Principal’s Blog

25 May 2020

Assuring a Safe Return

At last night’s government briefing, it was announced that, in addition to those currently in school and entitled to a place, Years 10 and 12 may return for some face to face contact from the 15 June. All other years will remain learning from home.

The Government decision remains subject to its five tests being met and more information will be announced at the update on Thursday. Whatever is announced, students, parents and staff can be assured their safety is our paramount concern. We will not be doing anything as an academy which compromises that.

To help us plan for any return of Year 10 and 12, we will be sending out a short survey or calling families from next week. We are trying to gauge numbers of who would or may return. We will then put a plan in place and will share with all parents, once finalised.

We will be posting new work packs out later this week ready for students to start next week. Those accessing the packs online will be able to do so from Monday.

I would again like to thank parents and carers for the support of their children and the Academy over the past half term. We could not have come this far with the home learning without it.

Times are tough but, as I have said before, we will get through it and be much stronger as a school community when we do. You are all certainly not forgotten even though you remain out of sight. Evidence can be seen on our busy social media pages.

The third of our weekly shout-outs, celebrating students’ work during lockdown, can be found below. Thank you to Miss Kelly for pulling it together.

I enjoyed the check in with the PE team with lots of ideas and encouragement to support your physical and mental wellbeing during lockdown.

Once you have done some exercise, you might be tempted to try Mrs Frost’s delicious-looking chocolate cake! It is part of our latest #BeHerLead newsletter, which focuses on #mentalhealthawareness.

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I am grateful to those who made the effort for ‘Thank a Teacher Day’. Colleagues received moving letters, cards and artwork.

Our staff team, whether in the academy or at home, are working incredibly hard and it was lovely to see those efforts are appreciated.

It may be Bank Holiday but the Academy is open today for those children entitled to a place. I am grateful to the staff volunteers for supporting those children in school this half-term.

As always, keep well, stay safe and I hope you are enjoying the break and the lovely weather again.


18 May 2020

‘Thank You’

I am grateful for everything our staff have been doing during this difficult time – and I know our students and parents are too.

A chance to show that appreciation comes on Wednesday when it is national ‘Thank a Teacher Day’.

Teachers are no different to anybody else in that they are feeling quite isolated. I know they would really appreciate a ‘thank you’. You could make your teacher a postcard and send it by email or send it to us on Instagram via direct message if you would like your ‘Thank You’ to be shared.

You could also record a video message. There are lots of ideas here: thankateacher.co.uk/thank-a-teacher-day/ A big ‘thank you’ from me in advance for doing so.

We are now in the final week of a long and strange half term. It is not easy for anybody, but we have to stay positive and keep going. One more week of work and then students and the majority of staff can take a deserved break.

I say the ‘majority’ as I am grateful to those who have volunteered to keep the school open next week and look after those children entitled to a place.

The Government guidelines issued last week have offered some clarification. Potentially, we may see Years 10 and 12 in July, but Years 7 to 9 probably won’t return until September. However, the situation is changing daily so watch this space.

This week we will be busy producing new work booklets ready for students to start the week after half term and we are already planning for students’ returns, be it in July or later in the year.

We have had more lovely comments via Facebook for the work we are doing in the community. We really appreciate them. They certainly brighten some of the darker days.

I just have another couple of recommendations for home learning.

Mr Barlow’s new challenge to students is to re-create the movie / TV inspired posters featured on his Graphic Design Blog. There have already been some amazing entries.

Miss Critchley, as part of our Be Her Lead motivational programme for women, challenges students to make face masks. The new Be Her Lead newsletter can be found on the same page, along with a challenge to have a go at creating your own Lockdown Mood Board

As always, keep well and stay safe. Enjoy half-term next week!


11 May 2020

There is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel

We heard from the Prime Minister on Sunday about a possible return to school for Years 10 and 12 before the end of term. But there is no date – it might not be until July – and nothing is definite.

It also appears that Years 7 to 9 will not be returning until September, which clearly has big implications for students, their families, and staff. However, again nothing is definite.

What I would say to all of our students is please do not worry. Your safety, and that of staff, is our number one priority.

For those not returning to school soon, we will continue to support you and your online / at home learning going forward.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank our year managers and pastoral teams for keeping in touch with all students on a regular basis. It continues to be a tremendous effort and has been appreciated by students and parents. It is a vital part of our support mechanism.

Students have responded on the academic front but also with more fun challenges, as a quick glance at our social media shows. I have loved seeing the photographs of the bunting you made for the 75th anniversary of VE day and what you did to celebrate the day. The video below celebrates your designs and there are more pictures on our social media pages.

Head to our YouTube channel for more videos including: online tutorials; newsreels showing students’ excellent work; and messages from staff, including a rather appropriate one shared on VE Day (see below).

If you have not contributed what you can to our Foodbank fundraiser, please go to Mr Bannister’s very funny Chitty Chitty Bang Bang video as part of our Lockdown Challenges 2020. A smile is guaranteed and, hopefully, it will help boost the total.

To donate, go to:
uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/TheBulwellAcademyLockdownChallenges2020

Finally, we are putting together a weekly ‘shout out’ to highlight excellent work. Students have been rewarded ClassCharts points and have also been emailed a Rewards Postcard.

As always, keep well and stay safe.


4 May 2020

“We are here to support you”

It is tough being on lockdown – for students, parents and staff. We must keep reminding ourselves why we are doing it and keep going.

It is important everybody knows they are not alone. If students or parents / carers need to chat about any issue, staff are here for them. Please pick up the phone and talk to us on the usual number or email us.

Thank you to everybody for the fabulous response to the home learning booklets that were sent out last week and to those continuing to log in regularly online. Students are wanting to do more and parents are being really supportive. The response is much appreciated by the staff.

The Microsoft contact forms filled in on a Monday are working well. It is lovely to hear what students are up to and please keep sharing your rainbows and other pictures.

As an optional activity this week, Mrs Brettell and Miss Smalley would like students to design and make VE Day 75 bunting ready to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day on Friday.

The instructions,  along with designs to inspire you, can be found here: bulwellacademy.org.uk/…/20…/05/VE-day-poster.pdf

We have worked hard to ensure students were rewarded for their achievements during the Spring Term.

All students can now log into ClassCharts or Teams to watch the virtual rewards assemblies for their Year Group.

Thank you to Miss Kelly for creating the visuals and the virtual postcards and to Ms Broomfield for the caricatures.

Mine made me smile!

We have launched our Lockdown Challenges to raise £500 for the Bestwood and Bulwell Foodbank. The first was Miss Bird’s #SillyVideoChallenge which has got us off to a great start with plenty of interaction from students and staff.

To donate, go to: uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/TheBulwellAcademyLockdownChallenges2020

Finally, Year 11s can apply online for Sixth Form in September, with courses in Business, Health & Social Care and Sport. Find out more here: bulwellacademy.org.uk/main/sixth-form

As always, keep well and stay safe.


27 April 2020

All the small things…

I was struck by a video created by Year 8 last week. They were asked to come up with one word they are thankful for.

Year 8 Director of Learning – Miss Kelly – said the photos sent to her brought tears to her eyes – and there was something in mine too at the end of the video.

Family, friends, and food were popular responses. It occurred to me that the small things have become the big ones. We appreciate them so much more.

The video is one of a steady stream being produced by staff and students on our YouTube channel and being shared with the Bulwell community via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The videos demonstrate the creativity that is happening at both home and school.

We have had a positive first week back after the Easter ‘break’ and have listened to feedback from staff, students and parents.

200-plus paper packs have been posted out and, for those able to access online, work has been set via the new HOME LEARNING page on the website and via ClassCharts.

We have set out clear expectations for Home Learning

All students are asked to complete a brief Microsoft form first thing on a Monday. We want to know they are okay and staff will follow up any concerns. Regular phone calls will continue.

Staff will respond and reward excellent work with Positive Points in ClassCharts.

Daily expectations for Years 7, 8 and 9:

  • 30 minutes numeracy, set via MyMaths by teachers each Monday
  • 30 minutes English / literacy
  • 30 minutes Science
  • At least 15 minutes reading a book/magazine of their choice
  • A minimum of one or two activities daily from the Key Stage 3 Challenge Passport.

Daily expectations for Year 10:

  • A minimum of 2 -3 hours work using the Road to Year 11 resources provided by all subjects
  • Work from the Key Stage 4 Challenge Passport, as well as English, Maths and Science booklets as additional work for those who wish to do extra.
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Please get in touch about any concerns and, as always, keep well and stay safe.


20 April 2020

Back to the new ‘normal’

It has been the strangest Easter holiday of my life, but we are living through extra-ordinary times.

The academy will remain closed for at least the next three weeks, except for those children whom the Government has said are entitled to a place. I wish there wasn’t speculation in the media about when we might open again. It is just that, speculation, written by people who do not understand the issues around social distancing in schools.

All we can do is follow the Government’s guidelines and, in that sense, we are planning for the next three weeks.

All staff are back at work, some remotely and others coming into school on a rota. May I just say another public ‘thank you’ to colleagues who volunteered over the holidays.

Teachers will be setting work through the same online platforms as before. I’m grateful to all parents and carers for their ongoing support with their children’s learning. I know it’s not easy.

If you can keep your children in a routine, that would be great but don’t worry if you can’t. You know your child best. If they’re having a tough day, then back off. Let them watch a film or do something away from schoolwork. And if they want to pick it back up again at 7pm then let them.

I know you will do the best you can for your children. We will be in contact with as many students, parents and carers as possible this week to ensure all is well.

One thing that keeps resonating with me is the sense of a fantastic community around The Bulwell Academy. Further evidence of this comes from Year 10’s #TeamPurple. If you haven’t watched their video yet – more than 2000 have! – have a tissue at the ready. Thank you to Mr Elland for this special project over Easter.

As always, keep well and stay safe.


13 April 2020

An unusual Bank Holiday

It might be Easter Monday – but the Academy remains open.

I am grateful to the staff who have volunteered to come in, ensuring those children whom the Government has said are entitled to a place have one.

And students and staff have been very busy. They should be very proud of what they’ve achieved in the community garden. It looks totally different. Some of the children have even helped build a wall that will mean a flower bed can be put in. Well done!

With different staff in, the students have been doing a variety of things. Some have been read to in the library, others have played badminton. All have enjoyed their daily exercise, walking around the field. The common theme is that the children have been superb.

In other matters, parents and carers of all Year 11 students have been sent a letter about GCSE results. The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) has made it clear schools are legally bound not to discuss potential grades. The final grades will be awarded by the exam boards, not the school. Please do not ask teachers as they won’t be able to say anything.

If you are stuck for things to do over the holidays, please go to our Facebook page / You Tube channel. There you will find Easter activities from Miss Hemsley, food tech tutorials from Miss Marriott – including dicing an onion! – how to make a fantastic art journal by Miss Smalley and motivational messages from Mr Lowther. Who would have known that we have some real stars of the small screen in our midst?!

As always, I hope pupils, staff and our wider Bulwell Academy community keep well and stay safe during this crisis.


6 April 2020

Time to reflect

Little did I know a few weeks ago I’d be writing this on the first day of the Easter holidays. The Academy’s open throughout the break – including Good Friday and Easter Monday – for those children whom the Government has said are entitled to a place.

Everything has happened so quickly and I hope the holidays will give a chance to reflect on what we have achieved together in a very short space of time. Students, parents/carers and staff deserve a huge ‘well done’.

We have all had to develop patience – more difficult for some than others – and understanding.

I’ve been overwhelmed by the support we’ve received from the community. I would like to thank everybody who has posted Facebook comments or sent emails to individual members of staff as well as myself, thanking us for what we are doing. You didn’t have to but it does mean a lot. You are inspiring us to do more for your children.

Parents and carers are doing a fantastic job and it is humbling to see how the community is pulling together.

We are in choppy and uncharted waters and all we can do is steer the best possible course, never losing sight of the education and well-being of our children and staff.

We won’t get everything right but we will do our best.

Parents/carers, please remember if you have any issues, in the first instance please contact your child’s year manager or their class teacher via email.

My email, for feedback or anything else, is enquiries@bulwellacademy.org.uk

I hope you and your families keep well and stay safe.


30 March 2020

Welcome to the first of a series of weekly blogs

What a strange time we’re all living through. We’re having to readjust to the impact the coronavirus is having on our everyday lives. We could not have known only two short weeks ago that the Academy would be closed indefinitely.

I want to thank the staff team who’ve worked tirelessly to get our virtual academy up and running. Parents and carers have appreciated what has been achieved in a very short space of time, and myself and the team are very grateful for the positive feedback.

While our academy community might be separated physically, it’s important we use the technology to talk to and support each other. I’m encouraged about how open the communication is between students and staff.

My tip for successful home learning is to get into a routine and stick with it. Please don’t get stressed. We don’t expect students to stay looking at a screen for hours on end. Reward yourself with a cup of tea or walk in the garden!

I am also wondering about Easter holidays. The Academy will remain open for those children, whom the government have said are entitled to a place. However, for those of you with children still at home on lockdown, would parents/carers like us to set special projects to keep children in their routine?

Please let me know any ideas or suggestions and send any further feedback to enquiries@bulwellacademy.org.uk.

Most importantly, I hope you and your families keep well and stay safe. We will get through this.


27 March 2020

The end of a tough week: School Closure Week 1

A video message from the Principal’s office in an eerily quiet school