Headteacher’s Blog – September 2016
Dear Parents and Students
Bryony Freestone, Former student. A tribute
It is with great sadness that I report the tragic death of former Wollaston School student, Bryony Freestone. Bryony left the school in the summer of 2015 after completing her A-Levels. She died this summer in Thailand where she had been holidaying, following a month spent in Cambodia taking part in a conservation project she organised with her university.
Her passion was conservation and, despite her youth, she had already visited Kenya to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, raising money to fund efforts to stop elephant poaching as well as leading the organisation of a conservation project to Cambodia with the University of Exeter.
As a community we remember Bryony as a vibrant, passionate, caring fun-loving young woman and we are currently in discussion with her family about how we can best provide a fitting memorial to Bryony.
Start of Term
First of all, I hope that you have all had a relaxing summer break. May I wish all students a very warm welcome back to School.
I would like to extend an especially warm welcome to new students who have joined us from other schools and to Year 7 students who are starting secondary school for the first time. I’m very pleased with the way Year 7 students have settled in and as you can see from the photo below, the Year 7’s have taken quickly to life at Wollaston.
At the end of last year we appointed several new teachers and support staff to join the school on September 1st. I am delighted with the staff that we have recruited and we are fully staffed with specialist teachers for September. I would like to extend a warm welcome to them on behalf of students and parents.
Rebecca Lamberton – English
Jessica Woodcock – English
Jessica Sturman-Coombs – English
Sam Braham-Nicoll – Maths
Lydia Pickwick – Psychology and Sociology
Megan Sutton – History
Amelia Chalmers – Art and Design
Naomi Hawkins – Head of Art
Lisa Cunningham – Social Sciences
Clare Portsmouth. -Learning Support Assistant
David Ogden – Learning Support Assistant
Sophie Jefferies – Learning Support Assistant
Alison Barron – Learning Support Assistant / Personal Carer
In my last newsletter of last year, I informed you of the resignation of our former Chair of Governors, Sam Hadley. I am pleased to announce that Mr Paul Dudley-Smith, former Vice-Chair of Governors, has stepped up to take the role of Chair of Governors going forwards and I look forward to working with Paul and other governors to take the School forwards this year.
I am pleased to report to parents that our GCSE outcomes have been very positive overall and show an increase on last year, in terms of the proportion of students gaining five or more passes at GCSE, including English and maths and also in terms of the measure of students’ progress from the start of year 7 to the end of year 11, which has become the main focus for the Department for Education in measuring the achievements of all students in all subjects.
I would like to congratulate all of our students on their outcomes and thank all of the staff who supported our students throughout the year, in achieving these pleasing results. I’m delighted to see a record number of students returning to school to start Year 12 courses and I also pass on our best wishes to those students embarking on college courses, apprenticeships or employment.
I am equally pleased to report very good outcomes for A levels / Btec results again this year.The most notable improvement at A-level was the increase in the proportion of students who achieved A*-A grades, which rose from 19% in 2015 to 28% in 2016. Over a quarter of grades were A*-A and over half were A*-B.
For student following vocational (BTEC) courses, the results were outstanding once again. Out a total of 67 entries, 41 [61.2%] were starred Distinctions [equivalent value of A* at A level]
About 70 students have now gone on to a range of universities across the country, ranging from medicine to mechanical engineering and we wish them all well for the future.
Building work over summer
Over the summer holiday break, we had an extensive programme of building improvements taking place in school. I am pleased to announce the following improvements to the school. Our Art and Design Faculty area has been completely repainted and re-carpeted. Our Humanities Faculty has also been redecorated and the old flooring replaced. We have created a new additional classroom for the English faculty.
The biggest project is the redevelopment of our library into a new resources centre, which is well underway, but this is a 12 week project and so it is likely that we will open this exciting new facility for students at October half term. This will provide opportunities for the use of new technology developments and provide additional space for sixth form students, which have grown by about 70 students in the last two years and we also plan to remodel the library workspace to incorporate an additional large presentation space, capable of accommodating 150 students.
Duke of Edinburgh Award
I’m pleased to announce the parents that we are keen to resurrect the Duke of Edinburgh Award in school and have secured some additional staffing to be able to put this in place. We will shortly be rolling out the opportunity for Year 9 students and above to take on the Bronze Award and for those students who have already achieved Bronze Award earlier in their careers, we are planning to offer the Gold Award for older students. I will update parents and students and developments a little later in the term.
School Car Park
I would like to take this opportunity to confirm arrangements for those parents who are picking up or dropping off students at the beginning or end of the school day. Between 8.30am and 8.55am at the start of the school day and 2.40pm to 3.15pm cars should not come onto the car park because at this time the car park is extremely busy with school buses and the flow of additional vehicles is dangerous.
Parents who wish to pick up or drop off students are politely requested to drop off a little further along Irchester Road or around the corner from school at Hookham’s Path, where there is a much lower flow of traffic.
I would also ask parents to drive extremely slowly and with great care at all times, in order to avoid the potential for an accident.
Student arrival and departure times at the start and end of the school day
I would like to clarify the situation for student arrival and departure from school. Students who travel on the public Wellingborough bus arrive at school at approximately 8.00am and there is provision for these students to be looked after in the Cucina dining area. Other students should not arrive until after 8.30am as there are no staff on duty and students wandering the buildings uaccompanied present a health and safety risk.
At the end of school, students who are staying on for clubs sports fixtures or other activities will be registered by staff and are accounted for on-site. Other students are asked to leave the premises to go home.
Regrettably, school cannot provide free childcare for parents who have work commitments at either end of the day.
Thank you for a donation of iPads
I would like to publicly thank Mr Terry Rose of Parkway Volkswagen, Northampton for the kind donation of six iPads to our Performing Arts Faculty. Our performing arts teachers will be putting this technology to excellent use in the coming term.
If there are any other parents with business associates who are interested in donating any resources to the school, large or small, we will be delighted to hear from you. Please register your details on the ‘Friends of Wollaston School’ contact form.
Joe Cowell – Headteacher