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2nd September 2022 (updated 3rd January 2023)

Dear Parents and students

I am delighted and honoured to be appointed as the new headteacher for Oaktree School, and I'm very keen to get to know parents, as well as pupils and staff.

From my experience of being a headteacher at the Village School, a through age special school in Brent, I know that a successful and happy school depends on all of us working together. Oaktree School has a history of being a very good and a very well run school, although the last 2 1/2 years have been a challenge for the whole school community, as it has been for every school within the United Kingdom.

Parents are crucial in making an important contribution to children's achievements at school, and I want to develop the relationship between the school and parents for everyone's benefit.

All student up to year 9 will have the opportunity to swim this year (as part of our pupil premium grant offer).

We now have 8 pathways for students from year 8 (Sports coaching, Art, Drama, Horticulture, Café and Food Technology, Animal Care and Hospitality and Retail) which are embedded within our Preparation for adulthood curriculum. Every student will have the opportunity to read every day at school and also at home at a level appropriate to their reading level and starting point in their learning. A full programme of numeracy and literacy also underpins each area of learning along with the full spiritual, moral and cultural ethos that is at the heart of our Bear values.

The café now has its tables and chairs in and the students have their aprons and hats. We now have raised planting beds and full sized Poly tunnels were students as part of their horticultural course will grow plants and vegetables for the school café.  The plants and vegetables will be organically grown and again sustainability and environmental awareness are part of our curriculum. Each class has photographed their flowers from their raised beds for the Power of Petals project. All classes have now grown their flowers and then photographed them for printing on to the greeting cards to be sold on the Etsy website led by the hospitality and retail group.

All classes follow a healthy lifestyle as part of our curriculum with exercise and healthy eating central to this. Classes will also aim to manage a number of local trips each term (some older classes will, for example, walk down to ASDA to collect the ingredients to make their lunch and return to school by bus)

For birthdays classes will make their own cakes rather than buying them from a supermarket etc. Again the emphasis here will be on the students being fully involved, where possible in the creation of food etc. for all party food.

This is all part of the student’s dress rehearsal for adulthood and a life after school.

A dress rehearsal as defined by the Cambridge dictionary is ‘the last time a theatre work is practised before the real performance, when it is performed with the clothes, stage, and lighting exactly as they will be for the real performance’ and that is the clear objective for all students at Oaktree School. Young people with additional needs will have their ‘dress rehearsal’ in preparation for Adulthood here and this needs to closely mirror the ‘life outside’ that they will go onto. A café at school that reproduces the ‘feel and look’ of a café on the high street and is managed and run by the students with support from the school or institution they are at. Pathways for students developed alongside both the student and parent/carer that prioritise eventual employment and/or future community participation.

When the young person arrives at their 19th birthday in year 14 this should not be seen as the end of their journey but the springboard for agreed and well mapped out possibilities for the future that have been discussed and developed over the previous six years. The skills and knowledge gained by the young person within their pathway framework will be invaluable in whatever career option is eventually chosen. However, the social aspect, the friendships made along the way and the opportunity to have ‘real life’ experiences, in which the young person is increasingly independent, are just as important. In short whether the outcome is an independently supported business, an agreed career pathway or supported and/or independent community participation, the ‘dress rehearsal’ will prepare our young person for a full life after school.

I fully understand the challenge presented to parents, with th excurrent cost of Living crisis, and I am more than happy for parents to contact me if they have any concerns about their child or any personal matters affecting life at home.

In order to keep the school as hygienic as possible we now have hand sanitizers in every class and in the corridor. Students will be encouraged to regularly wash their hands through the school day. The school toilets will be cleaned during the day as well as after school.  

I also realise that some parents may still not feel confident at coming into school to see me but please do feel free to email me or phone me.

Warmest regards

Russell Davey