week as part of the timetabled curriculum. The Personal Tutor is responsible for monitoring the student's progress in the areas of 'skills for learning', ensuring that every student is developing the skills necessary for them to take ownership of their own learning. Again, where there are concerns, the Academic Tutor will investigate and update the IDP with agreed actions.

The personal tutor groups are arranged vertically, with students of all age groups working together. This provides opportunities for younger students to aspire to the successes of the older, and the older students to gain self esteem by supporting the younger.

Business and Enterprise Mentor

This person is a successful member of the local community, whether a nurse, business leader, office worker or pilot. These are volunteers who we have recruited to work alongside us, so that every student has someone outside of school to work with in building an understanding of the modern workplace. 'Work experience' traditionally is reserved for much later in a student's school career and is often condensed into a single week, where it has limited impact. At Sandymoor, we bring the workplace into the school, and from year 7, so that the students get a real understanding of the skills required to be successful beyond school.

Pastoral support is also about helping every student see themselves more clearly and this can best be learnt by being a mentor to other people. Through strong links with local primary schools, Sandymoor students get opportunities to work with younger children, helping them with as necessary, whether in reading or writing, or spending time with someone who needs a friend.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Restoring one's faith in the goodness of people

When I commented over a month ago on how fast things were moving, I really did not appreciate just how fast paced things would get! But .....

We have been blessed with some amazing people working on this project.

With just four days to go before opening, it has been a good time to reflect on where we are at and where we have come from (particularly such in torrential rain on the M56 driving home...!)

In less than 18 months, a group of local residents decided that they wanted to take charge of choice for education in the community and became the Sandymoor Free School Project Group. Completing detailed plans and jumping through countless hurdles, they have been instrumental in getting the school to the position where we open on Monday. The power of the individual to make change in the local community is still a reality & that is independent of any political leaning.

But we've also had amazing people joining the project too.

The teachers and non-teaching staff we have recruited have shown excitement and dedication to the Sandymoor vision above and beyond the call of duty; they have taken on board every initiative I have introduced that makes Sandymoor unique and have contributed to the development of a curriculum and wider environment that is going to be stimulating, innovative and totally engaging to every Sandymoor student. I am honoured to be leading such a talented team.

The construction company also deserve special mention. It is refreshing to find a company that is prepared to put their actions where some would make excuses. Roan have worked tirelessly to ensure that we are ready to open on Monday and have never sought excuses, but provided solutions. I want to personally thank Matt for being so accommodating and holding himself and Roan to such high standards.

Today, the interior of the building is taking shape, with final painting and flooring being completed, electrics are being finalised and furniture has started to arrive on site. The kitchen equipment also arrived today and has started to be fitted and all the IT equipment (key to the delivery of any modern curriculum) arrives and is installed on Friday. The perimeter fencing has also been completed.

Tomorrow, the Tarmac is being laid and work will continue on the landscaping (although I understand that the turf will be laid early next week....!). Also, tomorrow and Friday the furniture will be finalised, including the kitchen, and the interior will be tidied up, ready for handover. Electrics, water and sewerage will also be connected, making the building ready for opening.

Over the weekend, all the staff and governors will be on site, finalising the building - over the last couple of weeks, all the equipment, stationary and resources has been arriving in Sandymoor and will come out of the garages of the governors, where it all is currently stored, and brought into the building. The teachers will be working on making the classrooms welcoming environments and the governors will be tidying up other loose ends (including installing the CCTV system for added security).

I will be on site Friday, Saturday and Sunday and will only go home Sunday when I am happy that Sandymoor is ready to open on Monday morning, 8:45, to welcome our outstanding students and provide the education they deserve!

What a journey it has already been and what an exciting journey we have ahead of us!

"We are such stuff as dreams are made on; and our little life is rounded with a sleep"

Prospero: The Tempest, act 4, scene 1


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

How Sandymoor is different part 2 - Student Ownership

In the modern world, knowledge and the acquisition of knowledge is no longer king. The traditional view, of the teacher knowing the answer and the student having to guess, the teacher being the gate-keeper of knowledge, is no longer valid. With modern technology, anyone can find out any information at the click of a mouse of tap of a screen. At Sandymoor, we embrace this.

Skills for Learning

It is no longer enough to just learn a lot of facts - with the Internet, there will always be more facts unknown. Instead, in today's world, it is also important to be able to synthesis knowledge into new theories, take on new ideas and adapt them. In other words, it is important for students to specifically develop the skills to be independent learners. At Sandymoor, the essential skills are woven into the curriculum and explicitly taught alongside the more traditional knowledge content.



Traditional homework is flawed. Recent research suggests that any educational benefit gained from it is marginal, at best, and actually potentially damaging. It follows the work covered on class and if the student understands the work, the homework is a waste of time and if the student didn't understand it, homework can be demoralising and damage self-esteem.

Sandymoor homework, by comparison, uses modern technology to break this cycle. Homework is delivered to the student using the school's cutting edge Virtual Learning Environment and is available before the lesson. The activities provide opportunities for students to explore the topic and gain an understanding of the material before the lesson. The teacher will be able to view the work submitted by the students and thereby adapt the lesson to suit the needs of the individuals.

Monday, 27 August 2012

How Sandymoor is different part 1 - Personalised Learning

Every one of us is unique, with our own strengths and weaknesses, passions and desires. With this in mind, Sandymoor aims to provide a personalised curriculum for every student. This is achieved in a number of different ways:

Enhanced diagnostic testing

Using the most up to date findings from educational and psychological research, every student takes a number of tests to enable us to understand how they, as an individual, learn and grow. These effectively help us gain an insight into how the brain interprets the world around it and how it then extends itself out onto the world. We also test every student for a wide range of identifiable 'learning support' conditions; all modern educationalists now recognise that things such as dyslexia & dyspraxia are conditions that exist across wide degrees of severity. Rather than diagnosing and labelling only students who exhibit moderate to severe signs, all students are tested. This way we can support all students needs.

Individual Development Plans

These tests are carried out during the Flying Start / induction week, along with a number of one-to-one interviews with members of staff. These interviews are designed to enable us and the student to fully understand what the results of these tests mean, but they do more than that. If we were car mechanics, diagnostic tests would tell us all we needed to know about the car, but with people, it's never that simple! We talk with each student to find out their desires and passions, but also try to help them to understand themselves as learned more. What their barriers to learning are. All of this is then written up into the student's IDP (Individual Learning Plan), a document that grows with the student. This plan replaces the more traditional school report and is added to throughout the school year by every teacher involved in the student's development.


Where possible (& where needed), students will engage in activities working with students from different age groups. The traditional school model, where children are taught in rigid age-related groups, is based on the assumption that all students learn and develop at the same time. Or, to quote Sir Ken Robinson, as if the most important thing about a young person is their 'date of manufacture'! Families and workplaces are made up of people of different ages, working alongside each other and learning off each other & at Sandymoor, there will be opportunities for all students to work together too.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Two Weeks and Counting

It's been a very busy few weeks, with lots of development in the background (and not just on site)!

From a curriculum point of view, as a body of teachers (& wider staff), we've met a number of times since other schools closed for the summer, working on:

  • Curriculum plans
  • Assessment processes
  • Trips and visits
  • IT training &
  • Statutory Child Protection Training
Also, plans are shaping up around other aspects, including catering provision, before and after school support and clubs for the students. I'm in the process of sending out packs of information to Sandymoor students and families, with lots of information - if you're a Sandymoor School family and haven't received your pack by the middle of next week, do let me know! I will also be following this up with details of our catering service, menus and how to 'sign up'The week of Monday 20th Aug is a milestone in Sandymoor School's timeline because the buildings (which have been constructed over in Ireland) arrive on site and will be put up ready for work to continue inside. I can only praise the firm, Roan, who have bent over backwards to work with us in the design and planning of the site and in the dedication to ensuring the site is handed over ready to go. It's been refreshing to work with a firm with such strong beliefs in 'doing a good job' (& I must also mention the firm they sub-contracted fixtures and fittings to, British Thornton, who also were keen to work to the tight deadlines and are in fact providing some items free of charge!)

Also, the outer perimeter fence will be installed, ensuring the site is safe and secure from early on. That and the alarm and sophisticated CCTV system that will be installed will ensure that the site is as safe as humanly possible.

The only 'fly' in the ointment has been negativity from a couple aspects. We are, as we always have been, willing to engage in genuine discussion and debate about the school, but when people start to tell blatant lies about the school, it is galling. We will do anything necessary to stop lies and rumours being spread about the school, but to address the key lies being spread:

  • We are only employing highly qualified staff, in all aspects of the school. Yes, we could employ unqualified teachers, but why on earth would we, when we had such a high quality field apply? And all Academies can also employ unqualified teachers - are they being challenged?
  • We have viable class sizes in both our year 7 & 8 streams. (not the 2 students in year 8 some people have been told....!)
  • We are delivering the National Curriculum, and then some! Our year length is the same as all Halton schools, and our school day is significantly longer, so we have time to deliver every aspect of the National Curriculum and enhance it with everything Sandymoor will become known for.
  • And finally, there is no flood risk! As part of the school designs (both temporary and permanent), we have had to consider the flood risks and mitigate them. In fact, the drainage infrastructure even on the temporary site will reduce the risk of flooding to the surrounding area.
I'm going to be posting more frequently over the last couple of weeks, as the fine detail of the school takes shape, so watch this space ....! It's an exciting time for Sandymoor, Halton and education in the region and I'm looking forward to leading the school into this exciting future.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Seven weeks and counting


So much has happened since the planning permission was granted, it’s been a whirlwind of activity. On a personal note, I don’t need to split myself in half anymore, having celebrated my last week at my old school. No more half a week here, half there, although I still seem to be working 16+ hour long days … I would like to record my thanks to my employers for negotiating with Sandymoor School to release me on secondment for the time they did.


One exciting thing early on was the finalising of the tender for all the ICT requirements for Sandymoor; a lot of our fresh approach will rely on high quality ICT and we have selected from a competitive process a company to provide all our requirements. One of the things that impressed me about them was how much they appeared to understand the fact that we want to do everything differently, building processes from scratch to best support our students. Along with this, our ICT Network Manager has been able to be involved and it is also good to see that Chris has the understanding of the Sandymoor ‘way’.



Last Friday was a big day, however, as we had the first full staff and governors induction day, where everyone (apart from Lucy, our Humanities teacher, as she’s finishing off her school’s term out in Germany) met together for the first time. It was fantastic to see everyone getting on and discussing ideas together! One of the main foci of the event was to plan the school’s contribution to the Sandymoor Village Fair. It was all a bit of a worry, during our Induction event on the Friday, looking out of the windows at Daresbury Science and Innovation Centre’s boardroom as the rain came down, but Saturday came and so did the sun! What a great day that was and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. All the Sandymoor School staff who were able to be there were, in my opinion, splendid and threw themselves into the event with the passion that I saw from all of them during the interview process and since.


It was also great to see the site of the Temporary school fenced out, ready for work to commence. Just last Friday, I drove over to Wakefield to meet with the contractors tasked with getting the school ready forus and had a very productive meeting. It was great to hear the commitment from them to the school; they had done their research and read the website (and this blog) to get a feel for the project. It is really good to meet with people who care about the projects they work on and I have absolute faith in Roan’s ability to deliver the school to us. As an example of the level we’ve got to,we were discussing where we wanted carpet, as opposed to vinyl flooring, locations of student lockers, and other, sundry details about the fixtures and fittings.


As an aside, this last week, we were also down in London, attending a reception in the House of Lords for Free Schools opening in September, where Michael Gove and Rachel Wolf (from the New Schools Network) praised the hard work of all the project groups to get the schools to where they all were. A good celebration of the Free Schools project and great to be part of it.



Alongside all that, I am still visiting Sandymoor School’s prospective students in their homes and primary schools, and continue to do so. If you would like me to visit, all you have to do is drop me an email through the school’s website and we will arrange it.


And finally, we are putting the finishing touches to our next event, a joint event during the day hosted at the Daresbury Labs, onFriday, July 27th. A lot of the teachers, including myself, will be there, working with the education team at the labs, to run a cross-curricular event along the theme of Reflections. This is aimed at providing our students the chance to meet and get to know each other, but is also open to every student currently in years 6 and 7 living in the area. There are limited places, however, so booking will be essential.


Sunday, 8 July 2012

Post planning permission

So it's all systems go - the first signs of construction are on site and the specialist building are, as we speak, being built for us in Ireland. Over the next few weeks, the site will be prepared and the building will be brought over mid August. All the tables, chairs and classroom equipment is being ordered and plans are being finalised for the cutting edge IT resources to support learning in the school. Everything is coming together to ensure that the provision is excellent from day 1. Although we are well under way with plans for the main school, designed with all the most exciting educational plans and theories, the temporary school is designed to provide the best educational experience possible.

It was great to welcome people to the Sandymoor School tents during the Sandymoor Summer Fair, where we had most of the staff on hand to answer questions. The teachers had designed a number of integrated activities to show how the Sandymoor curriculum will work, with subjects working together to enhance the learning experience. Our catering manager was providing free food and answering questions about our commitment to healthy eating. And the governors & I were on hand to answer questions from everyone who visited us. It was great to see young people enjoying the activities and trying on the uniform samples we had, and I think the best testimony to the excitement about the school was the disappointment clearly visible in the faces of a group of 14 year-old girls when they realised that they couldn't join the school because we didn't yet have their year group!

One of the most common questions I had on the day was about the PE provision we are going to provide, so to summarise this:

One aspect of the Sandymoor curriculum that sill make it stand out is the fact that the whole curriculum will be grounded in links to the wider world and this applies to the PE as well as everything else. So, the PE curriculum will endeavour to provide experiences of the sort of sporting and more general physical activities that they are likely to experience when they leave school. There will be a number of modular units to expose the students to different experiences. Modules will include things like Zumba, Martial Arts, Golf and Mountain Biking, to name a few. We will also be using local professional and semi-professional teams to provide exposure to team sports and will provide further options for involvement in team sports through the after school activities.

Dates for the diary:

Friday, 27th July - Sandymoor School & Daresbury Labs joint event. The teachers & members of the Labs education team will lay on a day of activities in the Labs.

Monday, 3rd September - Sandymoor School first day of term.

Thursday, 20th September - Sandymoor Open Evening. Come and see the school in action. Hear about enrollment for 2013/14

Saturday, 29th September - Sandymoor Open Day. For those who couldn't make the evening, or want to hear more about the unique experience that is Sandymoor School.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Planning permission - revisited!

We now have planning permission for the temporary school & plans are in place to ensure the school is ready in plenty of time for September! Below is the presentation I gave to the committee in support of our case:

Good evening, Chair, members of the committee and thank you for this opportunity to talk about Sandymoor School.

20 years ago, when I started teaching, in inner-city comprehensive schools, I developed a passion for young people that has never left me and when the opportunity to be part of a project to develop a brand new school here came up, I knew I had to be part of it.

The vision for Sandymoor is to add to the provision in Halton, working in partnership with the other schools and local community to ensure that every child in the area has the best possible opportunities. And that is what Sandymoor school is about. A local school for local children, in the Sandymoor & Windmill Hill areas. There are too many young people who are educated out of area, with the lack of community cohesion that brings, and the Sandymoor area of Halton is in need of a heart, something to stop the young families moving away.

With over 3,000 new homes planned as part of the core strategy in East Runcorn, and 10,000 new jobs planned in the Daresbury Science and Innovation Centre, Sandymoor School is ideally placed to help maintain and build on the excellent reputation of Halton as a Beacon Council! With the Shadow Education Minister promising to support successful free schools and Lord Adonis supporting them as a Labour initiative originally, there is national support from all elements of government.

In terms of safety & security of the pupils, as Principal, I take that aspect most seriously:- it is a legal truth that the parents of Sandymoor School's pupils place them into my care, in loco parentis, and I have promised them that I will do my utmost to ensure their safety. Both the temporary site and the main build have been planned with security in mind and that extends to the issues of transport. Either myself or my colleagues will be outside the school in the morning and after school to ensure the students are safe around the roads, to assist in students crossing the road and asking cars to move on.

It is worth stressing that this is all around otterburn lane, not the Wharford lane extension, that I understand is in planning from HCA, and has nothing to do to do with the school's application.

In the community centre next door to the temporary site, there is a nursery and pre-school. Every day, over 40 children are delivered there and collected later in the day, almost entirely by car, using the same roads that our pupils and parents will use. The drop-off & collection times are completely different so there will never be children being dropped off or collected at both venues concurrently. In the first year, we will have no more than 45 students, and a number of those will walk or cycle to school, so the traffic impact will, in fact, be less than for the pre-school.

Sandymoor School will do nothing but add to the whole area, from jobs - there are already 9 of us (myself included) who have livelihoods that depend on Sandymoor, and that will only grow - I have requests weekly from all sorts of people looking to work in the school, from secretarial staff, through caretakers and through to teachers wanting to be part of the school's vision. We had over 100 teachers apply to join the school.

And we are committed to being a community school; from the beginning, we will be providing evening classes to the local community, from Spanish Conversation and Digital Photography skills through to basic literacy & numeracy lessons to those who need it.

Once again, thank you.

Friday, 29 June 2012

10 weeks and counting!

In under 10 weeks, we open! Now that's an exciting thought. . . So much has happened and everything is shaping up nicely. Since my last post, we've now finalised all the staff and now have a full compliment of teaching and non teaching staff on board. There was a small hiccup with one appointment, but all that is to be expected. Do look on the school's website for details of the teaching staff. (I'll be getting the non-teaching staff on the site as soon as possible too.)

In the background, there's been a lot of meetings going on to get everything sorted; we're meeting to finalise the IT provider, who will be responsible for ensuring we have all the best equipment and software to support the provision, we've had our 'Readiness to Open Meeting' with the DfE and they are happy with everything we've done. And our pre-opening Ofsted inspection is booked. I am actually looking forward to showing them everything we have in place & showing off Sandymoor. (And as a teacher, I never thought I'd hear myself say that I'm looking forward to seeing Ofsted .....!)

Last weekend, I was down in the South of England at the Sunday Times Festival of Education, taking part in a weekend of exciting and stimulating talks. Lord Adonis, confirming what the shadow education minister said on the television, that a Labour government would not shut down successful free schools, in fact, going further and confirming that the idea was, actually, a rebranding of a Labour idea in the first place. It was also good to hear Rachel Wolf (founder of New Schools Network) taking part in a discussion about the changing needs of education and how free schools fit into that agenda by having the freedom to innovate and provide different experiences.

And talking of NSN, it was good to meet Rachel again last Wednesday, in Manchester and help NSN in showing how free schools provide opportunities for local businesses to get more involved in education. Sandymoor's Business and Enterprise Mentoring scheme attracted a lot of attention.

Then,this week, I've also met with most of the teachers, where we were planning exciting activities to put on as part of Sandymoor School's contribution to the summer fair - do come along and meet us all, this Saturday in the heart of Sandymoor!

So lots going on and very exciting things happening. Everything is nicely on track for opening this September and I am getting so excited now about meeting our students and making Sandymoor School the reality the founders envisaged when they wrote their proposal.

We are still receiving requests to enroll students into both our year 7 & year 8 groups; if you would be interested in finding out more about this, do please get in touch visit the website!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Back to what matters - the students

With the last few staff being recruited over the next couple of weeks, and with the teachers now in place, it’s time to get back to planning and building the student experience. And it’s good to get back to that, in my head, because that is what has always been at the heart of Sandymoor!

One thing that has been occupying a lot of my time over the last few weeks has been a document called the Education Brief. This forms part of what is called the Education Plan for the school and is assessed by both the Department for Education and Ofsted. The Brief goes into the details of the school, in minute detail – the contents page alone runs to 3 pages and the whole document is over 100 pages long. . . In writing it, I have been able to refocus back onto the students and the experience they will receive.

We have decided on the first term’s focus – every topic covered will be related to the concept of ‘Reflection’. In Maths, this will look at the concept of geometry and 3-D shapes, linking to technology, whereas Art will be looking at the concept of reflecting the world through different movements in art. English lessons will be focussed on the concept if reflective writing, biographical / autobiographical, both real and fictional. In science, the concept of reflection and light in general will be the starting point for exploring many aspects of the world and in Humanities, the concept of reflecting our impact on the physical world will be the link. Community engagement will look at three aspects of reflection; locally exploring the issue of different ages’ perceptions on being a local resident, regionally looking at the different perspectives of faith communities and how that reflects on being ‘British’ and internationally, looking at different perspectives of global issues. Within all this, we will also be developing the students’ ability to reflect on their own learning and progress. This is core to the Sandymoor way – the skills for life-long learning at the front of what we do.
One key difference is going to be the integration that takes place – in far too many secondary schools, each subject is treated as a discrete item in the curriculum, in its own box, unaffected by other subjects. As a science teacher, for example, I’ve found myself frustrated by other departments unwilling to change the order in which they teach their subject to make links, and I’m determined that this won’t happen at Sandymoor. Or when secondary schools do claim to run an integrated course, it’s often taught by non-specialists. At Sandymoor, we are developing a curriculum where the subjects are taught by specialists, but in an integrated way, with each element of the curriculum placed in sequence to match other subjects.

For example, the Maths department will be working with Technology to look at geometry and shapes. This will tie in with Art, looking at the use of shapes and colour in compositions, so the Science department will look at light and colour, how we see the world around us. This then leads into the humanities subjects, with our interactions with the world, and so the links grow. These links will also be made explicit with the students too, with time for them to reflect on these links as they work in multi-age groups on projects of their choosing, but tied into the curriculum.

This all takes effort and time, and that is often why schools don’t do it; it is simpler to buy a scheme of work from a publisher, with all the worksheets and student text books all linked together. But that then stops the creativity in linking the subjects together. The text book and bought in scheme takes the priority – “we can’t do that now because it’s not the next chapter in the text book…”.

And all of that is built into Sandymoor; collaboration between departments, creativity in the curriculum and freedom for teachers to teach to the individual needs of the students.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Planning Permission

The planning committee chose to defer making a decision on planning permission due to concerns expressed by elected members about the traffic safety around the site. This was despite a complete recommendation by the council officials and a verbal report that directly addressed the concerns - the committee members wanted a full written report. We completely support and appreciate the committee's concern for the safety and welfare of our students and are grateful that they take their job seriously; it is reassuring to see the concern that the elected members have for our students. We look forward to submitting the reports they have asked in ample time for the next meeting on July 2nd. It is encouraging that they did state their support for schools and they did not question any aspect of the educational provision the site will provide. There was a question raised about the ability of temporary accommodation to provide a full experience to the students, but the replies about the quality of temporary accommodation being excellent and the fact that there is a new build that will replace the temporary site (which will, of course, go through it's own planning process) answered their concern. Whilst disappointed that permission was not granted, it is encouraging that it was not refused and the issues raised were not related to the core purpose of the building, which is to provide outstanding education for the students of Sandymoor and the wider East Runcorn area.

I personally take this to be tacit agreement with the aims of Sandymoor. At present, with deferral to the 2nd July, we are still on schedule to open in time on 3rd September.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Sandymoor School continues to grow

The first thing to talk about this week is the fact that we have just received our school number from the Department for Education. This is a really important milestone as it means that we are now registered officially as an education establishment – our DfE number is used for all sorts of things, like student record transfers, ordering education-specific items, exam entries, etc.

Then we also made use of the lovely weather to do a photo shoot with our school uniform. I think it looks lovely and is exactly what I had in mind; a uniform to provide the right mind-set to learn, without being to prescriptive or expensive. I think the students look lovely in it and they certainly enjoyed being part of the shoot too!

The year 8 enrolment continues at a pace too and I am responding to requests to discuss transfer into our year 8 cohort all the time now. It’s exciting to be able to offer the Sandymoor experience to another year group.

Also, over the last two weeks, I’ve been involved in interviewing some amazing professionals, all of whom wanted to be part of the Sandymoor vision. Thank you to everyone who was part of the interview process as well; the students in the primary schools where we carried out lesson observations and the parents involved in the parental panels. It’s not been only me who has been impressed by the candidates; the students reported that the teachers were very good and this comment from one of the parents reflects a lot of the feedback I received:

“Many thanks for involving the parents in the interview process over the last few days.  This has been really enjoyable and I hope of benefit to you in making your decisions.  I am extremely encouraged.  As we discussed, the applicants have been outstanding.”

It was very hard, in the end, to make some of the decisions, because the candidates were all of such high quality, but after much discussion, we have now got our full team. In time, their details, along with photos, will appear on the website, but to start with, here’s a brief piece about each one. There will also be many opportunities for everyone to meet them and get to see why I am so excited to be leading such a talented team:

Emma Simpson. Assistant Head & Maths.
Emma joins us from the Whitby High School, where she is the Assistant Faculty Leader for Mathematics. She has a degree in Mathematics from UMIST and holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Coaching. Part of her role at present also involves working with teachers working towards their Masters in Teaching & Learning higher degrees. As assistant Head, Emma will be responsible specifically for staff development and working with me to ensure we work together as a team to build a unique experience for the students.

Sarah O’Hanlon. Head of Learning Support (SENCO) & English.
Sarah is currently at the University Church of England Academy, Ellesmere Port. She has also been English Curriculum Leader at Al Yasmina British International School, Abu Dhabi, where she joined the school at its inception, building the department as the school grew in the same way Sandymoor will. Sarah has extensive experience at using data to identify and support students achieve their personal targets and will take the lead in developing the Individual Development Plans for each student. Sarah also is a qualified TELF teacher and will focus on Literacy across the whole school.
Along with the Business and Finance Manager, Emma & Sarah will be my Senior Leadership Team in the first instance.

Joanne John-Lewis. Humanities
Joanne is currently Curriculum Leader for RE, PSHE & citizenship at the Manchester Academy and has previously lead History and Law. With a degree in Law, a Teaching Certificate in Latin and a Masters Degree in Education, Joanne brings a huge wealth of experience to Sandymoor Joanne will be taking a lead in the Community Engagement lessons as well as delivering the Humanities element of the Sandymoor curriculum.

Brenda Mooney. Art and Technology
Brenda has a huge breadth of experience in education, having been both a Head of Faculty for Technology in Shropshire and a consultant / Advisor for Technology (including ICT) in the Wirral and Liverpool. She has qualifications in Art, Design and Technology as well as working on a Masters Degree specifically focussing on Inclusion. Brenda also has a specific interest and expertise in Special Educational Needs, specifically Aspergers, Dyslexia and Dyspraxia.

Rubén Medina Llobregat. Spanish.
As a native of Spain (Alicante), Ruben brings a passion for his language to Sandymoor that shone through at interview (He even received a round of applause by the students he delivered his lesson to!). Currently completing his PGCE in Liverpool, Ruben has taught at the Belvedere Academy and Woodchurch High School. Rubén brings with him an enthusiasm and passion that impressed everyone who interviewed him.

We now focus on recruiting the non-teaching staff to join our team. We were impressed by the number and quality of teachers who applied and all the non-teaching posts have also attracted large numbers of high quality people wanting to join Sandymoor.

With such a team around me, I know that the Sandymoor experience the students engage in will be second to none – a truly outstanding school, with outstanding professionals determined to do things differently, with the individual student at the heart of everything we do.