Dear Parents and Carers,

Sports roundup

One of the benefits of moving to a simplified school day is that there is now more time at lunch for clubs to run. The PE department have responded enthusiastically to the opportunity and they are currently running sixteen lunch clubs in addition to the fourteen they offer after school. The sports teams are currently involved in twenty nine different competitions and tournaments in sports including football, netball, volleyball, table tennis, cross country, badminton and basketball.

Thirty two students were taken to the Suffolk Cross Country Championships in Ipswich. Seven qualified for the next round. We took eighty eight children and six young leaders to Castle Manor for the Unity Schools Partnership Cross Country Competition, by far the biggest group from any participating school.

Our Year 11 footballers came 2nd in Division 2 in the Western Area Suffolk League. Year 10 have played three and won two, not only showing some excellent football but also really showing the school values by being especially respectful and fair at all times. Year 9 have been unable to defend their title in the Division 1 Western Area Suffolk League,  but have County Cup games coming up where hopefully they have a good run. Year 8 have played four football matches. Having been promoted to the top league last season they have found it hard going, losing three and drawing one. Year 7 have played three and lost three but have been unlucky to do so. With Josh King wearing the captain’s band and Ollie Moss providing such sterling work in goal, a win can’t be far away. We are looking forward to holding a special football event for Churchill at Samuel Ward in November.

The Year 9 netballers entered the Western Area Tournament based at TGS. They came 4th in their league.

Special congratulations go to the Year 11 boys who won their most recent basketball match 83-12.

We have been looking closely at the PE curriculum too. We have spent the first few weeks with Year 7 focussing on team building and basic skills to prepare them to better sportspeople. All students in Key Stage 3 have undertaken five fitness and health tests which are fed back to pupils and parents on Go4Schools. We also provide education on why we do these tests, what it tells students and how they can improve their health in the long term. At the other end of the school, Year 13 Sports BTEC students are now coaching and teaching some Churchill lessons as part of their course.

For student interested in becoming sports leaders, that course has started with a new cohort on a Tuesday Period 6. Speak to Mr Thompson for more details.

I am very grateful to all the PE staff and all the sports leaders for the excellent work that they do. I am a firm believer in the value of sport to develop not only fitness but also confidence, teamwork, resilience and respect. Our school would be a lesser place without so much sport.

Year 11

Thank you to all of you who attended the recent Year 11 Parents’ Evening. We put a lot of emphasis on keeping to timings. The feedback I received was positive, and walking around the school I could see that queues were shorter in every subject area.

Year 11 started their preparation exams this week with their MFL speaking. Next week we move to the written exams in English, maths, science, French, German, history and geography. I’ve heard students in the past say that they want to do the first set of exams unrevised, so that they can see how they get on. That is not a very good idea. Any revision now will go on to be useful in the future. Every lesson needs to be taken seriously, let alone every exam.

Revision has become even more important because of the way that exam grades are now awarded by the boards. The system is called Norm Referencing and it means that a very similar number of each grade will be awarded each year regardless of the standard. Imagine a world where there were only a certain number of driving test passes to be had and everyone took their driving test on the same day. The people who thought they had done enough to pass would lose out to the people who knew they had done more than enough to pass.  That is the situation we find ourselves in with GCSEs. No time spent revising is wasted and the people who will be most successful have started already.

We want the experience of the prep exams to be as close to sitting a real GCSE as possible, so for the morning exams students will line up at 8.40 and be registered in the exam venues. We are offering a free breakfast to any student who wants it before the morning exams, from 8.10 in the canteen. There will be subject staff on hand to support students with last minute revision or support. So we have an idea of numbers, we asked students to sign up to breakfast during their PD lessons this week. I hope to see a lot of students there, getting into the right frame of mind (and nutrition) to sit their exams.

Staff Survey

Someone asked me to consider this week what makes me proud of SWA. Of course lots and lots of things do, but it occurred to me that what will really make me proud is when all the staff, students and parents are proud of the school too. We run staff surveys, like we do parental surveys, to take the temperature of the school. We did one last week and, whilst is might not be appropriate to share all of it with you, I thought you might be interested to know some of the results. Thirty five members of staff completed the survey, so each 3% represents one person.

97% agree that the school has improved since the last Ofsted inspection, 3% aren’t sure. None disagree.

97% are proud to be part of the school, 3% aren’t sure. None disagree.

97% agree that students behaviour is at least good, 3% aren’t sure. None disagree.

100% agree that the school challenges all students to make at least good progress.

Other points to note

We had a fire alarm set off this week by a student. This is an extremely selfish and dangerous act which wastes everyone’s time and, at this time of year, covers students, staff and the school in mud. Because of the nature of the site we have nowhere to evacuate to but the field. I apologise for the terrible state of students uniforms when they came home on Tuesday and assure you that we take this appalling behaviour very seriously indeed. The absolute minimum punishment for this dangerous and disruptive act is a five day exclusion, which is the most serious I can impose with permanently excluding. Often the punishment is more severe; two students who let of fire alarms in the past are no longer members of the school. There is no place in our school community for people who persist in showing so little regard for others.

Because reading is so important, I’ll repeat this paragraph from the last bulletin. It is vital for our students' outcomes, in all subjects, that reading is a regular part of their daily routine. Please encourage your child to read as often as they can. Twenty minutes a day can make a real difference to a child’s reading speed. As exams get longer and longer, the ability to read rapidly gives students an enormous advantage.

I’d like to remind you about our careers event called Aspire_USP at the Arts Centre. It is a chance for students and parents to come and meet local businesses and education providers and start to think about what kind of a career path to follow. One visitor will win a laptop donated by SJP Contracts. The event is on 13th November from 4-6pm and is open to students from all year groups. It would be good to see many of you there.

The first parents’ forum of this year is coming up on Wednesday 20th November at 6pm in B Block breakout area. Any parent or carer is welcome to attend. The others will be on 11th March and 3rd June.

Have a good weekend ,

Andy Hunter