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    Message from the Principal

    Mr J Taylor, Headteacher
    Mr J Taylor

    Dear Parent / Carer,

    External Exam Success

    I am delighted to be able to advise you of another very strong set of external examination results from last summer. We finished top in every measure across the Local Authority in our Year 13 results. 22% of A Levels were graded A*-A, 54% A*-B, 82% A*-C and 100% A*-E. Our A Level Average Points Score per entry was our highest ever, with students gaining an average of a grade B. Our applied subjects enjoyed even greater success, with 79% graded Di*-Di, 99% Di*-Me and 100% Di*-Pa. These are very impressive Year 13 results, which allowed the vast majority of students to access their chosen courses at universities across the country. It is worth noting that this was against a background of extremely high retention rates, with 99.4% at A Level and 99.5% for our applied qualifications. We are very much looking forward to hearing how our students have settled into university life when they return to school for the Year 13 Presentation Evening at the end of term.

    In Key Stage 4 (Years 9-11), we are very proud of the breadth of our curriculum. The government formally measure this through entry into the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), which requires study of English Language & Literature, Mathematics, at least two Sciences, a Humanity (Geography or History) and a Modern Foreign Language. In 2019, 34% of all students gained at least a grade 4 (standard pass) and 25% at least a grade 5 (strong pass) across this whole suite of subjects. These figures were the highest EBacc figures across the Local Authority, and against LA averages of 18% and 12% respectively. My heartfelt congratulations go to all the students and staff – a well-deserved reward for all the hard work that went in to achieving those results.

    Vision and Key Drivers

    We are not complacent about the successes of last summer and we will be working very hard so that our students enjoy every opportunity for further success in the future. Across our school community, we continue to focus on raising academic standards and opportunities, remaining fully committed to our vision of delivering world-class learning which inspires every child to achieve excellence. This will be achieved through a relentless focus on six key drivers for both students and staff:

    • World-class learning – world-class learning in every lesson, every day
    • The highest expectations – everyone can be successful; always set and expect the highest standards
    • No excuses – create solutions not excuses; make positive thinking a habit
    • Growth mindset – believe you can improve; work hard and value feedback
    • Never give up – resilience is essential; be relentless in the pursuit of excellence
    • Everyone is valued – diversity is celebrated; see the best in everyone

    Student Voice

    A new Student Council has been formed for the start of this academic year, with representatives from every year group. This is an opportunity for students to make a real difference to the school and wider community. This year, our Student Leaders will not only be part of their respective Year Councils but also belong to one of 3 action groups:

    • Environment – with a focus on caring for our environment and sustainability issues
    • Community – to focus on partnership working within the local community, and
    • Experience – with a focus on extra-curricular opportunities and House activities.

    In addition to the action groups, I am meeting representatives from each of the Year Councils on a weekly basis to gain feedback on their progress and I have been particularly pleased with their positive reviews of the effective use we have made of tutor time each morning through the ‘Votes for Schools’ programme and ‘Character Education’. The latter has been enhanced by regular visits for all year groups from an external motivational speaker – Kevin Mincher.

    Students have also been keen to feedback that they like the new ‘Show my Homework’ system and that they are particularly pleased that this is providing greater opportunities for positive mentions on conduct cards.

    Recent Events

    Following the completion of a new extension to the main school building, we had an additional capacity for 330 students in Year 7 in September 2019. I am delighted to report that, despite this increase in capacity, the school was over-subscribed again at the start of the new year. Looking forward to next September, we hosted a Year 6 Open Evening on 3 October. This was then followed up with the opportunity for parents and prospective students to join us for a guided tour during the working day. The feedback has been very pleasing. A similar event for prospective students into Year 12 in September, our ‘New Sixth Evening’, will be hosted at the school at 6.30pm on Thursday 14 November and, of course, our own Year 11 students are very warmly invited to attend that event—where they will find out much more about life in the sixth form and the various courses on offer. We are currently very keen to expand that range of subjects on offer.

    Our new students have settled in quickly, adjusting to life and routines. In order to gain the maximum benefit from the extensive opportunities available, we encourage as many students as possible to get involved in extra-curricular opportunities and, especially, try something they haven’t done before. Year 7 seem to be really stepping up to this challenge. Year 7 parents have had the opportunity in this first half term to come into school, meet the Form Tutor and hear feedback as to how students have been settling in. We also welcomed a large number of new students, from other local secondary schools, into Year 12 and hope that they also embrace the opportunities on offer. It is always particularly pleasing when the attraction of the sixth form brings new students from across local authority boundaries, such as from Barnsley and Doncaster. In addition, I also offer our new staff a warm welcome and very best wishes for a successful and enjoyable career with us.

    It is a particularly busy time for Year 11, given that their external exams begin shortly after the Easter holiday. Parents and students were invited to a Revision Evening on 10 October, where virtually every student was represented. The Y11 Students & Parents’ Consultation Evening with subject teachers is scheduled for 22 October. The Y11 Trial Exams in English and Mathematics then commence after the half term break on 18 November – these are vital internal preparatory exams for the later external ones.

    On 17 October the Music Department hosted a very enjoyable Vocal Evening and, as I write, I am looking forward to the Performing Arts faculty hosting a Murder Mystery Evening on the final Thursday of the half term, this year set within a mansion house. I would also like to congratulate the team of Modern Foreign Language students who recently won first prize in a competition for language students across South Yorkshire, hosted this year in Doncaster.

    Congratulations to our staff in the Special Educational Needs department who have been recognised by the NHS for their excellent practice in caring for our students with disabilities.

    Dates for the Diary

    Some important forthcoming dates:

    • 25 October – INSET day: school closed to students
    • 28 October – half-term break begins
    • 4 November – second half term begins (for students and staff)
    • 14 November – New Sixth Evening (for current Year 11 students)
    • 19 November – Y13 Student & Parent Consultation Evening with subject teachers
    • 28 November – Y11 Presentation Evening (for last year’s Year 11 students)
    • 19 December – Y13 Presentation Evening (for last year’s Year 13 students).

    Yours sincerely,

    Mr J Taylor