Can I make a request for the people of Littlehampton to make a better-late-then-never New Year resolution: support The Littlehampton Academy.
Not only is this beleaguered school in dire need of the community’s support – it has earned it.
That may seem an odd thing to say about a school in special measures. Last week’s Gazette told of the latest setbacks – the departure of the principal following an “unacceptably low” performance verdict from Ofsted, the government’s inspectors.
Don’t allow recent developments to conceal the huge amount of hard work that has gone on at all levels to improve the Academy and make it a place where our young people can be prepared for a bright future.
TLA’s 1,500 students have earned the community’s respect. They have been caught up in a whirlwind of change in recent years, especially since the academy went into special measures at the start of 2014.
But they’ve coped so well. Recent Ofsted reports have recognised their enthusiasm and keenness to learn. In fact the latest Ofsted praises their behaviour and describes them as polite, open-minded, eager-to-learn and loyal. They are, it says, the strength of the Academy.
Doesn’t sound like a failing school, does it! And it doesn’t seem like one when you are there. The pace of change at TLA may not be rapid enough for Ofsted, but crucial groundwork has been done for improving teaching and academic standards, as well as behaviour.
TLA deserves support because of relentless hard work by a determined leadership team and the teachers and support staff who share the goal of success.
The school is supported by a group of Academy councillors – I was one for eight months – who are all volunteers but willingly give their time to help make a difference to a school they believe in.
These are some of the things that convince me TLA is on the road to recovery. So many people want to make it work and it’s time the pupils’ faith in their school spread.
Let’s talk it up, rather than knock it down. There’s already much to be proud of. Together – pupils, parents, staff, councillors and the community – can ensure TLA enjoys the success it deserves.
Now there’s a resolution for 2016 we should all want to share.