Welcome

I hope you had a happy and Holy Christmas. Last week we celebrated the Epiphany, when the three kings arrived with their gifts, and the end of our Christmas season. It is a good time to appreciate our many gifts and blessings.

Staff and students look rested from their break, so we are now ready for another packed term. I have outlined below some important information regarding our options process in Year 9 and changes affecting the Sixth Form calendar and some of the interventions that we are using to boost examination performance. I have also given some updates regarding Year 11, including extra mocks, rolling forms and new maths classes.

Maths Head of Department role

I am very pleased to welcome our new Head of Maths, Mrs Badyal. Mrs Gittins is stepping down prior to her retirement; however she is staying at the school at least during this year in order to smooth the transition process and to retain responsibility for sixth form maths. I am extremely grateful to Mrs Gittins for her hard work ensuring that the school is able to manage the process of management change with minimal disruption and maximum support.

New Maths classes

In order to support progress in maths we have rearranged groups so that each Year 11 class now has two specialist teachers. This will ensure that all students have more time in lesson when they can receive support.

Mrs Badyal is going to write to you regarding a series of interventions and extra support for our students.

New Languages

We are increasing our language provision and are offering taught language sessions in Key Stage 4 for Polish (Mr L Klopecki), Panjabi (Mrs S Mehmi), Portuguese (Mrs Castanheiro) and Italian (Mrs R Bigongiari). At present these courses are offered after school in addition to normal lessons.

From Year 8 onwards at least 90% of our students will study at least one language, either French or German.

Calendar Changes

Sixth Form

16th February Year 12 and 13 Parents’ Evening (combined from two separate evenings).

Year 9

We have brought forward the Year 9 options process, in order to give more time for students to be involved in the process and to enable us to plan staffing according to student needs

26th January Year 9 Options Information Evening

2nd February Year 9 Parents’ Evening

Year 9 Option Pathway

All students will take our core offer (Maths, English, Science, RE) and more of our students will take the full English Baccalaureate (including History or Geography). It is important that students are given options in which they can succeed, so students will be given options that are tailored to them.

Students can only opt for French or German if they are already studying the language.

We are offering Triple Science for the firsttime, which is an exciting development for our school. However the course is very demanding and along with Computer Science will be dependent upon the student’s current performance in relevant subjects, full guidance will be provided.

All students will take Double Science; this will still enable students who get good grades to continue studying the subject at A level and beyond. Acceptance onto Triple Science and/or Computer Science will be based on Key Stage 2 data in addition to current data to ensure total objectivity; the requirements are S6/Exceeding currently and level 5 at Key Stage 2.

The facilitating curriculum gives students breadth which does not cut off any future options or career paths.

Year 11

The mock exams are a practice for the actual GCSE examinations. They are useful in identifying students’ strengths and weaknesses. We are putting in place programmes of study support called PLCs (Personal Learning Checklists) to help students improve. Our staff are working very hard and some of our students are too. These last few weeks will be vital in securing good outcomes and students need to work hard. I would be very grateful if parents could try and keep an eye on the amount of quality work which is being done at home, this should be away from distractions, access to Facebook etc. We will be asking parents to comment about how long students have spent in quality study time on some homework activities and would be very grateful for your support.

In March students will be taking second formal mocks in Maths, English and Science. Students will have focussed periods of work towards these exams and try to improve upon whatever they have achieved to date. In English and Maths the new grading system 1 to 9 is more demanding, a higher pass is a grade 5, which is equivalent to a high grade C/grade B. The exam paper is also more challenging. The only way to succeed is with hard work and the continued support of our staff.

Form Time Study

Between now and the exams most Year 11 students will receive some extra revision during form time, they will join ‘a rolling form’ for a block of time in order to help them improve their skills and knowledge. They will still have assembly once a week and prayer each day.

Rolling forms will take place predominantly in Maths, English and Science.

School Administration Office/Reception - Change to open hours

Please note that with effect from Monday 16th January 2017 the school administration office/Reception opening hours will be:

Monday to Thursday 7.30 am to 4.30 pm

Friday 7.30 am to 4.00 pm

We would encourage parents to contact us early morning with any issues in order to ensure any issues or concerns can be resolved the same day, wherever possible and therefore we have focused our staff on the earlier part of the day.

Remembrance Service 2017

At 11am on Friday 10th November 2017 students and staff at St Thomas More paused to commemorate the First World War.

Anti-Bullying and Good Samaritan Week 

This week staff and students marked both Anti - Bullying and Good Samaritan Week in school.

MacMillan Coffee Morning

Staff joined together during break on our recent training day to raise funds for the Macmillan Coffee Morning.


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