Headteacher Update

June 2021

Unfortunately, today we have had a positive covid test result for a child in Year 7 meaning that we have asked a further 28 children to self-isolate. The positive case resulted from a LFD home test on an asymptomatic child, which reinforces the need to follow the twice weekly testing regime so that we can limit as far as possible the virus getting into school and then transmitting. We have been fortunate compared to other local schools in that the number of children testing positive has been consistently low throughout the pandemic, but we must not be complacent and recognise that the risk is still very real due to the transmissibility of the Delta variant. More tests are being sent home today and thank you for your ongoing support with the testing programme.

Covid inevitably restricts the events we would normally be holding towards the end of term, but I am delighted that on the final Monday of term we will host our annual elite athlete programme and then on the Thursday we will have an activity day for all year groups, details of which will follow. It has been frustrating that we have had to limit so many opportunities this year, but we have done what we can and it is great to have had some speakers back into school this week as well as a creativity day for a group of students focusing on the Tynemouth Pool Campaign and students participating in the Duke of Edinburgh scheme. We have also had TICE, bike maintenance workshops and Geography fieldwork, so things are certainly getting back up and running, albeit in a restricted way!

In my last update I referred to the school’s new behaviour policy and that I would share elements of it prior to the end of term. The policy is designed to ensure that all students feel safe and that all students are able to learn so we have carefully reviewed our current practice to see whether this helps or hinders this aim. What quickly became apparent was that some of our systems (which have been around for many years) are at times over complicated and therefore not consistently applied, so the premise for the new policy was simplicity. We have put in place systems and procedures that are simple to understand and simple to apply.

For example, from September if a student disrupts the learning of others they will receive one warning, if they continue to disrupt learning this will be seen as defiant behaviour and the child will be referred to the Behaviour Centre. They will spend a full day in the Centre meaning that if they were referred during period 4 on Wednesday they would return to their lessons period 5 on Thursday. The time in the Centre will be spent completing work for the lessons they miss as well as time for reflection and restorative work. In the Centre the students will be expected to behave in line with our Behaviour Standards and will receive one warning if they fail to do so. If they continue to misbehave then they will receive a fixed term exclusion and spend the following day in the Centre.

Please do not think that these changes are a reaction to significant levels of poor behaviour in school because this is simply not the case. It is more the next stage of the school’s plans for development so that we can deliver an ambitious and inspiring curriculum thereby helping students to make even better progress. This type of approach has proven to be extremely successful in helping children modify their behaviour very quickly and we have no reason to suppose that will be different here. The whole policy is built around the idea of supporting students to get things right. The full policy can be found here.

One final update for September is that I have made the difficult decision to ban the use of mobile phones by students anywhere on the school site. This has been a very difficult decision and not one that I had wanted to make, but levels of social media misuse, fallings out and distraction from learning in lessons all mean that they have become a barrier to students learning and fully engaging with school. We spend countless hours picking up the pieces of what has happened on social media and would much prefer this time to be spent working more constructively with our students. The additional reason for this decision is that oracy and communication is at the core of our curriculum and the removal of mobile phones, meaning that students will spend more time talking to one another during their social times, can only be of benefit. Any phone seen in school will be confiscated and returned at the end of the day.

As ever thank you for your ongoing support and I hope that you have an enjoyable weekend even though it appears that we have now had our summer!

Best wishes

Jonathan