From the Headmaster - 9 October 2020
Posted by MM - Friday 9 October 2020
As we end another busy week, I very much look forward to sharing our Virtual Speech Day celebrations with the entire School community tonight at 7.30pm on our YouTube Channel: https://youtu.be/v1otkDG0KWY
Speech Day is usually one of the School’s key occasions, and whilst we do not have the usual array of awards, recognising our students’ achievements and reminding ourselves of the strength of our school community is particularly important at this challenging time. Our guest speaker this year is Tom Plant, a former pupil who is now Director of Proliferation and Nuclear Policy for the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies in Whitehall – the world's oldest independent think tank on international defence and security.
First Order Grades
As you will be aware, the learning focus in September and early October has been built around formative assessment which has allowed teachers to address gaps in students’ knowledge and understanding so that they are able to plan lessons to revisit key ideas, concepts and skills. Teachers will have used results from class assessments, homework and students’ responses in lessons to inform first Order grades. We are pleased to report that teachers’ and students’ hard work and commitment during the school closure period has paid off and the overwhelming majority of students are on track and making expected progress. However, we are never complacent and we endeavour to support our students as much as possible to improve their attainment. We have planned for interventions, particularly for those students in Year 11 and Year 13 who we anticipate will be sitting public examinations this summer and we will communicate details shortly. In the meantime, if you have any concerns, please email you son or daughter’s Head of Year.
A reminder that all students are expected to be in uniform in school. The only exceptions are days when they have Games or when they are taking part in authorised field work which has been organised by their teachers (at the moment, this type of activity is taking place on the school site). Students may wear coats over their blazers and v necked plain grey, navy or black jumpers are permitted. However, hoodies should not be worn underneath blazers and round-necked sweaters are not permitted. Full details of the School’s uniform policy may be found here.
You may be aware that Key Stage management staff have shown some considerable leniency regarding the use of mobile phones in school. We amended our policy at the start of the term to allow Key Stage 3 pupils to use their mobile phone until 08.15am and then from the time when they leave their last period of the day. i.e. waiting for the bus or under the direct supervision of a member of staff for a learning activity. Key Stage 4 pupils may use their mobile phone until their form tutor arrives for morning registration and then at lunchtime, or under the direct supervision of a member of staff for a learning activity. For the avoidance of doubt, pupils in Key Stage 3 and 4 should not use their mobile phone when moving around the school site nor at break time.
In Key Stage 5, students may use their mobile phone during study periods to support their work, or under the direct supervision of a member of staff in lessons and at break and lunchtimes in designated areas. They too should not use their mobile phone when moving around the school site. We will review this policy regularly. I am concerned that a little too much time is spent on electronic devices when instead pupils could be chatting, reading, reviewing their work and such like.
It has been good to see Year 8 so enthusiastically throwing themselves into their studies and Games this week. Their good humour, tenacity and resilience has certainly not been affected by their disrupted Year 7, and they have proved to be excellent role models for our new Year 7 pupils. Do take a look at our social media channels for some of highlights from Year 8 this week.
Your son or daughter may have told you we had an unexpected fire alarm at the School on Wednesday. Fortunately, the alarm was not prompted by any serious issue, but the unplanned drill proved to be a useful exercise. We are used to practising an evacuation in normal circumstances, however the need to keep year groups in their separate bubbles brought an extra element of pressure to proceedings. Students walked to their muster points calmly and in a mature and sensible manner, and I am pleased to report we were able to return to the School buildings within 20 minutes, and with no major disruption to our lunchtime routines. Well done all.
The words of the Tommy Psalm which will be played tonight as is tradition at our Speech Day celebrations:
“Sixteen thousand pounds of what God gave
He did lend back again
Though having issue of our blood
Did not poor heirs disdain
Whene’er we come, our gratitude
Shall there make it appear
Who ‘twas as first did nourish us
And who doth feed us here”
for me resonate with today’s troubled times. In 1666 our founder, Sir Thomas Rich, bequeathed a large sum in his will to establish a school for poor boys in Gloucester, despite having heirs to whom he could have left his entire fortune. It would be easy to adopt a bunker mentality and focus on looking after “me and mine” alone, but we are stronger collectively. As responsible members of society, as a school community and as Richians we will continue to consider the well-being and safety of others as well as ourselves, and to work through this strange and challenging period of history together.
I do hope you will join us tonight.
With best wishes for the weekend