Life at the Academy - which is just starting its second year as an all through educational campus for nursery to19 year olds – is always hectic, fun and challenging for its staff – and no less for Principal Nick Hindmarsh. Here he outlines a typical day at the Milton Lane Site.
7.30am – I get in and get little jobs out of the way, like checking my emails. The caretaker John Smales gets in around this time, as does our financial manager Ray Paffett.
8am – the Senior Leadership Team - myself, Vice Principals Rik Meek and Nick Bowles and business manager Simon Rushton – meet and discuss the important issues, plans and events coming up.
8.30am – all staff will be on site by now, as will many of the students. This term, our new Big Yellow Bus, which is an easy and cheap way for many to get to school, has started bringing students to school. It travels across to Torbay to pick up our students - and they only have to pay £1 each way, including coming across the Higher Ferry. The bus is at our disposal all day and is used to run our students to the Leisure Centre for lessons too.
8.45am – on a strict rota, a fifth of our teachers head out to make sure all our pupils and students are safe in arriving at the Academy. Everyone – including the whole Senior Leadership Team – do their turn.
9am – The Secondary phase has either Assemblies or tutorial time, the Primary phase have assemblies every morning. We think it is vital to bring students and pupils together as much as we can to promote a sense of working together.
9.25am – Lessons begin. In the Secondary phase we have brought in a new timetable which allows us to have longer lessons – 75, 100 and 125 minutes each. This is a fantastic change which allows our staff to use a wider variety of techniques to improve learning.
A longer lesson can also allow students in PE, Art and Design to make more of their lessons, and our teachers can really invest time in taking the students through complex ideas and projects and have the time each lesson to teach, explore and open the students’ minds to the concepts they are learning.
10.40am – break – a time when our teachers go out on duty and our students recharge their batteries with some food. They only have 15 minutes so they have to be quick!
10.55am – Break ends; again a longer lesson format in the Secondary phase.
12.35pm – Lunchtime. Teachers are again out on duty. Our students take their turn to go into the canteen and others are out on the field playing games.
From this term though, there will be new and exciting clubs each lunchtime. Every single teacher is giving an hour each week to clubs either at lunch or after school. We are encouraging both fun clubs - a Glee club for example – and more serious learning based clubs.
There will be revision classes for older students, and mentoring sessions for most Year 11 students, with senior colleagues.
1.15pm – Afternoon classes begin for the secondary phase. Again this year there will be older students going to teach primary phase pupils, for example in PE. We already have students from the secondary phase teaching primary children, but this year we are doing more now we have our own Sixth Form students really stepping up to the mark.
This initiative is really important because it encourages the older students to take responsibility and practise nascent leadership skills with the younger children and the younger children are inspired to emulate the older children. This is one of the great things about the all-through Academy we have in Dartmouth as it aims to create and develop a supportive, family atmosphere across the whole campus.
3.25pm – Normal school hours end – but in the secondary phase our twilight GCSE lessons begin at 3.45 in Music, Dance, Drama, and Spanish, and AS level Electronics. These lessons last till 5.15pm and allow us to have a broader curriculum, which gives more students the opportunity to study the subjects they want to.
Also, after the end of school we hold a number of staff meetings over the week. We have a strong management system which ensures line managers meet with each of the staff they manage each week – I will meet with the heads of Science, Maths and English each week – as well as meeting with the Senior Management Team, and the Extended Leadership Team meets every two weeks.
6-9pm – In the evenings a number of community groups use our facilities, and we are keen for this to continue. We are stronger as an Academy the more links we have with the community.
First Published September 2011 By The Dart