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Headteacher’s Letter 17 November 2023

Dear Parents and Carers

There are a few tired eyes today after last night’s sixth form open evening. It was a very long day for colleagues and also for all the students who came back in to welcome so many visitors to our school. You will be aware that the sixth form was judged to be outstanding back in late 2017, and continues to go from strength to strength in terms of outcomes, but also the facilities we have managed to create in recent years.

My thanks to Mr Ward, Mrs Davison and Mr Gent for organising last night and also to many students and colleagues – all of whom have again gone the extra mile.

Anti-Bullying Week

I am sure you will agree that the theme of bullying is not one that can be contemplated during just one week per year. Nevertheless, the national annual focus on this topic is really helpful and allows us all to consider the causes and consequences of this terrible experience for both children and adults. Every school, in every neighbourhood, faces problems related to bullying. As I have shared in a letter to you earlier this year, whilst face-to-face harassment and bullying continues to exist in schools, it is the misuse of social media that tends to be the most common main trigger.

One of the observations we have is that one cannot profile a child that is more likely to bully another child. Typically, a bully is unaware of the harm they have caused – or struggle to empathise with the victim. There is a great deal of work to do in those instances with the child and their family to help nurture empathy and kindness.

Social media apps can be fun and helpful, but too often they are a source of great unhappiness. As adults we have to be brave and consider restricting access to them in order to protect our children, or to protect others’ children. It is a really difficult issue and one that we are still getting to grips with in our society.

Bullying, Banter and Bystanders

Exploring the differences between bullying and ‘just having a laugh’ was just one of the themes explored this week in tutor time. Too often, the words ‘it was just a bit of banter’ is used to defend or explain poor choices. Students also examined a variety of scenarios to try and help them work out how to make better choices when faced with complex social situations. As we know as adults, doing the right thing can often be harder than it sounds when faced with social pressures to fit in and be accepted. It’s hard growing up! Our thanks also to Olivia, Faith, Ivy, Isla, Lorena and Rebecca for selling wristbands to promote and raise money for the cause!

Help for Parents and Carers

Please look out for a really helpful letter from Ms Hancock (Deputy Headteacher and DSL) that will signpost parents and carers to some great resources to help you remain up to date and informed about the latest apps and trends our children are exposed to, but also show you how to monitor your child’s social media and wider online activities. Adults in schools and homes, working together, can keep our children safer.

School Improvement Priorities

Our next ‘good to great’ (G2G) goal relates to how we craft deeper thinking and smarter talk in class. Thinking and talking used to be quite unplanned in most schools, with teachers saying things like ‘hands up if you know…’, or, ’Chat amongst your friends about…’. Today, all schools are more interested in finding new ways to engage all minds and all voices. At CNS we use the stepped approach of think > pair > share to encourage everyone to think on their own before ideas are communicated and debated.

G2G Goals 1d: Thinking and talking (oracy) deeper and harder for longer
What is our goal? ·       To ensure that in all lessons students can participate in activities that allow them to think deeply and independently, share their ideas in small groups, and then as a class.
Why is this our goal? ·       “Memory is the residue of thought”: In other words, we remember the stuff we think about! Also, thinking alone allows us to connect with the subject matter on our own terms, before discussing with others to clarify, challenge one another, and then refine our own ideas.

·       Whilst oracy is not examined, it is an essential life skill.

Where are we now? ·       Outcomes at CNS are very high for students of all abilities, including those with lower prior attainment or those who are disadvantaged. Furthermore, student surveys routinely confirm that the vast majority of students feel challenged in their lessons.

·       However, when we visit lessons we notice many opportunities that could be exploited to deepen thought and promote really great conversations.

What are some of the things that we are going to do? ·       We aim for every teacher and student to master the think > pair > share approach in lessons.

·       We shall continue to provide talking scaffolds so that students can be exposed to academic language that shows students how to disagree with success, without being disagreeable.

·       Every department is developing their own oracy policy that considers what effective talk looks like in each subject: Effective classroom oracy / talking in food technology and art is going be very different to talk in history or RE.

·       Actively promote debating clubs and the house council so that student may practise public speaking that fuels their confidence and enjoyment.

If you have any questions, observations or ideas on any aspect of this school improvement goal, then please do contact Mr Gent (Deputy Headteacher) regarding thinking and oracy.

Attendance Matters

As you will see, attendance continued to be a great concern last week. We hope all those who have been poorly are now feeling much better and have caught up on their missed lessons and homework.

Mon 6 Nov to Fri 10 Nov 2023
Whole school 91.1%
Year 7 95.0% (-0.3%)
Year 8 89.0% (-2.2%)
Year 9 88.9% (-1.4%)
Year 10 86.6% (-0.2%)
Year 11 91.5% (-0.7%)
Year 12 96.1% (-0.6%)
Year 13 97.3% (+2.6%)
No. still on 100% 306 /1000

And finally…

Final call for tickets to ‘The Addams Family’ – on sale via Parent Pay. Have a lovely weekend!


Yours faithfully




Barry Doherty


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