For several years at Haslingden High School we have operated a two-year Key Stage 3 curriculum, with students making their Key Stage 4 option choices at the end of Year 8. This, combined with high-quality teaching and learning, has led to our students continuing to make fantastic progress, and the achievements of our Year 11 leavers being significantly above the national average in recent years.
That said, we constantly review our curriculum offer to ensure that we are confident that our provision is the best it can possibly be for our students, whilst ensuring that we meet the guidance set out by the Department for Education and Ofsted. In 2019 these national priorities were updated, and schools were explicitly directed to ensure that their curriculum remained ‘as broad as possible for as long as possible’. Following careful consideration, we made the decision to revert back to a three-year Key Stage 3 curriculum, with our current Year 7 students being the first to follow this path. Our plan was that our current Year 8 students would be the last to follow the two-year Key Stage 3 curriculum and would be making their option choices in the latter half of this term.
The global pandemic has been hugely disruptive for the education of so many young people and the impact this has had on the time our Year 8 students have spent in secondary school has been stark. At the time of writing, Year 8 have been at Haslingden High for 17 months but have only been present in school for ten of these months. Furthermore, in the autumn term of this academic year many of our students had sustained periods of isolation, which decreased their time in school even further.
One of the most common concerns that Year 8 parents have raised in the past regarding our options process is that their child is not confident that they are equipped to make the best choices for them at this stage. With a structured options process, including taster sessions, spring term reports detailing formal subject assessments, an options evening followed by a parents’ evenings, and one-to-one meetings with a member of the senior leadership team (to which parents have been welcomed to attend), we have previously been able to support these students to make informed decisions. The current restrictions would regrettably prevent us from being able to offer much of this usual support, although parents’ evening will go ahead as planned on Wednesday 3 March or Wednesday 10 March depending on which form your child is in. These will be delivered remotely using the Schoolcloud service; further details regarding this will follow in due course.
Given all the disruption which our Year 8 students have experienced and following careful consideration, we have decided that it is not in the best interest of the vast majority of our students to ask that they make their option choices in Year 8. We have therefore decided to postpone this process and will follow the plan which was in place for current Year 7, where students will make their option choices in the spring term of Year 9.
We recognise that there may be a small number of students and parents who may be disappointed to learn of this decision and who were confident that they were able to make decisions on their option choices at this time. We hope that you will understand the rationale behind our decision but we are happy to discuss this is if you feel you would like to do so. Please contact either me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ms Edyvean at email@example.com.
Thank you in advance of your support in this matter.