What a Year it’s been

Looking back on the happy and sad times

What a year it’s been. We started this year by moving back to five 60 minute lessons a day. This change took place very smoothly. I think our lessons are punchier and pacier now and it has allowed us to increase the frequency of a range of key subjects.

In the autumn term we had our production of the Wizard of Oz, our annual poppy drop, our Presentation Evening and our Christmas Express to name but a few of the events that took place. We worked hard with all of our students and, in particular, got our year 11 ready for their mock exams.

In the spring term we were visited by Ofsted who sadly thought our outcomes for pupils were still not good enough, particularly for disadvantaged pupils. We took this on the chin and got on quickly with the job in hand – continuing to get every pupil to make progress as quickly as possible.

We have continued to offer opportunities for our pupils beyond the classroom, with an incredibly wide range of sporting, scientific, expressive, creative, character building and cultural experiences: trips to New York, Los Angeles, Italy, France & London; pitching to top advertising executives; dancing at The Low-ry; the Duke of Edinburgh Award; STEM trips; theatre trips; army visit days etc. etc. We know that school is really about the journey from child to adult and that these trips, visits and experiences are the steps along that journey.

We have continued to develop our Walkden STARS ethos, with children being thoughtful and supportive through their charity fund raising – this year focusing on the Teenage Cancer Trust. It has been an honour to support this charity this year and when one of our pupils fell ill the work of this charity really came into focus for us.

We were all devastated by the death of Thomas Michael Martin in May. However, the strength and dignity of Thomas’s mum and family allowed us to grieve together and to enjoy all of the happy memories we have of Thomas. We will not forget Tom. He is still one of our Walkden STARS.

We said farewell to our year 11 in June and expect even better results than last year. They were a lovely year group and worked so hard with us. I hope they all get what they deserve and need to move onto the next stage of their schooling or training.

We won the School of the Year at The Skills for Business Awards at the Lancashire Cricket Ground for our excellent work on helping our pupils stay in training through access to quality apprenticeships. We have also been assessed by Investors In People this week and they have awarded us Gold Status. We are very proud of these achievements which reflect our investments in our pupils and our staff.

I need to say thank you and good bye to the following staff who leave us at the end of term: Mrs Acton, Mrs Travis, Mrs Rehan, Mrs Goodwin, Mrs Hill. Miss Pollard, Miss Keenan, Miss Mulchay, Miss Bhudia. However, particular reference must go to Mrs Warren who leaves us this year after 34 years of service to the school and its community. Mrs Warren started here as a newly qualified teacher and served in various posts including Assistant Headteacher. Her contribution to the school and its pupils has been immense. I personally want to thank her for repeatedly asking me where the fun was in school, when she was worried that all I was concerned about were GCSE results. I hope we have some fun in school. However, it will be more difficult in September with Mrs Warren missing. On behalf of the whole community I would like to say, “Thank you Mrs Warren and a happy, healthy and long retirement.”

Simon Lennox

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