News‎ > ‎Principals Blog‎ > ‎

From The Principal…

posted 7 Jul 2014, 07:08 by James Dorey   [ updated 7 Jul 2014, 07:13 ]

New beginnings

I had been planning my July Blog around the theme of New Beginnings and, as I sat down to begin to compile it, the telephone rang with a call from a Lead Ofsted Inspector to notify me of their imminent arrival and the commencement of our long-awaited inspection!

 The Inspectors (all three being experienced Headteachers or Special Needs Consultants) were with us on the 2nd and 3rd of July and completed in excess of 30 observations and mini-observations/learning walks to quality assure the standards of teaching and learning experiences across our academy.

 The quality of care, behaviour and safety was also scrutinised alongside health and safety procedures. Many key personnel, including the Governors, were interviewed and challenged on the quality of education and service to children, young people and their families.

 We will receive our full, official Report in three weeks’ time following its passing through a rigorous quality assurance process within Ofsted. In the meantime however, while we wait for the fuller details, I can tell you that the Columbus team and, more importantly, the children and young people, did themselves proud and really showed the Inspectors what they could achieve! I am sure you will continue to be as proud of the team and the pupils as I am and be thrilled that they will finally, after a long, agonising wait, be fully recognised for their dedication, professionalism and care.

 From September, and with our new Report carefully analysed, we will move forward onto even greater heights with new initiatives, improvements and projects and I will look forward with great anticipation to sharing them with you all very soon!

 Teaching, Learning and Achievement

September brings with it a new National Curriculum and in the weeks ahead, the teaching teams and I will be looking to see how we can ensure that the Columbus curriculum can stay current and relevant. It is important that our young people access the same entitlements as their peers in the mainstream setting whilst also have parts of their taught week that are tailor-made to their specific needs or particular interests.

 We will be looking at how we can broaden accreditation and work experience, residential journeys, community based learning and the arts. We also hope to be utilising our fine buildings more than ever before – particularly on the College Campus.

 I look forward to sharing more with you in due course and celebrating the achievements of our young people.

 An external moderator from Edexcel visited on 3rd July to moderate our exam marking for the FE Entry Level Maths and English candidates.

 The visit went well and she was extremely happy with the way that we run the course, the improvements that we have made since last year's visit and that our marking is accurate on all papers.

 The moderator noted that marking is fair and accurate at all levels and by all teachers - quite unusual and very good so well done teachers! She also thought that our students have done exceptionally well, regardless of their pass or fail mark and we look forward to seeing the final results once they are all externally marked over the Summer holiday. 

Thank you to the FE team who have worked extremely hard to prepare our students and support them through the stressful process of completing exams. I would like to thank them all for their hard work and support with this – we are very proud of you all!

 Professional Development

Part of continually improving what we do at Columbus includes developing the training opportunities for our staff. This training enables us to deliver the highest quality teaching and learning experience, therapy intervention and also care practices to ensure all learners meet their full potential but to also ensure they are safe and well cared for throughout the school day.

In recent questionnaires and surveys, staff have shared their thoughts and views on the training they receive and ways in which they think we can improve. In the year ahead, I plan to create a more detailed induction training package for new members of the Columbus team; sharing good practice and the expertise of the skilled team we have here at the school.

September’s Inset day will focus around updating our staff on safe medical and care practices as well as training on assessment and targeting learning to ensure that each and every lesson benefits our learners in line with their personal learning targets.


In the year ahead I am looking forward to developing more links with mainstream schools and local businesses that will offer social, learning and work experience activities for our young people. In turn I am sure that these links benefit the young people who attend these schools as well as those living and working in our local community who welcome our students into their working settings.

I also plan to initiate the Parent Consultation Committee which will be made up of a group of Columbus parents who in time will be invaluable when advising us on new family support initiatives that are required, arranging parent tutorials for learning support in the home, supporting with multi-agency working and reducing isolation for families.

In the run up to the end of term, may I thank everyone who takes the time to read my blog and follow the work we do here at Columbus for our most wonderful children and young people. I look forward to seeing as many of you that can attend our leavers and transitions events, dramatic performances on the College Campus, sporting events, Parents’ Consultation Evenings and the Leavers’ Ball.

General Notices and Thank You’s

Columbus attended the Walthamstock Music Festival on Saturday 7th July, raising money for our Christopher the Columbus Carrot Therapy Fundraiser as well as celebrating other local charities; Chelmsford City MENCAP and Dance 21. The day was a high quality music event with beautifully presented stalls, eateries, side shows and music stages. Once the charity stalls were cleared away, the fun really started with many high profile bands playing.

 We feel so honoured to have been included as part of this event and thank Anna, Sherie, Andy, Simon, Jo, David, Keith and the rest of the team for including us in their event.

Watch out for reports on the day in the Essex Chronicle as well as on Twitter - @Walthamstock and @ColumbusSchool.  We promise to buy our tickets again next year – Shine On!!

On Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd August 2014, the Fuchsia Society will be once again sharing their skills at St John Payne School between 10.00am - 5.00pm. The Fuchsia Society are great supporters of Columbus and we hope that you will all be able to find a little time to go along and support them in return. Their event will include 100 Fuchsias on display, craft and gift stalls and a Mini Farmers’ Market. Plants will also be on sale with a Raffle, Tombola and book stall. Refreshments are available all day!

Mrs. G. Bellard