Welcome to the start of the Spring term at Wyedean School and Sixth Form Centre. I hope that you have had a restful holiday with family and friends and time to rest and reflect. We are looking forward to welcoming our students back to school tomorrow, refreshed, focused and ready to learn.
To update you, in the Autumn term, you will be aware that we had our annual review of teaching and learning with Challenge Partners. This involved five external senior leaders visiting us over three days. During their time here, they spoke with students and staff, visited lessons and looked at learning in books. As always, it was an incredibly worthwhile experience, which validated our belief that Wyedean School is an excellent educational provider. In summary, the review team celebrated:
- our inclusive and aspirational curriculum
- the positive relationships between students and staff
- the range of cultural experiences and informed delivery of PSHE lessons
- the infectious passion and drive within the leadership team
- the strong leadership of teaching and learning
- the school’s approach of ‘stretch and challenge for all’ and ‘teaching to the top’
To read the full report, please click HERE.
Our main priority for teaching and learning development continues to be the curriculum and specifically the creation of structures and resources to support our students’ long-term knowledge acquisition and application of skills. Today’s INSET is providing some useful time for teachers to focus on this key area, which will be of significant benefit to student learning. From feedback from parents and students it is gratifying to know that our recent move towards more widespread use of review and transform homework tasks and low-stakes quizzing has been well received. At Wyedean School, we believe that teaching and learning should be based on sound pedagogical research and these new approaches are sure to reap rewards for our young people.
The second full term of the academic year has a number of evening events. Here are the main key dates of which I’d like to make you aware:
Year 9 Parents’ Evening Thursday 9th January
Year 13 Parents’ Evening Thursday 16th January
Year 9 Options Evening Thursday 6th February
Year 12 Parents’ Evening Thursday 13th February
Half-term Monday 17th February – Friday 21st February
Year 10 Parents’ Evening Thursday 26th March Year
11/13 additional (invitation by teaching staff only)
Parents’ Evening Thursday 2nd April
In the meantime, please do get in touch if you have any queries or concerns and remember to follow our facebook page at:
our twitter page@WyedeanSchool
and of course don’t forget our website and particularly the correspondence page http://www.wyedean.gloucs.sch.uk/Correspondence-to-home-2019- 20
We appreciate your ongoing support and look forward to working with you in 2020.
It’s been a busy first half-term of the year with lots of exciting learning opportunities both in the classroom and outside with students taking part in a range of visits and extra-curricular activities. Students have successfully transitioned in to new year groups and are enjoying the challenges therein. My sincere thanks goes out to you all as parents and carers for supporting your children in this process, particularly to those with children who struggle with change. My thanks too to our tremendous team of teaching and support staff who work hard to make Wyedean such a welcoming and supportive environment for all.
Behaviour for learning this term has been of the usual high standard that we have come to expect from all of our students. We are proud that we have a system at Wyedean that ensures that quality learning can happen in all lessons and this has been reflected in the exceptionally positive feedback that we have received from prospective new parents and students in year 6. The best way to get a sense of our culture, community and aspirations, is by walking around the school and because of our superb student body and teaching team we know that this can happen at any time, of any day.
As you know, I always welcome communication from parents and I am keen to answer queries raised as quickly as possible. As teachers, we encourage our students to also ask questions and it is often the case that if one child asks a question, many other have a need for the same answer. To this end, I’ve put together a serious of FAQs (frequently asked questions) from parents and carers, that were shared at Academic Mentoring yesterday and today.
Frequently Asked Questions
Have you changed how you deliver music at school?
In year 7 and 8 we have changed the delivery of music and drama to allow us to have smaller class sizes which makes teaching and learning more effective as it’s easier for the teachers to feed back and manage instruments and the like. We have re-branded this to Performing Arts on timetables and student will receive blocks of teaching in a carousel style delivery with some shared content as we move through the year. This means some students in year 7 and 8 will have started with drama and will shortly move on to music and vice versa. Year 9 onwards remain the same as previous years. We are just as committed to the arts as we have always been and will continue to offer and promote both music and drama from year 7 to 13.
Are hoodies and leggings permitted?
Students are not permitted to wear leggings or hoodies in school unless it is for a PE lesson. We are keen to maintain our uniform approach which gives students some flexibility on what they can wear and we have deliberately not introduced a blazer, due to reasons of both cost and comfort. However, we do still expect students to select items from the range of options we have shared on our website and in the school foyer. We will be reviewing our uniform next term and will be interested to hear from parents and students on ways we can make our uniform smarter without any prohibitive costs. In the meantime, we welcome your support in ensuring your child has the correct uniform.
Are mobile phones permitted in lessons?
As you will be aware, we changed our mobile phone policy recently to minimise any discussions that detract from learning as a result of requests from students to use their devices in lessons. There is much in the press of late indicating that mobile phone bans can have both a positive and negative impact on learning. Each school is different and at the moment, we have chosen to continue to allow students to access mobile devices in lessons albeit only when teachers have directed them to do so. It is very rare that we confiscate a mobile device but as per our policy, we will do so if it becomes an obstacle to learning. We are currently working with our newly reformed student council to debate this issue further and will let you know if we change our approach.
The school bus home is sometimes late, are you able to do anything about this?
We continually feed back to our transport providers regarding the timely arrival and return of school transport. The contract with the bus companies is issued by Gloucestershire County Council and therefore we have a limited influence. If you wish to raise any concerns please contact us directly and we will communicate this forward.
What are you doing about sustainability and the environment at Wyedean?
We have recently reviewed our use of single use plastics and disposable dinnerware. The canteen are now using biodegradable products wherever possible and we are working hard to reduce our carbon footprint. We are about to launch a student-led campaign on recycling plastic water bottles. Over recent years we have installed solar panels and this year we were granted funding from a bid we made to secure new energy efficient boilers. We are currently working with our Governing Body to seek further funding sources to grow our provision and increase the sustainability of our site.
I hear in the news that funding in schools is poor. Is this an issue for Wyedean?
We prepare fully for every funding scenario and plan our renovations and staffing carefully to ensure that student learning is at the forefront of any decisions made when directing finances. Our financial forecast is stable and we are confident that we are spending efficiently and sustainably. You may notice that we have recently gained a new study garden at the front of the school. This was funded entirely by a donation from our community and we are incredibly grateful for any contributions made to the school, however big or small. If you work for a company that might be keen to donate to any of our site development plans, be it re-carpeting, sustainability or something else entirely please contact us via our website.
I am concerned my younger child may not get a place at Wyedean due to being out of catchment and the increasing number of housing developments in the vicinity. Should I be worried?
Siblings are next in priority to children living in our catchment area (parishes of Alvington, Hewelsfield, St.Briavels, Tidenham and Woolaston). On average more than 40% of our students come from outside of catchment and therefore siblings will take precedent before these places are allocated. We do not perceive this to be a significant future issue.
I understand the fingerprint system in the canteen has been changed. Is there anything I need to know?
Yes, we have had to impose a £5 debt limit on each account. If this limit is reached we will provide the student with a limited choice comprising a sandwich and a piece of fruit at lunchtime. This will then be charged to the account. We will be starting with this new approach after half-term and therefore we would be grateful if all debts could be cleared over the next 10 days.
If you have any other queries please ask your child’s tutor who will do their best to answer questions or direct it to the appropriate person as necessary. I hope you find the meeting useful and a good opportunity to discuss your child’s development and help them to succeed in their studies with us at Wyedean School and Sixth Form Centre. Many thanks for your continued support of the school, it is very much appreciated.
We wish you all a lovely break and look forward to welcoming all students back on Monday 4th October.
Yours in partnership,
Our summer edition of our newsletter is available now and my first as Acting Principal of Wyedean School and Sixth Form Centre. The newsletter provides a snapshot of the wonderful opportunities that we extend to all of our students and it fills me with pride to see everything that we have achieved this year. In turning the pages, I hope that you feel the same delight in witnessing the learning opportunities in which our students have played such an active and enthusiastic role. The ends to which our staff go to provide such an extensive range of truly inspiring educational experiences never ceases to amaze me and no doubt you will join me in extending a big thank you to all those involved.
Particular highlights this year have been the huge gains made in our cyber-learning provision thanks to the work of Miss Williams, Assistant Principal, in partnership with the National Cyber Security Centre. The enrichment of our computing curriculum has benefitted enormously thanks to the arrival of new technologies which allow students to get hands-on experience of coding and its associated output.
The study garden which you will have seen at the front of the school is now well established and is becoming a regular “venue of choice” for lessons that benefit from outside learning. We are incredibly grateful to the anonymous donor that financed this initiative.
You will be aware from the news that financially schools are finding it ever more difficult to deliver quality education on reducing school budgets. We have to prioritise and as such our focus for spending is on the essentials of education provision alone. Initiatives such as the study garden and our cyber delivery are only possible due to the generosity of our community or organisations such as the NCSC. If you know of any other parties who would be keen to work with us on any new developments we are always eager to learn of further opportunities that would benefit our student community.
Thank you to those of you that have taken the time to complete our annual summer survey. This is the third iteration of the survey and includes the views of parents, students and our staff. It provides a snapshot of what we are doing well but also where we need to develop our provision. As a school community, we aspire to be open and reflective and this is one of many tools that we use to inform our planning each year. I will update you on the outcomes of this process in September when I will also share our key aims for the next academic year. We value highly your support and that of our community and I passionately believe that together we can continue to build a school experience for our students that is second to none.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful summer. For our students, I hope that you are able to rest and re-charge ready for the challenges ahead and for parents and carers I hope that you are able to have some quality family time and make lasting memories.
“Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life.” Ralph Waldo Emerson