Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends

Happy New Year!

For most of my adult life I have worked in schools, so the year is neatly split in to three terms and six half terms. After a long Autumn term of 16 weeks….it feels like we are nearly on the home straight to February half term with just five and a half weeks ….and then six weeks until Easter!

This half term is dominated by PPE exams for Year 11 and 12 and prep for Year 13 as they have their mocks straight after half term. Teachers pace themselves this half term too…..with a tight turnaround of the marking so reviews and next steps can be issued to students to help them refine their prep for the public exams in the summer. One day a robot that can mark essays like a human will be invented …… until then, we continue to appreciate the time and dedication our teachers give to marking scripts and sharing the all-important feedback.

Tomorrow, teachers are staying on after school for a twilight inset training session on our whole school reading strategy. This covers how teachers can learn to teach students how to read more effectively in their subject areas as well as making students accountable for their reading through questioning and summarising the texts. Promoting reading for pleasure is also part of the whole school strategy and the training will cover how teachers need to continue to model and promote reading for pleasure to encourage students to do the same.

Last term at the end of the blog, I wrote about how parents can support their daughter/son at home with reading and here is a link to recommended reading lists

I feel a sense of regret that my four children, of which three are in their early to mid 20s don’t read much for pleasure …. I wish I had made reading more of a priority at home. Visits to the library and reading books with them stopped once they were at secondary school….it was by stealth…life got busier. Looking back, I could have matched reading time with x-box time for my sons and just general screen time for my daughters !!…. probably more arguments but I think long term it would have been beneficial. My dad is nearly 90, he is lucky that he has good eyesight and can still read…he now re reads books and right now he is reading Great Expectations. His sister, 91 years old, has seriously deteriorating eyesight and invested in many magnifying gadgets in the last three years so she can continue to read but she has now switch to audio books from the local library which she enjoys – phew! I need to read more.

Year 10 parents’ evening is on 19 January and Year 12 parents’ evening is on 9th February so school will close an hour early and students get to go home early to ‘reset’….a successful proposal from student council!

The spring term extra-curricular timetable will be out next week so please encourage your daughter to take part in at least one activity/club…..we strive for all students to participate in at least one club/activity. It is really good for them; to try out new things, have a sense of belonging, have something to talk about and to look forward to. Ultimately, not only is it good for their confidence and self-esteem but they also have a lovely time. From our chats with students who don’t take part – it is normally that they want to hang out with friends at lunchtime but for one day a week the benefits of joining a club make up not being with the group of friends….in fact, students get to know more people by joining clubs. Admittedly, they may have to try out a few clubs to find one they really enjoy…. that is ok too. Please do praise your daughter if she has joined a club and especially if under duress.

Key Stage 3 students often run charity sales this term to collect more House points for the final count at Easter to see which House has topped the leader board for the year. The charity events are mostly food related…bake/sweet/chocolate sales but now and again students come up with a diary date event…last term it was ‘I’m a teacher, get me out of here’..which was actually food related too but very entertaining and with the hall packed to full capacity, Spinners raised over £200. The charity Christmas Fair was very festive and good natured. Thanks to Miss Pyle, the Heads of House, all the House prefects from Year 7 to 11 and senior prefects in sixth form for making it happen. Thanks to you as well for all the generous donations for the tombola and for giving cash to your daughters to spend. Everyone seemed to have a good time either as a punter or as a stall holder enjoying a taste of entrepreneurship. The students raised £1200 on the House stalls and £500 on the tombola…all in three hours.

Finally, Mrs Pearce and I are taking assemblies this week and next…our theme is gratitude – one of our three character traits….the other two being stoicism and humility.    In the assembly we reflect on the quote

Best wishes

Anne Kennedy