Dear parent / carer
As we head toward the festive season, I look back on the term so far and it has certainly been another very busy time. There have been so many fantastic achievements, activities and events taking place and there has been much to celebrate. Despite the current challenges faced by schools in relation to worrying levels of underfunding, soaring energy costs and a national recruitment and retention crisis, I remain immensely proud of the achievements of our students and the dedication of our school staff.
In this letter, I want to share with you a summary of some of the activities which have taken place this term, but also to provide information to help and update families on a number of current priorities.
I would like to begin by thanking our parents, our staff and without doubt, our students. This term has served as a perfect reminder of the wide range of opportunities that are made available by our school staff, made possible by supportive parents and made to come alive by our wonderful students, who pour their enthusiasm and personality into each activity on offer.
By way of example, in the first week back after the half term a very excited and talented cast of KS3 students performed on stage at the Contact Theatre as part of the Shakespeare Schools Festival, an initiative that Miss Anthony and colleagues had worked exceptionally hard to make happen. The students and their performances were fantastic and I was delighted to be able to get along to see this in person. On the same evening, Mrs Smithson organised a trip to see Blood Brothers at the Liverpool Empire theatre for 88 of our Year 11 students. Their behaviour was impeccable and the performance was too.
Our Dance Show rehearsals continue in earnest too, with preparations for this year’s show well underway. It certainly looks to be another fantastic event and we hope that parents and carers are able to come along to join this celebration of students’ achievements and efforts. Similarly, visits to B42 and B43 are often greeted with students practising for the forthcoming Christmas music concert. This is always a brilliant evening and it is sounding very much like it is going to be another cracker! Again we hope to be able to see you there.
The PE department showed their competitive nature and didn’t want to be outdone. In the same week after half term, our Year 9 netballers became Rossendale Champions, our U14’s girls football team made it through to the 4th round of the English Schools competition, including a 4-1 win away at Broughton High. The Year 11 boys recorded a 7-2 victory, despite being 2-1 down with 25 minutes to go! I am sure you will agree, an incredible set of results all round.
Outside of school, I was delighted to see the press submissions for four of our students competing nationally and internationally; with bronze and silver at the world kickboxing championships as well as a Lancashire champion in gymnastics and an England representative in karate. The week before last, I was also made aware of three of our Year 11 students performing in their band ‘The Last of Us’ at the Whitaker in Rawtenstall. The talents of our students and staff are endless it seems!
It is wonderful to hear about students’ achievements and I am always grateful when staff, students, parents or carers take the time to share details with me. Whilst I have focused on the achievements within the arts in this letter, it is important to note that there are so many diverse contributions to school life, ranging from academic success to charity projects and contributions. If you do not already follow us on Facebook or Twitter I would encourage you to do so, as this is regularly updated with celebrations of achievements, both in school and out.
We recognise that school attendance has been made exceptionally difficult over the last two years due to circumstances outside of our control and that the transition back to school has been challenging for some students and families. Whilst we continue to work exceptionally hard to maintain high levels of attendance (currently 2% higher than the national average) we are still in a position where there are more students not attending school as often as they would have been pre-pandemic.
Good school attendance is not only beneficial for academic progress but also for a young person’s mental and social health. Regular school attendance creates strong foundations for long-term wellbeing and reduces feelings of social isolation, which was a challenge for so many during the lockdown stages of the Covid pandemic.
When considering attainment, having reflected on this year’s examination results it is absolutely clear that attendance is arguably the biggest factor in student performance, with those who attended 97% or more obtaining qualifications, on average, a grade and a third higher in every subject than was predicted. Subsequently, we would urge all students to strive for 100% attendance wherever possible.
Behaviour and expectations
Overwhelmingly, we are extremely proud of the behaviour and attitudes of our students and the manner in which they present themselves in school and in the wider community. The vast majority are excellent school ambassadors consistently, however, just recently we have found that a small minority have not been meeting our expectations with regard to attitudes to learning, equipping themselves for lessons and their behaviour during social times. This week, senior leaders have visited all forms in school, thanking and congratulating those who continue to model behaviour and attitudes that we are rightly proud of but also taking the opportunity to remind all students of our expectations in relation to positive behaviour. This included reminders about uniform, make-up and jewellery, punctuality to lessons and equipment checks but also a recap of our respect agenda and an expectation for all students to follow any safe and reasonable instructions issued by staff. I thank you in advance for your continued support in promoting these expectations; it really does make a huge difference for staff and students in school.
Free School Meals
The increased cost of living is featured daily in the news and we know that this will be a concern for many families up and down the country. Free school meals are one way in which families can get help and we are keen to make sure that all eligible students and families are able to access this additional support. Further details can be found here including the information regarding eligibility and the application process. Please be assured that the allocation of free school meals is managed discreetly and sensitively in school.
The World Cup
We know that the football World Cup is often a cause of excitement. Having looked ahead at the fixtures we note that England have one fixture during the school day (Monday 21 November at 1pm) but all remaining fixtures will take place at either 3pm or 7pm. We have had some enquiries from students and therefore we wanted to confirm with you that we will not be showing the England game in lessons on Monday. We have made arrangements to show the game after school in B24 for any students who wish to stay in school to watch a replay. If your child wishes to stay on Monday after school, please could you ask them to meet outside B24 where I will be happy to watch the game with them.
With 1600 students in our school and sixth form, we have approximately 4000 parents and carers who will have a broad set of skills which we know could be a huge benefit to our school. Our PTFA has a vital function in supporting the curriculum and extra-curricular offer for our students and, over many years, has been fantastic in organising fundraising events which have supported the provision of additional resources in school. We are always looking for more members of this team and we really hope that you might consider contributing some of your time to support this association. We will be having a meeting in December; please could you email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in attending. Any offers of help would be extremely well received!
There has been so much to celebrate over this term and there continues to be much more coming up in the short and longer term. In the immediate future our year 11 students start their mock exams on Wednesday next week and I would like to wish them every success and to reassure that some nerves are perfectly normal at this time. In December there will be a range of activities and events going on in school but I would like to draw your particular attention to the school Dance Show on Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 December and the Christmas Music Concert on Thursday 15 December. We’d love to see you there.
I wish all students and their families a very happy festive season when it arrives. As I mentioned earlier in this letter, we know that these are challenging times and we hope that all are able to enjoy some well-deserved family time when the holidays are upon us.
Very best wishes,