Issued: January 12, 2016
PICTURE: A picture of Kim Thackray can be viewed and downloaded HERE
King Harold Academy’s Head of School predicts successful times ahead for school as she reflects on “exhilarating” first term in charge
The new Head of School at King Harold Academy in Waltham Abbey has spoken of her aims for the school as she embarks on her second term in charge.
Kim Thackray describes last term as the “most exhilarating and exhausting” of her 34-year teaching career.
Ms Thackray believes she is already making strides to see the school improve significantly.
She was deputy head teacher at King Harold’s ‘sister school’ Debden Park High in Loughton, and helped oversee its transformation from being in special measures to being rated an ‘outstanding’ school in just 18 months.
After a spell as Head Teacher of a secondary school in Sussex, she spent a year turning around a school near Colchester which saw its results improve by 35 per cent.
Now Ms Thackray is setting her sights on transforming King Harold Academy, working alongside Christian Cavanagh, the Executive Head of King Harold Academy and Debden Park High, to improve the outcomes for the school and its place in the local community.
“This school needs to be able to provide for the children in the local area, an education that is bespoke for them. We need for this community to have an outstanding school.
“We now have specialist staff in all of our subject areas. We have strong leaders, a very strong leadership team and we have strengths throughout the school.
"The quality of teaching throughout the school has improved significantly; if your teaching improves, learning improves.”
Two years ago 38 per cent of King Harold students achieved five A* to C grades in their GCSE exams. Last summer that figure rose to 41 per cent.
King Harold was the only school in the area that saw its figures improve, Ms Thackray stressed.
“Obviously my aim is to improve the results further and this school is clearly on track to be a good school. How do we do it?
“Your staff, students and parents have to believe in you; they have to trust you, they
have to know that you will support them.
"The vision that we have is to provide aneducation that ‘Supports, Challenges and Inspires’ every member of its community to be their very best. I also believe that for a school to be successful there has to be a strong love of learning and this is visible in all our classrooms.
“A good and outstanding teacher will have a tool box. A tool box that they will use to
ensure that every child is actively involved in learning. That they experience learning that is fun, challenging and it engages them.”
Outside the classroom King Harold Academy has a strong extra-curricular programme with PE, music and drama just some of the departments where students excel.
Ms Thackray said: “We have some children who may not be confident to speak out in class but will sing solo in church. There is a huge raft of talent in this school and it needs to be captured. We will continue to nurture this talent as the school flourishes and grows.”
King Harold Academy, with Debden Park High, Roding Valley High School and Epping St John’s School, is part of the Epping Forest District Sixth Form Consortium which introduced sixth form provision at each of the school’s last September, a move already welcomed by those people who it is designed to help - the students themselves.
Ms Thackray said: “It’s good that they can go to a school that they know, that children from their community are already there, having access to taster lessons and time in these schools will ensure the right choice of A-levels to study and this makes transition easier for them.”
King Harold Academy is keen to continue to promote itself throughout the local community, including with the business community with which they will host breakfast meetings.
The success of King Harold students was recognised last term with awards from the YES Partnership and a special award from Epping Forest MP Eleanor Laing at the annual Epping Forest Schools Parliamentary Debating Competition.
Ms Thackray said: “I have never met a group of children who want to learn as much as these children. They are polite, courteous, happy and truly love their school. Our staff are committed to our students and share the vision of enabling every child to reach or exceed their potential through challenging lessons and learning.
“This school has a real heart. We have a huge proportion of our parents who are very supportive as well.”