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From The Principal 12/03/2013

posted 28 Aug 2013, 06:35 by Web Admin   [ updated 28 Aug 2013, 06:35 ]

Partnerships continue to be a key focus for all of us here at Columbus.

The partnership we hold in the highest esteem is that which we share with families, so much so that we heavily invest in the development and service delivered by our Family Support Workers, our Parent Entitlement Advisor and our Pupil Welfare Assistant. The service this team offers continues to go from strength to strength and in the weeks ahead, they will be publishing further dates for parent social events, training and appointments to meet at upcoming Parents’ Consultation Evenings.

I am delighted to announce that the team will be extending further with the appointment of a School Nurse later this term. The local NHS have kindly supported Columbus by identifying a specialist practitioner who will be based at Columbus two days a week to train staff, ensure that medical and care practices are of the highest standard and to also begin to explore ways that we can support families further.

The Friends of Columbus School and College continue to deliver a wonderful service to the academy by arranging fundraising social events for our young people and their families. The next event will be a Quiz Night held on Saturday 16th March – please see further details published on our website. Events arranged by the Friends in the months ahead include a Sponsored Walk in the summer and a Summer Fayre. Again, all details are listed on the website. We are always happy to receive new members to our Fundraising Committee and further details can be obtained from Alan Rayner at if you are interested in joining us.

I am delighted to announce that we have secured funding for a further two years of therapy support at both the School and the College Campuses. The partnership we have built with our therapy colleagues over the years has enabled us to not only offer a better service to our students, but to develop our own skills and practices in order that the learning experience in the classroom day to day can address the holistic needs of our students even more effectively. We thank our partners at CECS (Central Essex Community Services) for enabling this partnership working to continue.

The newest member to join our Therapy Team is Miss Anita Vaz, Music Therapist. She will be working with a number of children and young people and helping the teachers to begin to learn a little more about how music in the classroom can impact on learning and communication. We welcome Anita to our team from 1stMarch.

Other partnerships forged in the last few weeks include a new link with Virgin Finance. Colleagues from the financial world will be enabling us to raise funds for the school whilst supporting us to develop our young people’s understanding of money, filling in application forms and the value of saving and looking after your money. We will keep you informed of how this partnership develops in due course.

We were delighted to receive Mr David Triggs (CEO of our Academy Chain at Academies Enterprise Trust) on the 7th March and share with him a little more of what we do here at Columbus. He met  with the Student Council for lunch and Mr Keith Lomax, our Chair of Governors, also kindly attended to support us in the visit. We enjoyed watching part of the Drama Workshop that took place as part of our World Book Day and celebrating our new buildings and facilities with him. We are hoping to be able to invite him back in the summer months for our performance of ‘The Wizard of Oz’!

Other announcements to share with you all include us being shortlisted for the Daisy Library Award which will hopefully accredit us as offering excellent library facilities to our students. Results are to be announced later this month.

Malcolm Reeve attended the Civic Trust Awards in Cardiff on my behalf recently and I am very proud to be able to let you know that Columbus won two awards for its new buildings. 

School Campus won a Commendation and the citation read as follows:

Columbus School is an impressive, well-executed project that can accommodate up to 120 pupils, 3 to 13 years old, who have profound disabilities and complex needs. This school has been created by retaining and remodelling the eastern half of an existing single-storey school, redeveloping the western half of the school on two levels and uniting the parts by a broad, two and a half storey “street” - a generous, bright thoroughfare. Together with Columbus College the overall “campus” is delightful, with excellent universal design credentials. The campus reinforces the students’ rites of passage as they pass through each stage of their education and go on to lead inclusive, fulfilling lives.

College Campus won a Commendation and the citation read as follows:

Columbus College is an inspirational school that can accommodate up to 120 students, 11 to 19 years old, who have profound disabilities and complex needs. The building design is simple and logical, with impressive openness linking purposefully to the external landscape, bringing it into the building to broaden the range of learning environments. The community has access to a cafe and restaurant as well as the LRC, hydrotherapy pool and sports facilities. The building is well-planned, consistently detailed and creates a contemporary yet welcoming environment in which to prepare students to enjoy inclusive and socially fulfilling lives.

More information about the awards can be found at

Our Columbus Community Café opened on the 4th March and over the last few days, pupils and staff have been enjoying breakfast together while we learn the ropes of running such a facility. We hope that in the coming weeks we will be able to share the service with our taxi drivers and in time, the local community. This facility will offer work experience and social opportunities for our young people as well as begin to generate an exciting new revenue stream for the school. Please do join us parents/carers for a coffee in the mornings! We are open from 8am-9.30am at present and we would love to see you there! If any parents or carers are interested in helping with the running of the café, do please let us know.

Two of our students went to collect our Healthy School’s Award on Friday 8th March and were true ambassadors for the school. They went to Chelmsford Central Baptist Church and collected our award in front of a very large audience of 300-400 people! We are very proud of them both and look forward to sharing the photograph of them receiving the award from Councillor Ann Naylor on our website very soon.

Interesting and inspiring visitors to Columbus this month have included Chloe Rogers, an Olympic Bronze Medallist Women’s Hockey 2012 who came to share her story and teach us a little more about the sport on Wednesday 27th February. Our colleague from the AET Chain, Dominik Fenton, also joined to help to make the visit such a success. Our thanks go to them both.

And finally…

Columbus continues to build links with teacher training establishments. Columbus believes that it is a vital part of a young teacher’s career development to begin to learn of the needs of those with SEN and how best to teach and support them. Following a day at Columbus back in February, here are just a handful of the wonderful comments made by the trainees. I am sure that you too will feel very proud of our staff and children!

“A thoroughly enjoyable and inspiring day! I felt every aspect of the day was both useful and engaging, I wanted to stay longer!”

“Today has been such an insightful and moving day and I have taken a great deal away from it. I enjoyed the day and learnt a lot.”

“I have heard so much praise from a lot of other trainees. The staff were really welcoming and encouraging us to get involved. The school had a really nice atmosphere and the children all seemed happy to be there.”

“The entire day was a wonderful experience. I was humbled and honoured to be given the chance to learn more about SEND and interact with pupils at the school. I thought the school, its staff, its purpose and its ethos was remarkable and I thoroughly enjoyed the day.   I came away feeling very reflective and inspired.”