School focus: Inspiring students to achieve their unique potential is a priority says Hasland headteacher as school begins new chapter
Pupils at Outwood Academy Hasland Hall are encouraged to believe that they are not just average, but that they are awesome and can reach their full potential to become the best they can be.
Formerly known as Hasland Hall Community School, the academy opened its doors to students as part of Outwood Grange Academies Trust for the first time on March 1.
The coversion has seen the Broomfield Avenue-based secondary school turn over a new leaf, with school leaders quickly implementing measures as part of a journey to one day become ‘outstanding’.
With every change and decision made, however, the students have remained a key focus and work is now underway to help them recognise and build on their own strengths, according to head of school Ian Cooper.
"A lot of our work is actually in unearthing the potential that the school has, with staff but most importantly students,” he said.
"These students, they don’t know how good they are. It's about that self-belief, as long as we can bring in a method of them building that resilience, being adaptable – especially over these months – but learning from it as well.
"They’ve got such potential and we are beyond excited as to where this school is going to go.”
Rated as ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted following an inspection in October 2019, the school was issued with a Direct Academy Order (DAO) by the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) on behalf of the Department for Education.
Outwood Grange Academies Trust was then was selected as preferrred sponsor, with Steve Roberts – who has overseen the successful transformation at Outwood Academy Newbold – becoming lead principal at both Chesterfield-based Outwood academies.
He described the multi-academy trust as a ‘family’ in which schools can work together to help one another, and their pupils, grow and suceed.
Steve said: "We’re able to, through the structures we’ve developed over time, support other schools so with a school that is new to the family, such as Hasland Hall, we’ve got a wide range of strategies that we can deploy to bring about rapid transformation.
"Because ultimately what a family wants and what a student in particular wants is to know that when they come to school, that they’re cared for, they’re safe, they’ve got people that want to see them succeed and have belief in them to see them realise their potential.
He added: "I cannot tell you how well we've been welcomed. Geniuinely the children are fantastic, the families that we work with have been wonderfully supportive, and the community – we have been given a lovely welcome here and we're just passionate that we have the opportunity to get this school to where we think it needs to be.”
At Outwood Academy Hasland Hall, there is now an underlying praise culture in which students are commended for contributions during lessons.
This is something that has already helped build confidence over time in other Outwood academies and, even though pupils have only been back in the classroom a matter of weeks, it is already having an effect on those who attend Hasland Hall.
Mr Cooper said: “We’ve had messages from parents about the level of support that students have had over lockdown and that’s something we want to celebrate.
“And we can already see their confidence is beginning to grow now they’re back in lessons and part of that is because of our directors, our subject specialists, who are training the teachers; the teachers’ confidence develops and therefore their presentation and work with the students develops.
"If you were to do an internet search on this school it’d mention safety, but we’re talking about safety in a different way. We’re talking about it being safe to do well in class, it’s a safe environment for students to excel in. It’s a welcoming environment.
Aside from being safe, students are also taught how to be respectful and responsible members of the community in order to help them to learn better and something which prepares them for the world after school.
School leaders and other staff are leading by example in this, with Mr Cooper being one who always has a visible presence in the corridors and around the grounds as he gets to know the pupils and learns about their individual circumstances in order to help them thrive.
Mr Roberts explained: “What people don’t undestand is that level of high visibility does two things. Firstly it sets the standard.
"If you want a high expectations culture around quality of lessons, the quality of attitude towards learning that a students has but also expectations about conduct, we can be about there modelling it but at the same time encouraging it too.
"There’s nothing more pleasurable than spending a day going from class to class and seeing what the students are doing, being part of that conversation and actually taking an opportunity to find somebody being really good at something and celebrating that so it then becomes the norm.”
Mr Cooper added: “It’s the relationships that I have with students which will mean the success of the school. Bearing in mind there are schools out there where you rarely meet the principal, now, I want to know Chloe in Year 7 and why she’s given up football but she’s taken on basketball, it’s that depth you can get to without being sat in an office.”
Elsewhere, the academy has implemented a new inclusion strategy and a centre called ‘the bridge’ – a dedicated area of the school where students can get one-to-one support or other relevant help.
This new strategy also includes a weekly inclusion meeting to identify those pupils who need extra support, or are vulnerable, which then forms the basis of the provision and intervention provided by staff at the school.