8th March 2013
Last Thursday we said goodbye to the last visitors from our Comenius exchange and we can reflect back on what was an amazingly successful experience for Gordano School. I am very proud that in a time when foreign language exchanges have become something of a rarity in British schools, 43 young people from Gordano were confident enough to welcome students from Spain, France and Germany into their homes and to engage in all the challenges of an exchange programme. I know from the emails we have had from parents, and the delight expressed by our exchange partners, what a tremendous success the Comenius visits were and I must express my thanks to Julie Zinkant from the Administration team who leads so many of our international activities, and to Chris Pugh our Head of Modern Languages and his team. I am also extremely grateful to the families for throwing themselves so wholeheartedly into what was a very intense programme. I am looking forward to the next ‘rotation’ of the Comenius project and I hope to visit our partner school near Stuttgart, for a few days at least, during the September rotation.
Another traditional part of school life that I have been very pleased to see flourish is the participation in debating which in North Somerset is very much assisted by Liam Fox’s Debating Competition. I very much enjoyed hearing the debate on the Nuclear Power Industry in our Sixth Form Lecture Theatre at Gordano two weeks ago. The final of the competition is at Chew Valley School later this month when Livi Pointon and Emily Wall will be representing Gordano and we wish them every success.
Also carrying our school’s colours will be Olivia Withers from Year 12 who has won through to the final of the North Somerset Concerto Competition. Olivia will be playing Cimaro’s Concerto for 2 Flutes with the North Somerset Youth Orchestra at All Saints Church in Weston Super Mare on Saturday, 16th March. This is the second year a Gordanian has fronted the Concerto Competition and I am sure that we will enjoy Olivia’s performance every bit as much as we did Rachel Hinchliffe’s playing of the Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto last year.
There is by necessity a significant amount of building work going on in the school site at the moment. It is obviously undesirable to have our normal routine in school interrupted in this way during the school year but having obtained funds from the Academies Capital Maintenance Fund we have the condition that they have to be spent by the end of the Government’s financial year at the end of March. Improving our buildings is a major priority for me and I am taking every opportunity to have these improvements made and paid for by the Education Funding Agency. I am looking forward to seeing the transformation that will have been effected in the main block south by the complete replacement of windows and the remodelling of the Student Services Centre.
It is an occupational hazard for teachers to count their way through the year measuring the number of weeks and days until the exam season starts and we are very focussed at the present time on the needs of Year 11 students and Sixth Formers as their exam season in May and June bears down upon us. Year 11 have had the first of their Learning to Learn sessions and I have been pleased to see the engagement and focus of the great majority of the year group with revision and controlled assessments. If you are a Year 11 or Sixth Form parent I hope that by now you have seen evidence of the pattern of steady revision developing in your son or daughter’s use of their free time. I shall be writing separately to Year 11 parents with some suggestions for how we can work together to support young people in good habits of revision leading up to and through the Easter holidays. If you would like any personal advice on this or have concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your son or daughter’s Tutor or House Learning Manager who will be delighted to offer their help and advice.
You will see elsewhere in this newsletter that our students are continuing to achieve success personally and for the school in a range of sporting activities. I am especially proud that a number of our students have won County colours at Cross Country and Cecilie Anderson, Miles Chandler, David Warnes, Ben Cureton and Sam Dangerfield will be representing Avon at the English Schools Cross Country Championships in Derbyshire on 16th March. They take our best wishes with them into that competition.
In Year 9 Immy Chan has already competed at national level in gymnastics and came 5th overall in her age group obtaining gold on beam and bronze for floor in the English Junior Championships last weekend. She is always so modest about her achievements but I know the whole school community will share my pride in what she has done.
As a parting shot I would like to return to an issue that I mentioned in my last blog. We have been running assemblies on safe online behaviour and emphasising the necessity to set privacy settings on Facebook and other social media. I would encourage parents to take an interest in their children’s online behaviour. A number of issues have been referred to us in recent weeks and in almost all cases our students’ Facebook pages have been wide open. Support for our parents in reinforcing the message of safe behaviour would be really welcome. The BBC’s Webwise page has lots of good advice and you will also find this link on the school’s website. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/webwise/topics/safety-and-privacy/online-safety-for-parents)