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Headteachers Letter 4 March 2022

Dear Parents and Carers

We hope the first week back has gone smoothly. We are pleased to report falling cases of COVID-19 and hope that this progress continues in the weeks ahead. You will notice that our letterhead has been updated and reflects our school goal that we must be a school for all and that we shall never stop pursuing improvement until we all agree this is the case.

Our Day for Ukraine – Friday 11 March 2022


On Wednesday, headteachers right across Oxfordshire were contacted and asked to participate in a Day for Ukraine next week. Coordinated by RAF Brize Norton, specific items and cash donations are invited to enable the British Red Cross to support Ukrainian civilians.

We are therefore establishing a special Day for Ukraine on Friday 11 March 2022. Students and staff can participate in two ways:

  • Donate any sum of money in exchange for a simple blue and gold lapel ribbon. Ribbons are going to be made by staff and students. Available from Thursday in the break and lunch queues and during registration.
  • Donate any of the following items on Friday morning:
    • Dried food (e.g. pasta, noodles, rice, powdered milk, fruits, nuts)
    • First aid kits (complete and new)
    • Brand new toiletries and sanitary items
    • New or nearly new warm clothes and underwear
    • New or nearly new children’s toys (no bigger than shoe box size)
    • New torches with AA or AAA batteries
    • New or working mobile phone power banks
    • New or nearly new sleeping bags (no duvets or pillows)

There are a growing number of RAF volunteers who will be coordinating the collection and delivery of these items to the British Red Cross, who will then deliver to Ukraine.

As a school that seeks to nurture a compassionate, inclusive and hopeful outlook, we can demonstrate how to bridge sympathy and action by donating money or items that will save the lives of innocent people caught up in this terrible war.

What better way to illustrate those British Values that uphold the rule of law and the importance of democracy.

World Book Day

It is a bit soon to say much that could justify all of the brilliant activities that have been undertaken this year. Mrs Bovington (school librarian) has been fantastic at getting us all coordinated and the English department managed to get the staff dressed up as adjectives! Meanwhile, sixth formers created recorded bedtime stories that were distributed by Mrs Fisher. Much more on this in the CNS Newsletter, later this term.

Why do we do what we do in the way that we do it?

This is a long and seemingly complicated question, at first sight. But it is one that teachers are being encouraged to ask themselves more and more, up and down the country. It is now our stated intention that:

“All students will experience a broad and balanced curriculum that fuels their curiosity and nurtures a compassionate, inclusive and hopeful outlook for themselves, on humanity and the future.

Our curriculum is ambitious for all children. It follows a carefully laid pathway that deliberately sequences, accumulates and revisits core and disciplinary knowledge and skills.

We want all students to be lifelong explorers and creators of undiscovered knowledge. We believe this will happen if they possess the courage and confidence to learn, to remember, and to make connections on their own.

We want students to creatively express their uniqueness through the things they say, write, compose, sing, design, make, perform or solve. This secures the education and qualifications that give students the freedom to choose their own future and their own destinations.”

You will note our emphasis on our four key values as we set out how we hope each student is enriched by their time at CNS. Winning hearts and minds is an ambitious goal in itself and yet we see so many signs that we work amongst students who embody our values. One visitor to our school this week expressed her amazement at the friendliness and warmth of students, alongside their easy rapport with staff in a calm and purposeful school.

You will also note the ‘how’ as well as the ‘why’. I do not think any of my colleagues have ever worked in an era where there has been quite so much emphasis on how children learn, how they achieve, or how they belong.

Even at the height of the pandemic, we were thinking, reshaping and challenging one another to: sharpen our teaching and learning practices; finesse our responses to challenging or disruptive behaviours; carefully consider how every moment of tutor time is used to bond, celebrate and broaden horizons; and massively expand our student voice programmes to better understand what it is like to be your son or daughter at our school.

This is not to say that we believe that we are nearer the end of that journey than the beginning:

  • Some of our students feel they belong less than others do – and this is at the root of most underachievement. We are dedicated to securing that sense of belonging for all.
  • Some of our students achieve less well than others. We are equally dedicated to establishing why that is for that child and then implement strategies to build success.

Our Goal and Our Values

It is time to explicit: we are driven by the goal that everyone achieves and that everyone belongs. And it is time to say, more loudly and confidently than before, that we wish to be a school that is known for its courageous and compassionate hearts, serving creative and curious minds.

Yours faithfully
Barry Doherty

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