Headteacher’s letter 19 December 2019

Thursday 19 December 2019

Dear Parents and Carers

Wow, another term has gone by in a flash! In the last few weeks alone we’ve been so busy with Year 11 mocks, Christmas shopping trips abroad, two major carol services and of course the Christmas Fayre a few weeks back, which I shall refer to again below.

Year 11 Mock Results Day
Last Thursday, Mr Trainer (Deputy Headteacher) and Mrs Jackson (Head of Year 11) organised a special breakfast to accompany the distribution of their recent mock examination results. For many it was a wonderful experience, others a wakeup call and for some a disappointment or even a shock. In other words, precisely the range of emotions experienced each August on the actual results day.

We run these events so that the students are reminded that it is not the actual results day. In fact it’s 5 or 6 months before the exams even start. This means that the future is still in their hands – it is not fixed. It is very, very flexible and their final grade is in fact still up for grabs.

The Fight or Flight Response
Typically, a student progresses by about 1.5 GCSE grades between their mock and their actual examination. But that’s an average and so some advance three or four grades, others not at all or even go backwards. Why?

Firstly, it’s to do with the student’s individual response to both their results and their thinking about the GCSE exams coming up. Across the country there are 600,000 Year 11s weighing up the six months ahead. Each will be internally battling a fight or flight response: “Shall I embrace this challenge (the fight response) or shall I avoid the challenge (the flight response)?” We can encourage, motivate and inspire – but each one of us has to determine our fight or flight response to every challenge.

OR
Secondly, it’s to do with how we prepare your children for those examinations. The chart opposite tries to summarise the stages of how we prepare your children for their examinations.
We know that we can bring out the fighting spirit in young people if we give them belief and hope – and if they regularly experience success. We are preparing Year 11s and 13s better than ever before with a simple approach based on what we know about how our brain works and how we memorise and master our studies.

Thirdly, it’s to do with how parents and carers can make a big difference…  What can parents and carers do?
Three things will make a difference:
1. Check they know what they are meant to be memorising (revising).
2. Check they are creating revision notes (e.g. flashcards)
3. Check how their in-class practice is going – encouraging and motivating as necessary!

The GAP Begins
Starting in January, the Year 11 Get Ahead Programme commences and is a 16 week programme that will get every Year 11 student ready for their examinations. If a student fully engages in those activities, gets stuck into their studies in class and follows the advice of their teachers, then there is absolutely no reason why they cannot make two, three or even four grades progress in those final sixth months.

Amazing PTA AGAIN!
A few backs at the Christmas Fayre, our wonderful PTA raised another £2100 for your children and our school. I cannot thank them enough for being one of the best PTAs around and making a massive difference in our community. Why not consider joining them by contacting Tanya Harrington? tanya.harrington70@gmail.com

Fundraising at the school has been one of the major highlights of this term with the enthusiastic responses to our non-uniform days, the TeamAnna campaign or the national events like Children In Need where, for example, the Sixth Formers raised £367 – double the previous record – with their coin sculptures.

You may also recall that 12 months ago we collected 100 Christmas parcels for the homeless of Oxfordshire in partnership with Aspire. This year we set a goal of trying to collect 140 parcels and have ended up with 248! Opposite is an image of some members of the Student Council about to load the parcels for delivery.

My thanks to Mrs Thomas who has been brilliant in coordinating us all this year through this ambitious project. But a special mention has to go to 11MKD – Ms Dean’s tutor group collected 12 parcels. However, right out in front was Mrs Tandy’s Year 7 tutor group – they collected 25 parcels!

Having a reputation for kindness seems much more important than any other human quality and is very much part of what we encourage our students to think about as they become aware of the challenges that exist in our society.  This is the kind of character we cherish and is also exemplified by the voluntary work our students do outside school.  For example, over the last term a small team of sixth form students have been helping the Hooky Neighbours charity support older members of their community. Some students have been making regular visits, some doing odd jobs and some helping with the running of the charity.

“We just wanted to highlight the wonderful support your students are giving our charity, Hooky Neighbours. They do as much as they can for those in need of company and help. People are always impressed with the level of support we receive from the students and Chipping Norton School. We are hoping that in the New Year we will be able to organise more pairings and odd jobs, as well as recruit more students.”
From Hooky Neighbours’
Michelle Dix and Paul Cann

Celebration Assemblies
Which links beautifully to our new assemblies. In the past week we have begun each day by celebrating the character of the young people in our school. We hope that you followed us on Facebook each morning.  Awards were distributed for Gold Personal Scorecards, from teachers, form tutors, Heads of Year and PSAs – all recognising the fantastic students we have at this school.
You will have received the letters from the Years 7 to 11 Heads of Year and PSAs last week that listed all of the prize winners. The final page illustrates the names of the 110 Gold Award winners from Years 7 to 10 whose are the first to receive this new award.

We look forward to more and more students earning that award either at Easter or in the summer. January is a time to start afresh: arrive and be seated by 8:40am, throw oneself into lessons, dress correctly, miss as little school as possible and collect more House Points for kindness, effort or commitment.

And finally… farewell
It is with sadness that we shall be saying farewell to Mr Crudge after thirty years of service as a teacher and former Head of Design & Technology. We wish him every happiness in his retirement and welcome Mr James to our Tech team in January. Meanwhile Mrs Budd, our Family Support Worker, will be beginning maternity leave in January and she will be temporarily replaced by Ms Green.

Start of the 2020 Term
The new school term begins for all students at the normal time on Tuesday 7 January 2020. Until then have a wonderfully restful and happy holiday with family and friends. See you next year!

Yours sincerely

Barry Doherty, Headteacher