News‎ > ‎Principals Blog‎ > ‎

From The Principal…

posted 6 Dec 2016, 03:47 by James Dorey

The young people and staff have been busily preparing for their Christmas performances, parties and events over the last few weeks and we are looking forward to all the Christmas festivities in the run up to the end of term. 

Safeguarding Review and AET Review of the Academy 
Over recent weeks we have had two AET inspections and I’m pleased to report to parents that these have gone well. The Safeguarding inspection was carried out over one and half days and was completed by an Ofsted Inspector. The result of this was that Columbus is considered ‘fit for purpose’. The AET Review of the Academy was carried out by two AET professionals (one who is a registered inspector) and the new Head Teacher of our sister school, Pioneer, in Basildon. This review was very useful and has helped us identify how to keep improving the Academy. 

‘Razed Roof’
We are hoping that Razed Roof, a Theatre Company that operates out of Harlow Playhouse and specialises in working with young people with learning needs, will be working in FE next term for one day a week. This will give some FE students to experience high quality drama experiences.  

Friends of Columbus Christmas Fair
Thank you to the Friends Fundraising Committee, families and staff of Columbus pupils who helped to set up, run a stall or just came along to our Christmas Fair on Friday 2nd December. The event was a great success again with so many families and supporters of the school attending and we were thrilled to welcome so many friends of the school who came along to put on fun activities for the children and offer opportunities for us all to start to get organised with Christmas presents! 

Dance 21 joined us once again and entertained all who attended with a range of dance performances.  Our thanks go to Thomas Turrell, an ex-student of Columbus and co-choreographer for Dance 21, for his ongoing help this year with developing performing arts experiences and opportunities for our young people at Columbus. 

So much hard work goes into making this event so special by our Friends Committee; we will let you know how much money was raised as soon as the Treasurer has totalled everything up. 

Sainsbury’s Springfield Charity of the Year
Our thanks go to Sainsbury’s at Springfield who are giving us another Bag Packing fundraising opportunity again on the 9th, 10th and 11th December.  There’s still time to let us know if you would like to help us.  Please e-mail our fundraiser at  

Tesco ‘Bags of Help’ Initiative
I would like to thank everyone who voted for Columbus in this recent initiative.  Thanks to your support, we managed to get the most votes which means that we will receive a magnificent donation of £12,000 for outside play spaces.  This is just amazing and will make such a difference.

Fuchsia Society
A longstanding partnership that Columbus has with the Fuchsia Society continues to benefit the children and young people at the academy. I was invited to speak at their Annual Awards Evening on Wednesday 26th November to share a little more about the work we do with our very special children and young people. The group were very interested to hear about the remarkable work of the staff and indeed the achievements of the young people.  The evening culminated in me being presented with a cheque for £2,500 for the academy.

In the past, the funds have been used to develop inclusive learning and social events with our friends and colleagues from St. John Payne Secondary School. The Fuchsia Society have also supported in the funding of the end of year ‘Leavers’ Ball’ for young people in Year 11 and Year 14 to have a party and experience a celebration event that marks their achievements throughout their school life, in a similar way that their mainstream friends would experience.  Our sincere thanks go to the group for their extended interest in and support of our academy. 

AET Christmas Card Competition
Congratulations to Toby Brooks, a student in Key Stage 4, who won the AET Christmas Card Competition 2016.  This competition is open to all special academies within AET.  Toby wins a £25 Argos voucher and his design will be on the AET Christmas cards sent far and wide!  Well done Toby – we are very proud of you!

Thank You
As the year draws to a close I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported our ongoing fundraising efforts in any way.  The support received is amazing and there are just too many people to mention individually.  In the new year we are looking forward to sharing with everyone in detail the fantastic things we have been able to do with the money raised so far.  What we have been able to achieve, thanks to your ongoing support, is fantastic. 

Term Dates
A reminder that the last day of term is Wednesday 21st December and pupils return on Monday 9th January.  Thursday 5th and Friday 6th January are INSET days. Taxis have been informed.

These two training days will be used to ensure that all staff have the very latest mandatory Safeguarding Children in Education training  and refreshed training in Moving and Positioning, Dysphagia, Epilepsy awareness and Gastronomy.  

I look forward to seeing you all at your child’s Christmas performance if you are able to join us and would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Tom Jackson-Owens
Acting Principal

(During the run up to Christmas, if you are able to, please remember to support Columbus via Easyfundraising or register at  So far we've raised the fantastic sum of £1,693.43 with your support. Thank you!)