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.

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