QES Headteacher's Messages 2018-19

End of Year 2019

Originally posted on 19 July 2019

Dear Parents and Guardians

As we come to the summer break I had every intention of writing to you with a summary of the different activities and developments throughout this term and an outline of our plans for the next academic year, but, frankly, that would have been an epic email to receive; believe me, this long email is the shortest I could make it! I have therefore chosen just a few key areas to give you a flavour of the energy and pace of life in school.

Firstly, the events of the term, from the wonderful Sports Day and yesterday’s Community Walk, to the Art and Design Exhibition and Bugsy Malone, have been a delight to see and brought together different areas of school in quite special ways. Equally our commitment to education in its broadest sense, outside the classroom, was seen in our Activities week, during which we had trips taking place for all of Key Stage 3, as well as Year 10 Work Experience and Year 7 going to work with their parents. Below is an overview of some of those trips.

Year 12 were also participating in Work Experience, art gallery visits, and university open days last week as they prepare for the next stages in their QES journey, looking to the tantalising glimpses of their future beyond the school doors. The range of places and experiences was vast and as with other lists, too many to state, but here are just a few: EU in Belgrade, Local GP surgery, Cumbria Business School, Climbing Instructing, Lancaster University chemistry laboratory, Kilrush Marina, Ireland, Manchester International Arts Festival and the Houses of Parliament.

In terms of 2019-20 developments, we have finished our Development Plan and it is quite a size! Never complacent and always seeing ways we can improve, it is wide ranging in its scope, from focussing on our questioning strategies in lessons to reviewing homework, taking on board feedback from parents in surveys and preparing for new legislation in Personal Development lessons. We are certainly not standing still and have real ambition for the ways we can move on over the next few years, as ever, with your ongoing feedback and support.

I think it is important to update you on some areas of our Site Security Action Plan. As you know we have been working on this over the last few years and come September there will have been some significant shifts. Firstly, you will be pleased to know that Visitor Reception will no longer be the draughty beginning of the main corridor, but instead an adapted area of the first building you see on the turning circle; a much more appropriate place for everything from parents signing in to see a member of staff to the delivery of parcels. We are also hoping that by September there will be some tasteful signage and railings at the front and back of school, clarifying the route and establishing the protocol for visitors. Included in this will be an electronic signing in system. As a sad sign of the times, perhaps, we also practised a lock down procedure earlier this week. Pupils were excellent in rehearsing the process and we will have a practice in the Autumn term just as we do the evacuation process.

Over 600 children in Key Stage 3 completed an online survey with similar questions to the ones I asked parents to complete earlier in the term and I have been looking at their views and comparing them to parents’ responses. I will be speaking to the children in assemblies in September about their feedback and actions we will be introducing as a result. Obviously surveys are a blunt instrument but rest assured we will be looking at the findings more closely in the summer and giving you more feedback once we have established the right format. Below is an example of the comparison between parent and pupil surveys on the first question as a taste so far.

Amongst other developments over the summer we are also planning a significant shift with our MIS (Management information Systems). After a great deal of research we are hoping to move from SIMS to another company called Bromcom. In the long run this will enable us to communicate with you more readily, improve systems across both schools in our Trust, and create some efficiencies in the way we communicate, but we are mindful that in September there will be some inevitable disruption to some of the ways we are used to operating. More information will follow in September. I suppose this is therefore a plea for your patience as we uncover issues and find solutions in the first month or so. Telephone and email communication will be unaffected.

There have been Leavers’ events for our Year 11 and 13 who managed to get through the rigours of the exams in an impressive way. We have had our Awards Mornings celebrating the achievements of the wonderful children we are lucky enough to work with and we are excited at the prospect of QEStudio building opening.

Finally, we are fortunate to be a school that has a relatively low ‘staff turnover’, providing us with a stability and expertise that is invaluable for our community. But, of course, there are times when people choose to move on. Of those teachers who have been here some time, Fleur Astbury Smith is leaving us to become Head of English at Settle College, Assistant Headteacher, Adrian Hall will be joining the South Lakes Federation in supporting schools across the Federation, Rachael Eaves is retiring after years of wonderful work in the art department and Janice Clarke will be leaving us to pastures new after 25 years working here in the English Department. Those of you who have known these teachers over the years I am sure will join me in wishing them all the very best after serving the children in our community so well for so many years.

As I said, I’m sorry for the length of the email; I will try and send them more frequently to keep them brief next year. I hope you have a lovely summer break, and thank you for all you have done over the year in supporting QES.

As always, thank you for your ongoing support.

Best wishes.

Cathy O’Neill, Headteacher

Last modified: Monday, 7 October 2019, 7:07 AM