As the end of this first half-term approaches, I am writing to thank you for your ongoing support during what has been a busy yet very productive time at school.
Our new Year 7 pupils have settled incredibly well into life at St Mary’s and they are already making a great contribution to our school community both in and outside of the classroom. I am encouraged by what I have seen from them so far and they clearly have a lot of potential that we will look to develop.
I am pleased to report that our recent Open Evening attracted in excess of 500 visitors to St Mary’s and our pupils signed up in great numbers to showcase their school for Year 5 and 6 children and their parents. There was a lovely atmosphere around the school as pupils from Years 7 and 8 helped their teachers in our various departments and those in Years 9, 10 and 11 volunteered to be guides on the evening. I enjoyed having the opportunity to speak to so many visitors about what we may be able to offer them and their children, but it was our pupils who were the best advocates for St Mary’s. I received a great deal of complimentary feedback about how helpful, polite and courteous they were but also how proud they seemed of their school which is incredibly important to me.
Year 11 have had an intense start to the term as inevitably the volume of work for their GCSEs has increased. They are currently coping and acquitting themselves very well and complementing their timetabled lessons by attending after-school revision and study skills sessions. We are very aware of needing to support our pupils in Year 11 through this challenging period and we are doing everything we can to prepare them properly without adding any unnecessary pressure. Their mock exams before Christmas will be the first real indicator of how things are going but they have made an impressive start and I am sure they will continue to make good progress.
All other year groups have been working well and I have very much enjoyed visiting their lessons and discussing their work with them.
After the half-term break we will be trialling a new approach to marking and assessment at KS3, with a view to improving the consistency and effectiveness of the feedback your children receive about their work. It is a very simple method of marking based largely on identifying ‘next steps’ and targets that the pupils can work towards. As is the case with any new approach, we will need to monitor its use and impact carefully, but I am confident that it can provide improved guidance and challenge for our pupils in the lower years. Obviously, marking and feedback at KS4 tends to be determined by GCSE assessment criteria.
Attendance in all year groups has been excellent so far and something that we wish to maintain throughout the rest of the year. Your commitment to and support with attendance is much appreciated, and it undoubtedly has a positive effect on pupils’ achievement.
Outside of the classroom we have enjoyed considerable success in various sports across all year groups and I have enjoyed watching your sons and daughters competing in the fixtures we’ve hosted here at St Mary’s.
Next half-term promises to be equally full of activity and we are very much looking forward to working with your children in order that they continue to make progress and enjoy their time at St Mary’s.
I hope you have a restful break.