As we mark the 100 year anniversary of the end of World War 1, Lord Lawson of Beamish Academy took part in a very special celebration of all those who fought to give us our future. We stood together in union to pay respect to all those in conflict 100 years ago, and all those since.
Many of our students who are members of uniformed youth organisations, representing the Army Cadet Force, Air Training Corps, Scouts, Girl Guides, Boys Brigade, attended school in their service uniforms today, and played a pivotal role in the proceedings by forming an honour guard for the service. Our students were joined on parade by the Birtley Community Partnership, the SSAFA, and also Deputy Lieutenant for Tyne and Wear, John Robinson DL, RAFVR(T).
Head Boy and Girl, Daniel Wales and Lucy Hughes, took big parts in the service with helping with opening the service, and speaking about why we were here to mark the important centenary event. They followed on with a lovely reading ‘Home at Last’ by Tony Church, helping us to reflect on the impact war has on those family and friends who are left at home.
The Principal, Mark Lovatt, read the names of those who have sadly lost their lives through conflict and war, all those personal to staff and students from out local community. Wreaths were then laid to honour these memories.
David Ord performed the Last Post and Reveille, before two students fall out of parade to deliver a poem, before concluding the service. Ben Harbottle dismissed the banner party, Niamh Cowie, then the parade, after doing a fantastic job throughout the service commanding the parade throughout.
Our guests were invited to stay for refreshments enjoy wartime songs and to get to know our students involved in the service. Here at Lord Lawson we our very proud of all students involved in the lead up and during this very special centenary service.
At the Governors’ meeting last month I took over from Albert Leaf as Chair of Governors. I was joined by Alison Logan and David Horn as Vice-Chairs. Albert and Caroline Mathias, who was vice-chair for many years, have now stepped down from the Board and I want to pay tribute and give thanks to them both, on behalf of the Academy, for their decades of service, support and friendship to this school. Few schools are fortunate enough to have members of their communities give up so much of their time for so many years and we are indebted to them.
We were pleased to offer Albert and Caroline a formal token of the Academy’s appreciation – a pair of stunning glass plates bearing the Academy phoenix kindly created by our very own Ken Maynard – and staff will also mark this moment by hosting Afternoon Tea for Albert and Caroline and their families at the Academy this week.
Thankfully, Albert and Caroline are not leaving the Academy altogether. They remain members of the Academy Trust and, under changes to our Articles which we are presenting to the DfE for approval, they will lead a panel which will oversee the effectiveness of governance in the Academy, bringing their years of experience to bear as they hold us to account. If they do not think we are doing a good enough job, they can replace us!
This is one of a number of changes we are making to governance in the Academy. We have reduced the size of the Board from 22 to 13 and it will now meet formally twice each half-term. Each Governor is tasked with reviewing a priority area for the Academy, which will mean each of us gets a ‘whole school view’ during our visits and the aim is that staff and students will see ‘more of us, more often’.
For example, so far this term Kim Marshall and I have worked with Mr Diamond reviewing the Academy’s approach to mental health and wellbeing. Our aim is to improve the level of knowledge and understanding of the Board, evaluate impact of Academy policies and help the Academy identify areas for improvement. Other areas governors are looking at this term include how well we stretch and challenge our most able, the level of rigour in our KS3 curriculum, impact of our PP spending and the progress of boys.
Ultimately, this is a critical year for the Academy. OFSTED will visit again in the next 12 months and, when they come, we must satisfy them that the Academy is continuing to improve at pace. The Academy secured its second best ever results this summer in terms of student attainment; that’s the number of students achieving grade 9-4 in five or more subjects including English and Maths. This is crucial to the life chances of our young people and their ability to progress into the further education, training or employment they want and the Academy is delivering on that.
However, in assessing the quality of schools the government now focuses on the progress (distance travelled) of every student in the Academy and we recognise that we still have work to do here. Our students already have a much higher than average level of ability when they start with us and we are taking robust action to better stretch and challenge our most able students, those from disadvantaged backgrounds and boys, in particular.
Like all schools, we face financial challenges and pressures on our budget that show no sign of abating in the coming years. On the contrary, things seem likely to get only harder. We are continuously reviewing our ways of working and spending to do our utmost to ensure the ongoing financial stability of the Academy.
We need your help to do this. We have vacancies on the Board for parents and members of our local community who feel they could contribute and help us set the strategic vision for the Academy and hold leaders to account. We are especially looking for people who have experience in mental health, accounting and finance, fundraising, PFI contract issues and supporting young people with employability. We are also keen to here from local employers of our young people who can help ensure we have a curriculum which equips students with the skills employers need. More information is on the Academy website.
Of course, school life is about far more than exam results (important though they are) and at Lord Lawson we are pleased to offer students a vibrant and safe environment where diversity is celebrated and creativity encouraged. We ensure all students have the opportunity to take part in many extra-curricular activities and trips during their time with us, broadening their horizons all the while. Many of our new Year 7 students have started their Lord Lawson careers by visiting Dukes house Wood this weekend and we are grateful to the staff members who gave up their weekend to make sure our young people have a safe and enjoyable time.
Chair of Governors
We would like to congratulate all of our students on their recent examination success. Results this year are among the best the Academy has ever seen with 81% of students achieving a pass grade in either English literature or language, 72% achieving pass grades in maths, nearly 70% of students attaining pass grades in both English and Maths, and 72% of students attaining pass grades in two or more Sciences.
There have also been some exceptional individual performances with a significant number of our students attaining grades equivalent to A/A* or above (the new grade 9) in all or nearly all of their subjects. This performance has been against a background of new and significantly tougher exams. Well done to all.Your hard work and resilience have paid off.
Today saw the day our Y13 students had been waiting for. After 2 years of hard work, dedication and resilience, they collected their A level results and we couldn’t be more proud of them. They have worked relentlessly at these challenging qualifications and are now going of follow their dreams. Many are going to Universities such as Cambridge, Durham, Manchester and Newcastle to study wide ranging subjects such as Law, Nursing, Games Design and Town Planning. Others are taking on apprenticeships and employment. Several of our students are attending prestigious Performing Arts Institutions, for example Laine Theatre of Arts. We would like to say a huge congratulations to each and every one of you and wish you much success in your future. Well done.
Last week, Mr McConway and Ms Emmerson took a group of ten of our Year 11 students to Uganda on an International Inspiration trip. Our young leaders were collaborating with a group of Ugandan students to share cultural experiences, plan and develop a sports festival, and to visit a range of primary schools to observe the education system and the way that people live. They also went on safari and experienced a range of Ugandan traditions.
Our students had an incredible time and we are so proud of the mature way they represented the school. They learnt so much from their experiences, and we strongly feel that this will be a trip that they will remember and value always, and one that has helped to shape them into even more thoughtful and kind individuals. They made such mature comments about what they had learnt and how grateful they feel for their education. What a fantastic, enlightening and empowering way to end a school year.
Alex Brown Year 8 attended the Great Britain National final yesterday, which he
previously qualified for, representing the North. Top 8 in GB, which is
Alex tumbled well yesterday, but so did everyone else and there was nothing
in it, Alex came 7th with 75 points and the first place obtained 77 points.
We are very proud of him and to achieve top 8 out of the whole country is
Last week, Mr Mead and I had the pleasure of taking a group of year 9 girls on the Innovation Trail that is part of the Great Exhibition of the North. The trail is intended as a showcase of designers, engineers, businesses and many others who are from Northern England and are, or were, outstanding and extraordinary in their fields. We certainly saw many innovative ideas from the past and present at our various stops.
Starting at the Old Post Office, now owned by NBS, a company who provide software to the construction industry, where we were able to use computers and tablets to explore both the Old Post Office itself and a number of building that NBS software had been used to design. The girls were particularly skilled at software to design their own buildings, impressing me and the member of NBS staff talking to us.
Our next stop was to Ryder Architecture, Cooper studios for Horse to Hyperloop: the Evolution of Design. The building itself was beautifully restored keeping a number of its original features such as a ladies viewing platform for the horse auctions that took place when the building first opened. The students designed their own vehicles to place in a pod that was soon whizzing round the room in a model of the Hyperloop. It is estimated that in the future we will be able to travel from Newcastle to Liverpool in 35 minutes rather than 3 hours as it currently takes on a train.
We continued our journey to the Lit and Phil then the mining institute next door to it. We learnt a little about the history of Swan and his light bulb then saw a new, longer lasting, much more efficient lightbulb that used graphene for its filament. The girls were very impressed by the gallery library, exploring the different sections and observing some of the unusual artefacts the Lit and Phil have had donated to them over the years. The Lego display, of places, people and inventions from the North, at the Mining Institute captivated us all. There were a number of things that we hadn’t realised were created in the North such as Meccano and crosswords. Our students then recorded a message to the future, stating what changes they would make to save the future. The recording machine printed a soundwave of the recording with its own unique number, which could be used on Instagram to hear the recording played back.
Upstairs in the Mining Institute we investigated an exhibition created to promote civil engineering. We were very impressed by software that projected an image of contour lines on mounds of sand. The idea behind it being that engineers can shape sand to represent the topography of an area they are going to build on to ensure the building would be viable. When the students wiggled their fingers under the sensor rain was projected onto the sand, filling low lying places indicating if any buildings were liable to flooding.
Our final stop was the Discovery Museum, where in addition to exploring the science zone, we were given a talk about the history of the infamous Stephenson’s Rocket. We learnt how the steam engine worked, adaptations that took place during its working life and about the Rainhill Trials.
All of the students were very polite, actively engaged with all of the activities and were a complete pleasure to be with. The exhibition is on until 9th September and well worth a visit. All of the displays we saw, as well as many others are free.
Get Safe Online – The UK’s leading awareness resource helping protect people, finances, devices and businesses from fraud, abuse and other issues encounted online – is warning the public about buying online for prom night.
Parents and prom-goers are being warned to be on their guard when ordering items online, as many have found disappointment in the past, and many will no doubt do so again this year.
Their warning concerns dresses and limousines – two of the items most commonly ordered online. Every year, they witness an increase in complaints about dress purchases, where the high price of prom dresses and accessories in retail stores is likely to drive teenagers to search for cheaper alternatives online. The dresses delivered from some websites are often very different from those advertised, with complaints received by Trading Standards relating to incorrect garments being received, poor quality materials, or dresses arriving after the event has taken place, despite being ordered in ample time. In some cases, the goods advertised do not exist at all … a case of pure fraud. Many such websites, despite appearing to be UK-based, are based in the Far East, meaning that you have virtually no rights in the event of one of the above issues.
For further details visit www.getsafeonline.org and select ‘News’.
In May we took 11 of our Year 12 Science students to visit the Large HADRON Collider at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator. The LHC consists of a 27-kilometre ring of superconducting magnets with a number of accelerating structures to boost the energy of the particles along the way.
During their visit the students received a lecture on the work of CERN from one of the Engineers working on the LHC before one of the particle Physicists took them for a tour. During the tour the students visited the Synchrocyclotron, the first accelerator built at CERN (pictured). The 600 MeV Synchrocyclotron (SC), built in 1957, provided beams for CERN’s first experiments in particle and nuclear physics. In 1964, this machine started to concentrate on nuclear physics alone, leaving particle physics to the newer and much more powerful Proton Synchrotron (PS).
After this the students visited the ATLAS experiment. ATLAS is one of two general-purpose detectors at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). It investigates a wide range of physics, from the search for the Higgs boson to extra dimensions and particles that could make up dark matter. Although it has the same scientific goals as the CMS experiment, it uses different technical solutions and a different magnet-system design.
After their tour the students were able to have a look around the Microcosm, the CERN visitors centre and experience a more hands on approach to the work that was carried out.
During the trip the students also got the chance to explore the historic old town of Geneva including the Reformation Wall, the Cathedral of St. Pierre, and the L’ancien arsenal (pictured).
The trip ended with a quick pop over the border to France and a trip up the Mont-Salève cable car before a nice walk.