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Brandles School

Part of Larwood Academy Trust

Mr Pearce’s Blog

The term continues to fly by, and it has certainly been a busy one! I have summarised below.

Year 11 students

All our Year 11s have completed their courses and their final grades were submitted to exam boards on Friday 18th June.  We wish them every success for the future and hope they can attend our Prizes and Awards event on Tuesday 20th July.

Virtual Review by Challenge Partners.

In normal circumstances, this type of event would have equated to three/four colleagues visiting the school, going into lessons, and having a range of conversations with staff. As you would expect, this had to be planned for in September, and at that stage with so many unknowns relating to the pandemic, I opted for a virtual review.

Please note that Challenge Partners describe themselves as follows: ‘We work with schools across the country, sharing excellent practice, facilitating peer review and running programmes grounded in evidence of what works, so that all pupils can benefit from the combined wisdom of the system, and of other sectors.’ Therefore, due to pandemic and the need to allocate a virtual consultancy review, this resulted in:

· Three reviewers – The Lead being Martin Bertulis, ex Headteacher and Ofsted Inspector and two senior Leaders from similar schools attending a series of events over three days with us.

· In depth meetings to explore leadership, behaviour, and curriculum.

· Meetings with nine staff and the CEO of the Trust

· Meetings with parents

· Meetings with students

· Scrutiny of a range of documents including the School Development Plan and Self Evaluation documents.

The formal report identifies, what is working well and ‘even better ifs.’ This is the same format that we review lessons when we observe them. The process was challenging and helpful and represents a set of ‘external eyes’, helping us to review our progress and direction.

The report is extremely positive and can be read in full on the Website under the Ofsted banner.

Please read a few of the snippets below:

“Students benefit from an innovative, well-planned curriculum, which builds on the Brandles hierarchy, to ensure that students are ready to learn and contribute to society. In later years at Brandles, students make accelerated academic progress, and many achieve vocational qualifications and GCSEs. The curriculum has a strong commitment to spiritual and moral development. Students’ behaviour and conduct are well understood.”

“Community engagement is a major feature of school life. The extensive range of activities include, the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze and Silver Awards, bushcraft, visits to care homes, volunteering in charity shops and litter picking.”

Attainment gaps for students have mostly closed. Assessment and mock examination data show that three students are likely to attain GCSE grade 6s in PE and art, the highest ever grades attained at Brandles.

New builds

The foundations for the new music room were laid this week so hopefully the room will be completed very soon.

All planning permission for the new classroom block of two classrooms next to the gym has been agreed and the construction will be starting shortly.


Drug and Gang Awareness

We were extremely fortunate to be able to secure the services of Paul Hannaford.  Over the past 10 years he has built a successful career educating over 400,000 school children from multiple year groups.

Paul offers workshops and talks about the dangers of addiction, drugs, and alcohol as well as involvement in gangs, knife crime and county lines. Through his own experiences as a former addict of over 20 years, he conveyed an incredibly powerful and hard-hitting message.  I am sure that some of the boys have gone home after the workshop, discussing what they have learned.


Prizes and Awards Event on Tuesday 20th July

Unfortunately, after Boris Johnson’s announcement we have been informed that we cannot hold a large-scale presentation day as we had first planned.  This will not stop us, however.  It is so important that we celebrate our students’ achievements and say goodbye properly to our Year 11s.

We are still planning to have an outside speaker, live music, and plenty of awards to present, but we will have to restrict the live audience to students and staff.  We are planning to stream the event live so that parents can watch it in real time, with the students being able to see their parents/carers faces on a screen like they did with the Zoom audience on Britain’s Got Talent.