14th September 2011
We have had a great start to term. Not only are we enjoying the satisfaction of good results again but I am very struck by just how good relationships are in the school. We are in the very fortunate position of having students who in almost all cases positively enjoy school and staff who love working with young people. Of course that is not really good luck at all but reflects the huge amount of work and effort that goes into making our curriculum exciting and and in building positive attitudes.
One aspect of results that I omitted to mention in the last blog was the success of our early entry GCSE courses in Year 10. I was quite rightly chided by one parent for this and I am sorry if anyone felt excluded from the celebration. Year 10 results were tremendously successful and I congratulate the many students who had module results or, in many cases, whole GCSE grades. It was good to see top sets in English and Maths achieving just as highly as their counterparts in Year 11 despite having taken their exams a year earlier.
New and improved buildings are undoubtedly also part of the 'feelgood factor'. The new English block is providing bright, spacious and modern teaching accommodation for our highly successful English department. We have six new classrooms and two new IT rooms and it is very good to see students enjoying really excellent facilities. We have also seen students move into the refurbished buildings where English had previously been. These have now been reconfigured for Social Sciences and Portland House and the Science Faculty have expanded into the old Portland House area. We have also seen redecoration in many areas and new windows in the Humanities Building. When we went through the process of Academy conversion I promised that we would manage our resources to improve the built environment in the school and I am delighted that we are already planning the next phases of work for half-term and 2012. We will also have the new sixth form building to look forward to. The plans are currently with North Somerset Council planners and I hope to have more news on that soon.
I wrote to all parents about school uniform in July and followed that letter up with a further contact in a few cases last week. We have put a high priority on uniform in the first few weeks of term to set the standard for the year. Getting this right now is one of the things that helps us maintain really positive relationships with our students as they dislike being nagged about uniform just as much as we dislike the distraction from our educational purpose that it causes. The main area of concern is girls' skirts and we are not being helped by the supermarkets promoting lycra items which are both tight and short and are far from appropriate for school. We ask for a black, knee-length skirt which is not made of stretchy lycra fabric and I am grateful that in almost all cases parents have been able to source appropriate items. We are considering how we can be absolutely clear on our expectations on this to minimise inconvenience to you and the uniform guidelines will be reissued later in the year.
The one other issue that I would like to raise this week is the introduction of new unisex toilets in several areas in school. The new English block, Portland and Year 7 area have had these facilities installed. The great advantage is that these toilets eliminate the 'out of sight' area by the basins where students can avoid being seen. I know that many students have been anxious about using the loos in school for this reason. The cubicles have floor to ceiling doors and all have sanitary bins. The House Councils are monitoring the success of these new toilets and we will make changes if necessary. Nailsea and Clevedon Schools made this change some years ago with great success so I hope that they will contribute to a more pleasant environment at Gordano too.