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From The Principal 18/04/2013

posted 28 Aug 2013, 06:38 by Web Admin   [ updated 28 Aug 2013, 06:39 ]

Welcome to the Summer Term! Let’s hope the fine weather is finally here and we continue to see the sunshine!

I do hope that you have all had a restful Easter Break with your friends and families – Columbus is ready and raring to go for the new term!

As usual, pupil welfare, safety and the highest quality learning and development opportunities remain close to our hearts. As you read through my blog this month, you will see overlap between the two in much of the news I have to share with you.

Exciting achievements over recent weeks have included our latest award – The Princess Diana Anti-Bullying Award.  At the end of last term, two students from our Further Education Department went to collect the award and to also receive training. Although bullying has not been a problem at Columbus, it remains an important life issue to learn about to ensure safety within school, the local community and when preparing for adult life. The students will now be returning to Columbus for the new term with suggestions and recommendations for me to observe at Columbus and in our local community. As our Anti-Bullying Ambassadors, they will also meet and report to the Governors, talk to their friends and classmates about keeping themselves and others safe and to plan who to go to if they feel worried or unsafe at any time.

Our congratulations go to Mrs Hannah Austin who has secured the ‘Daisy Award’ for the Columbus Libraries. This award recognises the quality of support that the library provides for our young people and also awards us with some limited finances to further enhance our reading materials. Hannah has placed many hours work in the application for this award and I thank her most sincerely.

Keeping fit and healthy (especially if you have eaten as much chocolate as I have over the holidays!) is also important to us all here at Columbus. The installation of an outdoor gym will take place on the College Campus this term, providing another age-appropriate activity for our young people at lunch and break times as well as enabling them to learn a little more about keeping fit. We hope that this will be another facility that we will be able to share with our local community too.

Our longstanding link with the Chelmsford Schools’ Sport Partnership and Thriftwood School continues with a number of sporting and social events held at Columbus to provide training and support for colleagues from the mainstream education setting; to bring young people with disabilities together to compete in local sporting events and to also share our practice and expertise in the name of education support development. Thank you to Emma Reeve and Tracey Plane for facilitating these events.

Pet Therapy is our latest area of investigation with well-being in mind. We hope that visits and learning activities with Freddie, the Labra-doodle from Pets for Therapy , will enable our children and young people to develop communication and interaction skills – more news to follow in the weeks ahead!

Training events to enhance the teaching skills of our own staff continue this term with a drive and focus on Reading for our most able students and also in the area of Communication for our non-verbal children and young people. Colleagues from within the Academies Enterprise Trust chain will be joining us next month to help us all to learn a little more about what takes place in the mainstream setting in the area of reading so that we can keep up to date with new education developments whilst also adapting these to make them relevant and accessible to our pupils here at Columbus.

Training will be in partnership with Pioneer School, the SEN school based in Basildon. Partnership working with our friends and colleagues will help us to share and develop best practice and additional, follow-up events with Pioneer will continue into the Summer Term to focus on the “quality control” of assessment of learning.

As always, there are a number of “thank you’s” to do!

My first goes to the Columbus Therapy Team who delivered Makaton training for a group of parents/carers last month. This was a successful session for all involved and will help the team to plan and arrange further training sessions for parents/carers over the coming term.

Thank you to “Live Music Now!” who came to Columbus last month to deliver a range of interactive music activities for our children and young people across the School and College campuses. We hope that, in the coming term, further music-based partnerships with local and national groups as well as local secondary schools will enable us to provide greater musical enrichment to the learning experience at Columbus.  Again – more news to come!

I would also like to say a special “thank you” to Jenny Sturt, an LSA based on the School Campus, who completed a second half marathon for us on the 23rd March in order to raise funds for a second ‘Acheeva’ Learning Station (picture below) for our PMLD students. Jenny braved the cold and the snow to complete her run in record time – 2 hours and 5 minutes being her new Personal Best. Jenny, you are an inspiration to us all and we thank you most sincerely for your kindness, determination and dedication!  Should you wish to support Jenny in her endeavours by donating to her fund, a link can be found on this website and

A hearty thank you also goes out to The Friends of Columbus School and College for yet another enjoyable and successful fundraising event. The most recent event was a Quiz Night which raised the grand sum of £777.88. Particular thanks go to Alan and Debbie Rayner for leading the event, to Ann Childs for organising a wonderful venue and to Quizmaster Maurice! Should you be interested in joining ‘The Friends’ or just wish to support them with a donation, a link to their tab can be found at the top of the Columbus website.

Essex-based charity, Wipe Away Those Tears continues to be a significant supporter of Columbus, beginning the partnership by donating 20 i-pads to Columbus back in 2010. Their most recent donations have included an adapted trike for two students to use on the College Campus and also four amazing tickets for one of our FE students to go to the O2 to see One Direction with her family!

We are so thrilled to receive these kind gifts and hope that Gail and Jason from Wipe Away Those Tears will soon come to visit us so we can share with them the significance of their wonderful donations!

And finally…

An update - The Columbus Community Café continues to open each morning to provide breakfast to staff and young people who attend the daily Breakfast Club. Everything has been a success so far and we hope to have a Grand Opening on 10th May to launch our Afternoon Tea events. Details on this new venture are to follow and we hope that many of you will be able to join us in celebrating this new initiative.