8th February 2013
The weather has been having an impact on our experience in this school in recent weeks. We obviously had a snow closure some weeks ago. That was also the moment that one of our antiquated heating pipes, which serves the Social Sciences and Modern Languages blocks decided to pack up. Since then we have had to use electric heaters and have now installed a generator on site to increase our capacity. It looks as if the pipes are beyond economic repair but at least we have warm classrooms while we install a new heating system.
I am afraid that these site problems are part of our context at Gordano. Academy status has given us the chance to directly make our case for the redevelopment of our site to the Education Funding Agency and I have spoken to our MP, Liam Fox, who will lend us his full support. In times of low investment it would take a true optimist to hope that we will obtain a radical rebuild in the near future. We have nevertheless brought in millions of pounds of investments into the school in recent years and I currently have bids in with the Funding Agency for re-roofing of Arts and Science and for improvements to sports accommodation. I am doing everything that I can to improve the quality of the learning environment for the young people in the school.
I must thank parents for the very strong support that we had in tightening up uniform last week. We are currently reviewing our uniform guidance and hope to issue even clearer expectations to allow us all to give a consistent message to young people about how they should present themselves at school.
We are continuing to develop the school’s ICT systems and many families will already be using the Learning Gateway to check for homework tasks and access study materials. Our new homework viewer is now enabled and should have information on homework currently set.
Quite a few of our staff underwent training last week as leaders in the Outstanding Teacher Programme. Gordano has a reputation locally for delivering excellent ‘school to school’ training. We strongly believe that we benefit by interacting with other schools and we have a responsibility to develop our own staff to be the best teachers that they can. We are not resting on our laurels after the Ofsted result last year and I hope that you will continue to be impressed by the quality of teaching in the school.
Last Friday’s INSET Day focussed on “The A* Challenge” and Literacy. You may have seen some critical comments from Sir Michael Wilshaw (HM Chief Inspector) of English schools’ provision for the most able students. We have a good track record at Gordano but are always eager to do more. This Friday coming we will be running an extension day for young people in the Potential programme and we have been encouraged by the recent success of four of our Sixth Formers in obtaining Oxbridge offers.
Once again, the school is supporting E-safety week. This is a subject which will be of great concern to all parents and we urge you to discuss the practical steps that your child can take to protect themselves whilst on line. This week students from Year 7 – Year 9 are having assemblies appropriate to their age group delivered by our Police Liaison team.
A particular focus is the issue of “non-contact abuse”, which some of us may simply call “bullying from a distance”. Year Nine students will be thinking about the use of Social Networking sites and how they can protect themselves. As a parent you may be interested in materials that have been produced by the BBC as part of their “Share Take Care” campaign (www.bbc.co.uk/webwise/0 ). Of particular note is the Share Take Care game. This game runs in conjunction with a FaceBook account and asks players to decide whether comments about them should be “liked” or “not liked”. This might lead to some interesting conversations between parents and teenagers!
Our good run in sports this year is continuing and the Warnes family have been at the front of the field. Lizzie Warne in Year 12 has qualified for the National Finals of the Schools’ Biathlon. She secured the fastest swim and fourth fastest run in the Semi-Finals. Her brother David, in Year 9, won the Avon Schools cross country race a few weeks ago and secured his third county championship in that event. We have had success in other sports too with the Girls netball team in Year 8 reaching the semi-finals of the County Championships, both U16 and U14 girls football teams are progressing through their rounds in the Somerset Cup and both boys and girls U14 badminton teams qualified for County finals, boys finishing in second place and girls winning and progressing to the SW finals in March.
It has been a shorter wait for half-term than the long run up to Christmas. Sixth Form and Year 11 students will be thinking of organising their revision timetables but I hope that everyone else enjoys family time and a welcome rest.