We hope this letter finds you and your family well. We wanted to write to you in person to mark a very significant time in your education. This Friday is your last official day as a Year 11 pupil and as a pupil of Castleford Academy. It seems incredible that it was five years ago that you sat in the Sports’ Hall listening to me talk about your time at the academy, the amazing education you would have and the special experiences that you would be able enjoy. At that time, I challenged you to be the best you could be and you have risen to that challenge over and over again. Whilst it is disappointing that you are ending your time with us in this way, it is important that we do not allow the last five months to define the last five years.
Education is not a destination it is a journey. The last five years have been part of that journey. Yes, usually, that journey would end with you sitting in the sports hall with a see through pencil case and plastic water bottle frantically trying to remember everything that your teachers have taught you, but not this year. This year, things are different and whilst we are sad about that, we are also incredibly proud of the way that you have conducted yourself over the last few months. Your maturity in the weeks before lockdown was incredible. The way that, despite the uncertainties of a global pandemic, you turned up, worked hard and sat key assessments is something in which you should take great pride.
We know that you have missed out on some important moments that define the end of school life. Although we tried to give those who were in school the best impromptu leavers’ assembly we could, we definitely missed seeing those weird and wonderful fancy dress outfits! For many of you, not being able to attend the prom has been the biggest disappointment. Whilst we would have loved to rearrange, the uncertainty of the rules around large gatherings made this impossible. We will miss seeing you dressed up in your suits and dresses and how proud it makes us to see you all grown up and ready to move on to a life beyond school.
We know that we cannot make up for you missing out on these special events but we are looking forward to seeing you in November (when hopefully things will be back to normal) for GCSE Presentation Evening so that we can say goodbye properly. We have also in the process of arranging leavers’ hoodies so that you have a keepsake of your time with us.
Whilst all of those rights of passage are important, we hope that we have left you with other special memories that make you smile whenever you think of your time with us. Whether it be a visit to Paris, London or Belgium, Year 7 residential, dressing up for Sports’ Day, taking part in a mock trial (or wedding), performing in a show or listening to an inspirational speaker, our aim has always been to give you the best quality education alongside a range of experiences that will prepare you well for life. We hope that you take what you learned with us and use it to shape your future. Remember to always aspire to great things. Set yourself the highest bar and work hard to achieve your goals. There will always be times when life tries to knock you off course and slow you down, try to not let the knocks stop you from realising your dreams.
Of course, school is about more than exams and lessons. We know that many of you have made friends that you will have for the rest of your life and built relationships that have shaped you and how you see the world. We know it hasn’t always been plain sailing! Some of you spent a lot of time in Miss Garbett’s office falling out and making up again but, you’ve made it now and have grown into responsible young adults. We hope we always supported you to make wise choices, treat people with respect and to be kind towards each other. As you move on to new chapters in your life, some of those friendships will thrive and others will drift as you make new friends at college, work or university but you will always remember the relationships you formed at school.
Remember, that you have always made us proud. Five years ago, we dreamed of making sure that the children of Castleford had the very best education, an education that made the town proud. You have been on that journey with us and finally, in October 2019 we received national recognition from OFSTED that the quality of education pupils receive at Castleford Academy is outstanding. We were the first secondary school in the country to achieve this and we wanted to thank you personally for the role that you played in making that happen. The inspectors were glowing about pupils at the academy. They heaped praise about Year 11 and the maturity that you displayed in lessons and around school alongside the significant impact that you had on the wider life of school (as prefects, student leaders, coaches, reading buddies, etc.). This is something that is echoed by staff across the academy. Your teachers have always enjoyed teaching you, they talk about how switched on you were as a year group and how you were going to ‘smash’ all previous results. You are on track to be our highest performing year group ever. You have shown this in everything that you have done over the last few years, through attending boosters, sitting mock exams, submitting coursework and working hard in lessons. We could not be more proud of you and your achievements. The staff wanted to say farewell so they have out together a goodbye message for you. https://youtu.be/BVPgpVbAamU.
Finally, we want to wish you all the very best for the future. Please keep in touch and let us know what you are doing. It is always wonderful to hear about the success stories of ex-pupils and to feel that sense of pride that we might have helped you to achieve something great. It is always hard to find the words to say goodbye so we will end by using the words of the late Chair of Governors Bill Clift MBE. He loved the academy and the Castleford community and he would often say, ‘If you have a dream, live it and always be proud to say that you are from Castleford. As long as you can look yourself in the mirror and say you have done your best, no one can ask more than that’. We whole heartedly agree, now go and live your dream.
Mr G Panayiotou
Mrs D Cook
© Castleford Academy Trust 2023