It has been an excellent first week back - calm and productive with lots of learning going on. Our new Year 7, in particular, have had a good week settling into new school routines - some of their transition projects were truly amazing! Challenging and stretching all our students, making sure that they are "work ready" and focusing on homework and independent learning are some of our key priorities for the coming months.
Year 11 Careers and Mentoring evening is coming up this week which is a very important event. All of our Year 11 students have staff mentors and it is important that there are meetings to start the process on Thursday. Representatives of our local colleges will also be present to discuss possible future courses and options. I look forward to seeing all Year 11 parents and carers on Thursday afternoon and evening.
The only issues that we have had this week have been related to mobile phones with a very small number of students, which is a pity. Our students have the privilege, unavailable in most schools, of using their phones outside the school buildings during break and lunchtimes. If a phone is seen inside the buildings then it will be confiscated. The school's mobile phone policy, in operation since 2012, clearly says that "Parents may personally collect their child’s phone at any time, but under no circumstances will it be handed to the student until the day specified." We will follow that policy, approved by our governors, so please don't ask us to return a phone to a student before the end of the confiscation period. We fully appreciate that many of our young people have phones to keep in contact with parents and carers on the way to and from school, and we support that, so it is very important that our students keep our simple rules so that you are not inconvenienced by having to come into school to retrieve the phone.
We are proud of our students' appearance. Our uniform rules are clear and simple and available on the website. Shoes are often a topic of debate and there are pictures of suitable shoes on the website. A very small number of students are exempted from the school standards for medical reasons (e.g. insoles), but these are clearly supported by medical advice. We have also noticed some very short skirts which would be inappropriate in a workplace - it is important that these are sorted out this week.
It is worth clarifying the position on leave of absence for students in term-time as I know that there has been a lot of debate about this in the national press. It is the current situation that I am only allowed to authorise leave in exceptional circumstances and you need to be aware that Penalty Notices of £120 per parent per child can be issued. Full details can be obtained from us at school, but I would strongly urge you not to plan to take your child out of school as leave of absence is highly unlikely to be authorised under the current legislation.
This letter has largely been about practicalities, which is natural at the start of a school year. Our focus, though, is on learning and teaching and we aim to keep the practicalities clear and simple so that everyone can focus on the important purpose of our school - making sure that your children get the best possible education.
On which note - please advertise our Open Evening on Monday 18th September - we look forward to hundreds of young people and their parents coming to look around our school - it is going to be a very busy night, as usual!