11 Jul

Headteacher's Summer Letter - July 2018

Dear Parents and Carers

We’ve had a fantastic start to the new academic year. Thank you all for your support for that. I know that parents and carers do like to be fully informed and so I write to you, as always at this time of year, to set out our plans for the summer and beyond. Please take time to read this letter carefully and if there is anything more you might need to know or clarify please do not hesitate to contact the relevant person at the school.

We end this year on a highly positive note. We have had another great school year, with so much achieved by many of our pupils. As we near the end of the school year we will take time to reflect on those achievements and there will be a number of rewards events in the last week of term; through assemblies and the Sports Award Evening (Thursday 19th July). Now that we’ve been in our new school building for two years it does feel much more like home and we continue to work to develop the building and the site. You will have seen those improvements over the year. We will continue to look at how we use the site and would always welcome comments from parents and carers as to what we might do better. As always our academic year ended in June and we have ‘launched’ into the new year with renewed vigour and energy. The ‘transition’ period is always full of activity, excitement and learning. Our pupils will be looking forward to September, already knowing their classes, classrooms and teachers. We know that the performance of many of our children in public and internal linear exams has been very strong and all children are clear of, and are living up to, our exceptionally high expectations. We will look to build upon those successes as we continue to strive for excellence – we want our children to be ‘Inspired to Achieve’.

Although much in this letter will be familiar to longstanding parents and carers there are some important messages that I ask are shared with your child. The nature of things is that this becomes quite a lengthy letter, but I know you appreciate being fully informed and it is critical that we all understand our collective aspirations for all associated with the school. If you need some help with a translation of this letter, please do not hesitate to contact us.
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Ak potrebujete pomoc s prekladom tohto listu, prosím kontaktujte nás na týchto telefónnych číslach: 01709 512222 alebo 01709 512226.

Examination Results and Standards: It is too early to comment upon the public examination results, but I will say how impressed I have been over the past few months. There have been some significant changes in the examination grading and curriculum across most subjects, following the changes to English and mathematics last year. The staff and their pupils have worked extremely hard to ensure each and every child meets his/her potential. Despite the significant changes and the school being unable to predict any results, in this context, I can say that the attitude towards those examinations has been first class.

Exam results day is Thursday 23rd August. Ex-Year 11 pupils can pick up their results from 10.00 am. Our new Year 11s (those who have sat their RS exam this summer) can pick their results up from 11.00 am. The pupils are to arrive at our adult reception and the results will be distributed from the dining room. On the day we will have a careers adviser available to support pupils.

Looking forward: As we continue to strive to be the very best it is important that I state that our core values have not changed. We place a strong emphasis on respect for all; concentrating on forging effective and supportive relationships with both pupils and adults. It is this focus on working together which underpins all that we do. We believe that Oakwood High School will provide every opportunity for all pupils to maximise their potential to achieve success; by pupils fully participating in exciting, innovative and enjoyable lessons, in a modern 21st century school building, with modern 21st century technologies. In doing so we are confident that our pupils can achieve the highest standards of academic performance. Every year we are committed to raising aspirations and the promotion of a caring pupil-centred learning community. Please encourage your child to engage in the many extra-curricular activities we offer.

With all that in mind, I take this opportunity to outline some key priorities for the coming year, all of which will be a reaffirmation of Oakwood’s core values.

Uniform: Please find enclosed a copy of the school’s uniform policy. Our uniform policy has not changed and I need to re-iterate that the blazer and tie is a mandatory item. Every pupil is expected to wear our uniform every day. Some key pointers would be; full length black school trousers for boys and girls and black skirts, worn modestly (no mini-skirts) for girls, all items must be plain black. Jeans, tracksuit type trousers, and leggings/jeggings are not allowed; plain black leggings may be worn only with an appropriate and modest skirt; for shoes we ask that pupils wear sensible, serviceable 100% black footwear (no coloured laces, logos, stripes, soles or flashes), no platform or high heels, boots are not acceptable; 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. Please contact the school as soon as is practical if there are any issues regarding your child’s uniform – we will do all we can to support families in ensuring that children have the correct uniform (please talk to Mrs Abel at the school if there are issues we can resolve). Uniform is always available online and in the shops; including Pinders and Johnny D’s. All pupils will be expected to take off their outside coats once inside the building. They will need to carry those coats in a school bag.

We have been able to offer pupil lockers now to all pupils who have graduated into Years 9, 10 and 11. New Year 9 will be given their lockers in September – further details will follow.

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.

Equipment: No change here! As always we will expect all pupils to be properly equipped for school. They are required to have their fully charged electronic device, as provided by the school. I can confirm that we will host the new Year 7s Chromebook evening on Tuesday 11th September. Further details will follow before the end of term. In addition pupils need pens, pencils, a ruler, and scientific calculator and PE equipment; in an appropriate school bag. The pupil’s device must remain in the case provided by school and be brought to school, charged, each and every day. We see the equipment and bag as an important element of the school uniform policy and an indication of an individual’s readiness to learn.

Oakwood High School has a number of security features and settings to keep pupils safe when using the device within school. To re-assure parents and carers, at school we continue to block access to inappropriate websites and apps; such as social networking, gaming websites and adult content. We take every care in school, and would encourage all families to try to provide the same level of protection and safety at home. If you are concerned about how your child is using the device at home, we recommend you to get in touch with whomever you pay for your Internet connection (Internet Service Provider or ISP) and ask them help you to set up ‘parental controls’. Depending on your ISP, some providers can block websites, such as social media, or provide you with instructions on how to set up your internet router to switch on parental controls. There is some useful information to be found at the following websites:
http://www.saferinternet.org.uk/advice-and-resources/parents-and-carers/parental-controls

https://parentzone.org.uk/digital-parenting-online-safety-magazine-archive

We strongly encourage all parents and carers to check pupil devices often and, if necessary, have rules for usage - when, where and for how long. They are a fantastic tool for school work, but should not interfere with family life. As always, if you are concerned about your son/daughter's safety online, please visit our website for guidance and support or contact us directly at school.

Other Electronic Equipment (including mobile phones): Our use of a device illustrates that we 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 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? This year the school has had a strong year with overall absence and persistent absence relatively low. 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 or alternatively attendance@oakwood.ac You have our assurance that, should we identify patterns of absence causing concern, we will make immediate contact with you.

Key to our success is the start of every day: Pupils will continue to arrive for tutor time at 8.30 am for an 8.40 am start. Any pupil arriving after 8.40 am will be deemed to be late and will be logged. Any pupil late to school will sanctioned on the day of the late arrival, with an after school detention of 20 minutes. Parents will be informed by an InTouch message during the morning.

The pupil reception and entrance is at the front of the building and pupils will need to come to the bottom of Lawton Lane or up from Moorgate Road to enter the building. Parents and carers cannot access the school via the pupil entrance. For pupil security, the gates will start to be locked on the site and pupils will only be able to access the building via the old swimming pool steps, off Moorgate Road, after 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, the school will not authorise any holiday during term time, this means that if you choose to take your child on holiday, the absence will be recorded as unauthorised. If you decide to take your child on holiday during term time you run the risk of a fine. Please remember that your child will be in the persistent absence category if their attendance is below 90%.

Lawton Lane: Our first priority is always pupil safety. As was the procedure this last year, there is to be no parental access onto Lawton Lane. As the pupil entrance is on Moorgate Road, parents and carers will drop their children off in the parking bays along Moorgate Road. Can I ask that parents park safely and legally on Moorgate Road? For safety reasons, all vehicles, other than staff vehicles, will be prevented from driving up Lawton Lane. No parental passes will be issued at any time.

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.

Homework: We have continued to develop our homework strategies. Thank you to the parents and carers who have offered thoughts and ideas. You will find, on our website, a homework policy with specific information about year groups and subjects; we have developed further our communication systems in support of homework. Using our Go 4 Schools systems, as parents and carers you will be able to check your child’s homework and support them as they work through that homework. To encourage deeper learning, Y7 will engage in Reload tasks which are designed to help pupils commit learning to memory. Homework tasks take many forms and are designed to promote deeper learning. 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 and consequences for not completing homework. Your support is critical to your child’s success.

Break/Lunch Times and Healthy Eating: We continue to work hard refining our break time service and offer. We will be able to continue to provide the very best school meals. Just to remind parents/carers we will continue to have two even breaks: Break 1: 11:40-12:10 and Break 2: 1:25-1.55. The service provided and the range of foods available will continue to be very important to us all. We are confident that we will be able to offer healthy and exciting snacks and meals throughout the day. At both of these ‘lunch times’ we will continue offer a full food service and a whole range of clubs and activities; including the very popular ‘Fit2Learn’. We know that pupils learn even better when they stay on site at break times, and when they eat using the school facilities and so, as ever, all pupils are expected to stay on site at break times. Pupils will use a biometric cashless system (money can be put onto the system via ParentPay, please contact the finance office for more details at finance@oakwood.ac) 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.

Go 4 Schools and target setting: You may have noticed some changes in how we are generating and displaying grades in Go 4 Schools over the past few weeks. We have been listening to parents/carers who have fed back on our systems – and for that we thank you! As a consequence, our grading schemes in all years have been adjusted to more clearly demonstrate to pupils their current attainment. We have introduced a more detailed grading scheme that includes + and - grades to allow pupils to see how secure they are within each grade. Importantly this will allow for pupils to more easily appreciate the progress they are making as they work through each grade. For example; the + indicates that pupils are working at the top end of their current grade and that with a little more progress they will be able to move on to the next grade up.

Alongside this we are currently working on our target setting across the school. With a better understanding of the new GCSE grades and based on feedback around our current targets we intend to develop a personalised target for each subject which will be achievable and motivational. This will allow us to celebrate individual successes and progress being made more often. These new targets will be in place in September and we share more details around this with you closer to that date.

Prior to these changes Year 7 and Year 8 pupils operated this system but under the codes e, d and s. We have adjusted the grading scheme in Year 7 and Year 8 to match that of KS4 to avoid any confusion as pupils move through school (s will be replaced with + and e with -).

If you have any questions with target setting or current grades please contact Mrs M Ward at m.ward@oakwood.ac.

Communication: We will continue to communicate using technology, as much as is practically possible. As a matter of course now we communicate using email, text message and the website www.oakwood.ac. The website should be the first location to look when attempting to communicate with the school. Unless you specifically ask for a letter to be posted home, all communication will be electronic. We hope to continue to reduce our carbon footprint and see this as a key way of doing that.

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 (9.30-10.30 am); we call it Parent View. Information and contact details are on the school’s website.

We have worked hard this year to ensure that as parents/carers as possible understand and regularly use our Go 4 Schools system to stay abreast of their child’s progress. The secure log-in allows you to access your child’s records; including behaviour and achievement records, attendance records, school reports and homework. By using the Go 4 Schools you will have secure access to today's assessment, attendance and behaviour information as well as your child's timetable and progress reports. You have everything you need in one place and, crucially, what you see is live data which is in time with the latest information within school. The Go 4 Schools also allows parents to support their child's independent learning with a clear view of homework set, due dates and homework content.

On the 25th May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) replaced the Data Protection Act 1998. The GDPR 2018 introduces new individual rights relating to personal data and consents, as a result, we have updated our privacy policy and issued data collection forms to all pupils and parents. It is important that we keep complete and up to date records of all our pupils and their contact information. Please assist us with checking and updating your details and consents via Go 4 Schools, the school website shows more information and guidance on this.

If any of your contact details do change or you need any support please contact Ms N Moorhouse at n.moorhouse@oakwood.ac or Mrs J Ridge at j.ridge@oakwood.ac

End of term: As is customary, we will finish for the summer at around 1.00 pm on the last day of this term, Friday 20th July.

Return to Oakwood High School: The new term for pupils starts at 8.30 am on Tuesday 4th September. On that first day all pupils will go to their tutor time, after that we will operate our usual timetable: we really do need to ‘hit the ground running’.

Please read the Expectations of Pupils document. As the term gets underway your son or daughter will notice that we will continue to apply our policies with consistency and rigour. This simply means that all adults within our learning community will have the highest expectations of all our learners. We will not hesitate to contact you should attitudes to learning and behaviour not meet the highest standards.

We ask you and your child to read the Home/School Partnership Agreement. These agreements set out our expectations and your rights and responsibilities as parents/carers and pupils. We will use this document with pupils to engage in conversations around behaviours and standards. Unless we hear from you in writing we will assume you agree fully to the terms of the agreements.

Academic events in Term 1:
• Monday 24th September Y5/Y6 Opening Evening 6.00 pm-8.00 pm
• Wednesday 10th October Y11 Parents Evening 4.00 pm-7.00 pm
• Monday 12th November Ex-Y11 Presentation Evening 7.00 pm
• Wednesday 14th November Y7-11 Tutor Review Day 12 noon-7.00 pm
• Wednesday 21st November Y7-10 Parents Evening

And finally
If you have any queries or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact the school and talk to your child’s Personal Learning Tutor. I thank you for your continued support for your child and for the school. We have an incredibly strong school community in which children, parents/carers and staff work as one to create the very best conditions. It is in those conditions that success will blossom.

Enjoy your summer!

Yours faithfully

David Naisbitt
Headteacher

Enclosures: Please click on the link to view.

Assessment Calendar 2018-19
Home/School Partnership Agreement
Uniform Policy