From the Headmaster - January 2017
Term is now well underway, and I would like to wish you all a belated happy new year. I hope the holiday was enjoyed by all, and provided a good opportunity for rest and recharging batteries. There are a number of important pieces of information to convey in this first email of 2017, so it will out of necessity be longer than usual. I would like to start with an issue which I know is an important cause of concern for both staff and parents.
We know that our young people live in a world dominated by social media and we have to accept that this is not going to change. In fact, social media is going to continue to evolve into ever more sophisticated and alluring forms. This is a plea that parents help to safeguard their children's safety and academic progress by undertaking some control measures at home. These could include:
- Insisting that children leave devices outside their bedrooms after a certain time at night to encourage a good night's sleep – we know that many spend far too long on social media at night and that this interrupts good sleeping habits;
- Insisting that homework is done without the distraction of phones and ipads – they need to be helped to maintain focus and concentration;
- Encouraging children to complete homework in a space where they can be monitored, rather than being shut away in a bedroom.
Obviously it is up to individual parents to decide what is best for their children and this will vary according to age. Also, I am aware that homework sometimes demands use of the internet! Nevertheless, I have received an email from one parent who had put some control measures in place which offered food for thought:
What I didn't realise until recently is just how much of a distraction the phone is during homework… the thing didn't stop pinging/ringing/buzzing etc! I realised then that the quality of homework is always going to be compromised because the lure of the 'phone is too great for teenagers to ignore.
National Fairer Funding Update
The second phase of the national consultation on school funding was launched by the government in December and there are major implications for Gloucestershire schools and academies. The consultation is available at https://consult.education.gov.uk/funding-policyunit/schools-national-funding-formula2/.
The consultation confirms the government's intention to introduce a National Funding Formula (NFF) for schools from 2018/19. The NFF produces a 0.6% increase in funding for Gloucestershire, but most unfortunately, the impact of the proposed formula is a 1.4 % decrease in our School's funding. Nationally, 60 grammar schools gain and 103 lose, with 62 losing the maximum 2.9%. This means the formula would result in them losing even more if it wasn't for the funding floor and many of these are amongst the lowest funded secondary schools in the country.
We will continue to do all we can to ensure that the quality of our provision for pupils remains high, and of course we are enormously grateful to parents who make considerable financial contributions which help to support the high standards of teaching and extracurricular activities throughout the school. We are already working hard to try to persuade the Department of Education to have a slight rethink. I am very happy to talk in more detail about the consultation and its implications on our School to any parent who is interested.
School Nursing Team Survey
We have been asked to publicise a survey produced by the Gloucestershire School Nursing Teams. The aim of the survey is to ask young people in Gloucestershire Schools about what they would like from the service, and so help to shape its future developments. The survey is for all secondary year groups, including sixth forms. Please could I ask you to talk to your son or daughter about the survey and encourage them to complete it by 10 February 2017.
It can be found by following this link: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/SDQ6W6D
UCAS Offers for the Sixth Form and Oxbridge Success
Fourteen members of Year 13 attended Oxford or Cambridge interviews before the Christmas holiday, and we offer sincere congratulations to the following who have recently received offers of places:
- Sam Jones, St Anne's College, Oxford to read History
- Tim Edwards, Selwyn College, Cambridge to read Law
- Cameron Elliot, Churchill College Cambridge to read Engineering
- Joe Jollans, Jesus College, Cambridge to read Medicine
- Peter Methley, Selwyn College, Cambridge, to read Natural Sciences
- Vasthi Karshian (2014 Leaver), Corpus Christi, Cambridge, to read English
In addition, eleven of our Sixth Form have made applications for Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Medicine and we wish them well and any other students who will have interviews in the next few months. Nearly 200 applications to university through UCAS have been made, and we are delighted with the high number of offers our students are receiving from high calibre universities.
Winter Weather Procedures
In the light of more wintery conditions, I should like to remind all pupils and parents of the arrangements when the weather takes a turn for the worse. It is our policy not to close the School unless it is unsafe for us to remain open. This may include situations where very few staff can travel to School and it would be impossible for us to supervise students adequately. However, normally a number of pupils and staff, including me, can walk to School, whatever the situation, and therefore it seems right that they should have the option to come to School if they can. If a weather situation serious enough to threaten school opening hours arises, the message will appear on the school website, www.strs.org.uk so do please check the website first in the event of worsening conditions. We will also inform the Local Authority if we close, which publishes information on their website www.glosclosedschools.com. This news is also often reported on BBC Radio Gloucestershire (104.7 FM/1413 AM/Digital).
If the school buses operate in the morning, but the weather deteriorates during the day and the bus companies take the decision to send the afternoon buses to school early, we will ensure that the pupils who use those services are made aware of this and seen safely onto the buses. It is important that your son or daughter knows how to gain access to their home in this eventuality and I would be grateful if you could discuss this matter with them. When the School is closed during the course of the day, there will be plenty of staff on hand to supervise pupils until they have been collected or made arrangements with their parents about travelling home. It would be most helpful for your son or daughter to have a telephone number on which we can contact you on such a day if you are not at your usual contact point. Pupils should not leave the school site without an agreed plan of action with their parents about how they should travel home.