It's the end of another year - our fourth! The end of anything always provides a great opportunity for reflection. I think as a school we have done many things well, some things better than we have ever done them, and, of course, as always, there is still plenty of room for improvement.
We really appreciated the feedback we received from parents and students during the consultation week. It has been very helpful as we think about and plan for next year. In general, the responses were very positive. Parents are strongly supportive of the educational approach being taken and a strong message received through the consultation is "carry on" and, please, recapitate - take the school to year 8. Parents are proud of the BIG educational thinking of the school and the way the school is challenging thinking about how young people learn. They love the fact that their children are being challenged to become self-directed learners who understand themselves as learners and are learning to learn.
However, there is definitely some "finessing" to be done around some of our transition and communication processes. With so many new students enrolling throughout this year, processes that have worked okay in past years, were not quite up to the mark this year. One of the challenges we have is that when people walk into more traditional schools, they know how school works because the traditional structure of schooling hasn't changed too much since their school days. However, it takes time to understand how our school works because it is very different in a number of often quite subtle ways. The kinds of questions that you might ask to find out information in another school are often irrelevant when you come into our school. Unfortunately, we have not always done a good enough job this year of informing people of how things work here. This cannot be a one- off information session because there is too much to say in one session and people will be overwhelmed by the information. Information has to be drip-fed over time, but it also has to be timely - we could probably say it needs to be personalised! We are committed to continuing to improve these processes, so that all people have a great experience transitioning into Amesbury School.
The new website has improved things because it is a one stop shop where people can access all the information about the school in one place. However, this is not enough, and we will trial some other approaches next year.
This brings me to next year. We are excited about next year. We think we have been able to put together a very strong teaching team - a growing team. It is wonderful that after four years and in spite of the hard work of opening a new school, we still have most of our foundation staff members. I would like to honour Michael, Demelza, Angela, Amaria, Urs, Lisa and Andrea (almost a foundation staff member - appointed during our first year) for being the strong backbone of our teaching team upon which future growth can be supported. Thanks to Gail who has been with us from the start for her commitment to the school and for the hard work she puts in for the school. Thanks to all our staff who so wonderfully support teaching and learning at Amesbury School in their various ways.
Thanks to the parents and students of Amesbury School for your support of the school and for being such wonderful people. I wish you all a great Christmas and a happy New Year. May 2016 be a peaceful year for the world, as we learn to live together and embrace our differences and diversity and our "wonderfulness" as human beings.
Be very safe over the holidays and we will see you next year ready for another great year of learning.