16 October 2020

This week: Year 11 exams, including revision resources; Year 7 excellent start; Year 8 and 9 water bottles; Mental Health Week; Poetry Day Winners; Year 10 Google Classroom; Half Term dates


Next week is the final week of an 8 week half term.  Whilst I was more concerned than I have ever been about starting in September, I look back with pride on our achievements as a school community this half term.  It’s been a challenge to stay focused, but we have all done well and the quality of learning has been consistently very good.  One more week and then we can have a well deserved break.


Politically, COVID has remained centre stage this week.  We remain concerned in the education sector about the longer term impact of the COVID situation on our Year 11s in particular as they are preparing for summer examinations.  What we know at the moment is that the government are delaying summer examinations by three weeks, meaning a start in mid June. However, we have been told that vital English and Mathematics GCSEs will still be completed in May.  School leaders nationally are concerned that this is not enough and our Year 11s need more consideration!  School leaders have actually asked the government for three key improvements for schools:  (1) full clarity and consideration of the issues concerning examinations and assessments for Year 11 students next year, (2) support for the mental strain of fully open schools on our school communities, and (3) financial support for schools who are having to pay out additional costs for the COVID situation.  So far this term, we have met an additional cost over the 7 weeks to date totalling tens of thousands of pounds from our education budget.  That’s unsustainable long term.  


At Werneth, we feel our Year 11s are in a good place at the moment, and we are working hard to keep them on track for success.  We are planning regular key assessments through the year to keep them on track AND to help if we need a Plan B.  Schools are expected to be ready to move to Plan B if required at a later date in the event that summer exams are cancelled and teacher assessment is required instead.    If it does move to teacher assessment, we will need the evidence of those assessments so they are really important.  


The message to our Year 11s and their parents/carers is really simple …. you need to be in school, working hard every day … because we don’t yet know what will happen.  That’s all you can do, and we will support you through the upcoming vital months as much as we can.  At the moment, I feel fortunate that our Year 11s haven’t yet had to isolate as they have in many schools, but that could of course change at any time.


I met with the Year 11 leadership team this week, and they have a wealth of support in place to support Year 11s in all sorts of different ways.  We are pleased with their current progress but that needs to be maintained now as the challenges of the year increase: Year 11 is always a challenge for every young person, but this year may be more so than ever.  


I have delivered these key messages about exams to Year 11 this morning in their virtual assembly.  Mrs Chantler ( Assistant Headteacher, Year 11 ) also broadcast an assembly to provide some resources to help start revision for the mock examinations before Christmas.  A copy of their resources is here, and an information presentation is here for parents, to help you support them.


At the other end of the spectrum, I visited all of the Year 7 forms this week with Mrs Tonge, to congratulate them on an excellent first half term with us.  Considering the COVID difficulties they faced in terms of transition to secondary school, they have been remarkably strong, happy and settled.  They are making very pleasing progress and we have enjoyed reading your parental emails about that.  They were keen to let me know that they have enjoyed their first half term.


This week our Senior Students have been asking form groups in each year group to help raise awareness around mental health and show students the support that both the school and external agencies can provide for our young people. This year's mental health day was celebrated all across the country with the motto 'Everyone has mental health'. Senior students have raised awareness by creating a series of activities for students to participate in during the week.  They created a virtual assembly, shared a quiz from young minds and asked each form to participate in a poster competition to help raise awareness around school. The Senior Students have loved seeing the entries that forms have already submitted and are looking forward to judging the winning forms next week. Thank you to all the students and staff that have made this week a success.  Here is a picture of Mrs Holden’s Year 7 form and their excellent mental health poster.



Congratulations to our National Poetry Day Winners from last week:

1st Place - Holly Lea Maddocks (Yr7)

2nd Place - Clara Wilson (Yr11)

3rd Place- Ruby Walsh (Yr8)


We would appreciate it if parents could support us with a less positive message delivered by Mr Willis this morning to students in Year 8 and 9 “bubble” at lunchtime.  Mr Willis has told them that a significant change in the way some students use drinks bottles needs to happen in the next week or they will be banned from sale at break and lunchtime. Namely a small number of Year 8 and 9 students are using them as water pistols and squirting each other instead of using them in the manner they are intended to be used. If we do not see a marked change in that area, the ban will come into effect after half term.


Our isolation students from Year 10 return to school on Monday.  We have been pleased to see a promising uptake of students taking part in the Google Classroom lessons - well done to those young people and their families for ensuring that they keep up to date with the work.  There are still some who are not taking part though and that’s a concern - it’s crucial to keep working at all times through the school year if you want to remain on track.  Education is even more important than it has ever been!


And finally, a reminder that school breaks up next Thursday, 22nd October at 3.10pm, and we return on Monday 2nd November.  Friday 23rd is a staff training day, and we are focusing on further improvements to our Remote Learning for students who may need to isolate, and also ensuring our in-school curriculum in every subject continues to adapt and improve.


Have a good weekend!


Posted by cmurphy

Category: Headteacher's Blog