As a school community, this year has again been engaging, interesting and productive for our school. Our academic year began when we gathered as a staff body to commence our new year together by offering mass for our communal intentions. Our students did likewise to mark the beginning of their school year together and have done so again as we close for our summer holidays. This has also allowed us the time and opportunity to thank God for the many blessings he has bestowed upon us and to reflect upon all we have achieved. We both welcomed new staff and students and have said goodbye to those who are leaving for pastures new.
During the year we welcomed a wide variety of visitors to our school. Our Catholic feeder primary schools have visited us for performances such as the matinee of The Wizard of Oz, we opened our doors to those joining us for our annual Senior Citizens Christmas Treat, students and staff from four of our Catholic Feeder primary schools participated in our year 5 Primary Retreat and those from year 3 joined us to celebrate our End of school Year Masses.
We warmly welcomed our local parishioners on three separate occasions for our termly Coffee morning hosted by our young SVP and have participated in a wide range of fundraising activities in our local parishes to help offset the cost of our students from Year 12 who will be travelling to Lourdes on pilgrimage this July and August.
Our Sixth Form students met with Lord Jordan as part of the national “Peers in to School” initiative. During the academic year, students representing all three key stages participated in a wide variety of day trips, field trips, residentials and periods of foreign travel. These included our Key Stage 3 and 4 Retreats to Alton Castle and Soli House, Geography Department residentials and field trips to Dorset and Wales, a visit to the Christmas Market in Lille in France by the MFL Department, a visit to Berlin by the History Department and Skiing in Austria with the PE Department. On a creative and sporting front our students have given of their best as is their usual approach. Not content with providing musical interludes for Presentation Evening in December and July, plus contributing to Liturgical celebrations via music and dance, our Performing Arts students delivered a breath taking and exhilarating three night run of The Wizard of Oz. Our football teams continue to provide a determined challenge in local competitions and likewise our talented sporting stars have participated at competition level in a variety of sporting events.
In addition to all of the above, our students in Years 7-13 continue to work hard to meet deadlines, achieve targets set in class tests; end of unit assessments; mock exams; end of year assessments; GCSE exams and AS/A Level exams as relevant.
Alongside this and in support of these academic, personal, spiritual and social milestones, staff have worked with determination, enthusiasm, motivation and energy to ensure that the very best lessons are delivered and that initiatives introduced to ensure the best care for our students are embedded across all key areas.
As we end one academic year and look forward with curiosity and hope to the next, I would ask that you keep those students and staff that are leaving us in your thoughts and prayers. I would also ask that you do likewise for those new staff, year 7 and 12 students and their Parents/Carers who will join the St Thomas More family in September.
Our students have completed the Year 8 options process. Whilst it is our intention to ensure that all receive their first choice, some students have had to make alternative choices regarding their third preference mainly due to timetable restrictions, but these are now all done. If your child has not been asked to reconsider their options you can assume that they will be studying the options they chose originally. You should have received confirmation of this via the post.
This is the time of year when many of you will be thinking of renewing items of school uniform. We realise that some students exert pressure on their parents/carer to purchase items which are unacceptable for school. We would ask that you familiarise yourself with our uniform requirements prior to buying items as sometimes retailers advertise items as “school uniform” which we do not accept. A copy of our uniform regulations is included. Should you be unsure please contacts one of the Heads of Year for advice.
We appreciate that young people are influenced by fashion trends. However we would like to point out that body piercings are not permitted apart from girls being allowed to wear one pair of earrings. Should you child be thinking of having a piercing we would strongly recommend that it is done at the start of summer holidays so that it can be removed for school in September. With regard to hair, no unnatural colours e.g. pink, green, blue etc. are allowed and neither are hairstyles with lines/patterns cut into them. This applies to both boys and girls in all year groups year 7-13. Please note that as from September girls in Years 7-13 choosing to wear a skirt will be expected to wear black opaque tights as a replacement for black and white socks. Female students choosing to wear trousers must wear school appropriate black socks. Please be aware that bandanas, head scarves and other fashion items are not part of school uniform for either girls or boys and students wearing such items will be asked to remove them with immediate effect.
To look at our uniform policy, please follow the link: https://www.st-thomasmore.walsall.sch.uk/uniform/
It is important that all students are prepared and ready for each and every school day. We would both welcome and encourage your intervention as parents/carers with this particular matter by ensuring the following regardless of your child’s year group:
• Each students should have a suitably sized school bag e.g. a backpack – not a fashion bag.
• Each student should have a fully equipped pencil case containing as a basic minimum red, blue, black pen, a pencil, a sharpener, a ruler, an eraser and calculator for Maths and highlighters for History.
• Each student should ensure that they bring with them their PE equipment or cooking ingredients as their timetable dictates.
As a school we were spending an inordinate amount of time addressing a range of issues which distract from the business of the day re teaching and learning. As parents and carers, I am sure you will have kept abreast of recent updates within the news regarding the negative impact of social media upon both the physical and emotional health and well being of our children. Studies have clarified the concerning amount of time both young children and teenagers are spending on a wide variety of Social media at their disposal. In addition to the concern caused by the misuse of social media with respects to the distribution of inappropriate materials, images, comments and information.
As a school our primary concern must be the holistic well being of the children in our care be that spiritually, socially, emotionally or physically. To this end we have decided to prohibit the use of mobile phones and headphones during the school day for all students within all Key stages 3-5. The use of mobile phones at both break and lunchtime was raised by our Executive School council for discussion. As SLT, we agreed by way of compromise, that mobile phones could be used under certain conditions. This has not been adhered to and consequently we have reached the decision outlined above. As has been the case to date, and bearing in mind the need for Parents/Carers to be assured of their child’s safety, we will maintain our current provision that students may carry a mobile phone for use on the way both to and from school. However once on school premises phones must be: turned off and kept out of sight within a secure, zipped pocket either inside of the student’s blazer or school bag. We acknowledge that some students like to photograph details re homework on their phones – such provision will be directed at the discretion of the class teacher. Should students deliberately contravene the above Parents/Carer are reminded that we will confiscate headphones and/or phones as relevant.
We would therefore be most grateful for your support in ensuring the following:
• That your child is fully aware of the above prior to their return to school in September
• That you have discussed and clarified our reasons for doing so
• That as Parents/Carers you do not call or make contact with you child via their mobile phone. We have perfectly good communication systems within school that are fit for purpose should you have need to make contact with your child for any reason.
Student Safety and Well Being
Whether as new or existing Parent/Carer it is essential that I draw to your attention that we operate a zero tolerance policy with regards to any form of banned substance or dangerous weapon. The safety and well being of our children is at the heart of what we do and time spent addressing this is time well spent, be that in school or at home. Throughout the year activities are dedicated to such issues and we intend to continue doing so as we believe it is essential that our children clearly understand the need to be aware of such dangers, the potential consequences they may face if involved in any way in such behaviour and the necessity to speak up and out should they be aware of any such behaviour. Whilst not wishing to make an example of any child, the safety and security of the community will remain upper most and the most serious sanctions will be utilised if needed.
To support our continued quest for even greater improvements with respect to our school attendance, we have recently appointed a member of staff with specific responsibility for attendance across all Key Stages 3-5. Families of children whose attendance indicates concern will be contacted with a view to ensuring the situation is remedied as quickly and effectively as possible. It is essential that all students, irrespective of their year group, develop and are encouraged by you as their parents/carers to maintain sustainable good habits with respect to both attendance and punctuality. Students are expected by both Ofsted and consequently by us to maintain 97% attendance across the school year. We would respectfully ask that parents/carers do not arrange medical appointments or driving lessons as relevant during the school day or holidays during term time. Parents/Carers are further advised that we will employ the services of our Education Welfare Officer to investigate falling attendance which may in due course be referred to Walsall LA. In addition, students are expected to be in school for 8.30am each morning.
Travelling to School by Bicycle
We have a number of students who travel to school by bicycle. We are keen to encourage such independence not least for its benefits regarding the health of our students. However, it is essential that students doing so must adhere to those expectations and regulations regarding road safety, this applies also whilst entering and exiting our school premises. We communicated previously with the Parents/Carers of the relevant students and have done so again most recently. A copy of this communication has been placed on our school website for the benefit of all parents/carers. You may locate it via this link https://www.st-thomasmore.walsall.sch.uk/bikeability/. We would draw your attention to the need for student’s full compliance with respect to this matter. Should students fail to do so, and thereby provide cause for concern, we will contact the relevant Parents/Carers with a view to retaining the bicycle in school as a necessary sanction.
Exam Results Day
AS and A Level Results – Thursday 15th August
Y12 Students can collect their results from 9.30am onwards.
Y13 Students can collect their results from 10.00am onwards.
GCSE Results – Thursday 22nd August
Y11 Students can collect their results from 9.00am onwards. Students will have an appointment to discuss their results notified in a separate letter sent earlier this year.
Parents are welcome to attend school with their children to collect results.
Commencement of the New School Year
To ensure that students experience a settled focused, calm and organised start to the new school year, and in particular those students joining us as new students in both years 7 and 12, we utilise a staggered start. The relevant days and dates are outlines below:
• Monday 2nd September – Inset Day – Staff Only
• Tuesday 3rd September – Year 7 and Year 12 only plus those Year 13 who still may need to confirm their timetables (8.40am – 3.00pm)
• Wednesday 4th September – All Year groups (7-13, 8.40am – 3.00pm)
• Thursday 5th September – All Year groups (7-13, 8.40am – 3.00pm)
• Friday 6th September – All Year groups (7-13, 8.40am – 3.00pm)
Irrespective of the starting day and date, all students will need to be in full school uniform, fully prepared /equipped and at school for 8.30am. Each school day will finish at 3.00pm.
To accommodate Year 7, students will follow a slightly different timetable for the first week. This will allow for a variety of basic assessments to be undertaken and for a staggered lunch across the first week in particular thereby allowing our new students to become acquainted with our menu, timings, lunch queuing arrangements and the general organisation surrounding lunchtime. Parents/Carers may pay for lunches ahead of time or equip children with money daily, details of which were included in your original induction pack. All new starters in Years 7 and 12 will be registered on our Biometric System, students will be shown how to utilise the paying in machines and Year 7 in particular will be offered toast and a drink on their first morning only.
Period 6 – Those parents/carers who have previously had a child in Year 11 will be aware that we have run what we refer to as Period 6. Essentially this require students in Year 11 to remain after school from 3.00pm – 4.00pm to attend additional lessons designed to support their GCSE studies. In response to parental/carer, student and staff opinion and advice we reflected upon the previous organisation, use of and the overall effectiveness of Period 6. Consequently we decided to amend our use of Period 6. Year 11 will have two series of Mock Examinations during the coming academic year. Each series of mock examinations will be followed by a set number of Period 6 intervention sessions. Students required to attend will be selected using data collected following each round of mock exams. Sessions will be sharp, focussed tutorial based lessons concentrating on those areas regarding further intervention and support as highlighted by staff following marking, standardisation and moderation of student’s mock papers. It is essential that we have parental/carer support in ensuring that those year 11 students’ required to attend each timetable session.
Year 11 Period 6 Round 1 – Beginning Monday 16th September Concluding Thursday 25th September
Year 11 Period 6 Round 2 – Beginning Monday 4th November Concluding Thursday 13th November (Prep for Mock 1)
Year 11 Mock 1 – Beginning Monday 18th November Concluding Friday 29th November Year 11 Period 6 – Beginning Monday 6th January 2020 Concluding Wednesday 15th January
Year 11 Mock 2 – Beginning Monday 3rd February Concluding Wednesday 12th February
Year 11 Period 6 – Beginning Monday 23rd March Concluding Wednesday 1st April (Final GCSE prep)
Year 11 Period 6 – Beginning Monday 20th April Concluding Wednesday 21st May
Year 10 Mock Exams – Beginning Monday 10th March Concluding Friday 20th March
Year 10 Period 6 – Beginning Monday 1st June Concluding Wednesday 1st July (Gap filling post Year 10 mock exams)
Year 12 Bridging Tests – Beginning Monday 23rd September 2019 Concluding Friday 21st September (Progress tests)
Year 12 Mock Exams – Beginning Monday 2nd March 2020 Concluding Friday 6th March
Year 13 Mock Exams – Beginning Monday 9th December 2019 Concluding Friday 13th December
By working together in collaboration, we can create a positive and encouraging school environment where our students can thrive and achieve their potential. Period 6 sessions for both Year 12 and 13 will commence as is required and deemed necessary by the SLT, Sixth Form teaching staff and Pastoral Team. Again Parents/Carers will be duly notified In addition, you can access information about school on our school website as follows: www.st-thomasmore.walsall.sch.uk.
You can also find suggestions and ideas for keeping your child occupied during our summer holidays by accessing the following website: www.dayoutwiththekids.co.uk.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank you for your support and encouragement and wish you all the best for the summer. I hope you, like ourselves have a good rest and enjoy your time with your family. I look forward to seeing you and our students in September refreshed and ready to start the new school year with enthusiasm and determination.
School Reception Opening Hours
Please note with effect from 3rd September 2019, Main office and Reception hours will be:
Monday – Thursday: 8.00am to 4.00pm
Friday: 8:00am to 3:30pm
Mrs S M Bowen