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Headteacher’s Letter 1 July 2022

Dear Parents and Carers

We are roughly half way through our transition days as I write and it was good to be back to the traditional welcome evenings with families on Wednesday night, and the range of taster lessons throughout Thursday and today. We have a record number of students joining us in September and so the more we know them and they know us beforehand the better.

Looking Ahead to Sports Day – Monday 18 July 2022

As you might imagine, the day will be packed with all of the normal track and field events, including the very popular high jump, long jump, triple jump, javelin, discus, shot put and a range of distance running.

It is going to be a great day for the whole school, irrespective of how much each child is going to be participating in the individual events. We want to enable all students to be outside throughout, so that they can cheer on competitors and spend some end of term time with friends before the end of term. The key features of the day will be as follows:

  • All students are invited to wear their PE kit for the day, including those students who are not competitors.
  • All students will register as normal (8:40am to 9:00am) and then make their way out to the playing field.
  • When not competing, students may sit in friendship groups, or play their own games in designated areas that will be supervised – but away from the events.
  • Alongside the normal programme of events, there will also be a range of fun, sports-related competitions for all led by our sixth formers. More on this nearer the time!
  • There will be a single extended 90-minute lunchtime. Students will be free to use the canteen at any point in that period and either eat on the playing field, or use the canteen if they wish to escape the sunshine we hope will also turn-up.
  • After lunch, students will be able to purchase ice creams (£1) or ice-lollies (50p) from a special kiosk that the canteen staff have agreed to set up on the playing field. Any purchases made at that special kiosk will need to be in cash. However, normal purchasing of these items can be made in the canteen when it is open.
  • A DJ (aka a member of staff who likes music) will be filling the air with a range of songs and will be taking requests.
  • Students will then be registered at 3:00pm, meaning that the school day will end at the normal time of 3:15pm.
  • Our normal rules on mobile phones will apply, but we shall have our own official photographer on hand throughout the day to capture and upload photos.
  • Finally, there will be special rooms set aside for students who may seek or prefer a quieter environment for some or all parts of the day

In order that we can avoid any problems with the sun or heat:

  • We ask that all students bring their own supply of sun cream and renew several times during the day. We shall also set up a sunscreen station for any student who forgets or runs out, to top-up and avoid sunburns.
  • All students are very strongly encouraged to wear a sun hat or cap throughout the day. Long sleeves are also sensible if skin is particularly sensitive. Just to note that students can often forget to apply sun cream to their nose, ear tips, back of the neck, and legs.
  • There will be a water station throughout the day to enable students to top-up their water bottles and stay hydrated.

In the event of poor weather on Monday 18 July, we shall move to a competitors-only sports day on Friday 9 September. We cannot push back to Tuesday 19 July because the year 7s are off to LEGOLAND, there are all sorts of other activities and we have a visit from the armed forces booked as well!

Please do whatever you can to encourage participation on the day from your son or daughter. Everything counts towards the house competitions and, in the end, there are very fine margins that decide the outcome – and we want all students, regardless of their confidence, to take part and feel they were there!

We hope that you will follow the day with us on Facebook, with updates of images from in and around the playing fields.

Complete Maths Tutor Online Platform

If you have a child in year 6 who is about to join us in September, you will be aware that we are investing in an additional online package for students to support them with their numeracy. The resource is superb and has also been used to support our year 11s in the run-up to their GCSE examinations.

In the new academic year, we shall be launching this with all year groups and will be strongly encouraging everyone to apply the ‘little and often’ rule so that, over time, their mastery of mathematics builds every single day. This online resource uses algorithms to remember your child and selects problems to put in front of them because it knows what they need to return to, or move onto next, to maintain an upward trajectory. This package includes instructional videos, paired modelling (“watch me do it and then have a go at a similar problem”) and quizzes.

Back ‘in the day’ many of us may recall the wonderful ‘Little Professor’ toys that many adults now look back on and attribute basic mathematical strengths to the fundamentals that were established and cemented through the use of this innovative toy as a child.

Things have moved on since then and if your children can get into the routine of applying the little and often mentality to maths, then their confidence and competence will certainly improve.

There’s a great three-minute video here that explains a little more. Sometimes, something comes along that is free and a “game changer” – particularly for those who cannot access or afford a private maths tutor.

Food Technology

Oddly, seeing great food served attractively is almost as good as the real thing. In recent weeks, I have sought to show off the brilliant work in art & design, and then textiles. This week, it is the turn of food technology and their mouth-watering coursework creations. GCSE food preparation and nutrition is a very popular subject and runs alongside the hospitality and catering vocational course we have also set up in recent years. This accommodates both the high levels of interest, and the wide range of career aspirations amongst our students.

Mr James (teacher of design & technology) writes: “Building on our amazing student work that has been showcased in the newsletter over the past few weeks, I am really pleased to tickle your taste buds with a collection of images from our food preparation and nutrition students. Over the duration of the GCSE course, students cover everything from basic nutrition to advanced preparation and presentation skills.  Students are guided through the culinary process from the starting point of a flapjack at the start of year 7, through to the wonderfully tempting dishes that you can see here.”

We hope you enjoy a selection of our year 11’s work on the final page and are again impressed by the creativity and technical prowess of our students.

And finally…

Good luck to 152 year 10s who are about to embark on work experience next week. Destinations include FarmEd, the National Museum of the Royal Navy, the Oxford Playhouse, Charlie Longsdon Horse Racing, Gloucester Rugby, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Spencer-Churchill Design Ltd, Alpine F1 Team, New College Oxford, Rebellion Film & TV, Ridge Clean Energy and Evenlode Investments. Mr Parker and Mrs Knowles have helped to ensure the levels of participation and placements are unparalleled and that when a student has a clearer goal they are always more willing to return to school with renewed determination and commitment.

Have a great weekend!
Yours faithfully
Barry Doherty

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