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Headteachers Letter 4 February 2022

Dear Parents and Carers

There was a genuine feeling of breezy normality when we hosted a major tournament on our MUGA on Wednesday 2 February. 120 year 6 students (from eight local primary schools) were supported by 30 of our sports leaders for the afternoon – and it was great to see a packed and lively crowd. We are very grateful for the collaborative partnership that exists between all of our schools and I wish to thank Mrs Fisher and Mrs Bissett for inspiring and coordinating these and other events.

Safer Internet Day – Tuesday 8 February 2022

We are all united by a determination to teach our children and students how to enjoy the enormous benefits of the Internet and be very aware of the dangers and risks the online world presents. It is very clear that there is a very wide spectrum of understanding amongst parents and carers; ranging from the cyber experts to those who acknowledge being somewhat in the dark! This is not helped by the ever changing picture and new apps coming in and then out of fashion.

With all of this in mind, you are invited to have a look at the Safer Internet Day website. It is filled with really helpful materials and deals with some of the questions that adults may be too nervous to ask. It also contains information for 11-18 year olds and primary school aged children as well.

Catering Services

You will be aware that we have introduced a new catering service and we have been really pleased with the new menus and their eagerness to engage with students to establish which items they like or might try. Next term, they are planning to have some free taster sessions and talk to the student council about their likes and dislikes. Our rapidly improving facilities will help and we are interested in setting up some mini outlets nearer the playing fields for those who just want grab ‘n’ go items.

In the meantime, they are interested to learn more from those students and families who rarely or never use the facility. Therefore, if your children never really access the canteen then we ask you to invest sixty seconds in this survey so they can find out why.

Developing Our Sixth Sense

“What is it like to be a student in this school?” This is the most prominent question being asked in all schools up and down the country today. This interest existed before COVID, but the impact of school closures and disruption have raised the importance of knowing the answers and doing something with that information.

We are a listening school and you will be aware that we introduced our sixth sense student voice programme.  In addition to the annual universal student survey (every summer – amongst all RLT schools), we introduced an additional programme that involves 29 members of staff meeting with one sixth of our students, six times per year. We met during w/b 10 January and have been studying the anonymised feedback from students and agreeing additional actions.

I intend to draw attention to this work in a separate letter. For now, I want to reassure you that we are taking extraordinary steps to ask the kinds of questions that schools might be forgiven for putting off for another day. We hope you will agree that a strong family is very honest with one another. Strong families never claim to be perfect, but they strive to be better tomorrow than they are today.

It would be very difficult to provide a summary of the latest findings, but we are pleased with the levels of safety and happiness students have reported, and their obvious affection for one another and the range of adults at CNS. But there are certainly some areas for us to work on, or perhaps themes that remain unclear and require even more exploration.

Turning Words Into Actions and Spaces

A clear message from the student voice work is the appreciation for new spaces for students to eat and socialise. The sixth form centre and new dining room (for year 10s and 11s) are of course completed and offer wonderful areas for those students. But they want and need more…

Work on our main hall is ongoing but we look forward to opening this area for our youngest students (years 7 to 9) in the month of March. It is becoming easier and easier to imagine how this area will also form a beautiful public space for productions that we look forward to reviving later this year – just like we did in the olden days.

Meanwhile, we have been asking members of the student council to work with us and our amazing PTA to offer advice and guidance on how to transform additional outdoor spaces for students to socialise, eat and relax.

We plan to create a wonderful space in the rather tired looking tech courtyard area and then, once completed, look at other spaces around the school that students would seek and value.


Have a great weekend!

Yours faithfully
Barry Doherty

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