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From The Principal…

posted 3 Mar 2015, 03:54 by James Dorey

Equality and Achievement

Columbus always takes the greatest of pride in celebrating and championing the achievements of its young people. Their successes come in many guises, often surprising and always delighting us all.

As we prepare to greet the Lord and Lady Mayor of Chelmsford City Council later this month, we reflect and consider the achievements of our young people and look to see how we can nurture these further and instil these  achievements in the hearts and minds of other learners as well as ourselves.

Inspiring achievements that we will be sharing with our esteemed visitors will include performances from our academy choir who will perform what is now the very well-known song “Let it Go” from the film, Frozen. I am always moved by these performances as the young people spend many weeks rehearsing and learning not only the vocals but also the Makaton signs to accompany the songs. These achievements of course are not possible without the dedication of the staff who continue to determine to present our young people with these important opportunities; opportunities which mainstream brothers, sisters and friends might take for granted.

I will also be presenting ex-pupil and newly-appointed Columbus Volunteer Learning Support Assistant, Harry Franklin to the Lord and Lady Mayor in order that we might celebrate his most inspiring of achievements. Harry, who left the academy as a student at the end of the last academic year, has the ambition to become a Learning Support Assistant for children with special educational needs and disabilities. He returned as a volunteer member of staff  in September and has since been working with our Class 3 group on the School Campus. As a result of his successes in Class 3, he is now able to embark on a City & Guilds Level 2 Certificate for the Children and Young People’s Workforce, a qualification which is nationally recognised in the teaching and learning profession. I feel great pride to see an ex-pupil, supported by the dedicated staff at Columbus who will be supporting Harry to follow his dream and develop prospects and opportunities to carry into his adult life. Many congratulations and good luck to you, Harry!

My recent invitation to meet with Inspiring Futures at the House of Commons will also hopefully present further opportunities for our young people to experience and be fully involved in work-based opportunities which they can carry on into their adult lives. I have put forward some proposals to the company following my visit and I hope to be hearing from them soon. We hope that they will be able to put us in touch with more local and national businesses who will be interested in working with us to improve our work-based learning opportunities.

 Our Sponsored Walk in aid of our therapy fundraising project was a huge success on Friday 27th February. We were blessed with wonderful weather which enabled all the children and young people to take part in their walks out in the open air! Again, I was so proud to see everyone taking part with such enthusiasm and positivity. We all donned our wellies to walk part of the Flitch Way, trek around  Admiral’s Park, circumnavigate St. Andrew’s Park or follow a number trail in the Early Years playground!  The support we have received from families and indeed local businesses who follow the work of Columbus, has been tremendous. All monies collected will go towards funding therapy and behavioural intervention work.

Our next therapy fundraiser is on Saturday 14th March with the Friends of Columbus School and College hosting a Quiz Night at 7pm at the Essex Police Social Club, St. Margaret's Road, Chelmsford. Tickets can be purchased “on the door” on the evening of the event but do let us know in advance if you want to enter a team so we can be sure of numbers. We look forward to you joining us!

 New initiatives I am currently exploring include an Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) pilot project which will be running on the School Campus with a group of five Key Stage 3 students who will receive specialist intervention, led by a Consultant Behaviour Analyst who will be training staff in the art of Autism Spectrum Disorder behavioural intervention and targeted learning. If successful, I hope to roll out the project to other groups of children and young people to further enhance learning and support approaches in the area of ASD. More information will follow!

 Columbus has been invited to join the National Shakespeare School’s Festival later this year to participate with young people from local mainstream schools in a performance which will take place at the Civic Theatre in Chelmsford in the Autumn Term – an opportunity for us to be included in a high quality learning experience which, again, puts us on a level playing field with our mainstream counterparts. I am very excited to be able to consider such a marvellous opportunity for our young people and I hope to be able to update you all a little more in due course. The Oscars and BAFTAs, here we come!!

 I look forward to sharing more of our young people’s achievements and experiences next month.

Ginny Bellard