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Headteachers' Blog

Week commencing 23rd May 2016

Delays in approved specifications – we go to parents for support again.

Despite ministers saying that schools would have approved specifications and assessment materials a full year before teaching began, last week’s The Telegraph reported that one in five new GCSEs and A-levels specifications that schools have to teach from this September have still not been signed off. This includes key language qualifications – French, German and Spanish, figures showed. Also, Science qualifications have only been approved in the last couple of weeks, giving our teachers very little time to plan schemes of work and purchase any appropriate materials before the summer holidays.

This delay means that we, having utilised all of our Inset days for this academic year, have no time left to give our subject leads and their teams of teachers. Consequently, we are requesting parental support in changing the date of our one remaining Intensive Day, and also allow us to shut the school for all students on another day. Thursday 30th June will become the Intensive Day with students dismissed at 12:10pm and Friday 1st July will be the day of the closure. Staffed rooms will be available for any child of a parent who is unable to make childcare arrangements at home. Please contact Mrs Stocks, Headteachers’ PA - dstocks@suttonmail.org , if you would like your child to be in school on the Thursday afternoon and/or the Friday.

Once again we offer our sincere apologies, but thank you for your ongoing support.

Multi-Academy Trust Status

Thank you to all those who attended the Academy Status Information evening last Thursday. One parent wrote ‘I just wanted to say thank you for the opportunity to come in and find out more about the school's move to Academy status yesterday. I found it really useful as there's so much information flying around the media that it was good to hear what this means for Stanley Park High as a whole and for my children.’

At the meeting we explained that whilst we have received an Academy Order, we are yet to receive the standard allocation of £25,000 from the DfE to support the conversion process. As soon as we have received this sum we will inform you of the next steps. This will include reference to detailed information on our website.

Stanley Park approved for AAT Qualifications

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We are pleased to receive confirmation this week that we have been approved to offer AAT qualifications from September 2016. The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) qualifications are industry recognised qualifications that offer practical skills and theory in accounting and related disciplines. From September 2016, Stanley Park will be the only secondary school in the borough to offer these vocational qualifications to Post 16 students.

We will be offering the AAT Foundation Certificate in Bookkeeping initially before progressing on to the AAT Advanced Diploma in Accounting. The advanced diploma is currently worth 180 UCAS points to students, in addition to being an excellent foundation for careers in accounting and related fields. We are delighted to be approved by AAT and very much looking forward to delivering the AAT suite of qualifications.

Year 7 – available place on school visits

A place has become available on the Year 7 residential trip, which includes two destinations during the summer and autumn 2016.

First, students visit the Forest of Dean (July 11th - July 15th 2016) – a trip to an activity centre, Whitemead Forest Park, where the students will spend the time participating in a wide range of outdoor education and team building activities. This relates to the summer term project entitled, 'Out and About'. 

The second visit is to Ypres in Belgium (3rd November - 4th November 2016). This visit takes students to the World War Battlefields and the town of Ypres which is linked to the autumn term project on 'Remembrance'.

The cost (which includes both visits) is £425. If you would like your child to be included please contact Mrs Keen via the school office.

Dance Success

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Congratulations to Leanne Johnson, Year 12, who gave a stunning performance and won first place in Over 16s Advanced category  at the UDO European Streetdance Championships held last weekend in Kalkar, Germany. The finals on Sunday included a solo showcase dance and then an 'all in' heat where all the competitors of the category dance together. Leanne commented, “I found out I was 1st as they called my number last on stage for my category, which makes me the oldest advanced European Champion of 2016. It was an amazing experience and I am super happy at my achievement”.

We are very proud of Leanne’s success in the section considered to be the hardest category of the competition, and we wish her well with future dance competitions.

Rewards

  Year  7 Year  8 Year  9 Year 10 Year 11 Total
Beeches 1247 1234 658 448 195 3782
Carew 1303 1355 688 429 292 4067
Oaks 1120 1374 552 479 273 3798
Wandle 1269 1555 734 464 249 4271
Total 4939 5518 2632 1820 1009 15918

Our students are awarded reward points for achievements such as good behaviour, outstanding effort, exceptional work and kindness. We are delighted that the tally for the year has now passed 15,000 - this reflects the positive attitude and ethos within the school. Well done to all who have been recognised.

Words of the Week

Every two weeks, the school focuses on new words which broaden the vocabulary. This week…

The literacy word of the week is negligent
The numeracy word of the week is random sample


Week commencing 16th May 2016

Admissions

Last Thursday in the Evening Standard there was an article by Anna Davis, Education Editor, about control over school admissions. She referred to a report by researchers in the department of social policy at the London School of Economics who have said that control of admissions should be taken away from schools and returned to local authorities. The report warned that rather than parents choosing schools for their children, schools are choosing students because the ‘incentives’ to choose are great. In this they are probably referring to examination results and league tables.

Given the pressures for schools to compete and do better than their near neighbours, it is not surprising that the report shows that the number of secondary schools controlling admissions has doubled to 80 per cent since 2001. In addition, the proportion selecting by aptitude has doubled, and those using specified catchment areas has tripled. The report is clear that the growth of academies and free schools has coincided with these significant increases.

Stanley Park High’s admissions are determined by the local authority. Our criteria has remained the same for all of my time at the school, with no attempt being made to choose students by ability, aptitude, catchment area or any other covert means of selection. We remain, and will continue to be, fully inclusive and representative of the community we serve, whatever ‘type’ of school we become in the future.

Academy Parents’ Information Evening

The above leads us neatly into issues regarding our recent academy order and the potential for academy status and becoming a multi-academy trust (MAT). As mentioned two weeks ago, we will be holding an Academy Information Evening at the school starting at 6:30pm on Thursday 19th May. The event will be held in Spotlight and will last approximately 30 minutes.

This will be an opportunity to find out more about the possible options open to the school at this stage. There will be a chance to ask questions. This could be a major change for the school and I know that you will be interested to know more. I hope that you will be able to join us.

Not only teachers prefer smaller class sizes

Last week in the TES there was an article titled ‘Teachers prefer smaller class sizes’. In referring to a survey of 4,300 UK teachers by TES Global, it found that out of a range of factors teachers strongly believe that teaching a smaller number of children enables more effective learning. Almost 56 per cent of teachers chose this option, nearly three times more than any other. Stanley Park High has always strongly believed that scale is an essential prerequisite for the forming of excellent relationships and effective learning. It seems obvious, but teachers have a much greater chance to get to know each child well if there are less of them. Consequently, we invest in smaller groups. In each year group there is a minimum of 9 teaching groups for 210 students – most secondary schools would have 8. Also, we have smaller vertical tutor groups of approximately 16 students in years 9/10/11. This contrasts significantly with most other secondary schools with group sizes beyond 20.

There is considerable financial pressure on schools. In March ASCL (Association of School and College Leaders) stated that 64 per cent of schools had increased their class sizes in the last twelve months and 75 per cent expected further rises in the next 12 months to cope with shrinking budgets. We will do all we can to maintain our existing class sizes. It is not only because teachers see the immense benefits; we know parents and students do too.

Year 8 Options Evening

Please note for your diary the approaching date for our Year 8 Options Evening, which will take place on Thursday 9th June from 4.15pm to 7.15pm.  Letters will provide details of this event shortly, including the timings of talks. I hope that all Year 8 parents and carers will be able to join us.

Words of the Week

Every two weeks, the school focuses on new words which broaden the vocabulary. This week…

The literacy word of the week is negligent
The numeracy word of the week is random sample


Week commencing 9th May 2016

A Busy Week

There was a lot going on in the world of education last week. Operating with the hashtag Letourkidsbekids, some parents of Year 2 children went on strike in protest at the pressures of national tests. Natasha Devon, the government’s Mental Health Tsar for children, may have been axed for speaking out against the academic pressures being placed on children. Also, last Friday the Government appears to have done a U-Turn on forced academisation, although there is still the suggestion that maintained (Local Authority) schools in areas where the majority are already academies may have to convert. On the same day I spoke at a conference at the Bishop Grosseteste University on the theme of transition both between and within schools.

A central theme within my presentation was the fact we are human and all of us are unique. We all have our own passions, interests and idiosyncrasies, and, as a result, we all have the potential to be extremely gifted at something. Unfortunately, the education system is not designed to identify and support individuality. Transition, particularly between relatively small primary schools and often very big secondary schools adds to the problem, with new entrants often lost. SPH has long recognised that this is a crucial period, a time when positive relationships need to be fostered, as well as each individual known and valued. That is why we place students in one of four small schools and have developed a curriculum that enables the tutor, also the teacher of EFC, to be with her/her tutees for half of the week.

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As stated above, transition also occurs within secondary schools. Our transition takes place in Year 9, a year in which we have operated our very popular and successful Taster Options programme. A feature of SPH since 2003, the Tasters provide all of our students the opportunity to taste 12 subjects before they select 4 to go ‘live’ with in Years 10 and 11. In so doing, many are able to find a passion that had remained hidden until that point. Given this, it is with some regret that after nearly 13 years, changes to GCSE courses starting in September 2016 mean that we are being forced to consider reforming our Tasters. Courses have become harder, there is a greater amount of content, and students will be required to memorise more. Two years of three periods per week is no longer sufficient, and we do not wish to disadvantage our students. Consequently, from September the Year 9 Taster Options will only run for 2 terms. Students will try 8 subjects instead of 12, and they will then select the four they wish to study to GCSE. These 4 will start after the Easter holidays, thereby giving the teachers an additional term to cover the courses.

As we have said in the Blog before, the above decision does not alleviate concerns for the current Year 9. Some parents have asked why we did not act sooner. We fully understand why the question needs to be asked, but we planned the curriculum for the current Year 9 in March 2015, well before the subject syllabi were available. Indeed, some are still not available now, even though teachers have to start teaching them in September.

Senior and Middle Leaders have met to discuss the curriculum offer for the current Year 9 on two separate occasions. We have agreed that there are two choices when they enter Year 10:

  1. We keep 4 option blocks and teachers plan to cover the new courses within the existing time, although we may be able to create more teaching time by removing things like the Work Experience fortnight which currently occurs at the end of Year 10.
  2. We reduce to 3 option blocks, thereby providing each option with an extra 50 minutes per week.

Both of the above have arguments for and against. We will inform parents of our decision, and the rationale behind it, at the Year 9 Parents’/Options Evening on 23th June 2016.

Last week, and in response to her U-Turn on forced academisation, Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State, is reported to have said that some reform is better than no reform. Not always.

Year 10 Parents’ Evening

Our Year 10 Parents’ evening will take place on Thursday 26th May from 4.15pm to 7.30pm. Parents will receive a letter this week which will give details about booking appointments online. Please complete your booking by the deadline, Monday 23rd May.

Football success

Three Year 10 boys - Luciano Silano, Max Endersby and Jacob Sewell - will be representing Surrey U15s at Craven Cottage, Fulham FC, in an inter-county football final vs Sussex on Tuesday 17th May. It is a great achievement for the boys to be involved in such an event, and we are very proud to have three boys representing their county at football.

E-Safety Awareness

We are grateful to Steve Welding from London Borough of Sutton, who will deliver a presentation on E-Safety to our Year 8 students this Wednesday. This helps raise awareness of the potential dangers of the internet, and helps students understand how they can protect themselves and their personal information.

Parking

A number of complaints have been received from local residents about careless and inconsiderate parking. Please take care that you do not block driveways and access roads, even for a short time. Thank you for your cooperation.

Words of the Week

Every two weeks, the school focuses on new words which broaden the vocabulary. This week…

The literacy word of the week is uncouth
The numeracy word of the week is quadratic


Week commencing 2nd May 2016

Exams

Although there have been a number of exams with a smaller number of students, today marks the official start of the examination period with IGCSE English Language. We wish all of our students sitting examinations the very best.

Academy Status

In the Blog last week we informed you that we had been granted an Academy Order enabling us to become a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT). A MAT is different from a Single Academy Trust because it can develop a relationship with other schools/academies. At the time of applying for MAT status the Governors had no specific schools, primary or secondary, in mind. They are clear that ‘empire building’ is not our motivation; however, should any opportunities arise, Governors will give consideration to links with others that have similar values and practice, and providing we are confident that the collaboration will be of benefit to both Stanley Park High and another school/academy.

Finding schools with similar values and practice will not necessarily be an easy task. Our status as a One School Pathfinder, and the innovative approaches that we have developed, means that there are few secondary schools like us. Some do exist, but not in our local area, so we may need to form relationships with those further away. Links with primary schools might be more likely in the short term and these could be of immense benefit. Currently there is definitely too little collaboration and sharing of expertise between these two sectors, particularly to inform the critical period of student transition from Year 6 to Year 7, which I will refer to in the item below.

All of the above is, of course, irrelevant if during the consultation we don’t have the support of the teachers, parents and local community. With this in mind, we will be holding an Academy Information Evening at the school starting at 6:30pm on Thursday 19th May. The event will last approximately 30 minutes.

Transition

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Having mentioned the importance of transition we are delighted to have been invited to lead a conference at Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln. The conference will be attended by 100 local school leaders, interested educationalists and parents, who will be keen to hear how Stanley Park High enables highly effective transition.

School Uniform

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We would like to draw your attention to the fact that our uniform supplier, Hewitts of Croydon, is celebrating its 150th anniversary. To mark this occasion they are offering discounts on the purchase of our uniform. Further details can be found in the image below.

EAL Culture Evening

We are looking forward to EAL Culture Evening, which will take place on Thursday 12th May from 5.30 p.m. to 7.30pm. This evening of music, food and language celebrates the culture of our students for who English is an additional language. 

The event will take place in Spotlight, and there are a limited number of seats. If you would like to attend please return the reply slip sent home, or contact Ms Zerhauova via the school email address. We hope you will be able to join us.

Headlice

There has been a rise in the number of cases of headlice in school over the past two weeks. This is a common problem to all schools, and is easily passed on. We would like to ask all parents to check their child and treat for lice if any are found. Information is available online, please click on the link below. Thanks to all for your support in this.

www.nhs.uk

Measles

There have been a high number of cases of measles reported in London recently. Parents have already been advised, and Sutton Council is encouraging families to vaccinate their children.  Please see the link below for more information.

www.newsroomsutton.co.uk

Catering in school

Our catering contract is due to expire soon, and we shall be offering our catering service in open tender for a new contract in September 2016. Creative and innovative proposals are invited to further develop our food and service offers. The successful tender will also demonstrate plans to develop the services we provide to those who use our extensive on-site sporting and leisure facilities during the evenings, weekends and school holidays. 

Our catering partner will help us develop an innovative and commercially successful service for our students and staff, which fully understands and reflects our unique student-centered and progressive ethos. Opportunities for student and local involvement should be evident, including use of school-grown and local produce, work experience and curriculum links.

Suitably qualified catering companies are invited to submit proposals. More information, a copy of the timetable and Invitation to Tender can be obtained from Stephen Grosvenor stephen@grosvenorassociates.co.uk 07885 217077.

Words of the Week

Every two weeks, the school focuses on new words which broaden the vocabulary. This week…

The literacy word of the week is uncouth
The numeracy word of the week is quadratic