Headteacher’s letter 4 November 2019

Monday 4 November 2019

Dear Parents and Carers

Fundraising Day for THRIVE – Thursday 24 October 2019
Once again we have been thrilled by the response of students to the first of our four planned fundraising days for local charities. We shall be sending off a cheque for £1000 to THRIVE with our best wishes and admiration for all that they do in this community. Our next fundraising day will take place on the last day of this term – Thursday 19 December 2019. We shall be raising money for Katharine House Hospice and raising awareness of this organisation through the Student Council, active tutorials and assemblies. Meanwhile, the new Student Council have committed themselves to trying to collect 140 Christmas parcels for Aspire, building on last year’s successful collection of 120 shoe boxes for homeless adults and children across Oxfordshire.

Sixth Form Open Evening – Thursday 7 November 2019
Later this week we look forward to welcoming students and families from CNS and elsewhere to our Sixth Form Open Evening. We shall begin with a presentation in the Main Hall from 6pm, followed by a tour of the emerging new Sixth Form Centre – and then on to conversations with the teachers offering courses next year. We look forward to seeing as many families as possible.

Sixth Form Centre – Under Construction
So far, so good, as far as the new centre is concerned. Work is progressing really well and, touch wood, is on course to be completed and ready to be opened in January 2020.
The work on the new toilets and kitchenette is now underway and will present some of the greatest difficulties but this has not stopped us working with groups of keen students to begin choosing appropriate furniture that is bright, functional and comfortable. Plus a few eye-catching wall visuals to create a truly inspiring environment for our students to learn.
Once in place, we hope the sixth formers will look at ways to fundraise to purchase some garden furniture and make full use of their new sun garden as well.

Year 10 PTC – New On-Line Booking System to be Trialled
On Thursday 21 November we shall be hosting the Year 10 Parent Teacher Consultation (PTC) evening. For the first time this will be bookable online from 6am on Thursday 7 November. If you are a parent or carer of a Year 10 student, you will receive a letter about this very shortly. This will provide all the information you need to make those bookings and we are on the end of the phone if you have any difficulties whatsoever.

You may recall that I sought parents’ and carers’ opinions on our PTCs last year. Your views have led to this trial and some other adjustments. This includes spacing ourselves out a little more on the night. In all future PTCs you will meet the teachers of English, Maths and Science in the Main Hall, but meetings with all other subjects will be in one of the nearby English classrooms. We also hope to provide succinct and valuable comments to you that maintain the 5-minute appointment slots and avoid overrunning which is as frustrating for teachers as it is for you.

If the online booking trial goes well, then we shall use the system for all PTCs from 2020, starting with the Year 11 PTC on Thursday 23 January. I shall keep you posted on how the trial goes.

Assessment and Reporting to Parents
During the course of this week, teachers will be entering a variety of grades regarding each student’s progress and attitude to learning into our database. These will of course generate reports to you as parents. During the course of this year we shall be reviewing our assessment and reporting policy and we wish to engage families in this process.

In the next few weeks please look out for a letter for Mr Trainer, Deputy Headteacher. He will be seeking some initial feedback on a range of issues relating to assessment, target setting and reporting and this will be the start of a journey that will culminate in tweaks, amendments or changes to our current policy and practices in 2020/21. We are keen to not do away with things that clearly work and add value, but we do want to ensure that what we generate and provide is deemed useful by parents, carers and students.

Rewards and Celebration Events
This year we shall be relaunching our celebration events with awards presented at special extended assemblies at the end of the Autumn, Spring and Summer terms. Prizes will be distributed for a range of achievements – some academic but mostly in relation to character; where students have shown compassion, courage, creativity or curiosity.

Awards will be presented by Tutors, Heads of Year and members of the Leadership Team. The planned dates of these assemblies appear above and parents and carers are very welcome to join us for these special occasions. Students in KS3 (Years 7, 8 and 9) will also be receiving the new Personal Scorecards that will revise and celebrate a range of ways in which they have achieved at the school so far this year.

Attendance Matters
And finally, we welcome all of our students back for the second term of the year. We look forward to a continuation of an upward trend with regards to behaviour and engagement in and out of lessons. However, we do expect and hope that attendance sharply improves. Compared to the previous year, attendance in our first eight weeks was only satisfactory and we know that lots of children suffered from colds and bugs. Let’s hope those bugs are largely behind us and that we can report on an upward trend for attendance later this term as well.

Yours sincerely

Barry Doherty
Headteacher