Headteacher Weekly Bulletin 02.02.18

Good afternoon.

Well, I can’t quite believe it’s Friday already again; the end of the week does seem to come around ever so quickly but I suppose that’s an indication of how busy and productive things are.  I had a particularly good Thursday evening (for the most part anyway).  I do enjoy parents’ evenings and last night it was the turn of our Year 10s to get a grilling / pat on the back / kick up the backside in the presence of mums and dads; I’m sure the tone was set for the rest of the year and the build-up to GCSEs in 2019. I then made a quick dash, along with Mrs Moorhouse, a number of Year 10 students and their parents over to Bowdon for the annual Bowdon Festival choir competition.  Someone commented that the judging at this event is as bizarre and opaque as that in the Eurovision song contest; I couldn’t possibly comment but, even with my inexpert choral knowledge, I can safely say ‘we was robbed’ once or twice over the last 6 years of competition (there’s also been a bit of silverware for the cabinet along the way).  Anyway, long story short, both ‘Sing with 7s’ and ‘Sing’ sang beautifully and entertained the sizeable audience with some aplomb.  The flouting of school uniform rules during ‘Naughty’ by the Year 7s tickled the crowd and Sing’s ‘Rhythm of Life’ had everybody’s feet tapping.  Ultimately, Sing came second by one point behind St Ambrose (apparently, it was our ‘phrasing’, not ‘taking sentences to the end’ … yeah, whatever!).  Sing did, however, deservedly win the ‘most entertaining’ performance of the night.  Well done to all 32 students who performed and a huge thank you to Mrs Moorhouse and her able assistant Mr Horne.  Toast and bagels as a reward in Room 18 at break today.

It was then another dash to the Halliwell Jones for the opening encounter of the Super League (I’m talking rugby league now) season; not a bad performance but the mighty Wire came a close second to champions Leeds Rhinos.  A disappointing end to a fabulous evening but we’ll bounce back from this minor setback.

Incidentally, you can read Mrs Moorhouse’s account of the Bowdon festival and also Sing with 7s’ performance yesterday at Wyncourt residential home for the elderly as part of Dignity in Care Day.  I have suggested before that I think it crucial that we get involved in these cross-generational activities, as both parties gain enormously.  The Year 7s enjoyed the experience, particularly having the opportunity to chat to the residents after the performance. 

I’m annoyed with Miss Hitchens; you can read about the A level English Lit cohort’s trip to the Lowry to see Hamlet but, once again, my invitation must have ‘got lost in the post’.  Anyway, sounds like a good time was had by all and the students profited from the experience.

On the subject of trips, letters have been distributed today for the sports tour to South Africa in Easter 2019.  The tour is open to all current Year 8 and 9 netball, football and rugby players.  The itinerary will be similar, although slightly extended, to our immensely successful tour last Easter.  If your son or daughter is a member of one of these squads and has not yet collected a letter from Mrs Roberts, then please ask them to do so on Monday.

Continuing on the sporting front, I was delighted with the performance of the Year 7 and 8 rugby teams on Tuesday at Lymm High School and you can read more about their performances in Latest News.  It was otherwise a quiet week from the perspective of our competitive sport.

As well as the English Lit Hamlet trip, I would have loved an invite to London with the A level PE classes earlier this week.  Miss Hodges provides a lengthy report and a few pics.

I mentioned the Kirkland Rowell parent survey a couple of weeks ago and we have now had chance to digest its findings and read the additional comments.  Inevitably, among the 500 or so respondents there was a degree of consistency but also some polarised and contradictory views.  For instance, an equal number suggest we set too much homework as those that feel we do not set enough; there are parents who feel we focus too much on academic performance and those who feel we do not prioritise it enough.  I suppose the old adage of ‘you can’t please all of the people all of the time’ certainly applies.  Having said that, I’m not entirely sure that ‘pleasing people’ should be our raison d’être; our aim is to prepare young people for the future and all that entails. At times, this may cause consternation and angst among some but we do what we believe to be effective, just and appropriate given our experience of and expertise in doing just that. 

What is always evident from parent surveys, inevitably, is that parents wish for their children to be safe and happy in School.  That, of course, is also top of our agenda.

Given the size and complexity of a secondary school, perhaps it is inevitable that certain messages get confused or lost in translation; communication is key and we constantly strive to make the ‘why’ and ‘how’ clear to students and parents.  If we do not, please ask.

I’ve just had a very interesting discussion with attendees at my Friday MAD Soc meeting and I raised two topics that are ‘’perennials’ in the parent survey; mobile phones and lockers.  They unanimously understood and fully accepted the rationale behind the School rules on mobile phones.  Our policy is not draconian nor antiquated; it is common sense.  My colleagues in other schools wish they could adopt our approach but feel the situation is not retrievable.  Mobile phones do not enhance learning, they can / do disrupt lessons in schools where they are permitted, they do lead to additional problems around bullying and safeguarding, they do nothing to enhance social skills and, by the very nature of social media, they pile unnecessary social and emotional pressures on young people, particularly our younger students, at a time when they are most vulnerable.  Please don’t take offence but we shall not be changing policy any time soon.  We state this at Open Morning and on numerous other occasions.

Why don’t we have lockers?  Well, the students present for my discussion today suggested (genuinely without any prompting) that there was insufficient room on corridors and in classrooms, which is clearly the case, and the addition of lockers would pose a serious health and safety issue in my and their view.  They also thought lockers would look ‘untidy’ and detract from the quality of display work and possibly encourage littering and vandalism.  It was also suggested that if students are organised, then they should never have an excessive amount to carry in their bags.  Generally speaking, the students felt that the arrangements for leaving PE kit and other belongings in tutor bases worked well but occasionally there were issues with access and misplacing / tampering with items.  I said I would consider solutions to this issue.

We do listen to parents’ views and act on those we feel appropriate.  We may not always agree but I hope everyone appreciates why we do what we do.  Together, we will make Wellington an even better place for our young people.

Anyway, I’ve taken a whole day to piece this bulletin together and the final few bits having just finished my chat with Graham Brady; more on that another time.

Thanks to the parent who suggested in the survey that all I’m bothered about is rugby (please feel free, Sir / Madam, to pop in to discuss); my life would be far simpler, if somewhat duller, if that were the case.  Not wishing to disappoint said parent, it is of course the start of the 6 Nations this weekend and I’m salivating at the prospect.  I might bother to do a bit of school work at some point, who knows?!

Have a great weekend.

S Beeley