Principal’s Newsletter May 2014
1. Arrangements for Pupils on Study Leave Visiting School
2.Year 11 Additional Mathematics GCSE Examinations
3.Year 11 Controlled Assessment
4.Revision Class Timetables Year 12, 13 and 14
5.Years 8, 9, 10 and 11 Examinations
6.Analysis of Parental Questionnaires: Related Actions
7.Analysis of Pupil Questionnaires: Related Actions
8.School Development Plan update 2012- 2014
10.Uniform, sports uniform
11.Update on £3 Million investment in The Wallace High School by The Department of Education
12.Official opening of the new Astroturf hockey facility
13.Senior Prefects 2014-15
14.Road Works – Advance Notice – Clonevin Park
15.Charitable Giving 2013-14
1. Arrangements for Pupils on Study Leave Visiting School
Pupils in Years 12, 13 and 14 are now on study leave and external examinations have started. Pupils on study leave are reminded that if they are in school to see a teacher or for a revision class that they should sign in and out at The Front Reception and wear full school uniform.
2. Year 11 Further Mathematics Students’ GCSE Examinations
Those students in Year 11 sitting their full Mathematics GCSE Modules this year are entitled to the morning off before the examination. Examination times are as follows:
i. Tuesday 27th May 9.00 am (Bank Holiday Monday 26th)
ii. Friday 30th May 1.15 pm (Pupils are not required to be in school for their normal timetabled classes on Friday morning)
3. Year 11 Controlled Assessments
English Literature Controlled Assessment – Part B
Students will be completing this task during English classes in the week commencing 9 June. The final write-up time is one hour and thirty minutes.
During this time students will have access to clean copies of ‘Macbeth’ or “Romeo and Juliet” and the chosen prose text, Hardy’s “The Withered Arm”.
This is worth 15% of their final GCSE.
Journalism Controlled Assessment
Students will complete their regional online article in a two hour slot during the school examinations.
4. Revision Class Timetables Year 12, 13 and 14
A number of Departments have organised support and revision classes in the approach to GCSE and A-level examinations. Although attendance is not compulsory it is highly recommended.
Please note there may be some changes to this schedule during the internal school examinations (19th – 30th May). Please check with the appropriate teacher in advance of attendance.
You can download a timetable of revision classes from our website
5. Years 8, 9 10 and 11 Examinations
The summer examinations for Years 8-10 will take place from Monday 19 – Friday 23 May 2014.
To facilitate the examinations there are some changes to the timetable with pupils being permitted to leave school after their last exam, each day.
A detailed timetable of examinations is available on the school website -http://www.wallacehigh.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Exam-timetable-final-draft-Jun-2014.doc
If you require your son/daughter to remain in school until 3.25pm please let us know via email@example.com
6. Analysis of Parental Questionnaires: Related Actions
In the last 5 years there have been a number of consultation exercises carried out with parents. These have included:
- School uniform consultation
- Consultation on priorities for the school development plan 2012 for the three year plan (2012 - 2015)
- Parental working group to inform and consult on the introduction of iPads
- A parental questionnaire sent to all parents (2013)
- A parental questionnaire sent to all parents (2014)
The latest parental questionnaire proved a very useful exercise and a number of actions will be taken forward based on helpful comments and ideas made by parents. These are as follows:
- A list of clubs and societies on offer in Wallace to pupils will be published on the school website in August.
- A newly designed hard copy Homework Diary will be available.
- An overview of topics taught in subject areas will be published on the website in August for Years 8, 9 and 10. This will allow parents to share the learning experiences of the children and discuss individual topics.
- A section on how parents can report a Child Protection concern will be added to the School’s Child Protection Policy to provide greater clarity. This will be uploaded into the policy section of the school website in August.
- Careers communications: The school has a CEAIG Policy (Careers Education, Advice, Information and Guidance). As a response to requests for more clarity around what exactly happens in tutorials and through the taught programme, a “Parents’ Guide” and a “Students’ Guide” to careers related activities will be published. The Careers Team is working on this currently and will publish the guide on the website in August.
- Academic and Pastoral Support Structures for early intervention. A breakdown of support and intervention strategies employed by the class teacher, Head of Department, Head of Year and Assistant Head of Year will be published on the school website in August. This list will aim to explain how pupils are supported initially, then which intervention strategies are used, and at what point parents are contacted.
A very high level of satisfaction with the school is evident from this questionnaire. However, parents are reminded that if they have a complaint the school has a Complaints Policy which is available on the school website. Without the helpful, constructive comments made in these questionnaires the above actions may not have come to fruition. The voice of parents is highly valued and recognised in Wallace. All comments made have been carefully considered and where a solution is possible and practical given financial, human resource and other constraints placed on the school, an action plan has been drawn up as above.
If any parent feels his/her comments have not been given due consideration or a solution is evident to an issue he/she has raised, the parent is warmly invited to meet with the relevant Vice Principal and me to discuss further. Please contact Mrs Karen Hewitt to arrange such an appointment and hopefully further dialogue will be of mutual benefit.
A further professionally developed parental questionnaire is being purchased for circulation in 2014 - 2015. The same survey is being used by a small number of grammar schools in Northern Ireland next year. It is a tailored questionnaire and, as with our previous 2 questionnaires, will allow the school to develop an awareness of the parental perspective on a range of issues and consider any relevant actions to implement. Importantly, this new survey will also allow the school to weight itself against what parents say in similar schools.
7. Analysis of Pupil Questionnaires: Related Actions
For the second year the PTA has generously funded a pupil survey. This is a survey which covers a broad range of pastoral and academic areas. Like the planned parental survey 2014 - 2015 it provides information which is benchmarked against other schools. As a consequence of this pupil survey the following actions will now take place:
- A ‘Pupil Guide’ to careers education, advice, information and guidance (CEAIG) will be published and shared with pupils.
8. School Development Plan update 2012- 2014
- A new “Students as Leaders” programme will be formalised. This Programme will bring together and recognise young leaders in school who are contributing to our school community in a role of responsibility e.g. as a Learning Mentor to younger students, as a Pupil Librarian or as a Digital Leader etc. A number of new groups will be set up under this umbrella of “Students as Leaders” and a copy of the Programme will be published on the school website in August. Importantly one of the new groups is likely to be “Young Carers”. This will be to support and develop young people who care for a parent, sibling or a member of the family, with a long term need, in a safe, comfortable environment.
The school is now at the end of the second year of its 3 year development plan cycle. The main strands of development during the year 2013 -14 are now complete. The first strand related to the development of a Strategy Group of teachers with representatives from all Departments to consider the statutory requirements “Read, Count, Succeed”, a Department of Education document on Literacy and Numeracy. The school already achieves above average results in GCSE English when compared to other grammar schools, but aims to have 100% success in this subject as a challenging but realistic target. This Strategy Team has considered carefully and implemented recommendations to help pupils in all subjects with Literacy. These include marking and assessment strategies, publication of keywords in each subject and displays in classrooms, spelling tests, strategies for pupils with Special Educational Needs and carefully developed internal examinations which are of a high quality, similar to the layout of GCSE papers, right from Year 8.
The second strand was our ‘elearning focus’. An elearning Focus Group made up of one representative from each Department met to agree and structure the Schemes of Work across the school to ensure they facilitated ICT CEA accreditation scheme. Year 10 students all completed the work necessary for ICT accreditation. As it is likely this accreditation will become statutory in 2015 or soon thereafter, the planning and discussion this year has helped the school ensure the work produced and the skills developed fit neatly with our academic programme.
Both these strands will be further developed during 2014-15; elearning focus will move to deepening the learning of our students beyond the skills of presentation, summary and research using iPads. The focus on ‘Read, Count, Succeed’ will move to Numeracy and have a similar structure to the Literacy work this year. The Numeracy outcomes in Wallace are very high with 100% of pupils achieving A* - C in GCSE Mathematics in the last two years. However, a Numeracy strategy across subjects will help develop these strengths further. The focus on Special Educational Needs and Early Intervention for pupils finding an aspect of the curriculum challenging will be further enhanced by the introduction of baseline testing in Years 8 - 11.
Baseline testing provides a standardised starting point from which the school can measure the progress being made by our pupils individually, in subjects, by class set and year group. It will be combined with our already well-established Target Setting process aimed at empowering our young people to have realistically high expectations of themselves. Further information will be communicated to parents by Year Group in the first term of 2014-15 about this process.
9. Forthcoming Events/Dates for your Diary
- School is closed to pupils on Monday, 26 May, Spring Bank Holiday
- Annual exhibition of GCSE and A’ Level student work in Art and Design, Moving Image Arts and Music. “Celebrating Creativity” will take place on Tuesday 10th June from 4.00pm to 6.00pm to showcase GCSE and A Level examination work in Art, Music and Moving Image Arts including some live music. Following on from the success of last year's evening the three Departments have come together to celebrate the creativity and hard work of our pupils. All parents and students are warmly invited to come along and view the work produced by our very talented students. This evening may be of particular interest to parents and students wanting to learn more about these subjects as they plan GCSE and A Level choices.
- Our Annual Junior Music Concert and Barbecue will take place in the Assembly Hall showcasing soloists, choirs and ensembles from Years 8 to 11 on Thursday, 19 June from 7:30 pm to 10 pm. All parents and pupils are welcome to attend. Awards for Music are presented on this evening.
10. Uniform, sports uniform
- Beyond The Classroom Programme of Activities Please click on the following to download the Adventure Day Information
- Term ends for all pupils at 12 midday on Friday, 27 June 2014 Advance Notice
The Sound of Music Production will run on 3 consecutive evenings: Wednesday 17, Thursday 18 and Friday 19 September from 7:30 pm. All parents are reminded that the donation of tombola prizes for the evening would be warmly received and should contact firstname.lastname@example.org
to donate (Mrs Rogers, English Department). Tickets will go on sale at the beginning of September.
Updated lists are now available on the school website.
11. Update on £3 million investment in The Wallace High School by the Department of Education
As the Chairman of the Board of Governors, Graham Sutton and I recently announced, the school has been successful in its application through the School Enhancement Programme for a significant extension and refurbishment of Art and Design, Technology, Home Economics and the construction of a new Fitness Suite and changing rooms.
The planning process has now begun and our Architects have been appointed. Mr Burns, Bursar, and I shall now meet regularly with our Architects and the extended design and construction team to progress the planning application, detailed design and building works. The process is moving at some considerable pace and work should begin on site, on or before March 2015.
12. Official Opening of the new Astroturf hockey facility
The school is very proud to announce the official opening of the new Olympic coloured astro hockey pitch. The pitch was funded by the Trustees of the school with a £250,000 grant from Sport NI. The expertise and support of Sport NI has been pivotal in the successful completion of this high quality venue for hockey. Friday 20 June is the day we would like you to come and celebrate with us.
A variety of activities has been arranged throughout the day to include hockey coaching for our feeder Primary schools and our Junior pupils.
A number of games have been organised for the afternoon /evening which you are welcome to attend. Current Wallace team members will play an Ulster select team and male and female ex pupil teams.
From 4.00 pm the PTA has organised fun family activities - bouncy castle, face painting and of course there will be food for all to enjoy.
The official opening will take place following a Wild Geese Display Team sky dive delivering the match ball for the final hockey match of the day, this will take place at 6.30 pm. The five team members will land on so called landing mats. These will be for sale at £2 each. Prizes include a static-line course with the Wild Geese, PRM chilled foods hamper and a £100 cash prize kindly donated by Queen’s University who are sponsoring the event.
Further details will be available soon on our website and facebook pages.This a very exciting event for the school which we hope you will enjoy.
14. Senior Prefects
This year’s Lower Sixth is a very capable, conscientious and talented group of young people. A very able group of Senior Prefects has been chosen and from them, following interviews with the Vice Principals and me, our Head Boy and Head Girl for 2014 -15 have been selected as below:
Head Girl Head Boy
Zara Kirkwood Neil Kilpatrick
Deputy Head Girls Deputy Head Boys
Natasha White Samuel Moore
Nicola McIlroy Patrick Ferguson
Katie Lockhart Richard Gill
Zoe Jackson Ryan Getty
14. Road Works: Clonevin Park
Contractors have informed the school that there will be road works commencing in June on Clonevin Park. It is likely that as part of this work one lane only will be open in Clonevin. As this is such a congested road I trust that having advanced notice of this will avoid parents being caught in long delays. Evidently there will be limited opportunities for parking in Clonevin during the road works and parents may need to consider alternative drop off and pick up points, parents are also reminded that grammar school pupils should not be dropped off or picked up at the beginning of the day or at 3.25 pm in the school grounds.
15. Charitable Giving
In a year which saw the sad loss of our much loved teacher, Mr Bill Wilson, the community of Wallace has raised £16,000 for charities associated with pancreatic cancer. The total charitable giving this year has amounted to £25,000 in school and has funded a wide range of charities as selected by our student led Charity Committee. Please accept my warmest thanks for all you do as parents to support these worthy causes.