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    Message from the Headteacher

     Mr J Taylor, Headteacher
    Mr J Taylor

    Dear Parent / Carer,

    As Easter is almost upon us, we can reflect upon another very busy term. There are a wide variety of exciting opportunities available for our students to get involved in and they really do bring a real benefit to a successful all-round education. The annual ‘Gym, Dance & Movement Evening’, with a theme of ‘Disney on the Dancefloor’ ran to full houses for three successive nights in February. It was a real pleasure to see so many students, across all year groups, involved in this exciting event of dance and gymnastics. We really appreciate the inclusion of our local primary schools in these performances and I know that their pupils enjoy the opportunity of coming up to ‘big’ school to perform. In addition, Year 11 Dance students have given an excellent recital evening, in preparation for their external assessment, Year 12 Drama students have impressed with the quality of their recent productions and we had a Piano evening earlier this month where it was a delight to see 23 pianists from across the school performing.

    ‘Science Week’ has been celebrated in school and a special evening was put on for parents of Year 8 students, the ‘Next Three Years Evening’, to advise on Key Stage 4 subjects – GCSEs and BTECs – that these students will embark on in Year 9.

    Students in Year 11 are sitting revised GCSEs in most subjects, following the first sitting of new specifications in English Language, English Literature and Mathematics last summer. These will be graded 1 to 9, with 9 being the top grade. Broadly, the same proportion of students will achieve a grade 4, and above, as currently achieve a grade C and above. Grade 5 will be positioned in the top third of the marks for a current Grade C and bottom third of the marks for a current Grade B. This will mean it will be of greater demand than the present grade C. The new grade 5 will be regarded as a ‘strong pass’ by the government and represents a new benchmark, for the school and students. A similar proportion of students will achieve a grade 7 and above as currently achieve an A and above. In addition, for each examination, the top 20% of those that get grade 7 or above will get a grade 9 – the very highest grade. At the other end of the scale, the bottom of grade 1 will be aligned with the bottom of the current grade G. There are a range of revision sessions being put on by staff over the Easter holiday for Year 11 students, in preparation for the final external exams that begin shortly after the return for the new term. In addition, Year 12 & Year 13 students should currently be revising for their own exams.

    During this half term, Year 11 and Year 13 students have had the opportunity, joined by parents, to discuss their progress with their Tutors at Review Days. I would be grateful if Year 11 parents would continue to support attendance at the extensive programme of support and revision that is running every evening, and many lunchtimes, until the end of their examination period. Year 12 students have internal exams when they return after their Easter study break and can also look forward to their Work Experience opportunity later next term.

    The end of this half term sees the retirement of Mrs Fairman, a long-serving Religious Studies teacher and former Head of Faculty. I know former students have been extremely appreciative of her efforts on behalf of this school, over many decades. I am also sad to report on the death of Jan Stewart, a former Head of our Inclusion Faculty, following a long battle against illness. Some parents of students with older siblings may remember fondly Jan’s unique style in getting the best out of her students.

    Extra-curricular sport continues to be a real strength of the school, with many fixtures played every week in a variety of sports across all age groups. The school’s netball team has gained a place in the Rotherham Schools Finals in every year group, from Year 7 to Year 11. We also wish our 2nd X1 football team well for their Rotherham final. In addition, we wish those students well who are fortunate to be going abroad over Easter for, respectively, a netball tournament and ski trip.

    Following the success of the Anne Frank Exhibition at school, we were invited to participate in an event that ran Rotherham-wide, based at Riverside House. Some of our Year 9 students were invited to act as ambassadors and were also chosen to guide the Mayor around the exhibition. As a direct result of this, they have now been invited for tea at the Town Hall.  One of our students, Tom Dermott has been selected to represent the Anne Frank Trust over the Yorkshire region for a new campaign to target hate. Congratulations are also due to another Year 9 student, Kirin Howat, who has qualified for the final of the Rotherham Young Musician of the Year, open to all 11-18 aged students.

    I wrote last half term about my concern over the amount of time our students were spending on their mobile devices: in some cases, almost frightened of missing the latest social media message/mailing. Unfortunately, the amount of time on mobile devices seems to be at the expense of the ability to positively converse with one another, and we have certainly seen an increase in the incidences of the misuse of social media. Therefore, we are modifying our policy on the use of mobile phones, for all students, immediately after the Easter break. I have already written a letter home to explain this revised policy, which I would be very grateful if you would help us support.

    Although students will be allowed to bring their phones to school, for safety reasons in their journey to and from school, they must keep them turned off and out of sight at all times while on the school site. If you do ever need to contact your child in an emergency, then please contact the school office and they will get a message directly to your child. Similarly, if your child needs to contact you in an emergency then this must be done via the school office.

    We continue to work closely with leaders from Maltby Learning Trust in order to secure even further school improvement, particularly with the Chief Executive Officer of the Trust, Mr David Sutton. When the school academises, we will be a sponsored academy under Maltby Learning Trust. Please be aware that we have now been advised by the Department for Education that the planned date for our academisation is 1 June.

    The end of this term is 2.45pm Friday 23 March. May I take this opportunity in wishing you a very Happy Easter.

    Yours sincerely,

    Mr J Taylor