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Headteacher’s Letter 21 April 2023

Dear Parents and Carers

Welcome back to the summer term! This is an unusual time of year with our year 11s and 13s feeling that those exams are fast approaching and our year 9s are eager to get started on their GCSE and BTEC options. We have enjoyed a great first week back and appreciate the many messages of encouragement received in recent weeks.

Industrial Action – Thursday 27 April and Tuesday 2 May 2023

After very carefully analysing the number of classes likely to be affected and the number of staff and venues we have available to cover lessons, on both days:

  • Students in years 7, 9 and 10 are to remain at home and will be engaged in remote learning activities. Further information appears below. Look out for an additional letter from Mr Gent on Tuesday.
  • Students in years 8, 11, 12 and 13 must attend school as normal. Further details also appear below.

Information for students in years 7, 9 and 10

  • Work will be set via Show My Homework / Satchel One or Google Classroom.
  • Additional English and maths supported self-study activities will also be signposted (on Satchel One) for those students whose teachers are taking part in industrial action.
  • This means that all students will have at least five hours of study each day.
  • The parents or carers of students eligible for a free school meal will again be sent vouchers in lieu of the two days.
  • We do expect that parents and carers will strongly discourage their children from socialising during school hours and falling behind with their assigned activities.

Information for students in years 8, 11, 12 and 13

  • All lessons will take place at their normal times.
  • All bus, taxi and dining facilities will be running as normal on both days.
  • On both days:
    • Year 8 students are expected to take normal exercise books and equipment to school;
    • Year 11 students are expected to take all of their GAP work with them so that they can use any additional time to good effect;
    • Senior and pastoral staff will be on hand to support and guide both year groups.
  • On both days, sixth formers need to be ready to flip to supervised study and therefore have plenty of homework and revision with them each day.

Whilst the school is closed to all children in years 7, 9 and 10, we are again happy to supervise children if parents and carers wish us to do so. Please contact my PA, Morag Robinson ([email protected]) by 3pm on Monday afternoon, if you would like us to arrange this with you.

It is important to note that teachers are not taking action against our school. The strike action is in relation to a national dispute around teacher and school staff pay, in addition to school funding. I can assure you that every teacher who is taking part in industrial action does so with a very heavy heart.

The Journey from Good to Great

You will be aware that I have repeatedly stated our goal to be a truly great school and that we are on a confident journey of improvement towards that goal for your children and their futures. As we enter the summer term, we do begin to think about next year and the ways in which we can be proud but also ambitious…

Doing good… But in order to be great…
  • Overall attendance above local and national averages.
  • Very high attendance in years 11 and 13.
  • Much reduced proportion of persistently absent (<90%) students.
  • Improve our support for those students who experience very high levels of anxiety, as well as their parents and carers.
Behaviour & Character
  • Five-year decline in the number of suspensions – currently the lowest ever!
  • Impeccable behaviour in the vast majority of lessons and amongst the vast majority of students.
  • Clear aspiration to be united by a simple set of common values that we seek to promote and instil: courage, compassion, creativity and curiosity.
  • Fundamentally and universally secure a culture where all students are always safe from all forms of verbal, physical and online bullying, harassment or unkindness.
  • All students making the right decisions even when they believe no one is looking.
  • Improve the impact of the support for those students (and their parents and carers) who are more likely to make poor choices at school or in the community.
  • Clarity and consistency amongst all members of teaching staff on the most effective ways to teach and learn.
  • All departments have completed an overhaul of the why, what, when and how of what is taught and learned in their subject.
  • Increase uptake in music, French, German and design & technology.
  • Extend and improve additional academic, social and emotional interventions for our most vulnerable students.
Site Development
  • Completely renovated main hall, new dining room and sixth form centre.
  • Hundreds of new electronic devices: Chromebooks, 75” display units in 22 classrooms, and three brand new computer rooms.
  • Complete the IT modernisation programme.
  • Further improve outdoor spaces for socialising and exercise.
  • Completely refurbish our toilet facilities.
Examination Results
  • Sustained year on year improvements in GCSE, BTEC and A level outcomes amongst all students.
  • Significantly above average and rising Attainment 8 (55.6 / top 20%) with significantly above average and rising attainment and outcomes across English, Maths and science (et al).
  • Rapid improvements in the attainment (two whole grades) and progress of disadvantaged children.
  • Ensure that the outcomes of our most disadvantaged students continue to rapidly improve.
  • Ensure all students with special educational needs fulfil their potential through a mixture of curriculum and pedagogical reforms.
  • Ensure that our younger students, most affected by the disruptions of COVID since 2020, match and exceed the outcomes of their older peers.

As you would expect, there are many more complex layers of planning behind these summary points, but I hope it sets out further and helpful information on that journey of improvement and our ambitious goal to be better tomorrow than today.

Standards & Values Assemblies

On Monday, I shall be delivering an assembly to each year group to start the new term. It is my opportunity to reassert the need for high standards – captured by the simple message around being ready, safe and respectful.

These assemblies are also a chance to explore our values in greater depth. In September, I took students on a 14.7 billion year journey through our subjects and told the ‘big story of everything’ in order to fuel curiosity.

In January, the focus turned to those who have shown the courage to demand an education; often losing their lives in doing so. Back then, my goal was to show why education and knowledge equates to freedom and power.

On Monday, the theme turns to compassion. I intend to explore what it means to be human – and suggest that it is our self-awareness and ability to empathise that helps us stand out from other creatures…

Volunteer Refugee Resettlement Coordinator?

Along with all of the other RLT schools, we are asking parents and carers to consider volunteering to work with Citizens UK on the Communities for Ukraine project. Please see the flier opposite and do get in touch with Mr Keith Hebden if this is something that interests you.

Meanwhile, Councillor Rizvana Poole spoke to a cross section of our students yesterday about how to get involved in voluntary work and how this can lead to transformations for those who benefit but also those who give their time for a worthwhile cause.

That’s about it for the first week back and as you can see, we are back in the swing of things already. We are confident that next Thursday will again go smoothly and I will be in touch with you again this time next week with a shorter message, ahead of the first of two consecutive bank holidays.


Have a lovely weekend!

Yours faithfully
Barry Doherty

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