Monthly Letter

30th October 2017

 Dear Parents / Carers

We need to say a huge thank you to all those parents who were able to complete our parent questionnaire.  We strive to improve our students’ and parents’ experience of Pool Academy so we are always grateful to receive feedback on how we are doing and areas we might want to focus on.  A simple summary of the responses can be found at the end of this letter for your information.  The questionnaire was anonymous but all parents who specifically left their contact details were contacted by email/phone initially, and then they were invited in to meet with us to discuss their feedback in more detail.  I have really enjoyed meeting many of you and would welcome any additional parents to make appointments by phoning Mrs Sadie Sutcliffe (Principal’s PA) on 01209 712220 or by emailing her at Our next Parents and Carers Forum Meeting is 21st November at 6pm and we would welcome all parents to continue the discussions about these areas during this meeting.

We have also been working with our Parents and Carers Forum to make our website more accessible.  Your comments would be appreciated and if you have any, or would like to discuss this with a member of the Leadership Team, please do get in touch.  A quick reminder too about a small change in uniform from today, Monday 30th October.  We are asking that if socks can be seen, that they are black please.  Thank you for your continued support with this.

Pool Academy’s mascot, Buzz the Bear, travelled even further after successfully completing his second mission to space.  Scores of people arrived to watch him take off at the school’s open evening.  He was strapped to a helium balloon, along with high-tech equipment, to take photographs from the air.

Despite the drizzle, and being momentarily tangled on a flood light, the bear journeyed for about an hour and a half before landing in South Devon.  He rose more than 61,000 feet into the air and at some points reached speeds of up to 90 miles per hour. The lowest temperature was recorded as minus 40 degrees.  

Mr Jones and his team collected the bear from a tree in North Devon the next day and brought back the technology to analyse the data.  Hundreds of photographs and film footage showed shots from above the clouds including the sun set.  Earlier this term a competition was run with the local Primary Schools to find reporters, presenters, engineers and designers to help make the launch night a success and they were all invited to help out with the launch.

Our Year 11s will start their Internal Exams tomorrow (Tuesday 31st October). Each subject has issued revision material for students.  Mr Ryder has also sent a link to support year 11s with any problems they are having understanding elements of their work.  Please encourage them to use this if they are having any difficulties with their work.  If you would like to speak to anyone, please feel free to contact the relevant Head of Department (email addresses on the website) or email me directly ( and I’ll coordinate a response for you.

We continue to work with our Student Leadership Team to review the arrangements at breaktime and lunchtime.  Keeping students safe will always be our first priority and it’s important that we can properly supervise students across the site.  As the winter draws in, we will be restricting the use of the muddy fields and encouraging students to access the indoor spaces.  We have 300+ seats available in the Main Hall and 500+ seats available in classrooms meaning all students can sit at a table.  

We also have the gym open, areas for students with specific needs, access to quiet spaces and a range of teachers each day are working with students during their breaks to give them extra support where needed.  We will continue to review this provision and welcome you to get in touch if you would like to discuss it.

At the end of last year we introduced 3 Key Challenges for students - Excellent achievements, impeccable conduct and making a positive impact in the community.  We also introduced our ‘Miles scheme’ last month, where students earn achievement points to allow them to access key rewards trips.  Mr Jones (Network Manager) has been working to create an app which will allow students and parents to review students’ progress against these challenges and miles.  We hope to be able to share this with you in our next letter.

Many of you will be aware that Mrs Boase reluctantly had to resign her position at the academy earlier this month.  Mrs Boase has worked at the academy for 14 years and will be missed by students, staff and parents.  We were lucky to be able to appoint Ms Facey to start as SENDCo in January and I look forward to introducing her to you in the new year.  Across this half-term, Mrs Boyall (Vice Principal) will work closely with Mrs Adams (SEN Manager) to develop the work of the SEND team further, and Mrs Boase will continue to support key students with their reviews.  Mrs Neesham (Vice Principal) will be sending a letter to all parents about how she is securing consistent teaching for all students across the academic year.

Devon and Cornwall Police have invited all schools to take part in a project called ‘Operation Encompass’.  Operation Encompass is a Police and Education early intervention safeguarding partnership which supports children and young people exposed to domestic abuse.  A full update has been added to the end of this letter.  We believe this is a vitally important project.  If you have any questions, as always, please do get in touch with us.

We are very proud of all of our students, but we need to give a special mention to those who have recently received top certificates in a National Maths Competition.  Students from across the academy took part in the UKMT Junior Maths Challenge in July resulting in Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards being handed out as well as Best in Year titles.  More than 2,500 students from across the UK took part and had to problem solve and think their way through 25 multiple choice exam questions.  

Please can I draw your attention to a few future events coming up in the remainder of October / November:

  • w/c 31st October (and following 2 weeks) - Year 11 internal exams

  • 3rd November - The Big First Aid Lesson

  • 10th November - RAF and Royal Navy Education Programme (Year 7 and Year 8) and Next Steps South West Careers day (Year 10)

  • 15th November - Pearl of Africa choir performances

  • 16th November - Careers evening (Year 11)

  • 21st November - Parents and Carers Forum meeting, 6pm

  • 29th November - Parents and Carers Quiz Night, 7pm

I look forward to seeing you at an event soon but in the meantime, if you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours faithfully,  

Miss Claire Meakin


Pool Academy’s Parental Questionnaire - October 2017

At least 80% of parents said:
Their child is happy
Their child feels safe
Their child is well looked after
They were happy or very happy with the progress their child is making
Their child is taught well

Three quarters of parents said:
The Academy ensures all students behave
Their child receives an appropriate amount of homework
The Academy is well led and managed
They would recommend the Academy to another parent.

Areas of focus for the Academy now are:

Responding to concerns:
All parents who left their contact details in the questionnaire, have been contacted specifically about the concern they raised, but also invited to come in to talk generally about their experiences.  
All parents have been invited to informal drop in sessions and to book formal appointments.  
The Senior Leadership Team all attended the first Parents Carers Forum meeting to introduce themselves and have an informal discussion about their aims for this year.
We ask that if parents have concerns, please get in touch and we will aim to resolve these with you as soon as possible. (

Communicating with all stakeholders about the Academy’s Anti-Bullying strategy:
We are introducing an anti-bullying charter that all students will participate in making.  This charter will then be placed around all rooms in the academy.
We will be asking more students to volunteer to be trained as our academy anti-bullying ambassadors.  We will be running these sessions leading up to the Secondary Schools’ National Bullying Awareness Week from 13th - 17th November organised by the Anti Bullying Alliance. 
At the next Parents Carers Forum meeting, Mr Walker will be available for questions about our charter and other actions for the academy on this area.

Ensuring all progress information is as valuable as possible:
Mr Ryder (Assistant Principal) is working with our Parents Carers Forum to produce a summary sheet that details when parents can expect to receive information, what it means and how they can best support their child.
Please contact him by phone or email ( if you’d like to work with him on this.

Phil Jones