What a difference a week makes.
One week into the new term (and new calendar year) I'm glad to say that in many ways there's no noticeable difference. Students have stepped right back into the routines for learning, the rhythm and pattern of the academy day, the challenge and urgency of every lesson and the positive relationships with staff which are defined by being both supportive but with high expectations.
The fact that students work so hard and learn so well at Ark Kings is testament to the fact that they fully share and are crucial partners in our vision for an academy where engagement and participation are at the heart of great learning and great character development. If picking up after the Christmas break as if they had never really been away wasn't enough of an indicator of the fantastic attitudes to learning of our students, then our attendance figure of above 95% certainly speaks strongly.
What a wonderful mess
The preparation of the school site for the new academy building continues on at great pace (though not at the time lapse speed of the video below). When we came back at the start of January the old link bridge was still up as well as the large pods which used to house our art, music, ICT and PE facilities. Within a week the builders had demolished all of these structures and as you can see from the photos below the majority of the debris has been cleared away.
This is a really exciting time, a clear sign that it will not be long before the ground breaking ceremony and our wonderful, state of the art new academy building will be a reality. A truly superb investment in the young people who come to Ark Kings and for the community as a whole.
As you can imagine, glitches and unforeseen events can go hand in hand with operations of this scale. At the end of last week, we ended up having a total power failure: computer screens went blank, projectors died, printers and the photocopier fell silent. Learning doesn't stop at Ark Kings, as our twitter page reported:
Taking advantage of the bright conditions on Friday afternoon students and staff assembled in various areas of the academy, rich in natural light, and took advantage of the rare pause in regular lessons to indulge in a 'Drop Everything And Read' session. We're passionate about improving literacy and the power that having strong vocabulary, reading, writing and speaking brings. It was great to see students demonstrating their desire to develop their literacy as well as great levels of maturity and focus as throughout the academy all that was heard was the gentle rustle of pages turning.
There are some key changes though...
Not the least of these is the very real shift in focus and pace for our Year 11 students. The fact that the longest term of the the school year has ended and that for Year 11 students this means that they are coming closer than ever before to their examinations is not lost on students or staff. Booster sessions, revision schedules and study support kicks into full swing, and as Year 11 students continue on their journey of preparation there is an even greater sense of urgency and resolve to do well in examinations and take the next step on their pathway to college, university and a career of choice.
I look forward to meeting parents and carers of Year 11 students on parent's evening this Wednesday (13 January).
As always, a sincere thank you to all our parents and carers for your continued support and to all of our students: your resilience, hard work and positive attitude will pay off.
Roger Punton, Principal