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Headteacher's Blog 15-9-23

Our students rose to the challenge in the sunshine at Skern Lodge last week

It is pleasing to report that overwhelmingly our students are continuing to respond really well as we raise our expectations of them. That translates into an excellent climate for learning that is clearly evident as you walk around the school.

Our students are looking really smart; visitors to the school have commented on it as have the staff. It is clear is that the students have responded positively to us tightening up on some key expectations and those very few who haven’t are being challenged as you would expect. I would like to thank you for your support on this, it is very much appreciated.

This week we have been talking to students about the importance of attendance. We know that low attendance can have a huge impact on a student’s ability to achieve in line with their expectation and in many cases can prevent them from progressing on to their preferred post 16 courses. It can be difficult sometimes to make a judgement on whether your child is too ill to come to school or not. The NHS has provided a useful guide for parents which can be accessed here. Please also feel free to contact the school’s attendance team for further guidance or to ask for support with any element of your child’s attendance.

Today we had a planned Fire Drill. The students’ conduct throughout was exemplary and the drill ran incredibly smoothly. This meant the buildings were evacuated in under 3 minutes and all 1500 + students and staff lined up and accounted for within 9 ½ minutes. That was truly impressive. We will be running a second drill to practise what to do in the event of a lockdown event in the coming weeks. I will write to parents with full details of this nearer the time.  

Our annual Open Evening for prospective students takes place next Thursday, 21 September. The evening will run from 6.00 – 8.00pm.  We are proud of our school and look forward to showing what we offer to prospective parents and students. What makes the evening particularly special is having so many of our current students helping out.  This usually numbers in excess of 300 students – almost a quarter of the school!  Details have been sent separately of how you can consent to your child helping out on the evening. Thank you in advance for your support with this.  

With the academic year well underway we know that some students will benefit from access to a quiet space to complete homework and revision. That is why we offer Getting Ready and Get It Done, supported study sessions which take place in an IT room. Getting Ready takes place from 8.00 – 8.45am and Get It Done from 3.15 – 4.30pm. Any student attending in the morning will be able to get some free toast which will be available in DT6. Please do encourage your child to take advantage of this excellent opportunity.   

We still offer the opportunity for work experience and this week our careers department launched "Work Experience Week 2024" to our Year 10 students. Work experience provides opportunities for our students to learn more about their own abilities; it helps them explore their strengths and weaknesses and enables them try out a specific job to see if it is something they might want to do in the future. Ideally a work placement should be aligned to a future career interest however any work experience is better than no work experience and so please can I encourage all parents and carers to help their Year 10 child secure a work placement for July. Any questions regarding work experience week can be directed to Virginia Martin, Careers Leader.  

A date for the diary of parents of Year 10 and Year 11 students: our Year 10/11 Helping Your Child Achieve evenings will take place on Thursday 28th September. The Year 10 session will run from 6.00 – 7.00pm and the Year 11 session from 7.15 – 8.15pm. These sessions will provide you with some great advice on how to help your child navigate the GCSE years. In addition, there will be information on work experience for Year 10s and Post 16 Choices for Year 11. Feedback from parents on the information has always been really positive. I hope you can join us on 28th September. 

Last week saw 175 of our students take part in our annual trip to Skern Lodge in North Devon. This trip sees students take part in a range of activities including a high rope course, climbing tower, pool games, night walk, surfing and rafting. Both the students and the staff got stuck in and really rose to the challenges on offer. The feedback from the staff at Skern Lodge about our students was fabulous. All in all, it was a brilliant weekend and plans are already underway for next year’s visit!

Our after-school sports clubs have now all started with excellent levels of participation across the year groups.  Our students are fortunate that there is extensive provision from our PE department with a wide range of sports on offer. Full details of the provision can be found on the PE department Twitter / Instagram @SevernValePE. Over the next few weeks other elements of the school’s extracurricular provision will begin. Details will be circulated in the next few weeks.

As always, I include my weekly reminder about Free School Meals eligibility. If your financial circumstances have changed, your child may be eligible for Free School Meals. If you click on this link you will find guidance on the eligibility criteria and the application process. It's a quick process and we are notified of all FSM entitlements by Gloucestershire County Council each Monday. I would urge you to take a look if you think you may benefit from financial assistance.

Kind regards

Richard Johnson