Headteachers’ update: Spring 2017

We’ve been in The Beacon for six months now and we feel well and truly ‘at home’ now. The students and staff have made the place their own and it is now feeling very much like ‘our’ school…

As you know from the way we work, we have not rested and have developed all of our provision incredibly since we have been here. I hope you’ll have noticed more and more of our young people benefiting from our fantastic facilities. We are already planning so much more for the coming months and for next year!

When we moved into The Beacon last summer, it was a whirlwind of activity and at times it felt as if we wouldn’t make it in time for the start of term. You know what it is like when you move house: years of planning don’t seem to help you avoid last minute panics!

Having spent two years planning every inch of the building, moving 280 staff and 350 students with the contents of two schools (and hundreds of pieces of new furniture) proved a huge challenge and I can remember the look on Mrs. Wood’s face when I walked into a hall full of furniture and a school full of painters, plumbers and tradesmen of all sorts! She, and the site team, were magnificent. However, it was just a building until the students arrived – within 15 minutes of our open day, the place came alive and it became ‘ours’.

We have spent Terms 1, 2, 3 & 4 working on improving the environment. We were left with a few things to sort out that weren’t right – badly flushing toilets, wrong door handles, etc and lots of things we wanted to develop – the sensory garden, the play equipment area, but we believe we’ve established quite an impressive building. The most important development in that time has been in the heart spaces. These are the spaces within each zone that provide our focal point to ensure a sense of ‘ownership’ by the students of their own space and allow us to break our 350 students into smaller groups. We have a real different feel to each zone now and watching the students using the spaces, you get a real sense that we have three different zones within one single school – they are fantastic!

The hydro pool has given us the ability to deliver some specialist programmes on site rather than taking half the day to transport students off to other schools. The students love the space and the staff are delighted that they can fit this learning into the students’ day.

The Christmas productions, services and assemblies really helped us realise the dream of creating a brand new school from the excellent work of Foxwood and Highview. To see all the students working together, supporting each other and clearly showing pride in each others achievements was fantastic and all the staff were incredibly proud of their achievements. It’s been pleasing how quickly both staff and students have taken to the new building and how well they’ve all taken to The Beacon. Mind you, it shouldn’t surprise me: they really are amazing people!

So what next?

We open Beacon Wood, our Forest School area, as soon as we get the insurance clearance. We will be ready to open the Sensory Garden area as soon as our pond plants are established. We will have a full programme of lettings with external groups using the facilities starting in summer term.

As you would expect the curriculum and provision for our young people is improving and developing every day, with the staff constantly looking to find better programmes to deliver and better ways of delivering them.

I am incredibly proud of the work, attitude and commitment of the staff and the pupils. Every event is the first time we will have done it as The Beacon. We are constantly reflecting and improving all we do and the commitment of the staff to making this a truly fantastic place is incredible.

A big thank you to them for their hard work and commitment to your children and to you for your support for the staff and school. Between us we are making The Beacon a fantastic centre of learning!

Neil Birch, Executive Headteacher