Headteacher’s Blog – Diary of a new beginning – September 2016

Headteacher’s Blog – Diary of a new beginning – September 2016

I would like to formally welcome students, parents, staff and governors to the new school year 2016/17.  There is added excitement and aspiration this September as we move into the fabulous new school building and learn to maximise the potential of outstanding new facilities including the upgraded GLC (Guisborough Leisure Centre) and our AGP (Artificial Grass Pitch).


Our driving ambition to provide a fitting new campus for the young people of Guisborough and surrounding area has been pursued relentlessly for over ten years and now it has been realised we should pay tribute to all of those tenacious people who contributed to this historic achievement – too many to mention but they know who they are.  Your support and challenge is recognised and appreciated.


Three days of packing and ruthless ‘clear out’ at the end of last term was followed by feverish activity throughout the Summer break.  The first notable event was ICT handover on 2 August which enabled our network team to begin the complex task of setting the new building up with all the necessary IT capability.  This was followed by the transfer of over 3,000 crates from the old building to the new and at this point I will give specific recognition to both the Site and Network teams who have gone the extra mile to prepare the new building to be occupied.


In truth, without their significant intervention, we would probably still be on the outside looking in.  The EFA decided to hand over all six NE batch Secondaries plus one Primary over the course of a single week at the end of August and found themselves overstretched.  Our staff picked up the pieces and we owe them a great debt of gratitude.  Meanwhile, the AGP was completed and gave our campus another superb facility for the school and community, something Guisborough has needed for years.


The next step was to ensure that Year 11 students’ results could be downloaded and presented on 25 August - with exams, data and admin teams going into overdrive – our support teams are absolutely magnificent.  The bonus was that despite the significant construction work over the past two years, our results showed improvements in all four key headline areas.  I would like to congratulate the class of 2016 and thank all staff for their relentless support. 


The crucial date was 30 August, which is known as Service Availability Day and is in effect the big handover.  Keys were exchanged and the building became ours.  In any large construction project there are always numerous defects and snags and we took possession of the building on the understanding they would be addressed by agreed dates.  After a phased re-introduction of students on the 7, 8 and 9 September, we have now been fully immersed in the new building for a week.


The GLC proved to be a tougher challenge and we agreed to extend the deadline for completion.  As part of the overall PSBP project, we were offered a brand new but much smaller sports hall with the GLC due for demolition but we were determined to keep it and the EFA eventually agreed.  However, Galliford Try uncovered significant faults in the original building and that particular phase of the project took much longer than expected.  It was eventually handed over on Monday 12 September.

As with any new building, we have to live and learn and following an ICT meltdown on Monday and Tuesday, the cashless system and canteen tills failed to operate leading to extended queuing.  This was beyond our control but once again our network team eventually overcame the malfunction and by Wednesday the situation was much better.


We are carefully monitoring our new systems, eg circulation, lunchtimes and the 3pm departure and despite meticulous planning, we learn something every day and are constantly on the look out for ‘even better ifs’.  Overall student feedback has been exceptionally positive, especially since the frustrations of our lunchtime queues earlier in the week.


The most impressive aspect for me as Headteacher is the way that staff and students have worked together to overcome initial ‘tweaks’ and the collective tolerance and resilience has been exceptional.  It says a great deal for our ethos and the quality of relationships that the LJS community has been determined to make the new building and systems work successfully, long may it last.


Important dates for your diary

Thursday 22 September is our annual Open Evening, which includes a teacher training day.  Students are not due in school unless they have volunteered to help.


Careers Convention   

Monday 3 October

Guisborough Hall Sports Presentation  

Wednesday 5 October

Official Opening Ceremony

Friday 4 November

Armistice Assembly & ceremony to mark the loss of two former students  Richard Turnbull and Chris Maddison

Friday 11 November

Christmas Fayre                                          

Thursday 24 November*

In addition, there will be formal events to mark the official opening of our AGP and re-opening of the GLC, details to be confirmed.


*In response to popular demand, we will also be giving residents a chance to tour the new school. As part of the Christmas Fayre, guided tours will be open to members of the local community so they can see for themselves what a fantastic new facility has risen from the rubble of the old building.


We genuinely hope that as well as providing a 1st class learning environment, which is our core purpose, the new LJS will also produce a multi-faceted hub for the whole community.


Thank you as always for your support.

Tony Gavin



PS:  Any organisation wishing to book facilities at LJS, sporting, performing arts, classrooms, practice rooms, meeting rooms, please contact Reception.

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Contact us:

  • Church Lane, Guisborough, North Yorkshire, TS146RD
  • Tel: (01287) 636361
  • Email: reception@laurencejackson.org


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