QES Headteacher's Messages 2019-20

Autumn 2019

Originally posted on 8 October 2019

Dear Parents and Guardians

As we begin week six of this term and hurtle full speed to the October Half Term Break, I’m writing with an update on how the term has been as well as a summary of summer events. I appreciate this may feel long overdue.

Firstly, it has been a joy to see the way our new Year 7 have settled in to life at QES. They have certainly made a positive impression around and about and it was great to see so many parents and guardians in attendance at our Induction mornings last week, which I hope you found useful.

Over the summer we were delighted with the exam results at both GCSE and A Level and the range of destinations is as diverse and interesting as ever. From nursing at Leeds to music at Cambridge, Engineering at York to degree apprenticeships with local companies, the range is extensive. Not only are the subjects they are studying broad in their range, but the geographical locations span the UK and beyond. We have former students at Glasgow School of Art, Oxford, Bristol, Bangor, Durham, Newcastle, Paris, as well as some closer to home and living at home, and some on far flung Gap Years. The Sixth Form team will be updating the Sixth Form website with a summary over the next half term. And, of course, the first of this year’s UCAS applications have now been sent!

As you know, we never really make the exam results a huge publicity story; really that’s because they are consistently excellent and the end result of the hard work and commitment of our young people; in short, not really a news story, but that’s not to say they aren’t important, or worth celebrating. As always we spend a great deal of time reviewing these results at the beginning of the term whilst considering the implications for our current students and lessons learned. One point that Phil Houghton has already identified is the effort grade ‘magic number’ still stands. If a pupil achieves an average effort grade of 3.82, for many years now we know that they will achieve in the top percentile, no matter what their prior attainment. That’s quite a powerful statistic for a young person to appreciate their own role in their own education and success.

Also over the summer you will have noticed we did manage to open our new Visitor Reception which you go through straight from the turning circle, along with installing some railings. While it has taken staff, pupils and parents some getting used to, thank you for appreciating this change and ensuring that you always go through the new Visitor Reception, even in meeting your child if they are feeling unwell. We are awaiting appropriate signage to help with the reminder.

Continuing with the building theme, the maths area is near completion and it promises to be a significant improvement when we open the space again, and the re-roofing over the new pastoral area will continue next half term, in the hope that it will be completed by early December. 

In the short time we have been back there have been some extraordinary achievements and activities by so many pupils, and too many events to mention in one email, but I have narrowed down three areas worth mentioning, music, sport and Duke of Edinburgh expeditions.

We were thrilled to hear that our Salsa Band have been invited to play at the Junior Proms in the Albert Hall in November after a highly successful performance in Birmingham earlier this year. This is quite an accolade for Mr Banfield and his team. 

Equally impressive was the commitment of the 42 Year 11 pupils who completed their Duke of Edinburgh Silver practice expeditions in the South Lakes over 2 weekends, walking for 2 full days through the fells of Easedale, with an overnight camp in Langdale. I’m delighted to say they enjoyed some lovely autumnal sunshine in the wooded valleys of Little Langdale and Windermere. 22 Year 12 pupils were out this last weekend for Gold Award practice expeditions, including a circuit of the Howgill fells and a walk over the tops of Barbondale back to QES, with an overnight camp in Sedbergh.

As always, it has also been a busy start to our sport calendar. The first three weeks saw 27 fixtures played across 5 sports in friendlies, cup games and tournaments and we have several teams progressing to the next round in both County and National cups as well as many individual successes. We are indebted to parents who opened their doors to host over 70 Australian tourists last weekend and this and enjoyed great matches with our visitors.

We are always appreciative of all the support parents and guardians provide for these different activities, and I know I have only touched upon a few here. Frankly, we know that without your encouragement and support much of our extra-curricular provision could not happen, and yet we know these different activities enrich the lives of the children in our care so very much.

You might be interested to know that we do a very detailed Self Evaluation and have a clear and comprehensive Development Plan for this academic year as we do every year. As I said in the very busy Open Evenings in September, we are constantly striving to improve and are ambitious in our aim, and these documents along with the ongoing process of review endeavour to be ways to help us on this journey. One of these areas I mentioned before the summer – our shift to using Bromcom as our new data system - and whilst this promises to be a positive move it is equally a large undertaking and preoccupying us considerably. You should receive a separate email about this before the Half Term Break as we launch the ways in which parents access information and ways we can communicate with you in more efficient ways.

As always, thank you for your ongoing support. I will try to send more regular summaries this year to keep you updated, but, if you don’t already, please do follow us on Twitter to get a sense of some of the events that keep our school such a vibrant and busy place.

Best wishes.

Cathy O’Neill, Headteacher

Last modified: Wednesday, 9 October 2019, 12:16 AM