Friday 30th September 2016
Although we have been conscious that parents will be far more focussed on the school than the academy trust that sits behind it, you may be interested to hear that the Lighthouse Schools Partnership held its launch event this week with a joint staff meeting for colleagues from across our six schools. We have already been sending our KS3 leads into the primary schools to learn from the expertise of our colleagues there and together we are building our capacity in training, curriculum and supporting vulnerable pupils. I am truly excited about the opportunities that collaboration offers to our staff and, by extension, to their pupils. This was the right decision at the right time and I know that it has placed Gordano in a good position to face the future with confidence.
Unfortunately, some of the prospects in the future do not seem so appealing. I went to see our MP, Liam Fox, on the Friday before last to ‘bend his ear’ about the threat that academic selection presents to this school and our ethic of excellence for all our pupils. Dr Fox is obviously in a difficult position as a Cabinet Minister but he was himself educated at a comprehensive in Scotland and holds a very high opinion of Gordano and our neighbours. A return to Secondary Moderns and Grammar Schools would completely change this school, and in my view, that would be a tragedy. Although we might wish to retain the ethos of fully inclusive education here, we are close to Bristol and would immediately be affected by a return to selection. The government is currently consulting on their proposal. You may wish to write to Dr Fox, email him or seek a surgery appointment with him if, like me, you are aghast at this proposal.
On a brighter note, we saw our value-added data for last academic year this week. It will be published in league tables later in the term. We had been pleased with our GCSE outcomes which indicated that 79% had achieved the ‘basics measure’ of Cs and above in English and Mathematics. Of course that figure is only one slice through the GCSE grades and a much better guide to performance is given by the new, and very complex, statistical measure which is called Progress 8. I will not attempt to explain the Byzantine methodology behind Progress 8 but suffice to say that our figure is 0.3, which indicates that on average pupils at Gordano made about a third of a grade more progress in each of their subjects than the national average. This is a very positive outcome and reflects well on the work ethic of our pupils and the quality of education that my colleagues are delivering for them.
Lastly, some parents may be receiving some communications from us about uniform. We have seen a number of our girls switching to inappropriately short or tight skirts and that is not acceptable. I know that I can count on the backing of parents in maintaining the high standard of personal appearance that we all expect from Gordano pupils.