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An update from the Principal June 2017

At this busy and important time in the academic year, students in Years 11, 12 and 13 are studying hard for their public examinations.  As part of our support for students during these demanding weeks, the college has the following provisions...

Preparation for public exams

At this busy and important time in the academic year, students in Years 11, 12 and 13 are studying hard for their public examinations.  As part of our support for students during these demanding weeks, the college has the following provisions:

  • “Walking talking” mock examinations to help students develop better exam technique, such as how to apply evidence in responding to multi-part questions, or how to allocate time appropriately to different questions during an exam.
  • Subject “immersion” days, in which students are timetabled to focus exclusively on specific subjects ahead of exams in that subject. Immersion takes place in all subjects.
  • “Mastery Club” every Wednesday after school from 3.30 – 4.30 pm.  These sessions are subject specific, and are tailored to the needs of students who are below target in a particular subject. To date, these have been very successful and well attended
  • Additional “Making the Grade” sessions each lunchtime and after school across all subjects.
  • “Maths Café” during lunchtime: these drop-in sessions provide students with the opportunity to talk through maths-related problems with a member of the maths faculty over lunch.
  • Coursework improvement clinics: students have welcomed additional out of hours opportunities to work on controlled assessments and science ISAs. It has been very motivating for them to see their grades improve.

The above activities have been made all the more effective by the tremendous support from you, our parents.  At King Edward VII, we are very much a team, working in partnership with parents to deliver the best results for students.   Our “immersion timetable” for Year 11 has now been in operation for over three weeks.  Prior to each of their exams, every student will participate in an intense study workshop. This had a significant impact on student outcomes last year.

Curriculum matters

Across the country, there is a likely to be a great deal of confusion about this summer’s public examination results.  Students will be sitting reformed GCSEs in English and maths for the first time.  In the absence of reliable information about grade boundaries, there is huge uncertainty about how students nationally will adapt to the increased challenge and rigour of the new papers; this uncertainty is compounded by the introduction of the new 9 – 1 grading system, with grade 4 being a standard pass and grade 5 a strong pass.  Ofqual, (The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation regulates qualifications, examinations and assessments in England) are currently compiling a factsheet to summarise all the qualification changes. It will include a clear statement that this year’s results should not be compared with those of previous years. This is a vital message for everyone working outside schools. Once the Ofqual information is issued, we’ll send it to you.

Furthermore, schools across England have been making changes to their curriculum offer in response to changes from the Department for Education regarding which qualifications have gained official approval. Some schools have taken the decision to remove all qualifications that do not count in performance tables as they directly impact the school’s performance data which is made public. At King Edward VII College, we have continued to prioritise delivery of a broad and balanced curriculum, including vocational programmes, tailored to the interests and needs of each student, and which optimises progression onto high value level 3 courses or apprenticeships.  It is clear that the governments expects all schools to enter 90% of Year 11 students for the EBacc by 2020. However, they are acutely aware that the country is facing a recruitment crisis in shortage subjects of geography, history and languages. To address this, the government are offering new bursaries to attract more graduates of these subjects into the teaching profession. I am pleased to confirm that we are fully staffed in these subjects.

Year 10 mock exams

Students in Year 10 will be sitting mock exams in each GCSE subject during the week beginning 19th June.  These exams are important, since they will provide your child’s teachers and the college leadership with an informed benchmark for measuring progress.  As far as possible, we will replicate the experience of real GCSE exams in terms of length, scope and demand of the papers taken by students.  The outcomes of this will be discussed with parents in September at Year 11 progress evening.

Many students joining the college in Year 10 are more used to continuous teacher assessment approaches than the in-depth and intensive end of course exams which have entirely replaced coursework in all the new GCSE courses. It is important that all students and parents appreciate that this demands students to study regularly and complete all homework.

Year 12 Mock Exams

As we come to the end of the first year of new A’ level courses, it is important that students are able to take stock of the progress they have made. Students will take mock exam papers in each subject during the week beginning 26th June. Students who have already taken AS examinations in a particular subject will not be required to sit a mock paper as well.

Mandarin Chinese

We are delighted that our first tranche of students who started learning Mandarin Chinese this year, have recently taken a language proficiency exam at the Confucius Institute in Leicester.  The students have worked hard under the expert guidance of our specialist teacher, Miss Shi Ying.  Following my highly successful visit to schools in China during the autumn half term break last year, we are hoping to welcome a delegation of Chinese head teachers and school leaders to Coalville in October 2017.  This will be a fantastic opportunity to share learning and teaching approaches with professionals from a very different culture. We have recently received confirmation of our next Chinese assistant and she will be joining in September. Once again all students will be offered lessons in Mandarin. We expect that these will be scheduled after school and at lunchtimes.

We have also confirmed that we have a Canadian, French language assistant joining the college in September.

Upgrades and refurbishment

As the Principal, I am totally committed to providing our students with modern and inspiring facilities.  Work which began in the library and the Sixth Form Centre has moved on to the windows of our front façade, all of which are set to be replaced.  At a time when schools across the country are struggling to make ends meet, we have had to be ever more resourceful in securing funding and making our limited finances stretch as far as possible.  The college Business Manager, Laura Evans has successfully applied for a grant from the Education Funding Agency to cover the cost of our new windows.  Not only will the college benefit from a much-needed face lift, but it will also be much more efficient to heat in the winter.  You will have noticed the scaffolding taking shape at the front of the college - at the start of the summer holiday, work will begin in earnest on the new windows.

There are equally exciting plans in store for the Harley Theatre.  Our theatre has been the setting for some stunning shows in recent years, including our critically acclaimed production of Les Misérables in February; however, the décor has not really kept pace.  The seats are to be reupholstered and the interior of the theatre treated to a vibrant new colour scheme.   There’s no business like show business!

We are also developing an existing area of the college grounds to deliver Level 1 construction studies. This vocational qualification will be for small groups of vulnerable students. They will study other academic subjects alongside this qualification. In addition, students will be able to enjoy our new outdoor gym, which will be installed soon. This has also been funded by another successful bid from Sport England.

Over the forthcoming weeks we will finalise our academic and events calendar for 2017-2018. This will provide you with important dates and enable you to plan accordingly. We expect all parents to attend parents’ evening as these are critical to you being supported as a parent to advise your child. As stated in a previous communication, we are reviewing security procedures. I will send a separate letter regarding parents and visitors coming on site. Your co-operation and support in this matter is essential to keeping children safe in education.

Finally, I wanted to let you know that all students have been a credit to the college, and to you as parents, over the past weeks both in preparation for their examinations and during them. Our independent invigilators have once again noted praise for our students conduct. As always, please feel free to contact the college should you have any queries or concerns,

 

Yours sincerely,

J Byrne.

King Edward VII Science and Sport College is an exempt charity and a company limited by guarantee, registered in England with Company Number 8158225 and has a registered office at Warren Hills Road, Coalville, Leicestershire LE67 4UW