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News from Mr Taylor

18th January 2019

I write this week’s Newsletter, on return from attending this year’s annual Rotary Dinner. This is an event hosted by the school; students and staff leading, and our skilful and hard-working Catering Team who provided an impressive and highly tasteful 3-course meal. The event also afforded attendees opportunities for networking and further developing the great two-way relationship with Rotary; an impactful relationship for both sides.

In other news, I attended a motivational assembly for Y13, led by Mrs Silvers and Mr Gorbould, to support Y13 asthey prepare for ‘mock exams’; well prepared and well-resourced, with strong and supportive advice.

Whilst recognising that we don’t always get things right, I can also say that this week I have seen some impressive work from Academic Mentors, Year Managers and Lower and Upper School Directors as they work to support student development and progress, both individuals and various groups. This is important to us and supports the work undertaken in the classroom.

Students and staff have worked hard this week, not easy in a ‘grey January’.

11th January 2019

First of all, a belated ‘Happy New Year’ to all!

This week, the first full week in 2019, has quite simply been amazing and I feel so privileged to be Headteacher of such a great school:-

· Phenomenal turnout for the Y10 Parents’ Evening - 80%+. A high bar has been set and I hope parents of students in other year groups will rise to the challenge and make this year the highest attended ever. I witnessed really informative and focused discussions this evening and heard many very positive comments about the evening.

· Y11 looked so mature on their ‘interview attire’ and really rose to the challenge of their ‘Mock Interviews’. It was great to talk to students post-interview who cited their success and also the improvement points. A great learning opportunity. Feedback from interviewers was quite literally awesome!

· The Y11 Celebration Assembly was brilliant to attend; much to be celebrated and it was particularly great to see the high percentage of students who were acknowledged for 100% attendance.

· Record numbers have applied for our Sixth Form, both internal and external, for the coming September. Late applications are still welcome, so we anticipate these numbers will rise further.

· My tour with aspirant Headteachers on Wednesday elicited many positive comments about how polite our students, your children are. They also commented on the very productive and focused learning environment. Many photographs were taken; break out area, Alumni displays, intervention plans, etc., all to be shared back at their ‘home schools’.

What a great start to the new year! Long may it continue.

19th December 2018

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

14th December 2018

Last call for Sixth Form applications! Numbers are looking good, so thanks to parents and students for their confidence on our post-16 offer.

PPEs are over and now we have moved into fun and seasonal activities alongside continued great learning. Christmas lunch and jumper day was a great success; especially with student having their lunch served to then by staff and a strong Sixth Form team, led by Mrs Remer. The variety of Christmas jumpers was a sight to behold. 

All looks set for a fantastic week of charitable fundraising, aka, RAG Week. Plans are well ordered, well publicised and well resourced. The School Hall has been suitably ‘dressed’ and much exciting new lighting and other technological gismos are ready to be deployed to great effect, enhancing the overall experience of some exciting events.

As I conclude this article, I have just returned home from a remarkable evening of music, readings and drama; so much talent across the school in a wide range of styles and genres. Well done to all those who took part in our Celebration of Christmas 2018.

7th December 2018

Firstly, can I say a huge ‘thank you’ to parents of our Sixth Formers, who turned out in good numbers for the Parents’ Evening on Thursday; they too, like the staff, are only too aware of how important these meetings can be, as we work together to achieve academic success with appropriate support.

As well as great learning and teaching taking place across the school this week, there have been a wide range of experiences, enrichment and extra-curricular opportunities. The visit by an army Apache helicopter will be in the memory of many for a long period of time; the whole school population responded well to this unique opportunity and made for a fantastic start to our RAG week events.

Thursday saw a further visit from Y11 students from a local high school, on this occasion, Alde Valley. They were welcomed by the Sixth Form Team and students and were given an opportunity to look around and ask questions. Feedback has been very positive! We took the opportunity to inform them, as I now remind our students, that the closing date for applications to our Sixth Form is the end of term. Let’s see those papers flying in!

Much to look forward to next week; Christmas Lunch, and Jumper Day with ‘proper’ RAG week promising some great events to look forward to. Students need to remember to come into school with some cash!

30th November 2018

As Head, it was pleasing to hear, following a DfE Audit, that our record keeping on student numbers, attendance and other facets, showed no issues. I therefore congratulate a number of our Business Support staff for their great work to ensure we achieved this status.

Y11 are approaching their PPEs well, and staff, both pastoral and academic are supporting as appropriate; a challenging time, but good to identify issues and areas for support now rather than in the summer exam period. It’s also pleasing to hear about a good number who have already applied to our Sixth Form and we hope those who have college interviews coming up, sell themselves well and get an offer on the course(s) they hope for.

Sixth Form led RAG Week is shaping up well and it is good to see the number of students who are signing up for the various activities.

As this newsletter goes out we have students and staff heading off to Lille; a visit to the stunning Christmas Market among many other unique experiences. We wish them a safe journey.

23rd November 2018

Thursday was a very important day for year 9; a range of PSHEE related activities and the launch of the Options Process. An exciting evening and potentially daunting time; the first time students have the chance to select what they will be learning in the future. The Parents’ Information Evening linked to this was really well attended and I am sure, having spoken to many parents, that there will be many useful conversations over the coming weeks, as students move towards some important decisions about what they wish to study in the future.

In other news, the Children in Need event has come and gone; a great time was had by all and now we look forward to one of our major fundraising events of the school calendar: RAG Week. The Sixth Form are being brilliantly proactive with posters and ‘sign-up’ sheets appearing around school. I also had the privilege of attending a Sixth Form Council led assembly to launch and inform students of the charities chosen to be supported this year. Students were very well-prepared and spoke clearly and confidently.

In the last 2 weeks it has been pleasing to see how colleagues from SJLHS have been working with colleagues from across the schools with the Waveney Valley Academies Trust to improve practice in a number of potentially impactful areas.

Students have been reminded this week about their personal safety as the shorter days arrive; lights on bikes, care crossing the roads, etc. We hope they will take this advice seriously.

16th November 2018

I am so proud of the school community, commemorating the centenary of the Armistice in many wide-ranging ways both at school and more widely. Please check out the website: About Us/Community Events, to see some great pictures and a video.

I am sure that readers will be pleased to note that the school, represented by Mr Slater, gave an address at a conference in London this week. He outlined the work we do with groups of students in year 11 in the areas in which we have had notable success. Reports back to me suggest his presentation was well received.

As I walk round the school it is a pleasure to see the quality of the staff/student relationships, something which enables high quality independent learning and resilience to occur, most notably this week in Y7 Technology lessons and Y8 Skills.

As I finish this article we are embarking on our Children in Need day; non-uniform and a range of other fundraising activities. Our day was preceded by a Staff v Y10 boys netball match earlier in the week, great fun and enjoyed by a large number of spectators and raising over £50. We are hoping for a record total raised this year!

9th November 2018

I make no apology for the fact that this week has seen a greater focus on the Upper School and Sixth Form; specifically setting a “Widely Important Goal” for Y13 in terms of their academic achievements this coming Summer, shared at an assembly on Monday and seeing students taking part in the Senior Maths Challenge.

Following last week’s Destinations Evening, the school opened up for prospective sixth form students. This event was well attended, with good numbers from both our school and interested students from a wide range of schools in the area, including schools in Norwich and within our wider local community, both Norfolk and Suffolk based. The application process in now well underway.

I am very proud of the way our school community has approached the commemoration of the Centenary of the Armistice. It says a great deal about our school values!

2nd November 2018

The half term break was welcomed by all and has hopefully helped to prepare us for the marathon of a half term leading up to the Christmas break.

All of a sudden, this week, staff and students have had to acclimatise themselves as to how to deal with the inclement weather; wet break and lunch in a busy school is always a challenge and all have risen to this well, clearly demonstrating a real sense of community, maturity and mutual respect.

A highlight of the week has been the ‘Destinations Day’ for Y11, with many outside providers on site as well as an excellent session being led by a number of our Sixth Form students talking about the Post-16 offer at our school. This they did phenomenally well, talking about how things felt so very different in Sixth Form compared to the main school and also sharing their sense of pride in their school. In doing so they demonstrated their communication and presentation skills. I was impressed and grateful to both them and members of the Sixth Form Team who worked on this too. I sincerely hope that once again, in September 2019, we will have a record number of students joining us for Post-16 study.

Looking ahead, this Friday sees the first annual Armistice Assemblies being delivered, forming part of our traditional commemoration, but this year being all the more poignant as we mark 100 years since the end of WW1. As well as assemblies and our whole school minute of silence, to be held on Monday 12th, we are also holding a one-off event titled “Centenary Reflection” (music, drama, art, readings, etc) on the same day, starting at 6:30pm. All are invited: students, staff, parents and the wider community.

19th October 2018

A big thank you  to parents for the amazing support of your children and by extension the work we do at school, as demonstrated through the brilliant numbers attending events at school; Year 7 Meet the Tutors, Year 8 Information Evening, Year 11 and Sixth Form Music Recital Evening and the Year 7 PSHEE (online safety event) to name but a few. We really appreciate this.

In other news, it has been a pleasure to see an increase in student leadership across the school; attending events, taking visitors on tours and generally talking about their school knowledgeably and with a real sense of pride.

I hope that the good weather continues for us all as we have half term week to re-charge batteries!

12th October 2018

So… the results are in, following the two-week phone ban I am proud to say that our Y10/11 opted, in the vast majority, for a change to mobile phone usage. The winning option being allow, in their social area, the use of phones at break time only; a chance to catch-up with key messages etc. Lunchtimes will remain phone free and as a consequence, we continue to see greater social interaction; students talking to one another and playing traditional games, it’s a sight to behold!

Following last week’s amazing Open Evening, we have continued to welcome large numbers of parents and visitors into our school; Open Morning and Pathways Evening for Y10/Y11 on Tuesday and a very well attended Meet the Tutors Evening for parents of Y7 on Thursday. Our Arts Day on Wednesday brought 75 students and a number of staff into the school from our partner primary schools, with Y6 students developing and sharing their creative talents. I am grateful to attendees of all these events for their very up-beat comments, also referencing and positive and purposeful environment experienced; such great feedback on our students, your children!

The week ahead looks equally busy and we look forward to welcoming parents of Y7 and Y8 on Thursday for the two advertised events as well as an open invitation to the A Level and Y11 Recital Evening on Monday.

5th October 2018

The Y10/11 temporary mobile phone ban during social times has produced some interesting break and lunchtimes; card and board games aplenty and genuine face-to-face conversations! As we came towards the end of the two-week ban school arranged a ballot offering students a number of options to ascertain students’ views. One of the options was to return to the situation prior to the ban. We are looking forward to hearing the result of this genuine student consultation!

The second phase of us showcasing our school to prospective Y7s for September 2019 went really well on Wednesday; over 20 families came in for a look round, seeing the school in action, following Open Evening last week. It was lovely to hear comments at the end of the tour regarding the calm, orderly atmosphere parents experienced, how focused the learning looked and how brilliant our student tour guides were phenomenal ambassadors. The second of these ‘open school’ events is scheduled for next Tuesday.

Our programme of bespoke support for students and families began this week with the Sixth Form Information Evening for parents of Y12 students. This was pleasingly well-supported by parents who through presentations, were made aware of the potential challenges students face in the ‘step-up’ from Y11 to Sixth Form and also suggestions across a wide range of areas regarding how parents can get involved and support. The next event if for Y7 students next week, with an opportunity for parents to ‘Meet the Tutor’.

28th September 2018

WOW!

What a completely phenomenal evening! The school looked amazing, activities and displays were imaginative and engaging! Our students were an absolute credit to themselves and to us, sharing with visitors, their enthusiasm and buy-in to our school; ethos, values and engaging/wide-ranging offer. Visitors responded well to all that they experienced and we received some fantastic feedback.

Our guesstimate is that we had over 700 visitors and approximately 320 families.

21st September 2018

The start of this week saw a record being broken at SJLHS, an important record! We managed to shave 45 seconds  off the whole school emergency evacuation process, no mean feat, since the school is the largest it has ever been in terms of both student and staff population.

I have toured the school this week to both monitor learning and to show visitors and prospective student round. I was moved by what we saw to send the following round to staff and students:-

“I was extremely proud to be Headteacher of our school today. As I toured the  school with a prospective parent and her daughter, everywhere I went we saw outstanding learning focus, positive attitudes and great behaviour; a wonderful experience for all involved! The parent rightly commented on how nice it was to see teachers being able to teach.” Readers of this Newsletter should be proud too!

It has been pleasing to note the large number of students who have been staying after 3:15, for what we are calling period 4 - an hour for extra-curricular and enrichment. A wide variety of activities are available as can be found on the website. I would encourage any student who has not signed up to at least activity to do so as soon as possible.

Much to look forward to in the week ahead, not least our Open Evening on Thursday, where we look forward to showcasing our school to prospective students for September 2019 - can you believe it!

14th September 2018

I would like, in the first newsletter of the 2018/19 academic year, to start by congratulating last year’s Y11 & Y13 and the school staff who supported them. They achieved some great results this summer. They should be proud of their achievements and school wishes them all the best on the next phase of their learning journey; university, apprenticeship, college, Sixth Form.

We start term, as a school full to capacity; testament to the Sir John Leman offer and the ethos and culture which enables us to make incremental improvements. We are delighted that greater numbers than ever have opted to join our Sixth Form, with more than 25% of the Y12 cohort joining from a number of schools locally.

As I have attended assemblies and welcomed students to school in the morning this week, it has been a pleasure to note how impressive they look as a student body in full uniform. I would like to thank parents and carers for helping to achieve this. I am certain that this, along with our straightforward and consistently applied behaviour policy and the positive relationships between staff and students has ensured a very calm and purposeful start to the term. By period 3 on Monday, no one would have been aware that ‘the machine had been on pause’ for six weeks, but I know that staff and students alike have benefitted immensely from that significant break.

I am very positive and ambitious for the future and would like to thank parents, the wider community and all those who help support the work of  the school; your contributions are invaluable.

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