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Headteachers Letter 20 May 2022

Dear Parents and Carers

So far so good, as far as the examinations are concerned. No major surprises reported and it is so helpful for our students to have a solid first week under their belts to steady the nerves for the next month and more. As I prepare this letter, our year 11s are about to sit their first maths paper and our year 13s are dressing up for their final normal (ish) school day. It is great to see those rites of passage returning – especially for the year 13s whose own final day of year 11 was so abruptly brought forward.

U19 Oxfordshire County Cup Runners Up

And so it seemed fitting to be a spectator for the final of the county’s biggest game yesterday, held at Oxford City’s Velocity Stadium. This was because our team, managed and coached by Mr Robinson, comprised boys from years 11, 12 and 13. Although they lost the game two nil to the U19 ACE Academy Football College, I could not have been more proud of their spirit. I will avoid my own match report but seeing that team just miss out on beating one of the leading football academies in the region was special. I know Mr Robinson feels incredibly honoured to have led them and is keen to congratulate the entire squad: Louis England, Billy Sweet, Ed Mix, Charlie Fisher, Max Sulik, Jake Briggs, Isaac Harrington, Felix Robertson, Greg Paxton, Max Cross, Jojo Styles, Aaron Denton, Will Ingham, Will Porter, Miles Hook, Lewis Pretorius, Harry Ware, Charlie Chadwick and David Jenkins.

It is worth noting that since the year 13s started senior football in year 11, they have won 22 games in a row. No draws or losses in any competitions – but they were not able to appear in finals due to COVID-19 cancellations of all competitions in the last two seasons.

Meanwhile they won their league and are, therefore, in a playoff semi-final against an unknown opponent and could face Burford in the U19’s league final in three weeks’ time – back at Oxford City FC.

Talking of Great Character

Character Education is the name of the subject we deliver once every two weeks. As I mentioned last week, we are not simply a school that is preparing students for examinations, we are trying to help nurture students with a strength of character that will see them through all of the opportunities and challenges that life will present.

I spent some extended time with Ms Skill (Head of Character Education) and Mrs De Bruyn (Assistant Head) to begin reviewing our curriculum plan for next year and ask the hardest question of all – do we succeed in helping students feel prepared now and in the future?

Mapped over seven years, Ms Skill works with many other colleagues to rotate a blend of personal, social, health & citizenship education (PSHCE) themes that include: self-actualisation; mental and physical health; relationships and sex education; digital literacy; British values and citizenship; protective behaviours; careers education; managing personal finances; and learning how to live more independently. The current curriculum plan can be viewed via this link but it will be updated for September.

As the world turns and new themes or issues emerge (e.g. peer on peer abuse or Ukraine in recent years), we insert new topics or revise the content of others. Starting next year, we are going to be introducing more regular post-module feedback surveys amongst students, and simple online assessments to ensure that students retain the most important information, but also understand how to handle or manage situations they may encounter.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Update

You may recall that both Ms Hancock (Deputy Headteacher and DSL) and I have written to you in the past about our work with EqualiTeach and, more recently, our Agents for Change. Our commitment to ensure that CNS is a safe place to learn and work and is keen to be more open, diverse and inclusive, has not faltered. We value the challenge (and support!) provided by an external partner, EqualiTeach. After half term, Ms Hancock is going to speak to all of our students and summarise all of the ways that we have evolved as a school in the past twelve months. This includes new or updated polices, training for associate and teaching staff, updated approaches in response to prejudice related incidents, establishment of safe spaces and a prayer room, an ever evolving character education programme (see above) and a revamp of the [email protected] email address that enables students to reach out for help. Combined with our student voice programmes, we really are trying our best to listen, reform and refine.

If we do not feel that we belong, we are less likely to achieve, engage or buy-in to what we are trying to offer at CNS.

Performing Arts at CNS

One of the greatest victims of the pandemic has been public performances of music, drama, dance and musical theatre. With a newly refurbished school hall and rapidly diminishing nervousness about public gatherings, we are able to plan with greater confidence for 2022-23 and seek to ignite major new opportunities for our students to take to the stage. In addition to the normal performances associated with music and dance, we wish to stage a musical and a pantomime next year.

Anyone involved in such adventures knows that there is a huge commitment necessary. As far as the cast and crew are concerned, the rehearsals can be as life-changing, memorable and fun as the live productions. As we plan for these goals, we are keen to find out how families feel about us setting up a late bus service that would help students attend after school rehearsals, and all sorts of other after-school clubs and boosters.

Late Bus

We have run a late bus in the past but the associated costs made its continuation untenable. However, with a part subsidised and part pay-as-you-go facility, we may be able to resume a late bus service next year. In order to gauge interest, please complete this 30-second survey.

Later this term I hope to share some updates in this regard, alongside news of some of the trips and visits that are being discussed and considered by my colleagues right now.

One last request…

Before I sign off, I wonder if I could ask those parents and carers who have not yet competed the survey to do so over the weekend? We are keen to gather our entire community’s voice and the survey will only take 2-3 minutes. Please follow this link.

Have a great weekend!

Yours faithfully
Barry Doherty

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