As this is the first time I’ve written to you since we returned from the Christmas break, I’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year. I hope 2022 offers a more settled and predictable landscape both inside and outside of schools.
Last term I wrote to you about some of the new measures we were introducing, particularly around the use of the Refocus Room, to secure a high standard of behaviour for learning across the school. Whilst we continue with this, and have seen the vast majority of students settle back into their studies with purpose and enthusiasm, a few students are still struggling to adapt to expectations. It is with some regret that I inform you that we have had to part ways with a few students this term, and will continue to pursue this option where students do not respond to the range of support mechanisms in place. Although it is never a decision that is taken lightly, it is our responsibility as leaders to consider the significant impact that a few students can have on the hard-working majority when coming to these decisions.
This term we are implementing the Pastoral Support Plan (PSP), with support from the Local Authority, in a bid to prevent permanent exclusion for those deemed most at risk. Alongside this we are introducing Governors’ Behaviour Panels, which parents/carers of those approaching the point of exclusion will be invited to attend. These measures, we hope, will offer students the support they need whilst reiterating the fact that there are limits to what the school can accommodate. Whilst very few of you will ever need to attend a governors’ panel, I feel it’s important to keep parents/carers up-to-date on how we are managing behaviour within the school.
A further development this term in our efforts to refine behaviour is the reintroduction of the daily C2 detention, which takes place after school each day from 3.00pm - 3.30pm. This has been introduced to swiftly manage lower-level behaviour incidents, without resorting to a Berwick Centre sanction. Initially we will be using this detention to address students who congregate after the bell has gone and who will not move on when asked, but we remain flexible in how this evolves over time. I would appreciate your support in encouraging your son/daughter to move quickly on when asked by an adult in the school, as we would all prefer to avoid conflict and sanctions wherever possible, and to focus on quality teaching and learning.
You may have noticed that the school has adopted a more robust approach to uniform this term, with students being invited to go home to change if they arrive incorrectly dressed. Whilst this can be a contentious issue for some parents/carers, I would like to explain the rationale behind this approach. Although uniform in and of itself does not directly impact a student’s academic performance, it does make a significant statement about their attitude to school. The uniform is something which unites us and which we want students to wear with pride, both in school and travelling to and from. If a young person opts out of this, they are sending a message that they are not part of what we are trying to achieve, and not part of the positive culture which we aim to promote. When students arrive in the morning smartly dressed, it represents their commitment to the school, its values and its rules. I ask that all parents/carers support us in promoting this.
Behaviour and Engagement Intervention Officers
I am pleased to welcome two new members of staff to our school: Mr Gibbons and Mr Murdock. Both colleagues join us in this new role, designed to support behaviour and engagement outside of the classroom. Mr Gibbons and Mr Murdock come with a wealth of experience in working with young people, with both having worked in large secondary schools in challenging contexts previously. Initially they will work with the pastoral and senior team to support students’ behaviour around the school site, but will develop their roles as the need arises into proactive support for students, with a view to the prevention of challenging behaviour. Students have been introduced to our new colleagues in assembly and I encourage parents/carers to say hello when you see them on the gate before or after school. We are currently recruiting for a third officer in this role and I look forward to introducing them in due course.
Thank you as always for your continued support of the school. It has undoubtedly been a very challenging year for our students and we are mindful of what they have lost, both educationally and socially, during the pandemic. Working together I am confident that we can make up for lost time and ensure our students go on to enjoy the success they deserve.
Mr P Hemsley