Dear Parents and Carers,
I hope you all had a good break over Christmas. It’s good to see your children return to school looking as smart and cheerful as they do. It has been a great start to the new term. We had a very useful and productive couple of training days, one with the entire trust staff in Sudbury, and one here with just SWA staff. We talked about how we can get more value and more learning from our lessons and how we could be more consistent with our application of the behaviour policies. Nothing radical, but important nonetheless.
We’ve had two already this term, Years 12 and 13 together last week and Year 10 last night. The feedback we’ve heard from parents we chat to on the evenings is that people think that parents’ evenings are running much more smoothly and efficiently now, but there are many parents I don’t get the chance to talk to. If you have any feedback on parents’ evenings that you would like to share, please email Dr Geall (firstname.lastname@example.org) who organises them.
One piece of feedback we have received is that we don’t share enough information about what students are learning. We are working on some more accessible curriculum maps which show clearly what is being taught in each subject area in the context of a whole five year learning journey. This will enable us to make some helpful connections, such as the fact that students who study the water and carbon cycles in the first year of a geography A-Level will have studied the same topic from a different perspective in the spring of Year 11. We’ll also be able to see very easily where it would be helpful to change the order of teaching in one subject to support learning in another. That’s a substantial piece of work, but I hope to be able to show it to you by the end of this term.
As you know, one of our ambitions this year is to significantly reduce our use of single use plastics. I met with the eco-council this week to talk about their audit of our plastic use and their suggestions to reduce it. The biggest source of plastic waste by far is the canteen. I have discussed with Vertas, our caterers, the options we have to reduce that waste. The first thing to tackle is the plastic cutlery. Because of the size of the school, we don’t expect every student to sit down with a plate to eat their lunch. Many prefer to take something away with them. We have had metal cutlery in the past but found that it often got thrown into the bin along with the waste food scrapings. Even if we did go back to that, it would only suit those eating at tables in the canteen. The solution needs to be disposable but sustainable cutlery.
There are a lot of options available, but all come at a cost. Black plastic forks cost around £14 per thousand. Wooden forks cost around £22 per thousand. Compostable plastic forks cost between £24 and £80 per thousand. Inevitably there will be a cost to moving away from the very cheap disposables we currently use. We don’t run our own catering operation, so it isn’t for the school to cover the cost. The caterers will absorb the cost for those pupils who receive free school meals, but for everyone else there will be a small surcharge of 3p for a knife or fork or 5p for a knife and fork.
Thanks to those of you who took part in the twitter poll on cutlery this week. More than a hundred people contributed. It is clear that whilst not everyone is in favour, around two thirds of respondents agreed that it would be reasonable to use sustainable cutlery at a small charge to the students.
Currently my favoured solution is to use cutlery made from CPLA, a plant based compostable material which looks identical to sturdy plastic. We’ll decide soon. Students are of course welcome to bring their own cutlery. Those who have done Duke of Edinburgh will be aware of the spork, a reusable, single multi-use piece of cutlery.
The next largest source of waste plastic is drinks bottles. We are modifying our water fountains so that they can be used to fill reusable bottles. We have also volunteered to trial a refillable system for drinks in the canteen, where students bring their own cup or bottle and get it filled.
We are investigating the benefits to bulk buying reusable multi-use cutlery and refillable cups and bottles with a view to being able to sell them here at prices lower than other retailers. I’ll keep you updated on all those things.
Our new Heads of House have made a cracking start to their revitalisation of the house system. We’ve completed the house basketball competition. The Year 7 competition was won by Darwin, followed by Brunel and Cavell. Year 8 was won by Darwin again, again followed by Brunel and Cavell. In Year 9, Brunel won, with Darwin coming second and Cavell third. Cavell came out on top in Year 10, followed by Darwin and Brunel, and in Year 11 Cavell won again, this time with Brunel in second and Darwin third. Supporters’ awards for the best supporting spirit went to Brunel in Year 7, Cavell in Years 8 and 10 and Brunel in Years 9 and 11. The upshot is that Darwin lead with 130 points whilst Cavell and Brunel are drawn with 110 points each. This term’s dodgeball tournament starts with Year 11 today. With Mr Pickerin being a GB dodgeballer, he’s sure to fancy Cavell’s chances.
I’m slowly becoming more adept at using the school twitter account. Colleagues in drama and PE are much better at it than I, and it provides an interesting window into the school. I encourage you to follow us if you don’t already. We are @SamWardAcad. We won’t ever use twitter alone for crucial messages – they will always go directly to you.
The Upper Key Stage Play is next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Tickets are available from the Drama department and the Student window
Year 9 Options Evening is on Thursday 30th January. There are two talks – 5pm and 6pm in the studio.
The next Parents’ Forum is on 11th March at 6pm. We’ll be discussing the possibility of forming a Parents’ Association to act as both an advisory board to the school leadership as well as a fundraising and event organising body. As ever, all parents are welcome. If there is something you would like to discuss in particular please let me know in advance and I’ll add it to the agenda.
Have a good weekend,