Headteacher’s Blog 11th December - Reflecting on 2020
See link to: Letter from Richard Gill, CEO, Arthur Terry Learning Partnership, confirming end of term arrangements and what to do if you need to report a positive case of Covid19 up to 24th December 2020.
On Tuesday the first patient in the world, Margaret Keenan from Coventry, received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19. Let us hope this really is first step in the journey back to normal life, after what has been the most challenging year our country and local community has faced for some time. Let us hope that we can now look forward to 2021 with hope for a better year.
2020 has been an unprecedented year in education. Never before have schools had to close to the majority of students for such a significant portion of the academic year. Many of our staff, like many of you, have faced personal tragedy, illness and hardship. Many of our students have missed considerable amounts of time from school, missing contact with their social groups and having to learn in new ways through remote learning.
2020 has also been a remarkable year of development and a demonstration of the power of the human spirit to adapt and overcome in the most challenging of circumstances. However, despite these challenges it has also been a year that has had many positive moments, which will last long in the memory of the school community. It has been a year in which our school has remained open and, I hope, a focal point for the local community in remaining positive and resilient in the face of adversity.
In March we were visited by Ofsted and received great praise, noting that ‘The school places as much emphasis on pupils’ personal development as on their academic success’. This twin focus has never been as important as in this year. Throughout the pandemic we have remained open to ensure that, even when closed to most students, those students who needed us could be in school. The summer term seems a lifetime ago with all that passed since, but there were some real highlights such as watching the Key Worker students putting up tents and having a barbecue in the Easter holidays and welcoming back Year 10 and Year 12 for the first time in June. One of the most inspirational moments in my 22 years in education came in the second week of September, when we welcomed back the whole school. More than a tear was shed to see the children back, laughing and smiling to be with each other again.
In time of great adversity change flourishes. Our students are now more independent and our staff have learned to work in different ways. The development of remote learning online has been exponential. Who would have thought that in 8 school months we would have trained teachers how to deliver lessons online, moved all of meetings and professional development to video conferencing, worked out how to ‘dial in’ students to lessons from home and even enabled teachers who are self-isolating to teach their classes in school from their kitchen table? In education terms it feels like we have leapt forward years in the space of months.
This year also saw the completion of ‘The Wilson Block’. We still await our official opening, as we have had to cancel it twice with lockdowns and the new tiers, but we look forward to this event in the new-year. It has taken a number of years to bring this project to fruition, but it seems apt that this building was completed in 2020, the quincentenary of our school, which was founded by Alice Digby in 1520. We had a number of celebrations planned but have been unable to hold them. For now, we are working on a virtual celebration, which will be available on our website by the end of term.
Autumn term ends for all students on Friday 18th December at 12.30 pm. Bus companies have been contacted and we anticipate all buses will arrive by 12.30pm to collect the students. All staff will be leaving site by 1pm, once all children have left.
Spring term starts for all students at 8.45 am on Tuesday 5th January 2021. Monday 4th January is the training day for all schools within The Arthur Terry Learning Partnership.
May I take this opportunity to thank you all for the support you give to the students and the wider school community. Wishing you a restful Christmas and a happy New Year.
Headteacher’s Blog - Year 11 & Year 13 Update - 4th December 2020
The government have set out plans for how examinations in the summer will work
You may have seen in the news yesterday that the Government have stated exams are going to happen in the summer and have released some information and guidance about the potential changes to exams and what they might look like. You can read the press release from Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, here https://www.gov.uk/government/news/extra-measures-to-support-students-ahead-of-next-summers-exams? We will update as soon as we get further detail in the New Year.
We have a recovery curriculum to support your child
As a school we are continuously adapting our curriculum to ensure that we are supporting and preparing our students for their exams and life beyond the Coleshill School. We have already put significant work into ensuring that we have a ‘recovery curriculum’ in place to support Year 11 and 13 students who missed learning time during lockdown and have had disruption to learning through any absence or self-isolation.
Year 11 targets and reports
Students now have a minimum and a challenge target
In Year 10 we set aspirational targets, we have reviewed targets to ensure that they are realistic, attainable and yet still, aspirational. We have now set your child a minimum target based on national benchmarking for what they should achieve in each subject. Therefore, on Go4Schools you will now see that there are two targets; a minimum and challenge target grade. Our aim is to ensure that, with our support and your child’s dedication to their studies, your child will achieve somewhere in between the two targets in the summer examinations.
All Year 11 students will have a progress phone call by the end of next week
In the recent interim report about your child, published on Go4Schools you can see
Minimum and challenge target Attitude to learning Progress towards minimum target
If you need support with Go4Schools please see the click to handout which was sent out last week: https://thecoleshillschool.org/uploads/PDF/Headteachers_Blog/2020-2021/2020.12.04-Year_11_Report_and_G4S_information.pdf
Year 13 reports and progress
Year 13 reports were issued last week with a letter explaining the relationship between targets and projected grades. As ever, the most important factor in determining the final outcome is the attitude to learning and focus on study and we’re confident that the majority of students are heading in the right direction.
Year 13 destinations
It’s the time of year when Year 13 students are making exciting plans for their futures and many of those who have applied to University have already received offers. There’s no time to waste in getting applications in for those still putting it off and Mr Owen is always available for advice and guidance. Students should aim to have applications in before Christmas.
Those students looking for training and apprenticeships should be having a closer look at the relevant application processes and websites and talking to Mr Owen or Mrs Bishop about their options.
As ever, I wish you a peaceful weekend with your family. Take care and stay safe.
Headteacher’s Blog - 20th November “Improvise, adapt and overcome!”
Last Friday I led our annual Remembrance service from the School Hall in front of the commemorative plaque of our Old Boys. It was different from the normal occasion, where we would have hundreds of staff and students, but in some ways the empty space in front of me was a poignant reminder of what we are all going through. All the students watched the service in their classrooms, with many teachers commenting on the impeccable behaviour of the students and the curiosity shown by some of those in the younger year groups. If you wish to watch the short service you can find it on You Tube if you search Coleshill School Remembrance Service.
The phrase ‘Improvise, adapt and overcome’ is an unofficial military term, made famous be Clint Eastwood in the film ‘Heartbreak Ridge’. We hear the battle against COVID 19 likened to a war in the media and whilst I am in no way describing what we are facing in school in these terms, I am in awe and admiration of how both staff and students have adapted to our ever changing situation, since returning from the half term break.
Over the last two weeks we, like two thirds of secondary schools nationally, have seen an increase in cases and in turn have had to ask a greater number of children to self-isolate. This presents challenges for ensuring that students can continue to learn. I know that there will be issues remaining in our remote learning procedures, but I am proud of what students and staff have achieved so far.
Going on a learning walk around lessons this week looked very different now from how it would normally, but it is a testament to how staff and students have adapted to overcome the challenges of our current situation. In most classrooms I saw teachers doing as they always do, delivering high quality lessons to the students, all be it with depleted numbers. In some classrooms I saw a teacher, alone with their laptop, teaching the Year 11 students who are all at home, through TEAMs. In other classrooms I watched as teachers taught their classes from home, their face projected on the screen, with a cover teacher supporting students in the classroom. We even have some teachers who are teaching the class in front of them in school, whilst students who are self-isolating dial into the lesson via TEAMs. I tried this yesterday and it worked quite well, although we did have a very chatty dog in the lesson too!
Teachers this week have reported very good attendance and behaviour in online lessons. Students who are either participating in live lessons, or dialling into lessons in school, are showing good engagement; answering questions and completing activities with the rest of the class. I have been incredibly impressed with the patience and respectfulness of students who are in school but being taught by their teacher at home. There are sometimes technical hitches and delays but we believe having their own teacher teaching them, when possible, is the best way of students learning.
So, we have come a long way since the Prime Minister first told us all to stay at home in March. As a school leader it feels like we have made more progress in the use of online learning and video conferencing in seven months than the last ten years. School staff are improvising and adapting all the time. Sometimes this can be challenging I know, but rest assured we are doing our very best to ensure that our remote learning is as good for all the students, whether they are at home individually or alongside their whole year group. For those families where the technology is a barrier we are working with them to provide support, with a limited number of devices available for those most in need.
If you are unsure of what we are doing for your child in terms of remote learning I refer you to my letter from Monday 16th November https://www.thecoleshillschool.org/uploads/PDF/LettersParents/2020-2021/2020.11.16-Testing__Remote_Learning_-_Covid-19.pdf
I hope you have a good weekend.
On Thursday 11th November 2020 The Coleshill School held its annual Remembrance Service to commemorate former students of The Coleshill School who lost their lives in active service.
This year was very different as the school was unable to hold the usual ceremony in the Hall in front of all the students. The service was presented to the students virtually during lesson time. The last post sounded before the two-minute silence was observed. Then the ‘Act of Remembrance’ was read out by Mr Smith-Childs and Sixth Form Students in proud and affectionate memory of all those old boys of The Coleshill School who gave their lives for their country and its cause in the two world wars, including James Munday who died in Afghanistan in 2008.
Mr Smith-Childs, Headteacher said “It is the first time in 10 years of being Headteacher at The Coleshill School that the Remembrance Service was held in an empty hall due to Covid-19. The Remembrance Service is such an important event for the school and it is so important to remember those who fought and died in the armed services for our freedom.”