Headteacher’s Blog 26/11/2021

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As we head toward December, we have a few of those milestone events that are and have been for many years an important part of our community life.
First of all, we are just over a week away from opening night of “Everyone’s Talking About Jamie”. The school production is always a highlight and we have the added excitement this year of being the first school in the world to put on this specially adapted edition. There has been a great deal of interest and support from the writers of the original musical and the licensing company who are looking to learn from our experience to open this production up to schools round the world.
I am really looking forward to seeing parents, students and our wider community coming together to enjoy a brilliant show and to see our students shine.
Also making a return this year, if all things continue to go well, will be our Advent Carol Service. We are of course planning changes to what has happened in the past in the light of the continued presence of Covid. However, we are also looking forward to reintroducing another event which allows us to come together during Advent to make space for prayer reflection on the themes of this season of the church.
Our A Level prize night will be happening on Tuesday 21st December. This will be happening remotely as this format worked well last year and it actually allowed more former students to participate than had been the case in other years. During the evening, we will take time to celebrate the achievements of last year’s Y13 students. This will be followed in January by a similar event for last year’s Y11 students.
In school, our current Y11 and Y10 students are preparing for assessments which will take place in just over a week. These assessments are part of the programme designed to help students prepare for their final GCSE exams in the summer.
Students in Y11 will experience for the first time what it is like to prepare for and sit a number of exams in a short space of time. Exams will happen in the same venues that they will run in during the summer and they will be conducted under the same conditions. This is a learning experience for the students so they know what it is like well before the final exams, helping to reduce the worry about the unknown.
They also provide a great opportunity for students to see how their revision is going and how they might need to refocus what they’re doing when they return after January.
While preparation for the final GCSE exams is the main purpose of the assessment week, we have now received the guidance on the government’s contingency plans in the unlikely event that exams in the summer are disrupted due to Covid. In short, schools have been asked to use planned assessment periods like this one to gather evidence that should be used to inform teacher assessed grades in the event of any disruption.
This doesn’t change anything for the students, as we were already planning to run these exams under exam conditions, assessing only parts of the course that students have covered so far. That meets the requirements of the guidance, so nothing needs to change.
We will be organizing a further assessment week in the spring term for Y11 which will be a minor modification of the work we would normally do. This second assessment week will take place in classrooms and will give teachers and students an opportunity to assess progress in different parts of the course.
In a similar way, we will use the planned Y13 assessment week along with an additional in class assessment week to help prepare those students for their A Level exams, while also ensuring that we are meeting the contingency guidance.
My message to students who are preparing for those assessments would be to prepare so that you can do as well as you can, but also to know that these assessments are to help you learn. If you find you don’t do as well as you can in some parts, that will help you to know what you need to do differently in your preparation for the summer. It is a step along the way towards being at your best in the summer.
The other thing I would want students to remember is that, while they have not done this before, their teachers have. Between us, teachers in school have years and years of experience of helping students to prepare successfully for exams. We know what works and we know what doesn’t. I would therefore say please listen to teachers advice and guidance and, if you are not clear, ask them about the things you are not sure about. If you don’t feel you know how best to revise, or even if you do, a short conversation with your teacher will help to make sure you’re on the right track.
I will leave this section with a couple of the top tips that we share with students around revision. The first is for students to make a revision timetable which includes a time to revise for every subject every week and also includes space to do things which are relaxing or fun. If students are struggling to plan, they can ask friends or a form tutor to talk it through with them.
The bit about including some time to spend on each subject every week is important as some students want to spend a lot of time on one subject for a week or so and then move onto another one. However, this approach tends to be less effective than one of doing a shorter bit of time on every subject every week, then coming back to each subject more regularly.
The final tip is to plan what kind of activity to do in the times set aside for each subject. Just reading through information or making notes is not always very effective. However, doing practice questions and summarizing information on flash cards and then testing yourself on them are tried and tested revision techniques. They are more active than just reading, or writing out a set of notes, so they help the brain to build knowledge and make links. Subject teachers will be able to guide students about what topics to cover, good revision activities for their subject and also where to find resources to help.
Technology Survey
Thank you to everyone who has already responded to our annual technology survey. This survey helps us to understand the access that our students have to different forms of technology, which helps us to plan what IT support is needed in school and also how we plan our curriculum.
If you haven’t completed the survey yet, I would be grateful if you could find a few minutes to do it over the next couple of days. I have included the link to the online form below.
While on the subject of technology, I would also like to remind you about the My Child At School App and to encourage you to download it if you haven’t done so already. We have over 1000 parents now using the App, which allows you to access Bromcom, which is our information management system. This allows you to see things like rewards and comments made by teachers about your child, receive messages, top up their school meals account and make payments for trips all in one place. While being helpful for parents, it also helps us in school for as many parents as possible to use the App. One of the reasons for this is when we send messages out to all parents, they go to the App free of charge to school, whereas they go by text to parents not on the App which does cost money. Therefore, every extra person who is able to use the App helps us to free up money to spend on other things in school.
We appreciate it is an extra thing to remember to do, so for convenience we will shortly resend to anyone who isn’t using the App a link with instructions about how to download and set it up.
Request for participants in research about health care for new arrivals to the country
We have been approached by the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Children’s Hospital asking if there are any of our families who would be able to help out with some research they are carrying out.
The research is looking at the health care needs of young people with pre-existing conditions who arrive in the UK from other countries. The researchers are looking for participants aged 5-18 who have lived or were born in another country and have come to the UK with a long-term condition (diabetes, asthma, pain, arthritis etc.).
Participation would involve a 30-minute interview discussing the differences in healthcare and their health throughout their journey. Each child will be given a £30 thank you voucher for taking part.
If your child fits the criteria for the research and would be willing to take part, please could you email Mrs Cavazza, who is the contact person in school with the people who are carrying out the research. She will then put you in touch with the research team.
God Bless
Mr Davies

Upcoming events
Y7 Parents’ Evening – Tuesday 30th November Parents evenings will again be happening via our remote system as last year. Parents of Y7 students have been sent information through Bromcom explaining how to log onto School Cloud (the video call system) and how to set up appointments.
GCSE Assessment Week – Monday 6th – Monday 13th December
Everyone’s Talking About Jamie – Production – Deli Theatre Tue 7th – Fri 10th December
Advent Carol Service (St Vincent’s Church) – Tuesday 14th December (this is a change from the original date)
Post 16 Prize Night (for members of last year’s Y13) – Tuesday 21st December (this is a change from the original date)
Last Day of Term Wednesday 22nd December

First Day of new term Monday 10th January
GCSE Prize Night (for members of last year’s Y11) – Thursday 13th January (this is a change from the original date)

Job Vacancy at school
We are currently looking for a site supervisor for school – please think of any friends or family members that may be interested and pass on the details. Click the link below for further detail.
Site Supervisor – Notre Dame High School (notredame-high.co.uk)