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Principals Blog - Autumn 2018

posted 17 Dec 2018, 06:28 by Web Admin

December 2018


Dear Parent/Carer,

As we near the end of term, we wanted to write to thank you for your support to the academy so far this year. At Columbus we’ve had a great start to the academic year with many highlights including the weekly visits from The Laughter Specialists (supporting social communication), the Woodwork tutor (supporting the FE students) and ‘Glastonbabies’ on both campuses. There has also been a wealth of trips and visits, including the annual invitation for Key Stage 2 pupils to attend the President’s Sporting Lunch. This is always very popular with the children who enjoyed  a special Christmas lunch at Barleylands in Billericay. 

As you know, Columbus School and College is part of AET. There have been a lot of changes at AET over the last couple of years and the organisation is now in much better shape. There is always more to be done to improve the education that we offer, and indeed each AET academy is different and reflects the needs of the local community. What binds us all together though is our core mission, which is to enable each and every pupil to go on and lead a remarkable life.

As an organisation, AET has been doing a fair bit of thinking about what a ‘remarkable life’ means in practice. We’ve put together a short film which you can see by clicking this link At Columbus School and College we’ll be doing more work over the coming term to embed this thinking and to bring to life what Remarkable Lives means for us here. We are planning to produce our own version of Remarkable Lives to reflect the remarkable journey for pupils here at Columbus.

We hope that your son or daughter has had a positive first term, and that you and your family have an enjoyable break over the holidays.

With every best wish,

Karen Clark                                                                               Julian Drinkall

Principal                                                                                    Chief Executive

Columbus School and College                                              AET                                                                                         

New Staff

We have interviewed for Supply Learning Support Assistants and Apprentice Learning Support Assistants this term and I am pleased to let you know that the following people have been appointed:  Chloe Kirk as Apprentice LSA, Tracey Branch, Natalia Sandoval and Alison Harrington-Lodge  as Supply LSAs.

We look forward to them joining the team once the necessary checks have been completed.

I am pleased to inform you that Deanne Hensey, an experienced part-time teacher in Lower School will be taking on a full-time position in January as Class Teacher in Middle School.

Staff Leavers

Sarah Barker, Class Teacher in Middle School will be leaving us at the end of this term. We thank her for all she has done for the children and young people during her time at Columbus and wish her every success and happiness for the future.

Chair of Governors

Malcolm Reeve will be leaving as Chair of Governor for both Columbus School and College and Pioneer School at the end of this term.  Malcolm, as many of you will know, was former CEO of Columbus School and College and was instrumental in leading the school to become an outstanding provision. On behalf of everyone at Columbus I would like to thank him for his service to the school over many years and wish him success in his new roles across the country. In the Spring term we will be inviting Malcolm to a ‘thank you and farewell’ lunch with a representation of pupils, parents and professional colleagues. If you would like to join this occasion please let Pauline know so she can send details nearer the time.

A new Chair of Governors will be appointed in due course.

Baby News

I am delighted to share the following news with you:

Annabel Walsh (Teacher in FE) had a little girl, Norah, on Sunday 7th October and Rachael Rudgewick (LSA in FE) has had a little girl,  Jordyn Shanelle was born on 21st October.  Congratulations to them all!

INSET Day 30th November

During INSET days staff all benefitted from a number of essential training modules including Level 2 Annual Safeguarding Refresher, e-Safe training and the launch of the AET Vision ‘Missions and Values’ from the CEO, Julian Drinkall.  Some staff also received refresher Gastro training.  The day ended with mince pies and carols while staff spent time putting up Christmas decorations making both campuses look very festive ready for the Christmas Fair!

Shakespeare Festival

We were delighted that our students in Middle School took part once again in this year’s Shakespeare Festival at the Civic Theatre on 13th November This year they performed ‘The Tempest’. This was a wonderful performance which received high accolade from the organiser with the performers receiving a standing ovation for their performance!

Chelmsford & District 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 28th November to share a little more about the work we do with 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 £3,000 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. This year the funds will once again contribute to some of the costs for the Leavers’ Ball and it will also be used to develop curriculum days for Columbus and St. John Payne pupils to share meaningful learning experiences. 

Friends of Columbus Christmas Fair – Sunday 2nd December

This year’s Christmas Fair was a fantastic success and was very well attended.  Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make it such a happy and festive occasion and to everyone who came along to support.  The total amount raised was an amazing £5,000 and still counting!  Our best fundraising event to date.  Thank you!

Christmas Productions

By now you will have all attended the Christmas Productions,  ‘Shine Star, Shine’ in Early Years, ‘Lights, Camel, Action!’ in Lower School and Middle School, a Christmas Sing-along in Upper School and a Christmas Market  and Christmas Assembly in FE.  I hope you enjoyed watching your child perform and were able to stay for some refreshments afterwards and enjoy the Christmas atmosphere. Personally I felt the performances were wonderful and staff made a huge effort to ensure their success as did all of you for supporting with costumes and attending on the day. Thank you.

Christmas Lunches

This year we are very grateful to Friends of Columbus School and College who have paid for all pupils and staff to enjoy a Christmas dinner prepared by the school catering staff.  Our grateful thanks to them for making this Columbus tradition possible once again this year. Thank you also to the parents who gave their time to come in school to prepare and serve the Christmas  lunch to staff and pupils. It is very much appreciated by all.

Next Parents’ Social Event

The next Social Event for parents/carers will be held on 15th January at 1.30pm on College Campus.   We hope you will come along.  More details will be sent out nearer the date.


We would like to thank Beresfords Estate Agents in Chelmsford for once again sponsoring the Friends Christmas Fair through their advertising boards.  Their continued support is very much appreciated.

Social Media

We continue to see some great achievements for our children and young people. If you follow us on Facebook ( or Twitter (@ColumbusSchool), I am sure you will have read the articles and seen the photos of the children and young people hard at work and indeed enjoying themselves in a range of learning activities.


Our Amazon Wish List is constantly updated.  If you would like to browse please visit   Thank you.   Please remember to also support Columbus via Easyfundraising.  If you have not already done so, you can register at  Thank you to everyone who has helped us raise over £3,000 to date!

Thanks You’s

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported our ongoing fundraising efforts in any way this year.  The support that we receive is truly amazing and there are just too many people to mention individually.  Please be assured that every single donation we receive is appreciated so much and really does make a difference.  Thank you to everyone who has supported us this year.

Term Dates

A reminder that the last day of term is Wednesday 19th December.  Pupils and staff return on Thursday 3rd January, 2019.  Taxis have been informed.

Happy Christmas!

I would like to wish you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas and look forward to seeing everyone in the new year.

Karen Clark