I am writing my final bulletin of the year in order to wish all of the Jesmond Park Academy community a very Merry Christmas. As we say goodbye to what has been a good calendar year for the school, I would like to bring you up to speed with some of the activities that have taken place.
An Inspector Calls
On the 8th November, 90 Year 11 students met at the Theatre Royal Newcastle to watch the dramatic performance of An Inspector Calls. The performance was outstanding, and the stagecraft was incredibly interesting; lots to write about in the upcoming exams! It's always a joy to see the texts we study brought to life, but also to see our dedicated, enthusiastic students behaving beautifully, representing the school perfectly and genuinely enjoying the extra-curricular experience. What was lovely is that a member of the public took the time to write the following message:
“Hello, myself and my partner were at Tuesday evening’s performance of ‘An Inspector Calls’ at Newcastle Theatre Royal and we were sat in the upper circle. I believe a school trip of your GCSE students were there and I wanted to commend them on their behaviour. Me and my partner go to the theatre a lot and they were very well behaved - more so than some adult audiences! Teenagers get a bad reputation for many things nowadays and I wanted them to know they should be proud of themselves and represented their school very well. Kind Regards”.
A group of Year 8 students performed superbly at a regional sustainability competition, ran by the NUFC foundation, coming runners up to a team of Year 11 students from another school! They had to present to a panel of experts on ‘Making Newcastle United a more sustainable club’ and the judges commented that they could not believe the quality of the presentation had come from a group of 12 and 13 year olds. Congratulations to Ethan Walker, Freddie Forsyth-Wood, Sergi Gandham and Jordan Van Der Lith. As runners up, they were presented with Newcastle United tickets, but more importantly, they have had a superb experience.
Also, our Sixth Form debating team have been in fine form! Having been part of the Sixth Form Team who won the national round of the European Youth Parliament in Liverpool in August, two of our Year 13 students have now been invited to attend Tromso 2023. Faron Smith and Isaac McAreavey will attend this unique youth conference, gathering 300 young Europeans in Norway in March 2023. The journey of our successful debating team began when the students were in Year 12 when they won their first competition at Newcastle University against some extremely strong opposition from private schools. It is, by far, the most successful iteration in our debating history. We wish them huge success.
One of our priorities following Covid-19 was to bring back our own school productions to help with our enrichment programme. We are delighted that this year we have two Christmas productions that are taking place:
• Christmas Musical Showcase - Thursday 15th December: doors open 6.10 pm for a 6.30 pm start
• Christmas Show (A Christmas Carol) - Thursday 22nd December: doors open 5.10 pm for a 5.30 pm start
We have over 200 students taking part across the two performances and there will be so much talent on show. If you have not already got your ticket, then there are limited numbers still on sale via the Performing Arts Faculty of the school and the remaining will be sold on the door.
As a school we are committed to developing students’ reading skills both inside and outside of the classroom. There is a wealth of research which shows the positive relationship between reading and attainment but also perhaps more importantly, that reading is a powerful tool which promotes imagination, creativity, relaxation, improved self-esteem and has mental health benefits.
In a world which is dominated by the written word, we place value on empowering students to read as fluently and widely as possible. To support them to do this, we will be gifting our Year 8 students a new book at the Parents and Carers Consultation Evening on Monday 19th December. Please feel free to examine the books and select one to take home for your child. For those parents who are having online appointments, the students can choose their book in the days that follow.
In terms of reading across the school, book loans from the library are up again. In the three months of this academic year, 3800 loans have been made with 1697 books currently out on loan. This is up 30% compared to last year so we are delighted by how much the students are focussing on their reading.
Read and Rise is going from strength to strength with more than 30 students reading 3 mornings a week with an adult to help them improve their reading skills and get them to catch the 'reading bug'. Our Sixth Form students are in reading lessons supporting Key Stage 3 pupils and making a real difference. More than 50 students are involved, but we are always on the lookout for more volunteers. Our Reading Champions Academy have just 'graduated' and are off to St. James’ Park next week as a reward for their hard work, well done to them.
The students continue to work well in their Reading lessons. They are currently in the middle of their testing period, and we can't wait to see how far they have progressed in terms of developing their reading skills. As a reminder, students should be reading three times a week and recording this in their planners for their teachers to check. If you can support them with this it would be fantastic. We are confident it will make a big difference. Evidence shows that students who read more regularly make much faster progress in all their lessons.
As mentioned earlier, the best way to get into the Christmas mood will be to see one of our Christmas productions. All of Year 7 will get the chance to see either the dress rehearsals for the Christmas Musical Showcase or the Drama performance over the next week.
Normal school lessons will take place up until Thursday afternoon. On Thursday afternoon, and during the Friday morning session, it is likely that teachers will modify their lesson with their classes to reflect the festive season and add a greater element of fun to the lessons.
Throughout the week, our students will receive their Christmas message in assembly from Father Jonathan from St Gabriel’s Church, Heaton. Over the past two weeks, the RE Department has taken over 270 of our Year 7 students on a trip to St Gabriel's Church. This was at the kind invitation of Father Jonathan, who welcomed us on five separate occasions so all students could have the opportunity to visit the church and find out first-hand about the Christian faith. We are planning to visit places of worship from other faiths in the remainder of the academic year.
Our Christmas lunch has been organised for Wednesday 21st December and we have extended the lunchtime to make sure that we have enough time to enjoy the occasion. As the kitchens will be incredibly busy, we will only be offering sandwiches as an alternative so please bring a packed lunch if this is not suitable.
On Friday 23rd December, we will be supporting Save the Children charity by having a Christmas jumper day. Children wishing to participate in this are asked to make a donation on their way into school, anything from ten pence to a pound. Although this is officially a Christmas jumper day, there is no need to buy a new jumper as we have merely suspended school uniform jumpers and polo shirts for the day. Any children that do not have a Christmas jumper can feel free to wear something else, or maybe accessorise or modify an existing piece of clothing with decorations. The government are match funding whatever the school raises so we are hopeful of making a big donation this year. The PRAISE Code will be applied on Friday as usual to all other areas of school uniform, including trousers, skirts, shoes, make up, jewellery etc.
During lesson 4a on Friday, students will be with their Form Tutor and PRAISE chocolate and certificates will be given out to those with the requisite number of PRAISE stamps in the term. There will not be a school lunch on Friday the 23rd as students will be dismissed at 12.10 pm for Years 7-9 and 12.15 pm Years 10 and 11. Free School Meals can still be collected from the restaurant at 12.10.
Uniform Recycling Scheme
Our Second Hand Uniform Recycling scheme has been incredibly successful since it was launched and we have provided free second hand uniform to over 200 students this year. Thank you to our Parents Forum who helped us develop the system. We would like to point out that it is available for families who are environmentally conscious as well as those who are struggling financially. We would like to encourage any families to donate any pieces of uniform that are now too small for them and we will add them to our stock.
Social Media Great News Stories
Instead of trawling through my newsletter, please follow our social media feeds to get instant news stories. We are posting weekly on our Social Media sites, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The pages are full of the great things that your children are doing every week at Jesmond Park Academy. In particular, we have had so many good sport stories - you can follow what’s happening here:
Following the tragic incident on the frozen lake in Solihull last Sunday, we have spoken to all pupils this week on the dangers associated with frozen water. Worryingly, we have had reports of children playing on the frozen lake at Paddy Freeman’s park so we have been trying to reinforce this message this week.
Road safety continues to be a concern in our local area. You may have noticed that the school has been campaigning recently, along with Father Jonathan from St Gabriel’s Church, about how dangerous the crossing is near the Corner House pub on the Coast Road. The story was reported on the BBC last week:
We have had two students involved in serious incidents over the last 18 months so something needs to change. The council are increasing their efforts to fill the vacant Crossing Patrol position that has been left unfilled for the last two years and we will send out a link to the vacancy when it is re-advertised in case there is anyone in the parental community who is looking for part time employment.
On the theme of road safety, we are also approaching the council to help improve road safety immediately outside of our school. Inconsiderate parking increases the danger to students, cyclists and other drivers and we are hopeful that we can work with the council to introduce a series of measures to help this.
Right, that’s it. We have come to the end of a long term and the whole school community is looking forward to a well-earned rest. Father Jonathan wanted me to point out that the following Christmas services are taking place at St Gabriel’s Church:
- Sunday 18th December
- 6.00 pm Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols
- Saturday 24th December
- 5.30 pm Christmas Eve Crib Service
- 11.30 pm Midnight Mass (incense is used)
- Sunday 25th December Christmas Day
- 8.00 am Holy Eucharist
- 9.45 am All Age Eucharist with carols
- Sunday 1st January New Year’s Day
- 8.00 am New Year’s Day Holy Eucharist
- 9.45 am Parish Eucharist
Enjoy the time with your family and friends and we look forward to the students returning to their studies in the New Year, energised for the hard work ahead!