Headteacher Weekly Bulletin 24.03.17

Good afternoon and, finally, the sun returns!  Fingers crossed it remains for the weekend and Mothers’ Day, of course, on Sunday.  Mums really are fabulous and (although I rarely say it openly) I admire hugely my own mum and, indeed, my wife’s capacity to do all the amazing things they do and have achieved.  It makes me aware of my own failings and limitations by comparison.  So, let’s make sure we celebrate and show enormous gratitude to all the mums on Sunday, but also all those who may fulfil that role due to various circumstances without actually being ‘mum’. 

Inevitably, the events in London have over-shadowed all else this week and so I asked Form Tutors and Directors of Year to raise the issue with appropriate tact, sensitivity and delicacy with pupils yesterday.  I have said this on previous occasions when atrocities have occurred in France, Belgium and elsewhere in the world, but as parents, adults and ‘educators’ it is our responsibility to help young people make sense of the world and their place in it.  In keeping with our School values, it is important that we reaffirm the message of tolerance and acceptance, and that we avoid prejudice and stereotyping.  First and foremost, our thoughts, prayers and best wishes are with those who have lost loved ones and those still in critical or life-threatening condition in hospital.  It is crucial, however, in our privileged positions of responsibility that we also guard against the (almost inevitable) wave of intolerance that these events provoke.  I am still awaiting the full Ofsted report from a few weeks ago but, interestingly, they praised us for our culture and commented how evident and embedded our values were.  Ultimately, ‘education’, in the broadest sense, is the solution to most things.

Thank you, once again, for your donations to our fundraising efforts. I believe we have now reached the £27k mark.  Ideally, we will have all the monies in by next Friday (the end of term) and I am confident we will once again exceed £30k (N.B. we have an additional £6kfrom the 6th Form activities going to the Teenage Cancer Trust).  Please can I ask for one last big push at home; the team at Kidscan and all those young cancer sufferers they help, deserve our support.

On an associated theme, I was delighted to read of the Science visit to Christies Hospital this week.  I have no doubt this will have been of benefit to our aspiring scientists and researchers in terms of their A level studies but also in providing inspiration for career choices.  I always ask students how they intend to ‘make a difference’ in the future and here is a potential opportunity.  As part of our link with our chosen charity Kidscan, students will also get chance to visit their laboratories at Salford University; another opportunity not to be missed for those interested in this field.

Miss Tyrer has worked tirelessly (or should that be Tyrerlessly?!) to promote the STEM initiative within science and it sounds like the Year 9 and 10 visit to the Big Bang Fair in Birmingham last week proved a big hit (!).  Fabulous feedback from students and staff, and hopefully much food for thought around possible pathways for Higher Education, apprenticeships and careers.

Shifting from science to the Arts or rather the Classics.  Miss Hitchens, Head of English, and Mrs Gilbert, LRC Manager, have created a wonderful area in the LRC (bean bags and all) to promote the reading of the ‘Classics’. As suggested in Miss Hitchens’ piece, encouraging young people to read and providing them with the opportunities and environment to do so has to be a joint effort between School and home.  I know that this can sometimes be a battle (as an avid reader from a very early age, my own children’s attitude often frustrates me) but that mustn’t stop us fighting the good fight.  Young people sometimes just need their eyes opening to the endless possibilities, new horizons, new worlds and new language that literature in its many forms provides. Once they’re ‘hooked’, they’ll stay hooked.

On that note, it was World Poetry Day earlier this week and Mrs Gilbert provides a feature on this for the website.

Mrs Heaton’s Maths report and reference to the grade 8/9 Masterclasses, prompts me to mention Year 11 and GCSE preparation.  On Monday, we will be holding a second mock results day as Year 13 did a couple of weeks ago.  The aim is to ‘focus the minds’ of our students with just over 5 weeks until the first exam, and help them to crystallise what exactly it is that they need to do in that period.  Every student will have their own response to these latest results and predictions and I will talk about that with them.   I was a little disappointed, however, this week with the content of a telephone conversation reported to me; the parent of a Year 11 student felt that there was too much pressure being placed on their child in the build-up to GCSEs. Indeed, we have high standards as a school and the expectation on all 16 year olds nationally to perform in these exams, as a means of accessing the next phase of their education, is an unavoidable reality.  This does not mean that we would ever compromise a child’s welfare and well-being to achieve certain outcomes; our pastoral care and work around mental health has been commended and is exemplary, and will remain an absolute priority.  Of course, we cannot manage expectation and workload alone; we need (and invariably do get) parents’ support in this too.  I think what this phone conversation does highlight, is that this is a stressful time for those at home too, and I hope next Thursday’s GCSE Preparation Evening for parents will be of some assistance. Please do not hesitate to ask for further advice and guidance if required.

It’s been a busy week for sport and the PE department.  You can read numerous reports attached to this mailing but well done to all our handballers, netballers and indoor athletes, with many falling into more than one of these categories. It has always been my intention to get our name on the sporting map beyond the Trafford boundaries, within which we have enjoyed considerable success for some time.  It may be ‘green shoots’ but the signs are certainly there.  You know my thoughts on the clear links between a thriving extra-curricular culture within a school and academic achievement, attendance and overall well-being. 

Well done from me to Charlotte and Sophie in Year 8 and their triumph as part of the Lancashire Lacrosse team.  You can read more in the attached piece.

Also, congratulations to the 8 students (4 boys and 4 girls from Year 9 and 10), all selected from the South Africa tour squad to represent the School in an endurance race on treadmills, exercise bikes and rowing machines.  See Mrs Thomson’s full report but the girls were victorious and the boys (amidst some controversy) came a close second.  I also believe the participants may have won us some extra pocket money for the tour kitty!

Well, one more week until the Easter hols and a well-earned break for many.  If you’re jetting off to some exotic destination, then please keep it to yourself as I’ll be insanely jealous. Oh, actually, I’m off to South Africa … so there!  An extremely busy week to get through first but that comes with lots of rewards and gratification, and with the clocks ‘springing’ forward this weekend, there’s literally light at the end of the tunnel.  The weather being as it is, there are dilemmas aplenty and choices to be made.  Perhaps most significantly, on a mild and sunny Friday evening, is it time for the first tranquilising beverage of the weekend to switch from a hearty Barolo to a cold, crisp Sancerre?  Decisions, decisions. 

One thing that is on the agenda this weekend, in between D of E at Lyme Park tomorrow, rugby on Sunday morning and Mothers’ day festivities, is the gardening jobs I was assigned by Mrs B some 4 weeks ago but were postponed due to 6 Nations rugby; my excuse list has finally been exhausted unfortunately.  Please do suggest any others I could use in the future.

Have a lovely weekend.

S Beeley