We are now one week away from the February half-term. I’m writing today because next week we say ‘bon voyage’ to students and staff heading off to a variety of European locations: Iceland, Auschwitz, and the Italian ski resort of Bormio 2000. As you can surmise from the destinations, each trip has a different focus. Visits of this type are core to students’ education, ensuring that learning occurs beyond the environs of the classroom. Clearly these trips would not be possible without the support of staff: I’m grateful, as I’m sure you are, to Messrs. Kay, Hay and Robinson for leading these respective trips. They are accompanied by Ms Vikki Smith, Mr Nick Robinson, Mrs Jo Hoare, Mr Andy Holland, Mrs Anna Sharp, Mrs Anne McLaren, Mr Dave Shepherd, Mrs Emma Marris, Mrs Sue Noel-Hiles, Mr Gregor Maxwell and Mr Ian Clark, giving up time in their half-term to accompany students on these worthwhile trips. Students also have their role to play as ambassadors for the School during these various excursions.
The Auschwitz trip is timely because last Friday we commemorated Holocaust Memorial Day with a reflective and moving assembly. Dr Wilton co-ordinated the reflection and was supported by the Sixth Form International Ambassadors. It underlined our commitment to being an inclusive and tolerant society, while also making our students aware of the challenges that face them in the world outside CGS and the need to withstand and challenge prejudice and discrimination.
Every year we review our school policies. One policy that we have amended this month concerns our approach to the use of mobile phones. One of our roles as a School is to provide guidance about appropriate use of this type of technology through our PSHEE program and the types of rules and guidelines that we have as a community. The first statement of our policy reads: We understand that mobile phones are an important item in today’s world. That is why we have always allowed students to bring them into school.’ We have no intention of changing this currently. However, I am mindful of the need to protect students’ images. We have therefore decided that students should not take photos on the school site unless under the supervision or permission of a member of staff. Those caught breaking this rule will have their phone confiscated and will need to collect the phone from me or from the Deputy Head, Mrs Buck. I hope you will support and understand this amendment: as I explained to the students, many employers have such rules to protect the well-being of their employees. We will, of course, relax the rule for special days such as Children in Need.
School continues to do well in sports. Over the last few weeks, the KS3 girls won silver medals in the county badminton championship, the Y9 boys’ won a Wolds Superzone futsal tournament and will go through to the County finals and there have been fixtures for the u15 girls’ hockey team. We have also had some very strong placings in both the girls’ and boys’ cross country championships. To help the PE department assist student movement from the school site to the games field, I am asking if any parent or guardian would be able to gift an unwanted adult-size roadworthy bike to the school which staff can use to speed up the transition while at the same time ensuring safety. If you can, please email Mr Shutes, the head of PE. (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The counting has now been completed in our annual school parent survey. We had 121 returns. Our ‘agree’ percentages remain high. We scored full marks on the four following statements: ‘My child is making good progress in school’; ‘The teaching is good’; ‘The school is well led and managed’; ‘The school is helping my child become mature and responsible’. The Senior Leadership Team, who do so much to ensure that we continue to be effective as a school and a community of learners, were delighted to hear that their hard work has been acknowledged. Our least successful areas scored 96% ‘agree’ for the statements: ‘My child gets the right amount of work to do at home’ and ‘I am kept well informed about how my child is getting on.’ Our best individual score was 96% of ‘strongly agree’ on the statement, ‘The school expects my child to work hard and achieve his or her best.’ I’m pleased that this received almost universal agreement (only one respondent disagreed) as we continue to believe that success only comes with hard work. I am grateful for those parents who took the time to add comments to their assessment of the school. These are considered. As a taste of things to come, next year’s survey will be completed online! I hope that this will encourage more to respond. A spreadsheet of this year’s results can be found on the school website. Students and staff are currently completing an online survey, which will help inform the next School Development Plan. This is then handed to the governors for scrutiny, discussion and debate before it is approved. (This is one of the many roles that our very committed governing body undertakes annually.) I am happy to receive further suggestions from parents via the email address above.
Some of our recent school events and activities include a World War 1 History day for Year 9 and thanks go to Mrs Rachel Dowthwaite, Head of History, for organising this. Year 7 literacy group went to visit an author in Derby and last night took part in a Harry Potter night held in the library. We are grateful to Mrs Katherine Jago, our librarian, who organised both of these events.
We have recently made a change to our school diary. Study leave for Year 11 will now commence at 3.45pm on Thursday 11 May, a day earlier than advertised. This is to accommodate an IGCSE French examination. I have been meeting with all of Year 11 this half-term and am due to complete this exercise by the end of next week. I have been impressed with the diligence of many students and their commitment to achieving their best in the public examinations next term.
Whatever your plans for half-term, I wish you all a relaxing break.
Mr A Hopkins