Theme of the week is: The Rule of Law
Although only just back from our Autumn break the week was spent preparing for our 6th Form Open Evening. The evening was well attended and the 6th Form students who spoke gave a great insight into life in the 6th form. There were a range of views from the upper and lower 6th Form students, they all spoke so positively about their experience and I was really impressed with their enthusiasm and energy. Staff put in a lot of time in displaying and setting up the stands. The evening generated a lot of interest from the Y11 students and their parents and it was really well attended.
While on holiday last week I read an interesting book called ‘Teenagers Translated’ by Janey Downshire and Naella Grew. Being a parent can be tough at times and provides a range of challenges, none more so than when your children are going through their teenage years. It’s an easy read and has some great observations about teenagers and gives some sound advice. Although I’ve been teaching for some time there’s still lots to learn about young people and this book goes some way into explaining their journey through adolescence.
As we approach the autumn break school continues to be busy. This week has been assessment week for our 6th form students and this gives us the chance to benchmark where they are after the first term. The Y13 students who are in Uganda will obviously have a bit of catching up to do on their return. Our Y11 students had a great time on the battlefields trip, returning safely on Monday. As soon as one group returns, other trips are scheduled after the break to Paris and Barcelona. Managing the administration of the trips is a big task and I’m grateful for Mrs Heath’s hard work and meticulous planning.
Tuesday evening after school was really busy, especially on the sporting front. There were over 100 students taking part in Rugby, Football and Netball. The PE department do a great job in organising so many of the fixtures and providing opportunities for the students. Last year our under 16’s made the county cup final so I decided to watch this year’s U16’s against the European School. Despite the bumpy pitch they performed brilliantly winning 8-0. This was an excellent team performance with some sharp finishing from Ronan, who had several assists and scored two goals. Congratulations to Zac who had his shooting boots on the right feet, scoring four goals, with a spectacular bicycle kick which was admired by everyone.
The theme for this week has been humour and we’ve needed a sense of humour to cope with the weather, particularly at the beginning of the week.
Two different groups of students have travelled abroad as part of our rich programme of residential trips. Ms Dickenson, supported by Ms Whenray has taken 22 Y13 students to Uganda to work with our partner school there, Kazo Hill College. Ms Armstrong, supported by several staff has taken 62 Y11 students as part of their History curriculum on the ‘Battlefields trip’ to France and Belgium. Both of these trips have been running for some time and provide the students with some amazing experiences and memories. There will be more about these trips in the newsletter.
Friday was an important day in the school calendar with the first of four citizenship days. These days provide an opportunity to offer a range of topics which address many issues on which young people may need advice and guidance. Each year group have a slightly different focus and the topics will be relevant to where they are in their school journey. On this citizenship day an example of the topics were, role of the media, anti-bullying, political parties, human rights and civil liberties, consent, strategies for success, plus many more. Having looked at the list though, I noticed that there wasn’t one on ‘Brexit’!!!!!!!!!!!!
Choosing a secondary school is very much in the minds of Y6 students and their parents. Over the last few weeks we’ve invited the Y6 students in to experience some lessons at FCC, then we had our ‘Open Evening’ last week and this week we had our ‘School in Action’. During the week we had well over 100 prospective parents and students visiting the school. Each day started in the new Wilson Building Café at 9.30am with students from 7MBa answering any questions from our visitors. The parents were really impressed with the Year 7 students who spoke enthusiastically with them and were great ambassadors for the school. What’s amazing is that the students have only been in the school for 5 weeks yet they give the impression they’ve been with us much longer. Ms Nichols and her tutors play a big part in helping the students settle into to secondary school life and from the evidence this week, they’ve done a great job.
Once the Year 7’s had returned to their lessons I took the parents around the school, accompanied by Mr Winter and Mr Bettle. Teaching staff, as always are very accommodating and wherever we went parents could freely walk into classrooms. As head teacher it makes me hugely proud when I walk around with prospective parents as they are able to share in all the positive activities which take place at FCC. Each day was different and with no particular planned route I feel that the parents gained a lot from the visit. The highlight for me was on Wednesday when we visited Ms Whenray’s Y11 GCSE dance students. They had just finished a routine they were rehearsing so were taking a break, but when asked, they performed again, in front of the visiting parents and were brilliant.
This is an important time of the year for parents of Year 6 students as they think about choosing a secondary school for their children. Over the last three weeks Mr Winter and Mrs Talbot have done a great job with the children from our partnership schools who have had a tour of the school and experienced a day at FCC.
Like many schools we open our doors and classrooms and it gives us a chance to showcase our facilities. Thursday was our Open Evening and understandably there was a lot of interest in what we have to offer young people at FCC. Staff and students have been working hard in the build up to the evening and I’m hugely grateful for their efforts in making the evening a success. Firstly there were nearly 200 students helping out, from the 6th formers managing the car park, Y7 and Y11 giving guided tours, to students supporting departments across all subject areas. The students were smartly dressed and their energy and enthusiasm was a joy to see. Our students are really loyal to the school and want to be involved in its success. There were a wide range of activities across all departments and some Y11 students even came in for revision sessions, which is impressive. Head Boy and Head Girl, Alfie and Ella delivered an excellent speech and it was difficult not to be impressed with them as they spoke about their last six years at FCC and the many experiences they’d had. I also had a chance to meet with some parents, who I taught as students over 20 years ago and it’s reassuring that they are very positive about sending their children to FCC. When a school has the trust and support of parents in a small community it goes a long way to help make it successful.
What struck me this year were the many positive comments I received from parents as they left the school and their acknowledgement that the staff had worked hard and how that had made a great impression on them. It capped a great evening.
This week all our Y7 students have been enjoying an overnight stay at Court Hill with some team building activities during the day. I think it’s fair to say that the weather has been mixed but the students have been great and fully embraced the tasks set. Ms Nichols and her team have worked really hard all week and their contribution to the success of the week has been amazing.
On Wednesday Mrs Bettle organised our first Duke of Edinburgh presentation evening where some of our Y9 students were presented with their Bronze Awards. This was a well-attended evening with the Deputy Mayor, Julie Farmer and DofE Operations Manager Annie Robinson presenting the awards. It has been some time since the DofE ran in school and the reasons we started again are due largely to the Town Council providing funding for the licence, and to Mrs Bettle, our school organiser. She has done such a great job in her first year with over 90 students taking the Bronze or Gold Award. Her enthusiasm and commitment has been matched by the students’ efforts and she is already looking to increase the numbers this year.
The PE department has had a successful week with a wide range of games and activities taking place. In a rugby match on Thursday, our Y10 boys put in a good performance against a strong Burford team. Although they didn’t win Mr Rees was impressed with all the students involved. On Tuesday our U16 boys football team won at Larkmead after the game finished 2-2. They were disappointed not to win it in normal time but thanks to some excellent penalty saves from Charlie Lawrence they progressed through to the next round after extra time. And finally, although it’s late in the season, for the second year running our U16 boys represented Oxfordshire in the regional tennis finals at Abingdon. There were some individual successes and excellent performances with the boys finishing in fourth place.
This week we welcomed the parents of our new Y7 students for an information evening. It gave us an opportunity to thank them for their support as their children have made a great start at FCC. Ms Nichols also spoke about the annual residential visit to Court Hill. This trip has been running for some time and it gives the students the opportunity to work in teams and develop strong relationships. Look out for pictures and articles in the school newsletter in the coming weeks.
We are always looking for ways to improve at FCC and just before the summer break our environmental group spoke to me of their concerns about the use of plastics in school. In response to this we are planning to make some changes. I’ve met with our catering manager and when our stocks of bottled water have run out, they will no longer be on sale. The students have had some forewarning about this in an assembly at the start of the year when they were encouraged to bring in a reusable water container, as there are now four watering stations in school. I’m also looking at bringing in a recycling vending machine which will collect and crush cans and plastic bottles.
Also after ½ term, for a trial period, we are having a day where we only sell vegetarian food on a Thursday. More details will follow on the products being served but we are hoping that this initiative will be well received.
When starting any school year there is always lots of information which needs updating and I never under estimate the importance of keeping parents informed. One aspect which we are in the process of changing are the details in our Extra-Curricular Activities Booklet for 2019-20 which will be ready in the next couple of weeks. Clubs are however already running, with many promoted through form tutors or the school newsletter. We also recognise that our website needs improving and many thanks to Lisa on reception who is currently making changes to the information presented and the design of it. We are hoping that this upgrade will be in place before our Open Evening on October 3rd.
We have just finished our first complete week and the school is in full flow. Our group of 270 Year 7 students is the largest single year group we have had in the school’s history and I have been impressed with how quickly they have adapted to their new environment and how well they have settled in. We have also welcomed over 30 international students to FCC whose parents are based at the Defence Academy. These students will be with us for one year and in this time we endeavour to include them as much as we can into our school community. We’ve been working closely with the Defence Academy for nearly 20 years now and this partnership is very important to us.
In a school with student numbers rising it is important that we make sure we can cope with the extra capacity, particularly at break and lunchtimes. We’ve done this by introducing an extra catering facility, a small building attached to the Wilson Building. This has been well received by the students and enables the catering team to serve more students. There is currently a competition running for students to name the building and create a design which will be professionally applied to the building. I’m looking forward to judging the competition entries over the next few weeks.
WEEK 1 - Welcome back to the FCC blog after a 6 week break.
Firstly, my congratulations to all the students who have received their GCSE and A level results. I was lucky enough to be with the students when they opened their envelopes in August and there was a sense of relief and in many cases huge smiles. At A level an overwhelming majority of our students secured places at their university of choice with 45% getting in at a ‘Russell Group’’ university, with others entering employment, and many beginning an apprenticeship. A big well done to Ceci who is studying Political Sciences at Cambridge. There were some super individual performances with Imogen at A level and Molly at GCSE our highest achievers. I was also hugely impressed with Imogen who made more progress over 5 years than any other student in Y11.
Staff have been in school since Monday and it has been a really busy time. Mr Bettle has analysed the GCSE results and it is clear that we have built on the success of last year with staff continuing to deliver excellent lessons and students who were really committed to doing well. Another factor was the change to the end of Y11 and the removal of ‘study leave’. This was the second year of exam revision sessions right up to the exams and there is no doubt that it works. It makes life hard for my staff but their commitment is key to our success and I’m really grateful for their dedication.
Mrs Button is also delighted with the A level results, particularly as there was a significant increase in students gaining A*/A’s at A level.
This week we welcomed 270 new Y7 students and they are a joy to have on site. This is the largest year group we’ve ever had in school and I’m really pleased that parents have made FCC their first choice.