The Stour Academy Trust Staff Newsletter, Issue 7

A message from the CEO

Simon O’Keefe

Following a rigorous and robust recruitment and interview process, I am delighted to announce that the Board of Directors have appointed Rachael Howell as the Trust’s next CEO, commencing September, 2020. I’m sure that this news will not be unexpected to most of you, but will nevertheless be very reassuring news, knowing that Rachael will continue to promote the Trust’s values of collaboration and support in our relentless drive to improve in all that we do.

One feature that stands out since the start of this academic year has been the proliferation of our own videos to promote the work of schools in the Trust. Initially focussed on encouraging greater involvement in reading, the videos, #LoveReading, have involved staff across all roles, including site managers, office staff, teaching assistants, canteen staff, headteachers, teachers, safeguarding leads – indeed practically every role within each school. I had no idea there was so much unlocked acting talent across our Trust! These initial videos, shared on social media, have each received in excess of 15,000 views. In the space of just a few short months videos have gone on to include themes such as ‘Bedtime stories’, ‘How to…..’ videos to assist parents in supporting their children’s learning in maths, reading , science and phonics. Other videos have included ‘Times Tables’, videos designed to support professional development, others aimed at promoting online safety, etc., etc. I must thank the vast number of staff who have willingly (and, at times, perhaps not so willingly!) given their time and stood in front of the camera to develop such an amazing and innovative range of online resources. Not only are they promoting learning but also helping to break down barriers between home and school.

Another huge success has been the work of the Competition Activity Team whose role is to promote competition within schools as well as across the Trust. Again, within a very short space of time, this small team have promoted a range of fun and engaging activities that involve all age ranges and curriculum subjects, including music, art, sports, maths, computing, science and, what I am probably looking forward to most; The Great Stour Bake Off scheduled for term 5.

The enthusiasm and effort from all staff to support these new strategies and initiatives makes me immensely proud and grateful to you all and I would like this opportunity to wish you all a well-deserved break, a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

Headspace – Get it for free!

Did you know that you can get the Headspace app for FREE?

Known as ‘a gym membership for the mind’, Headspace is used by millions of people all over the world. Using proven meditation and mindfulness techniques Headspace helps its users to train their minds, to experience benefits including less stress, better sleep, focus and improved relationships.

Just 10 day’s practice has been shown to have wide-ranging benefits, from improving sleep and relationships to reducing anxiety and stress.

To get free access, all you need to do is:

  • Visit
  • Select United Kingdom as the school location
  • Fill out the verification form
  • Upload proof of employment (this can be any document that clearly shows your first/last name, current date, and job title). If you do not have a suitable document, please contact your office manager who will be able to send you a document you can use.

Christmas Holidays

Please remember that staff do not need to attend the Staff Development Days on 2nd and 3rd January 2020. This will mean your Christmas break will be from 19th December – 5th January, with all staff and children returning together on Monday 6th January 2020. Enjoy the extended Christmas break!

Christmas Pay

With Christmas fast approaching, the Trust has again managed to negotiate with our payroll provider to ensure that your Christmas pay date will be Friday 20th December.

Joe Wicks Visit!

For winning a special Children in Need competition, Joe Wicks, The Body Coach, completed one of his workouts with the whole of Sturry CE Primary!

Follow us on twitter! @thestouracademy

Bringing learning to life

EYFS at Thistle Hill visited a local farm shop to buy lots of different vegetables. They learnt about how the different vegetables grow and how the farmers get them ready to buy in the shops. In the afternoon they prepared all the vegetables they had bought to make their own soup!

Year 1 at Richmond Academy were learning Bollywood dancing to kick off their topic of Diwali! What a great way to engage children into a topic!

Dragonflies class at Water Meadows Primary had an amazing day at Dover Castle where they learnt more about a significant event that took place during World War II – Operation Dynamo. The children represented the school brilliantly and were able to put their topic into context in a relatable and engaging way.

Year 6 children in the Canterbury Hub experienced a little taste of what life was like for their counterparts living during World War Two. Interactive workshops by ‘ARP (Air Raid Patrol) warden’ Peter O’Sullivan gave pupils hands-on experience of life in wartime Britain.

If you have a premises or IT issue, please use Every to report them.

Discounts for staff

Did you know that if you are an employee at a school you qualify for a free membership at:

Discounts range from airport parking, insurance deals, mobile phone plans, and car leasing.

We are not affiliated with Discounts for Teachers in any way, we just wanted to make you aware!

Say cheese!

Staff across the Trust have been making excellent use of the ‘red cameras’ now available in their schools, allowing them to take photos and videos of the exciting things that the children are getting up to!

Parents looking at each schools’ website or facebook page now see a plethora of examples of the rich learning opportunities that we offer our children!