The Pontefract Education Trust CHOICE programme has shown every year for the past 4 years what a positive impact comes from giving young people the opportunity to make the right choice. The CHOICE programme allows students to identify the consequences of behaviour, it inspires learning and highlights career opportunities. CHOICE is a project for young people aged between 9 and 11 based in the Pontefract and South East areas. The programme is in its fourth year and has been hugely successful with young people visiting police stations and courts, taking part in firefighter training and learning about the consequences of making bad choices. I was privileged to be asked to present the certificates of achievement to the young people in a Certificate Ceremony held at the Westfield Centre on July 6th. The hall was packed with parents and relatives of the children all rightly proud of their achievements. Many of the CHOICE students came from Minsthorpe feeder primary schools and it was good to see them being rewarded for positive behaviour.
As part of their continuous professional development, teachers at Minsthorpe are either doing a personal enquiry into an educational issue and applying it in the classroom or are working in triads that focus on improving the progress of specific students in a lesson study programme. On Tuesday 5th July teachers showcased their projects in a TeachMeet event and presented on the impact that their programme had had on student achievement. It was a great event as we learned about immersing students in history through the sights and sounds of the event. We saw how interspacing learning with unconnected physical activity has a proven effect on memory. New techniques for teaching subtraction were shown and many other innovative ideas. At Minsthorpe we are passionate about learning and teaching and staff regularly share tips and learn from each other in a culture of infectious pedagogy in which we all seek to improve as teachers in order to improve the quality of education that our students receive.
Good fences make good neighbours
In today’s world, security is a top priority in all types of places. From government buildings to small businesses to residential areas, more and more security equipment is being put in place on a daily basis in order to keep people and their property as safe as possible. Although security should certainly be taken seriously in any situation, there are few situations when it is more important to keep people safe than in a school setting. The Ofsted inspection of March 2014 highlighted a number of concerns about the openness of the site at Minsthorpe Community College and how easy it is for members of the public and unauthorised visitors to gain access to almost the entire site without immediate detection. Taking proper security precautions can help keep others who go to the college, such as teachers, parents and guests, as safe as possible from danger and harm. The increasing number of unauthorised intruders that we have had on site in 2015 and 2016 means that we have to act and we will be installing an access controlled perimeter fence around the college over the summer in order to make the site safer for students and staff.
We can never make Minsthorpe 100% secure and we do not want to make it look like a fortress. We are a community school and want to be open and allow the community to access our site. This will not change. However, we have to balance our desire to be an open, welcoming college, with the fact that not all visitors come to the college with good intentions and the fencing will be aimed at preventing unauthorised people (and those with malicious intent) from having free access to the site. It will not prevent people who need and want to access the college from doing so.