From the Headmaster - November 2017
I hope you all enjoyed a restful half-term break. As we embark on the busy and important weeks' teaching leading to Christmas, I would like to bring a number of issues and events to your attention. We continue to take our responsibility for pupils' mental health and well-being very seriously, and it is with this in mind that I would like to raise some important issues for your consideration in this email.
Firstly, I would like to invite you to an event designed to heighten awareness of the effects of ever-increasing social media usage by young people.
A recent survey conducted by 5,000 students at independent and state schools by the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference and Digital Awareness UK, revealed that young people are concerned about the current state of social media, with almost two-thirds (63%) saying they wouldn't mind if it had never been invented.
Respondents highlighted the emotional impact social media is having on their wellbeing with 57% stating they've received abusive comments online; 56% feeling they are on the edge of addiction; and 52% saying social media makes them feel less confident about how they look or how interesting their life is. I am sure most of us will not be surprised by these findings. However, it is clear that social media is here to stay, and that we must continue to work together to help young people in our care make sensible and informed choices in the complex world around them. With this in mind, I would like to encourage you to attend our information evening for parents on Tuesday, 28 November 2017, where the following topics will be discussed:
- The impact of Social Media on the developing brain
- How children are using Social Media
- How to protect children and create a safer Social Media experience
The guest speakers for the evening will be Caroline Kelly, a school counsellor, and Madeline Stanimeros, a parenting consultant, from “You're not on the Back Foot!" The evening is FREE and will take place in the School Hall from 7.00 -8.45pm. You do not have to confirm your attendance. The talk has received some excellent feedback from other schools who have hosted the evening and we would be delighted if you could join us to discuss this important topic.
You may have seen in the local press the headline that “More Swindon boys than city lads started at Gloucester grammar school in September". Whilst we are committed to preserving our status as an outstanding Grammar School serving children and families from Gloucester City, Gloucestershire and beyond, I thought parents might be interested to know that 43% of our pupils are from Gloucester and its immediate environs (GL1-4), and 6% are from Swindon postcode areas. There are year-on-year variations, but there has been little discernible change in this ratio over the medium to long term.
We currently have a programme to encourage applications to sit the test from primary schools in Gloucestershire which serve communities with higher than average levels of deprivation. If you wish to find out more please contact Rhys Davies who is overseeing this initiative. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Consultation on Pupil Admission Number (PAN) increase to 150
As I'm sure you are aware, we aim to develop self-discipline, a thirst for learning, enquiring and creative minds and an appreciation of our heritage in our students. We believe this is best achieved where there is a broad and balanced curriculum, where scholarship is fostered and where students are able to take part in a wide range of extra-curricular opportunities. We believe that we will be best placed to maintain our current ethos if we increase the number of pupils we admit in Year 7 to 150. I hope that the information provided in the recent letter makes clear the reasons for our proposal. If you would like to submit responses to the consultation or make any comments or observations, please do so in writing to Ms. Sue Bain, Clerk to the Governors, Sir Thomas Rich's School, Oakleaze, Gloucester GL2 0LF by 20 December 2017. All comments will be considered by the Governing Body in January 2018. If you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact the School. Please access the letter by clicking here: Consultation Letter
Internal and Trial Examinations
Our Year 12 pupils have just completed a week of important internal examinations and Year 11 begin their GCSE Trial examinations on 14th November. As always, I expect pupils to regard the exams as crucial indications of current attainment. However, the lessons immediately after exams where teachers give feedback on performance are the most important part of the process, as this is the opportunity for pupils to reflect on progress in order to set targets for improvement. By Christmas, pupils will have completed almost half of the year's work so it is vitally important that momentum is sustained throughout the forthcoming weeks.
Finally, a reminder that the Parents' Association Annual General Meeting takes place this Tuesday at 7.30pm in the staff room and there is a Chamber concert on Thursday evening in the Drama Studio. I look forward to seeing some of you at these events.