Leiston: Pupils take first lessons in new-look high school
FIRST day fervour swept the classrooms and corridors as pupils began a new era in the history of a rejuvenated Suffolk school.
Staff welcomed Year Seven children for the first time to Alde Valley School following a countywide shake-up of the old three-tier education system.
As well as adopting a new name and undergoing thorough expansion over the summer, the former Leiston High School has taken on a different look, with new uniforms and a new logo.
The once crimson classroom doors have turned blue and the school now boasts a new library, extra classrooms and facilities to accommodate its broader admission of pupils - but the abiding ethos of “Achievement for All” remains paramount in the mind of headteacher Ian Flintoff, whose inaugural assembly fittingly focused on the subject of “personal bests”. Mr Flintoff said: “The pupils are ready to go into the new term as part of something exciting. We need to help them settle in quickly and effectively.
“For the older students its about making sure they are prepared for exams - we had good results this year and want to ensure they are even better next year.”
Mr Flintoff spoke candidly about the opening of a free school in nearby Saxmundham following the closure of middle schools in the respective towns, saying: “We feel we do enough to represent the community, serving a large diverse catchment, and that another school is not required. We will be losing students, which in turn will reduce our financial resources - however, we have been expecting it and we will move forward with the focus very much on student achievement.”
The school has increased in size by 230 pupils and 30 new staff recruited from across the region and beyond. Lessons will also be longer than in previous years, with each lasting 100 minutes - a decision based on researching other schools in Suffolk and nationwide.
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Less than a mile down the road, the old middle school has become Alde Valley sixth form, which opens for A-level study on Monday.
Potential sixth formers, now in their final year of high school, include a group of student ambassadors - another new addition at Alde Valley - each selected over the summer, following an application and interview, to become visible mentors and guides for younger children.
Their requirements were immediately demonstrated on the opening day of term when called upon to console an anxious new pupil.
Ambassadors Shaun Cooper, Megan Clark and Lauren Clark all declared their enthusiasm for the new role, which they hoped would become a useful asset for the school.