‘The first time you do a thing is always exciting’-Agatha Christie

This is a really short term- only five weeks- but a particularly busy one. And, as it happens, we have a number of firsts that have either taken place or are due to take place during this time.

Last week, we held our first face-to-face Parents’ Evening since the pandemic started just over two years ago. Following parental feedback that the majority of you would prefer face-to-face meetings rather than using the online system that we have been using since 2020, this ran last Thursday. It was a really good feeling to see so many parents and students safely back on site. Thank you to everyone who provided feedback afterwards. This helps us to pick up on whole-school issues, like behaviour, bullying, and teaching and learning, as well as practicalities linked to running a large-scale event on the school site. I have read through all of the comments and we will be taking them into account for our next set of evenings this Autumn.

This week, GCSEs officially started for our Year 11 students. Another first- the last set of public examinations was in 2019. It seems such a long time away and yet it has felt so familiar this week- groups of students revising and discussing approaches to questions are commonplace in the school at the moment. We run a comprehensive set of warm-up sessions before every examination, with every student in attendance receiving a breakfast bar and bottle of water to ensure that their bodies (as well as their minds) are suitably fueled. I know it’s a stressful time for students, parents/ carers, and staff alike. It’s been a very positive start- let’s keep it up, Year 11.

This week, Mrs Pennington-Chick (Deputy Headteacher) and Mrs Valleley (Assistant Headteacher) ran our first Parent Forum in three years. The focus of this parent/ carer consultation was uniform, something that I had promised we would address. Thank you to all of the parents/ carers who were able to attend. The online consultation is still open until Wednesday 25th May so I will discuss the findings properly after half-term. If you would like your views to be known and taken into consideration on this issue, please click on the following link:

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/UniformReview2022

Finally, next Friday, we will be celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. The actual date is, of course, over the half-term and the Local Authority are giving the children the additional day at the beginning of the summer holidays. In celebration of this historic event- Her Majesty The Queen will become the first British monarch to celebrate seventy years on the throne- we will be having a non-school uniform with the theme being red, white and blue. Students will be choosing a suitable charity to support with the proceedings of this fundraiser.

Seventy years is an extraordinary length of time to have been on the throne. So long, in fact, that 80% of the UK population have only ever known one monarch. Finding that out took seconds on an internet search engine and it made me reflect that when I was a child (a long time ago but nowhere near the length of time the Queen has been on the throne, no matter what some of my colleagues may occasionally suggest) I was reliant on encyclopedias for information, many of which were terribly out-of-date. It’s incredible how quickly the world has changed in some respects.

Have a good weekend.

Best wishes

ALARIC GOVAN
Headteacher

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” – Mother Theresa

We’ve been back two weeks and, whilst the time has flown as it always does in schools, it also feels like a long time since the Easter holidays. It’s hard to believe that it’s four weeks since we had a non-school uniform day to raise money for the people of Ukraine. There was a decent smattering of yellow and blue across the school that day, exactly what I would expect from a community that passionately cares about others in the manner that ours does.

We also had some great news on the sporting front at the end of last term, with two of our football teams celebrating winning their respective leagues. The Year 7/8 girls’ team beat Weston 10-0 to clinch the league title, with goals from Sophie E (x4), Scarlett W (x3), Poppy A (x2) and Evie L. The girls won all of their games across the academic year, our very own ‘Invincibles’. The Year 7 boys’ team also completed an unbeaten season by winning 4-2 against Weston. Goals from Joe T (x2), Lucas L and Louis T. They showed great character to come from behind at half time to win the game.

The Easter holidays were a very busy time of the year. There were Year 11 revision sessions taking place across both weeks of the holiday. I am very grateful to all of the staff who voluntarily gave up their time to make sure that the students are getting the best possible preparation for their GCSE and BTEC examinations. These are the first set of external exams since 2019- it seems incredible just to write that- and I know that it is an anxious time for students, staff and parents. The key thing to remember is that it is still not too late to make a final push to improve grades. It isn’t over until the pens are put down in the final exam! The school has been equally busy the past two weeks with intervention sessions running after school, and I continue to be impressed by the number of students who stay behind to maximise their chances of success. Keep it up Year 11.

A number of building works also took place over the Easter holidays. A drainage project, which will reduce the amount of flooding from the field behind Beijing/ Durban, was completed over the two-week break. This then allowed us to install a fourth canopy. The final work is being completed over this weekend and the students will be able to use it from Monday. Over the summer holidays, we will be refurbishing our Catering room as well as some internal work which will give us two additional classrooms in the Skills Centre.

We always begin the term with House Assemblies. Last week, these were run by myself and Mrs Pennington-Chick (Deputy Headteacher). The theme of the assemblies was on ‘Time’, specifically about the importance of using our time wisely. It’s something that I was reflecting on over the Easter holiday. The five-year journey of the children at this school is very important to all of us- it’s really important that we (as parents and educators) get it right as much as possible; it’s equally important that the children maximise their opportunities during this brief window of time. Now that the pandemic is in our rear-view windows (albeit that we are still being sensible about hand and respiratory hygiene), it is crucial that we grasp any and all opportunities to make the most of what education remains. For the Year 11s, that means focusing over these last few weeks; for other year groups it means trying to do their best in each and every lesson. And, with trips, visits, PSHCRE days, sports days, and other events coming up this term, I hope that everyone will do their best to make the most of the remaining ten weeks.

Finally, we are planning our first Parent Forum since Covid began two years ago. This one is on uniform and will be led by Mrs Pennington-Chick (Deputy Headteacher) and Mrs Valleley (Assistant Headteacher). Spaces will be limited during the meeting itself but a questionnaire will also go out to parents and carers so that you all have an opportunity to make your views known.

Best wishes

ALARIC GOVAN
Headteacher