Dear Parents and Carers,
It has been a busy start to the term and not without some teething troubles, especially linked to some very irritating IT issues, but it has nonetheless been great to see everyone come back to school and settle so quickly, especially Year 7. I often tell Year 7 students who are worried about starting at secondary school that by the end of the second week they will look as if they have been there for years, and they do. They look very happy and comfortable as they find their way around the site with increasing confidence and efficiency. As I write this on Thursday morning, they have received nearly two and a half thousand reward points and only fifty consequence points between them, including only one C3. That is a great start. Very well done to them.
For Year 7 parents who would like to contact form tutors, here is another reminder of their email addresses:
7B1 Ms Osbourne COsborne@samuelward.co.uk
7B2 Dr Palmer ZPalmer@samuelward.co.uk
7C1 Ms Joyce IJoyce@samuelward.co.uk
7D1 Ms Nicoll SNicoll@samuelward.co.uk
7D2 Mr Stiff CStiff@samuelward.co.uk
7D3 Ms Neale HNeale@samuelward.co.uk
Visiting the school
If you would like to come and see the school during a normal school day, you are welcome to come and join us for a coffee morning and tour between 9.00 and 10.00. We will hold an event each month as long as there is demand. The first four are on the following dates:
Thur 22nd September
Tue 18th October
Thur 24th November
Tue 13th December
We will give priority initially to parents of Year 7 students, but I anticipate that there will be other spaces available. If you would like to reserve a space, please contact email@example.com.
PD and Values
I wrote to you recently about some changes to the R and C point system. Students have absorbed those changes quickly and they are working well. Another area of the school that we have been looking at is our approach to personal development.
Personal development is a vital area within the student's curriculum, something that as a school we prioritise in order to encourage our students to discover their strengths and what they feel passionate about. We have dedicated PD lessons once a fortnight, but we also include within our PD offer assemblies, tutor times, enrichment, trips, clubs, charity events, competitions, careers education and anything else that helps our student grow into the kind of young people that we can all be proud of.
For many years the school has had a list of nine values, which I think that is far too many to be useful. From the start of this term, we have simplified that list into three new core values. We want all of our students to be Aspirational, Brave and Compassionate. Those three values will for the spine of all the personal development work we do, so an assembly might be about Bravery, a tutor time activity about Compassion. PD lessons, tutor times and assemblies are all colour coded to reflect which value they are focussing on
Over the course of each year, there will be a menu of activities to undertake relating to each value. Students who successfully complete five challenges from the menu for a particular value will earn a badge to wear on their blazer. If a student earns all three badges in a year, they can trade in those three badges for one which combines all three ABC values.
To give you some examples of the kinds of challenges student might take to earn their badges, for the Aspirational strand, we might day that students could gain credits for attending a Sam Speaks lecture, for applying to become a house ambassador or for earning 500 reward points. For Bravery, they might participate in a performing arts production, present to their peers in a lesson or represent their house in a house challenge. To gain recognition for being Compassionate, students might participate in charity fundraising activities, join the eco club on a litter picks or volunteer be a student buddy. There will be opportunities to suit everyone.
Students’ planners now act as their PD diaries. Students will reflect on what they have learnt during their PD lesson every two weeks in those planners. Last week they all planned their goals for this year, both personal and academic - why not ask to have a look at what they are aiming to achieve?
For students in Year 11, the time of year has come when we start the process to appoint our most senior students which is going to be very different this year. Applicants will be responsible for running their own election campaign, including making a short video to be shown to other year groups. The whole school will participate in a vote to elect their new president. Student president applications are now open.
Closely linked to the Aspiration strand of PD, we have two careers events coming up. Next Friday is our Careers fair, where over 35 firms and organisations will be on-hand to discuss opportunities in their sectors. All year groups will visit that careers fair.
Later this term, 'Fix-up' motivational speakers are coming in to delivery a workshop for our new Year 11 on preparing for their GCSE year and beyond.
On a smaller scale, the next Advice and a Slice workshop will present an opportunity to talk to a visiting professional about careers in Radiography and as always to eat free pizza. That event is on Thursday 29th September and students who are interested should email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a place.
There was a fire alarm this week, caused when a student accidentally set off one of the call points by hitting it with a bag as they walked past. We’ve taken some steps to make that particular call point more robust. I was impressed as always by the way that students responded, lining up quickly and in silence even though it was during lunch time. As a result, some students had to wait longer for their lunch as a result. Everyone who queued up for food was served, even if it meant being a bit late to their next lesson.
I’m aware that there was a lot of speculation amongst students about whether someone had set it off on purpose. It seems timely to remind them and you that I take hoax fire alarms extremely seriously and, if a student should set off the fire alarm maliciously, it would incur a very serious sanction.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
We have been using tutor time to reflect on the extraordinary reign and magnificent achievements of Queen Elizabeth this week, following the sad news of her death and we will of course be closed on Monday next week.
We invited students to write in a book of condolence, and I’ll end this letter by sharing some of their comments with you.
“May we wish you great peace and love in heaven. You will be missed very much.”
“We will miss you. Thank you for your dedication and your support of St Johns Ambulance.”
“Thank you for being so inspirational to us all. You will be missed.”
“Thank you for your endless and selfless service to our country.”
“One of a kind, always and forever in our hearts.”