Letter from the Head - 11th February 2022
In this issue: A bus update, an update on Year 11/13 exams, and LGBTQ+ History month begins.
I want to start with a quick update on buses. I have mentioned before that we are aware Stagecoach have experienced serious staffing shortages due to COVID, and we have therefore been lenient around lateness to school. We have been monitoring the situation and bus services appear to have returned to normal, so please can I remind parents that students who are late to school (after 08:30) will receive a detention.
I also want to update Year 11 and 13 parents in particular. On Monday, the exam boards published their plans for exams this summer. Overall, I was very pleased with the proposals. The first headline is that GCSEs, BTECs and A Levels will be going ahead as normal, for the first time since 2019. This is undoubtedly good news for our students, who will get the chance to show the fantastic progress they have made. The second headline is that for most subjects, students will either be examined on slightly less content, or will have a slightly greater choice of questions. Again, I think this is practical and recognises the disruption to their education, without denying them a chance to prove their worth.
It is therefore full speed ahead for both year groups, with just three months until the first exams begin for real. Both year groups have a round of mocks to fit in before then, giving them another valuable chance to interrupt the forgetting curve, practise sitting all their exams, and receive feedback on where they are. Students should be revising at home, and we've been supporting them in drawing up revision timetables - please do ask to see them, stick them to the fridge, and encourage your children to stick to them!
Meanwhile, Sixth Form interviews have taken place for our Year 11 students. My leadership team and the Sixth Form team have been blown away by how well the Year 11s have done in interview, reflecting both their academic curiosity and their commitment to further study. Mrs Marsden-Green was at the Henley Bank careers fair this week and was delighted to report that we had bigger queues than any of the other schools! It looks like we will have a fantastic year 12 intake this year.
I have also enjoyed taking assemblies this week, focusing on LGBTQ+ History Month. Sadly, homophobic and transphobic bullying remains the most commonly reported form of bullying in British schools, and violence against LGBTQ+ groups has increased in society every year since 2015, so it's a hugely important topic. In assembly, I talked about one of my heroes - Alan Turing. Turing not only invented what was arguably the first computer, he was also responsible for cracking the Nazi's Enigma Code, an act which was a hugely significant turning point in World War 2, and certainly makes him one of the all time great British Heroes. But after the war he was hounded by the press and persecuted by the police, eventually being outed publicly as gay and forced to submit to hormone therapy. He took his own life two years later. I encouraged students to learn more about Turing by watching the Imitation Game, so please do consider watching it at home! Fortunately, society has moved on, but my challenge to students was to make sure our progress doesn't slow and that we build a school where everyone is accepted, regardless of their identity, sexuality, ethnicity or any other characteristic.
I also enjoyed seeing Year 9s receive their Rank Order Assessments. The top 50 had their names published, and it was great to see the buzz amongst students and their genuine delight when their peers did well. Well done to all of Year 9 for such a fantastic effort in their assessments, and particularly to Jordan S for taking the number one spot in the year!
Finally, I want to let parents know that our annual parent survey will launch next Friday. This is a hugely important part of our self-assessment, and a key chance to tell us what we're getting right, and what we've got more work to do on, so I'd hugely appreciate it if you could take the time to fill it out when it is circulated.