Head’s Letter 8 October 2018

Dear Parents and Carers
Open Evening – Thank You!
We are all very grateful to those students who supported our hugely popular Open Evening
last week in a range of ways: tour guides, speakers and active learners. The turn-out
rewarded the effort everyone has put into this annual event. As a little thank you, every
student who helped was given a raffle ticket and several lucky winners will receive a very
nice gift or two.
Shortlisted Artist – Please Help
Emily Cherry (Year 12) has been shortlisted in a prestigious
art competition. Right now there is an online vote and the
most popular pieces will then go forward to be judged by a
panel. If possible, please follow this link and vote for Emily.
Like me (and 288 so far), I hope you agree her work is the
Emerging School Improvement Priorities – Part 3 of 4
What is the most challenging role in school? I can’t think of
many that are easy or straightforward. As we move towards
a school that is truly the best that it can be for all students,
the role of what we call ‘middle leaders’ is of huge
importance. Our middle leaders include Heads of Department and Heads of Year.
Heads of Department are responsible for translating the goals and aspirations of the school
into day-to-day lessons, resources, activities, homework and assessments. In order for those
Heads of Department to be successful they have to wrestle with a great deal of complexity. It
is no longer possible to be a successful team leader by virtue of knowing more about your
subject than anyone else (although that helps).
Our Heads of Department must possess the skills of a poet (to communicate a love of their
subject), an architect (to design a knowledge-rich curriculum), a designer (to create
engaging lessons and assessments), a diplomat (to communicate with colleagues, students,
families and others), a statistician (to analyse and evaluate the plethora of data available to
them), a psychologist (to work out the best ways to memorise and recall information), a
counsellor (to motivate and support their students and their colleagues), a judge and jury
(to deal with behaviour issues) and also a superb teacher as well. In the coming three years,
all Heads of Departments’ needs have to be met above all others to enable all other teachers
to be the best that they can be.
Diplomacy, detective work and counselling are the well-known and traditionally understood skills of highly effective Heads of Year. In the years to come, their role will always be to look after their particular year group, but also to focus on those pupils for whom school feels less important or whose future is less secure. Every student needs their Head of Year at some point – but some need their help on a weekly or daily basis. The complexity of those students’ needs results in a growing pressure to ensure that Heads of Year remain as confident and skilled in the huge range of demands placed on them to ensure that teaching, learning, attendance, punctuality, behaviour, uniform, appearance and, perhaps above all, well-being is thriving across their year group.
The vast majority of students at Chipping Norton School make good or very good progress in their time at this school. A significant number also make huge progress and leap into our sixth form and then the very best universities. But there are other students who do not make significant progress or leave with few or no qualifications. Our middle leaders’ ability to understand why some children make slower progress than others and then find ways to accelerate their progress lies at the heart of everything we shall do in the coming years.
INSET Day – Friday 5th October 2018
Last Friday’s INSET Day was not, I can assure you, a chance to put our feet up and reflect on the start of term. In that time we each reflected on the year that has gone and tried to pinpoint those aspects of our practice we need to improve and how the teams to which we belong must plan for improvements in the coming years. Just like your children, we seek to be the best we can be as well.
How Are Your Children Settling?
Now that we are well and truly into the new academic year it is worth asking you to reflect on your own children and whether or not they have made a step-up in terms of their commitment to their learning and future. In the weeks ahead may I ask you to look at all of their exercise books and ask them questions about their progress.
Note how this student (spider diagram, above) organised their notes on climate change in GCSE Geography. The student separated the topic into four distinct segments that will help their brain memorise and then recall that the impact of climate change needs to be considered in terms of water, energy, recreation and nature. In the other image we see a student in a German lesson responding to his teacher’s feedback (left-hand page) and using that to write an improved version, using his green pen (right-hand page).When possible, please carry out your own ‘work scrutiny of your children’s books and folders and get in touch with their teachers or tutor if you have any question.
Year 7 Meet the Tutors – 4:00pm till 6:30pm on Tuesday 9 October 2018
Tomorrow night will be the perfect opportunity for parents and carers of our new Year 7s to see how they have settled into their new life at CNS.
Yours sincerely
Barry Doherty