9 January 2015
Dear Parents and Carers
Happy New Year!
This is just a letter to ensure you are fully up to date with developments.
Internal Linear Exams (ILEs): As many of you will be aware the changes to the exam regulations, as established by central government, mean that as a school we need to take a different approach to examinations. We are, as always, looking to offer the best possible educational experience for all of our children. I set out below the time for our ILEs, this coming term. These are important examinations which we will prepare the children properly. All children will be expected to participate fully and they will be conducted with the same rigour as external exams. Can I ask you to note the date for your diaries and please support your child as they prepare for these examinations?
Lawton Lane: Our first priority is always pupil safety. For this reason we do not allow cars to access the front of the school building at the start and the end of the school day. Should you believe that you need to access the building at those times (eg, for medical reasons), please apply in writing to the Headteacher and I will issue a pass. All other cars will be prevented from driving up Lawton Lane at the start and end of the school day.
As you will be aware we are scheduled to have a new school building in the coming 18 months or so. The preparatory work for this has already started. In early spring you will see fencing off of the lower part of the site to allow for demolition of part of our building and the establishment of the foundations for the new build. As a consequence we will see increased traffic flow around the school.
We need the start and end of the day to be as smooth and safe as possible. Could I request that parents do not escort their children to the door? This can cause difficulties for the child and the school. Please find a way of developing their independence by allowing them to access school by themselves or with friends. And can I ask that parents park safely and legally on Moorgate (there have been parking fines issued by the authorities recently). Whatever the weather it is dangerous and illegal to park on double yellow lines and the zigzag lines by the crossing. If you need to pick your child up please arrange to meet them away from the immediate school area on Moorgate.
Uniform: We know that a strong uniform policy has a positive impact upon pupil performance. The uniform has sent a clear message to the wider community that our children want to look more professional. Consequently, we will continue to work hard to develop the unity of this learning community, ensure pupil security and promote equality. For all these reasons uniform is very important.
Every pupil is expected to wear our uniform; this includes the footwear, simple black shoes only please – no trainers, plimsolls or boots, no markings. School trousers - no leggings/skinny trousers or black jeans. Also, no hoods and no hats! Please note that a bag is an essential part of the school uniform. Please be reassured that this policy will be rigorously enforced: Oakwood is a full and correct uniform school. Any child not wearing the full school uniform will be offered a uniform to change into (even if they arrive with a note), and will be expected to wear that uniform; we do not want to have to send children home to change. All staff will check uniform at tutor time first thing on a morning and appropriate action will be taken, where necessary.
At this time of year I do get asked about coats and footwear. I would expect the children to wear a coat to and from school but that coat is to be removed once in the building.
I would, also expect all children to wear plain black school shoes. If we get exceptional weather then it would be reasonable for children to wear wellington boots or similar to and from school and have alternative footwear for inside the building. Tutors will support children in storing footwear for the duration of the day.
Electronic Equipment (including MP3 players and mobile phones): All at Oakwood High School recognise the value of today’s electronic equipment in terms of communication, security and education. However, the improper use of such equipment will not be tolerated by the school. There is to be no personal electronic equipment used during the school day on any part of the school site. Pupils must turn off and store in bags all mobile phones and MP3 players before entering the school site. The school accepts no responsibility for loss of, or damage to, any personal electronic equipment brought from home. Any pupil found to have ignored this request will have the equipment, including headphones, confiscated and passed to a senior member of staff and returned only to parents or carers.
Attendance and Punctuality: Can I re-take this opportunity to emphasise the importance of attendance? If there are any issues or questions about your child’s attendance or punctuality please do not hesitate to contact our attendance team on 01709 539811. You have our assurance that should we identify patterns of absence causing concern we will make immediate contact with you. As I state above; pupils are expected to be in the building by 8.30 am and in their tutor room by 8.40 am.
As I know many of you are aware, the local authority and Department for Education do not now distinguish between authorised and unauthorised absences. As in the past, parents and carers are advised that we will not authorise any holiday taken during term time. This means that if you choose to take your child on holiday, the absence will be recorded as unauthorised.
Homework: We have worked hard this year to develop our homework strategies. You will find on our website a homework framework for each year group and for every subject area. As parents you can check your child’s homework and support them as they work through that homework.
This framework is designed to promote deeper learning; however, it may well be that teachers set additional homework in place of, or on top of, this framework. In these cases homework with be recorded on your child’s iPad, in the diary. It will continue to be important for parents and carers to take an interest in their child’s school work. More and more homework will be Independent Study, with specific deadlines. Your support is critical to your child’s success.
Break/Lunch Times and Healthy Eating: At lunchtimes we will continue to offer the very popular active playgrounds scheme: ‘Fit2Learn’. We know that pupils learn better when they stay on site at all break / lunch times, and when they eat using the school facilities. As ever all pupils are expected to stay on site at break/lunch times. Pupils will continue to use the cashless system (money can be put onto the card via ParentPay, please contact the finance office for more details) or pay in cash on a daily basis. Children eligible for free school meals will still be able to access our snacks and meals as previously. I urge you, if you are eligible, to apply for free school meals.
Communication: We will continue to communicate using technology, as much as is practically possible. We will develop further our capacity to communicate via email, text message and the website www.oakwood.ac. Unless you specifically ask for a letter to be posted home, we will communicate electronically. We hope to continue to reduce our carbon footprint and see this as a key way of doing that. You will have been asked by your child’s tutor to confirm an appropriate email address for this purpose.
A good way to stay in touch with what is going on is to join the PTA. The PTA host a coffee morning the last day of each half term (9.30-10.30am); we call it Parent View. Information and contact details are on the school’s website.
And finally: Can I just remind all that the pupils break for the February half term at 3.10 on Thursday 12th February (Friday 13th February is a staff INSET day). We all return to school for 8.30am on Monday 23rd February.
Thank you for your continued support.