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    Message from the Principal

    Mr J Taylor, Headteacher
    Mr J Taylor

    Dear Parent / Carer,

    Events from the End of Last Term

    When I last wrote an article for The Torch we were applying the finishing touches to the Christmas Hampers, that each tutor group prepares for local elderly residents. I am delighted to advise you that the ‘Best in School’ was from Tutor Group 8RPR. However the standard was very high, once again, across all tutor groups and it is certainly very moving to receive the heartfelt thanks of recipients. I know our students are genuinely pleased to be helping to make a difference at a time of year when not everyone finds it easy to enjoy themselves without some outside support.

    In the final week of last half term we enjoyed our annual Christmas Concert – a very entertaining mixture of popular and seasonal music, with students from across all year groups. The standard of musicianship was very high and a large number of individual, ensemble and orchestral performances enjoyed well deserved praise from the appreciative audience. 79 students were involved, enjoyed by an audience of over 200.

    In the final week of last term, we also enjoyed our Year 13 Presentation Evening, where we were delighted to welcome back the largest number of former students, and their parents, that any of us could remember, for the annual presentation of certificates and awards. It was a real delight to hear how our former students were adapting to the world beyond school, whether university, apprenticeships or the world of work— including how many were getting used to more independence through activities such as their own cooking and ironing.

    The last day of term was celebrated in style with a Christmas lunch for all students and staff. Everyone sat down together in the main hall to share in the Christmas festivities. The kitchen staff served up three sittings of 650 Christmas lunches - this was a massive feat and was delivered in style by our kitchen staff: they should be commended on their efforts. Giving students and staff the opportunity to sit together in one big venue, enjoy their Christmas lunch, laugh, engage in conversation, pull a cracker or two and listen to Christmas songs is important and marked the end of an excellent term at the school. At Wath Academy we believe these types of experiences are vital in terms of building culture, community and character.

    Sixth Form External Exam Results

    We have now had published the final national performance tables for last year’s Year 13 external examination results. Last summer’s A-level results placed us 1st across all Rotherham providers for progress, including both schools with a sixth form and sixth form colleges. Our applied qualifications performed even more strongly, placing us not only 1st within the Local Authority but 2nd across the whole of South Yorkshire, which included all providers from Rotherham, Barnsley, Doncaster and Sheffield, including independent schools. Our value added score of +0.51 meant that Wath students made, on average, more than half a grade more progress than similar students nationally. Once again, well done to all of our students who produced these commendable results.

    Trial Exams, Parents’ Evenings & Revision

    Year 11 students have had the opportunity of further Trial Exams this half term. These have helped inform the data drop for their third Learning Cycle of the year and this information will be shared at the Parents’ Evening on 25 February. Year 10 and Year 8 students have already had a Parents’ Evening this half term, where feedback was provided by subject teachers from their second Learning Cycle of the year. Year 11 are now preparing intensively for their third set of Trial Exams, scheduled for March, in English, Maths & Science. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that regular exam practice makes students better prepared and more confident for their final external exams.

    Our current Year 12 students have recently completed their applications for Higher Education. 80% of Year 12 students have applied for university, which is a much higher proportion than the national average. Four students have received offers to study at Oxford or Cambridge.

    In the last few weeks of this half term the Sixth Form and Year 11 pastoral support teams completed several evenings of interviewing potential Year 12 students for next academic year. A large number of students have already expressed a serious desire to join us in September. A third of these are from local secondary schools other than Wath. Our external students add a real richness to the sixth form community. All applicants have been asked to bring their most recent report with them, as we assess motivation, attendance and punctuality, as well as academic progress. Attendance at lessons is essential for success and we are currently on a drive in school towards our 97% attendance target. Please do help support us in your child attending school when at all possible.

    An extensive programme of support and revision has been in place for Year 11 for some weeks now and will run every evening, and many lunchtimes, until the end of the examination period. We are also running an extensive programme of revision throughout the February half term holiday. We urge all Year 11 parents to ensure that their child takes full advantage of what is on offer. I am very appreciative of the staff, in all subject areas, who are giving of their time so willingly to support students, not only beyond the school day but also in the holidays.

    Gym, Dance & Movement Evenings

    As I write, we are preparing for our annual Gym, Dance and Movement Evening performances. This year the theme is ‘Top of the Pops’. Anyone in a similar generation to my own will certainly remember ‘Pan’s People’ and the staff dance will be aiming to emulate their success. I hope you have the opportunity to come on one of the evenings. Our own students, together with pupils from our feeder primary schools, will once again provide high quality, creative performances. It is particularly pleasing to note that around 200 Wath students will participate: an excellent, inclusive event for the whole school community.

    Changes to the Year 9 Curriculum from September 2020

    We have recently undertaken a review of the curriculum we offer at Key Stage 3, in consultation with senior leaders across Maltby Learning Trust. We are keen to build on the latest research to further improve provision for all learners here at Wath Academy. As a result, we are set to introduce a new curriculum model in September 2020, that will ensure that all students have access to a broad and balanced curriculum offer.

    In the new model, the academy will teach the Key Stage 3 curriculum over Years 7, 8 and 9. This will ensure that all students are taught a broad range of subjects in depth, as exemplified by the National Curriculum. These changes will ensure that we provide a solid foundation for all students, across a wide range of subject areas, in preparation for option choices at the end of Year 9. The Key Stage 4 curriculum will then be delivered over Years 10 and 11 and will provide an even greater choice than in previous years. All students, irrespective of their ability or special educational needs, will have equal access to the curriculum.

    Whilst the government does not advocate any particular curriculum model, it is clear that the intention is for a curriculum that is ambitious for all students, and is as broad as possible for as long as possible. We recognise that the planned move to a three year Key Stage 3 curriculum will allow more time for students to prepare for the specialisation that takes place at GCSE level. Many other schools have adopted this model and, whilst this in itself is not a reason to change, it means that our students will not be disadvantaged when competing against other school leavers in the region. Parents of current Year 8 students will be invited to an Information Evening about the changes to the Year 9 curriculum on 19 March.

    Teaching & Learning

    We have clear expectations in terms classroom practice through the development of a Wath ‘Teaching and Learning Standard’. We have introduced new technology, through ‘IRIS Connect’, to capture explicit examples of best practice from teaching staff. It is expected that, by the end of the year, the video footage will comprehensively mirror each individual element of our ‘Teaching & Learning Standard’ and be an important vehicle to further improve pedagogy and practice. This is being supported by a relentless commitment to the professional development of staff, which includes an hour per week, after students have left at the end of school.

    Your continued support of the school is very much appreciated.

    Yours sincerely,

    Mr J Taylor

    Dates for the Diary

    Some important forthcoming dates:

    • 11–13 February – Gym, Dance & Movement Evenings
    • 14 February – INSET day: school closed to students
    • 17 February – half-term break begins
    • 24 February – new half term begins (for students and staff)
    • 25 February – Year 11 Student & Parent Consultation Evening with subject teachers
    • 3 March – Year 9 Student & Parent Consultation Evening with subject teachers
    • 19 March – Year 8 information evening about the Year 9 curriculum
    • 24 March – Year 12 Student & Parent Consultation Evening with subject teachers
    • 31 March – Year 13 Student & Parent Consultation Evening with subject teachers