Posted on September 16th 2021

Cranford Review 2021

Cranford Review 2021 - "Innovation - Creativity - Ingenuity" (annual edition / 2020-2021 academic year).

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by Mr Kevin Prunty

Kevin editorial photo 2020Dear Reader, I am delighted that you are now enjoying our annual publication of the Cranford Review for 2020/21. It is a celebration of last year and although I have been incredibly lucky that there has been so much to celebrate over my 20+ years as a Head Teacher, I have never been so proud, as I am now, of this school, its staff, its pupils and its community.

There have been two prolonged periods of remote teaching and learning over the last 18 months, yet our students recorded excellent results across a very broad curriculum, which reflect the hard work they put in, both in the classroom and at home.

The Teacher Assessed Grades system used in this period is, in many ways superior to the usual terminal examinations system, in that it credits what each child accomplishes in each course of study in an evidential and verifiable way, rather than penalises what a child does not know or does not remember on the day of a final exam. Many countries credited with the highest educational performance in Europe and across the world have a Teacher Assessed Grades system even in normal times and it certainly merits consideration in the U.K. as normality returns.

The examination success this year, which is in keeping with the academy’s impressive track record in the last two decades, is also a credit to the staff who have gone over and above throughout those 18 months and have worked tirelessly to ensure that our students stay well, stay safe, get a full and rounded education, are emotionally resilient, maintain their excellent levels of progress and that students are recognised for the efforts they have made. The academy has also been able to exercise its role as a supportive ‘corporate parent’ for those who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic’s impact.

There are undoubtedly further challenges to come educationally as well as in health, employment and the economy, but these are challenges we will face together and we will succeed in turning them into successes.

What is so impressive about the events, experiences, accomplishments and activities recorded in this booklet, in the context of the pandemic, is that the importance and value of the wider curriculum has never been so clear.

As some normality returns, it has become more apparent how much we have genuinely missed being together as a school community of students and staff, working and socialising together, coming to school to learn, to educate, to grow and to belong, going on school trips, visiting theatres, museums, galleries, etc. We perhaps took some things about being together for granted before that privilege was suspended.

We can look forward to spending more time together now that schools and society learn to live alongside Covid-19, doing some things a little differently but doing them, and most importantly doing them together – ‘together as one – together as ‘Cranford’.

We have been brought even closer together with our wider community and partners; to overcome adversity together, to work together to find creative solutions to new problems, to care for and help others in unprecedented need, and to join forces to magnify impact. It is inspiring and heart-warming.

Cranford and its community have hardly skipped a heartbeat during the pandemic. We have quickly adapted to the challenges of teaching, learning and assessment ‘at a distance’, including making over 600 virtually immediate loans of ICT and connectivity equipment for those in need. We developed safeguarding, pastoral and communication provision in spite of obstacles.

We have taken practical steps to ensure that no-one goes unfed or unnoticed, to ensure that community mental health and emotional well-being have not been overlooked and we have connected people together so that we all know that we are not alone, especially those feeling most vulnerable.

We have weathered this storm well and we have renewed optimism in the future. We have been blessed as a community and we are grateful.

It is not just one storm, though, that helps a tree grow deeper and stronger where it stands. It is several storms over time, a series of torrents and gusts. All of this rooting and growing in the face of heavy weather protects a tree from simply blowing over. And, it prepares a tree for the storms yet to come.

We are learning from the challenges, developing new skills, innovating and we are incredibly optimistic about the good things that will come from our resilient response to adversity, including the potential to develop positive, transformational and quantum shifts in social mobility and community cohesion as well as new approaches to teaching and learning.

If there are further storms ahead, we will learn more, seek to do things better and be ever better prepared. We value learning and its powerful benefits, and we have ensured that every child has continued to get a full, proper and broad education throughout. Over 90% of our KS4 students have been able to maintain the full EBACC range of subjects this year too.

This review of the year celebrates our values and our curriculum. It celebrates excellence, and it celebrates our community. It celebrates the importance that technology has played in the continuing success of our unique academy, and the enormous breadth of curricular and extra-curricular provision, which is virtually unrivalled in the state and private sectors. At Cranford, we learn from the best in the world.

We also know that summer 2021 has been another record-breaking year at A level, GCSE, Vocational and Technical in terms of examination success and student progress.

A truly special and huge thank you is owed to the teachers and support staff who have rallied and worked incredibly hard and diligently to, almost instantly, offer a full-service virtual school or school for the whole of the pandemic to date, alongside some on-site provision and the enormous task of grading GCSE, A-level, vocational and technical qualifications. The dedication of Cranford staff and the high level of engagement of students is an indicator of why the children who attend Cranford make such excellent progress and accomplish so much.

As an academy, we have used the time strategically too, heavily and urgently investing in adaptations and safety improvements to our site and premises so that we can all be as safe at school and work as we could possibly be, including going forward.

In addition to our commitment to all round excellence, a key theme of Cranford’s identity has been our long-term commitment to transforming the community. 

As founding members of First Story and more recently Hounslow’s Promise, Hounslow Education Partnership and Heston West Big Local, partner organisations that also focus on improving the life chances of our young people through exciting community development programmes, we continue to take a holistic approach to community development, school improvement, cultural capital and social mobility.

The astonishing range of wider curriculum opportunities also includes specific projects that deepen and enhance students’ learning experience through performances, challenges, masterclasses, debates, conferences and competitions as well as clubs, trips, visits and lectures.

A particularly relevant achievement has been to work with the University of Oxford from September 2017 to July 2021 on the Myriad research project to help schools prepare young people to manage their emotional health and improve resilience to the challenges of adolescence.

As a result, we have happy, well-educated, well-qualified, well-rounded, well-behaved, well-motivated and well-prepared contributors to society, good citizens who value education, are able to enjoy it, succeed in life and thrive in a wide range of social contexts.

Kevin Prunty
(Executive Headteacher & National Leader of Education)

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