Dear Parents and Guardians
This weekend began with so many children, staff and parents contributing to a lovely Christmas Fair arranged by our committed QESA, and it concluded with the glowing candlelit evening of the Advent Service at St Mary’s. I have to say these are two of my favourite events of the year, events that show the community, commitment and warmth of QES.
Certainly there was enough in them to help us through the dark days of winter and act as cheery prologues to the Christmas Concert and the Carol Services.
I thought I would drop you a line updating you on events since my last email, but as school is such a busy place the email would be pages long if I were to include them all, and then there is the unsettling thought that I would inadvertently miss something off too. So I thought I would just give you a flavour of a few areas we have been developing ‘behind the scenes’.
If your son or daughter is in the Sixth Form or Year 11 you might already have seen - or be following - the Twitter feed set up by the Sixth Form team and we will be setting up a whole school Twitter account shortly too, following the lead of QEStudio.
Already there are different accounts around and about celebrating community events, but it feels about time we tried this as a whole school in the hope that we can encapsulate some of the energy, talent and sheer joy of such a vibrant place and communicate it to a wider audience.
Since September, Sixth Formers and senior staff have been giving prospective parents tours of QES and it is always such a pleasant thing to do. Between us there have been over 150 tours, each one taking about an hour and giving parents a window into life at QES. As we have some new buildings and different developments I’d like to open this invitation to current parents of children here at QES. If you would like a tour during the school day, either by me or a Sixth Former, do contact us and we can arrange this; I am sure you would find it an interesting visit.
It feels quite some time since the October Staff Training Days but the work teachers completed on those days continues to move its way through this year as we had an extensive day of self-evaluation. Staff reviewed several aspects of school, from lunch time supervision to the Spiritual, Moral and Cultural Development of children in our care, from teaching and learning to behaviour and the Department for Education’s (DfE) definition of British Values.
This reviewing process was really helpful to us – a timely ‘health check’ from which we have identified some key ways forward and it helped in keeping our standards high and feeling energised and focussed.
On this latter point about British Values, I thought it was worth sharing with you our approach. The DfE identify these as:
- The rule of law
- Individual liberty
- Mutual respect
- Tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs
We believe these sit comfortably with our own Core Values and we are reviewing ways in which we promote these in our school community, from Personal Development and history lessons to assemblies and the elections of our Sixth Form Leaders.
I thought it might also interest you as parents, to know that more and more we are reiterating our core aims and values. We know that growing up in the 21st Century has its challenges, from harder linear exams to the pressures of social media; we know that nationally there has been a worrying rise in mental health concerns in young people and that the world can feel unstable and frightening at times.
We also know that schools are the centre of many children’s lives and that it is our duty and privilege to make this place one of warmth, care and fun.
Yes, we want everyone to excel and achieve as best they can, but our aims are far more profound, as stated in our Sixth Form Contract:“We aim to develop young people who are independently minded, critical thinkers, who will leave QES with the ability to use their intellect and skills alongside their compassion in making decisions in the wider world.”
Both Alison Wilkinson and I are confident that if you took us up on the offer of a tour you would see young people on this journey; young people who are and will continue to be throughout their lives, people who will make their own positive contributions to our society.
In September I promised that I would be doing my very best to keep QES the special place it is and mentioned that I can only do that with your ongoing support and I’d like to thank you again.
There remains lots to do, but it has been a busy, exciting and thoroughly enjoyable term and I’m looking forward to the end of term Christmas celebrations. Thank you.
Wishing you all the very best for the festive season.
Cathy O’Neill, Headteacher