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Headteacher’s Letter 10 November 2023

Dear Parents and Carers

Lest We Forget

With Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday taking place this coming weekend, I wanted to publicly thank Mr Blois (Head of Chemistry) for creating this week’s tutor time programme. He began by exploring the Royal British Legion’s motto, “Service No Self”; drawing attention to the armed forces and members of the National Health Service and our poppy appeal in school. Throughout the week, students explored an article on local soldiers who died in the Great War, before researching their own or others’ links to British armed forces. Today, in the link to careers, they watched an interview between Mr Blois and the Captain of HMS Severn. I feel proud to share details of our curriculum in this way and by doing so hope to illustrate the care and thought that goes into what is taught and learned at CNS. Thank you so much to Mr Blois.

The War in Israel and Gaza

In little over a week, we shall move on to the next topic in our tutor time programme. We shall try to explore the current conflict in the Middle East together as a school community, modelling how we might process, think about and find out more about the world around us. It is a very difficult topic to explore with one thousand children aged 11 to 18 because the history and politics are so complex – and content can be so upsetting. Rather than those sessions becoming history, religion or politics ‘lessons’, we will instead seek to carefully inject some hope amongst the sadness that dominates television screens and newspapers at this time. In the meantime, I have found this article really helpful in thinking about the best way to talk to children about this topic.

School Improvement Priorities

In my letter to you last week, I began sharing our school improvement plan and ‘good to great’ (G2G) goals with you. In this week’s brief summary, I remain under the first banner of ‘everyone achieving’ and turn to reading and writing.

The confidence to read and the ability to write has a profound effect on personal happiness, wellbeing, self-esteem and life chances. The fact is that the more confident students become with their reading and writing, the easier they find all subjects – including subjects like biology, chemistry and physics, where students are required to read and process complex questions, and also provide extended written answers with high literacy demands.

G2G Goals 1b and 1c: Reading and Writing
What is our goal? ·       We want all children to be exposed to more frequent and very engaging reading activities, alongside receiving guidance and support in all lessons with all teachers so that all students can write with confidence and flair.
Why is this our goal? ·       The more we read, the more fluent, independent, knowledgeable and successful we become in all subjects and walks of life. Meanwhile, knowing how to express ourselves in writing is not only empowering and fun, but also transforms outcomes in all subjects.
Where are we now? ·       Starting with English results in 2022 and 2023, CNS students perform extremely well with almost half securing grades 7 to 9 in English, and over 90% getting a grade 4 or above. At CNS, our students’ Progress 8 score of +0.91 means that they tend to get about one grade higher at CNS than they might in another school (a fact that is equally true of maths).

·       Outside English, those ‘literacy family’ subjects that rely heavily on writing (e.g. sociology, psychology, history, geography, RE, drama, French, German and business studies) have also enjoyed tremendous success at GCSE and A level. On average their students achieve over half a grade higher than the national average.

What are some of the things that we are going to do? ·       We recognise that every subject has a major reading and writing component, including all subjects with a non-examined assessment (NEA). This means that all teachers in all subjects will receive the same kind of training, support and guidance to ensure that their students know how to write with confidence, and secure the very highest marks in their exams.

·       This will include more intensive support for those subjects that do not belong to that literacy family listed above and may have been overlooked in many schools in the past.

·       We shall continue to use the tutor time programme to model how reading (and oracy) ought to take place with an emphasis on key vocabulary and memorisation.

·       All teachers will continue to apply the high-TEMPO model so that: we choose engaging reading activities; we model the steps to writing success, or provide comparative models of secure and excellent examples; we create opportunities to practise and we also ensure that we provide sentence stems, starters and scaffolds to build up confidence and know-how so that all students may become independent in time for their GCSE exams.


If you have any questions, observations or ideas on any aspect of this school improvement goal, then please do contact Mrs Armistead (Assistant Headteacher) regarding reading, or Mr Gent (Deputy Headteacher) regarding writing.

Attendance Matters

Mon 30 Oct to Fri 3 Nov 2023
Whole school 91.9%
Year 7 95.3% (-2.1%)
Year 8 91.2% (+0.8%)
Year 9 90.3% (+1.8%)
Year 10 86.4% (-3.9%)
Year 11 92.8% (-0.4%)
Year 12 96.7% (+1.0%)
Year 13 94.7% (+0.2%)
No. still on 100% 345 /1000

In our first week back after half term, you can see that there is not a simple pattern across all year groups. Compared to the past, our attendance is approximately 3% lower than it used to be at this stage in the year. You will note that two out of every three students have missed one or more days.

Whilst we cannot do very much about sickness and bugs, we can respond and recover the lost learning when a child is better. This is why we continue to ask parents and carers to help ensure that missed lessons and activities are caught up as quickly as possible. This helps to reduce the impact of absence on long term progress and life chances.

And finally…

I have been asked to remind you that tickets for ‘The Addams Family’ are on sale via Parent Pay. Book now to avoid disappointment. Do have a lovely weekend when we get there.


Yours faithfully
Barry Doherty

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