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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Welcome Back!

Welcome back to the new term and college year. It was fantastic to see so many parents of our new year sevens accompany their children to meet their form tutors on the first morning. It was a great opportunity to build relationships and confidence. Anxious faces on arrival had changed to warm smiles by departure.

Our students in all years looked amazing with immaculate uniform; and a good job too as each had their photos taken during the day by the school photographer. Proud parents may choose to purchase them; we however, not only use them to update our database, but also to create teaching group seating plans so names can be learned quickly and students grouped in the best arrangements for learning activities.

The children return to many changes including new staff, longer lessons, a new curriculum and increased assessment. Reported assessments have now moved from three to six tracking points per year and parents will be able to view these on the VLE. Regular assessment is key to progress as at its simplest, it tells teachers what individuals do and don’t know, can and can’t do, allowing them to adjust their teaching accordingly. Insecure areas can be re-covered and established learning can be extended and deepened.

In the new 1-9 grading system, we have set aspirational end of year targets. Not all will achieve them but with hard work there is no reason why they shouldn’t. Having high targets is central to a culture of high expectations. ‘If you believe you can you will.’

This last summer several students proved a ‘can do attitude’ coupled with hard work and excellent teaching can provide success at the highest possible grades.

Individuals attained results at Sir Thomas Wharton College that could not have been bettered if they had attended any other school in the country. A*s in Mathematics and Sciences are hard to achieve at A Level and yet that’s precisely what a number of talented individuals attained (see the news items on the exam results).

The challenge now is to ensure many more students pass with higher grades, especially at GCSE. The demise of coursework, early entry and harder examinations has meant all students must be prepared well for terminal examinations. Our students will need to get used to the pressure of exam conditions, practise, revise and be confident in their knowledge and ability to write it down in the required way. Everything we do in the curriculum, from year seven onwards, must now be a spiral progression and preparation for those exams in year eleven.

Staff have worked hard over the summer planning and re-writing the curriculum and assessments. This has been supported by their colleagues in our outstanding partner organisations at Hungerhill Teaching School and HillTop Primary.

We expect a second Ofsted monitoring visit before October half-term to check on our progress towards moving out of a category. This will be reported by a standard letter and I will keep you informed of the outcome.

The first day has got off to a flyer and we intend to keep the pace up throughout the year. Keep an eye on the calendar for scheduled events. The first Parent Voice meeting and KS4 Guide to Parents are on Tuesday 8th and Wednesday 9th September respectively. Our Open Evening for future prospective students is a week later on Wednesday 16th September. Come along and join us!