Dear Parents and Guardians
As we move further into the autumn term and the leaves fall around us, I thought it would be helpful to have a brief summary of some developments this term, albeit a pale picture really given the sheer number of activities and improvements that are occupying us.
Sometimes it is quite flabbergasting to realise in an ordinary working day just how many activities, conversations and truly life changing events can happen in a school, and nowhere is that more obvious than with the Year 13 team at this time of year. The QES Sixth Form team have spent hours helping Year 13 apply to university, apprenticeships and gap years. Whilst the final deadline for UCAS is 15th January, the early applications to very selective courses are completed by 15th October and already we have our Oxford, Cambridge, Conservatoire, Medicine and dentistry interviews and auditions coming up before Christmas. Mock interviews for these students are an absolute pleasure for the staff involved as we help them prepare for the next chapter in their lives with optimism and excitement.
Equally Year 11 pupils are having Academic Reviews, reviewing their October Assessments and starting to plan for their next steps. QES Sixth Form Open Evening is on Thursday 10th January at 6.00pm but I would urge all parents, of all years, to follow the QES and QES Sixth Form twitter accounts, or at least pop on to the website and take a look from time to time, to get a flavour of this very special part of our school. It’s fair to say that the QES Sixth Formers take a lead in the running of our school, from leading assemblies to orchestrating this week’s wonderful ‘Wellbeing Week’, to coaching younger pupils in sporting activities or running the debate society, and musical performances, and we are planning the Open Evening for January with the bulk of the presentations being their experiences. Studying for A Levels and developing their own efficacy as learners as they move into the more academic world can have its stresses, but we know that for the majority, Sixth Form here can be the most rewarding and exciting time in their QES career.
I’m delighted to say that the building work in the centre of school has really moved on and we hope to move Learning Support and Pastoral Staff into their new areas in January. As you know, for many children the Learning Support area and the sustenance they receive from our Assistant Headteachers, Heads of Year and Pupil Reception is central, and whilst this provision has been superb over the years, it is about time these fundamental areas of QES support are upgraded and better housed so we look forward to the beginning of the new year.
In other developments we have begun a full review of our Key Stage 3 provision, focussing in particular on Year 7 this year and looking at the experience of Year 7 through the child’s perspective. Year 9 parents and children are considering Year 10 options across both our schools and we have just finished a run of incredibly moving assemblies on Remembrance, led by our Head of History, Toby Barker, remembering our former pupils who fought and died in the First World War.
As I mentioned in an earlier correspondence, we have been experimenting with some parent and pupil surveys and thank you for your candid and supportive replies so far. We think some have been more successful than others in eliciting responses and we are learning from each one, both in terms of the questions and the feedback parents provide us. Of course parents provide feedback to us all the time, and as I said before, please don’t wait for an invitation for your responses if you are unhappy about some aspect of our provision.
We are now preparing for the Christmas festivities that will fall upon us perhaps more quickly than we anticipate! These include:
- Christmas Fair – Friday 30th November QES 6.30pm.
- Advent Service< – Sunday 2nd December St Mary’s Church 6.30pm.
- Christmas Concert – Wednesday 12th December, 7.00pm.
- Carol Service – Thursday 20th December St Mary’s Church 7.00pm.
As I said, it is always difficult to capture the true energy, commitment and vibrancy of a school community in a (relatively!) brief communication with you, but I hope this hints at the daily flavour and tone of QES and matches your own experience as parents and guardians of the lovely children in our care.
With all best wishes and continued thanks for your support.
Cathy O’Neill, Headteacher
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Click for our QES Sixth Form Twitter page