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News from Mr Taylor

18th September 2020

I am delighted by the way students have settled in to working in Zones; taking on board the information on Daily Briefings about how they should conduct themselves and how they can support our hygiene and covid virus preventative measures.

Ms Gurney has sent out a mailshot, containing lots of useful advice and guidance. Please do take time to read this and explore the links. Of particular importance is the information regarding Physical Activity, which we are adding in to our offer from next week, to support physical well-being.

Currently I am touring the school daily, at least once. I have been very impressed with how staff and students are coping with the constraints currently in place to support Year Group Zones. Focus in lessons is good and students are developing new ‘habits’ which support health and hygiene.

Y13 have particularly impressed me this week. They have established themselves in their ‘new home’, The Venue, and were great role models in the whole-school Fire Drill held earlier this week. They helped set the tone for what was an impressive moment; 1600 people (staff & students) in complete silence on the field as we speedily undertook roll-call. Visitors on site at the time and new staff commented on how impressive the conduct of students was.

Finally, can I thank parents for their support of what we are doing; it’s not perfect, but we are doing our best to offer a broad and balanced curriculum within the constraints of a Covid-19 context and Government Guidance. Things will change and evolve!

Keep well, keep safe

11th September 2020

Aside from our 31st August edition of the Dolphin, this is the first of our weekly newsletters since suspension in March due to Covid -19.

The return to full opening for all students has been successful and gone well, with the school now zoned by year group to create bubbles, for both teaching and social times. Students and staff may wear face coverings during the school day and those using school transport are expected to wear coverings both on buses and in waiting areas.

I am grateful to parents and carers for ‘briefing’ and preparing students for what their ‘first day’ would look like. Most were aware of their dedicated entrance and of general expectations. Daily briefings from tutors which remind students of what they need to be mindful of, in these unprecedented times, is a key and important feature of the school day.

Student attendance on return has been impressive; 98% across the whole school, with former students being joined by 250 in the new Y7 cohort. We are also delighted to welcome/welcome back a record breaking Y12; some 50% larger than last year. The school was full with almost 1500 students on Wednesday of this week when we welcomed back Y10, the final year group to return (Yellow Zone).

During Lockdown, and a largely empty school, we have taken the opportunity to undertake significant site developments, which we hope students will enjoy immediately or over time:

  • New sports hall floor
  • Complete refurbishment of main toilet area in the middle of the school
  • Installation of state of the art kitchens in Food Tech
  • Venue up-grade

As a result of the expansion to our Sixth Form, we have purchased a new set of Laptops for student use during study periods and are rolling out e-sign in. We are now in the process of ordering two canopies to offer further outside covered social space, one located near to The Atrium, the other near to the Sixth Form Area within the school.

Finally, as you are aware, at this time, we are unable to undertake any practical work within the curriculum offer, this clearly impacts on some areas more than others, but is unavoidable. As we move forward, we hope we might be able to move on from this, as the local and national context permits. As I conclude this newsletter, I would like to inform parents that we hope to be able to offer students a period of Physical Activity in the near future. We see this as important in terms of our support for physical and mental well-being. More information on this soon.

Keep well, keep safe,

17th July 2020

The last edition of our weekly newsletter, the Dolphin, was published way back in March!

I took the decision to suspend publication during enforced school closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic; school has seen a maximum of 100 students in school, per day, since that time! I thought I should bring the academic year to a conclusion by publishing a final edition.

As a school we did a ‘handbreak turn’, and began providing resources/lessons for ‘Home Learning’. Since March, things have evolved as staff and yourselves, as parents/carers, have gained new skills and increased in confidence! A big thank you to you and your child for such positive engagement with our offer throughout. We appreciate the many positive emails of support and commendation; I have been able to share these with all staff via a weekly ‘Keeping in Touch’ bulletin we have been sending out, which has also featured good work by students and pictures of all sorts of amazing things you have done in response to tasks set; as well as being a challenging time, I believe much fun has been had by many!

In recent days we have been working on our plans for the ‘return of all pupils’ as asked for by the Government, from the start of the Autumn Term. Hopefully you will have seen these and feel reassured by what will be in place, if things remain as they are currently. We can change and adapt as necessary.

We are really looking forward to welcoming students back in to school in a safe, calm and measured way.

Term has now ended and indeed the ‘memorable’ academic year 2019/20 is completed too! We hope you and your family have a fantastic summer break, whatever you are able to do!

Keep well, keep safe! See you in September!

27th March 2020

As school begins an indeterminate period of enforced closure, due to the rapid spread of the Coronavirus, for all but the most vulnerable and those children of Key Workers, we are entering a new and unexpected phase in learning and teaching here at Sir John Leman High School, but also across the whole country.

As we move to deal with this new situation, I want to take the opportunity to acknowledge and thank students and staff alike, well supported by extension from parents, for the incredible way they approached last week, in the lead up to the closure announcement; a time which also informed our Y11 and Y13 students that their May/June examinations had ‘been cancelled’!

On Thursday school felt surreal, on Friday like a balloon that been popped. Students and staff struggled admirably with the need to come to terms with the new scenario that was presenting; a situation which would be enacting almost immediately. Emotions ran high and I was personally moved as I listened to students talking about their feelings, not least Y11 and Y13 who spoke of potentially not returning to school, not seeing people again and feeling robbed of the opportunity to sit their hard worked for examinations. I really do feel for them all.

We have endeavoured to respond to the new situation, with learning being online, via a number of platforms, not least Go4Schools. Staff have grasped this new expectation well and we hope that students, with the support of parents and carers, will too minimise the negative impact of extended absence from the classroom by working hard on tasks set. It is sad to note too, that so many planned trip and enrichment opportunities have had to be cancelled, we hope to be able to resume this part of our offer in the fullness of time.

Please keep in contact with us, please keep an eye on our website for information and up-dates, and please ask for support, help and guidance as required. Facebook will be up-dated with information and other items of interest.

Finally, thank you for your support and for the many positive and encouraging comments.

I look forward to a time, in the not too distant future, when our school community will once again be re-constructed.

Keep safe and well!

13th March 2020

It seems incredible to say it, but after just passing the half-year mark, we are already thinking about the coming academic year. Two hundred and fifty places have been offered to students to join us in Y7 from September 2020 and the Y12 numbers are looking set to be record breaking! With that in mind, we have been planning and recruiting, to ensure we have the best and most suitably qualified staff joining our teaching workforce from the start of the coming academic year.

I am pleased to be able to report that we have been successful in recruiting to Maths, English and Geography positions with two further posts being advertised currently. The field for these roles has been impressively strong, which is good news for us all.

As you will be aware, we have been keeping a very careful eye on the changing positon with regards to the Coronavirus. Posters are being displayed around the school with regards to hygiene, with additional products being purchased to support this. As those of you who frequent the School Website will have noticed we put up a link to the daily post from the DfE, which contains the government’s latest advice with links to NHS England, travel advice etc.

Can I reassure you too, that we have organic plans to enable us to respond to any decisions or directives sent out from central government over coming days/weeks. These we will share, as the situation demands.

Many thanks for your on-going support in what are challenging and unprecedented times.

Here’s to a safe, healthy and restful weekend!

6th March 2020

A huge thank you to staff and Y8 parents/carers for another thoroughly successful Parents’ Evening; again attendance being very high, despite the best efforts of the weather.

As Head, I feel exhilarated by a number of key/one-off events which have taken place this week and which have punctuated a very positive week of learning which I have witnessed on my many tours around school, not least with candidates for roles we have in school from September. This kicked off with our Sixth Form Open evening last Saturday and as a result we have many applicants confirming their intention to join/stay with us in September, some new applications and others registering an interest.

Monday was National Offer Day; Y6 children finding out which Secondary School they had been offered. We have once again offered 250 places for September with a waiting list of just under 100; humbling to be the school of choice for so many families locally. Mr Sandford has been inundated with calls and has been offering support and guidance as applicable.

On Monday evening I was privileged to attend the Water Mills and Marshes Broads Authority music performance evening at the Marina Theatre Lowestoft, as advertised previously. It was a truly special event with our students presenting quality compositions with confidence and great skill. They should be rightly proud.

Y9 PSHEE was an important, and I am sure impactful day, mid-week and Y7, Y8 & Y9 had a great time celebrating World Book Day on Thursday, skilfully arranged by Miss Aldis, to whom we are all grateful. Myself and many others throughout the day also enjoyed judging the ‘Dress the Veg’ (as a book character) competition. Some amazing creativity; hopefully some pictures to follow. Many classroom doors were also ‘dressed’ to mark the occasion.

Just a few highlights!

28th February 2020

Welcome back to the second half of the academic year 2019/20!

As we return, coursework deadlines and performance deadlines are fast approaching for both KS4 and KS5 students. The Giant Leaps Conference was a fantastic evening on Thursday, and linked to the Revision Focused week for Y11, served to support the start of the final stage of KS4 work.

I am looking forward to welcoming potential students and their parents in to the school on Saturday for our Sixth Form Open Morning; details on the website! Numbers are already at record levels and we anticipate and hope the numbers will increase still further as students realise the benefits of remaining with us in to year 12 or join for the benefits of our USPs.

At the other end of our school community, Monday sees us arrive at National Offer Day; the day when Y6 students find out where they will be attending for their secondary education; numbers TBA but we know that we are once again oversubscribed.

Talking with the Trust this week, they have confirmed that we have a healthy budget positon and we are delighted to announce that we have been successful in bidding for some monies for site development - £200K. Details of how we will use this to enhance facilities in due course.

Please do join us at the Marina Theatre for performances from students at a free event based on work linked to the Norfolk Broads – Monday 2nd March, Marina Theatre Lowestoft, 7pm.

14th February 2020

It hardly seems possible that this is the final newsletter of the half-term; meaning a whole half-term has elapsed since Christmas. It also means that we are just over half-way through the academic year! Staff and students have shown resilience in the face of many winter bugs. Every day of absence has a significant impact on learning!

Y13 mock results are in, with some indication of great outcomes in the summer! The results have also served to highlight to all students the things they need to do in order to fulfil their potential. We hope students will ‘grab that nettle’, take the advice, work with staff and feel justly rewarded in August.

Again an impressive turnout this week for the Y9 Parents’ Evening, a key one as it forms the final part of the Options Process. Forms due in by the 25th February. Talking to parents throughout the evening I am confident that students will be making decisions based on good advice and after careful thought. We can ask no more.

I would also like to thank parents of Y8 students for coming in to school in large numbers to participate in the PSHEE day on Thursday. The event as a whole was a great success. Particular thanks go to Mrs Fassbender and Mrs Harrod for their leadership of this area of our work.

I was privileged to be able to spend a brief time in the community event entitled Muncheon Mingle, headed up by Mrs Remer, but ably supported by members of the Sixth Form Council and many other members of our school community.

When I went in to the event at lunchtime it felt like a little oasis in the middle of whole school social time; a wonderful mix of ages; 11 – 70+ talking, socialising, sharing food and drink, playing games. Unique and almost magical!

Finally, we have been impressed by the quality of the applicants for recently advertised Business Support Officer roles within the school. Details of the outcomes in future articles, but I am confident we will be making some great appointments.

7th February 2020

Feature department of the week has been Music!

Lower school students (Y8 & Y9) being treated to a visit to the school by Marshall Music. Students heard him perform and learnt about the process of writing and recording songs. The Broads Authority have also confirmed details of the trip they are arranging for Y7 through their link with the music department and that our students, who have been involved in a composition project, will be performing at an event at the Marina Theatre on Monday 2nd March at 7pm. This performance event has free admission, so it would be great to have as many supporters from the school as possible.

Parents, staff and other attendees were stunned by the quality of the performances at the KS3 Music Evening on Tuesday. So much talent, such high standards; we look forward to charting the progress of these students as they move through the upper school and in to the sixth form.

The very important Y9 PSHEE activities, which took place today, saw students learning about employment opportunities across a wide range of sectors. Students were exemplary and my understanding is that engagement was impressive, with good questions being asked from the floor.

The first of the formal examinations for what were formally the Nexus Engineering students took place this week. I am very grateful to several colleagues who have made this transition almost seamless; particular thanks to Mr Wilson and the Examination Team.

31st January 2020

Congratulations and thanks to Y11 parents for the phenomenal support for parents’ evening this week. 87% attendance! Quite remarkable, so a high bar set for Y9, the next Parents’ Evening this term – see you there! On the back of PPE Results Day, I hope this moment in time will serve to refocus Y11 in their work as they prepare for final examinations which begin just three short months away. Our overriding hope is that in August students feel content with their results; no thoughts of ‘if only’! There is much support and intervention available; we hope students will buy-in!

I have been privileged to be involved in Sixth Form Guidance meetings this week; Y11 have presented themselves extremely well and have come well prepared for the meetings. The same is true of the significant number of applicants we have had from external applicants. Their reasons for applying include the following: small group sizes, many leadership development opportunities, a wide-ranging offer, good facilities and a supportive friendly environment! September 2020 will see a record number of Y12 starters and we relish the challenge.

I have been impressed with the way Y9 are engaging with the Options Process; asking wide-ranging and appropriate questions; draft option forms are in and subject briefings are now taking place. We hope that students feel well-informed and in a strong position to submit final forms indicating their choices.

Y13 Mock Exams went well and results will be issued the week before half-term!

Finally, and to keep readers in the loop, we have recently submitted bids to a number of organisations to support on-going development of the school. More details in due course, but we hope and anticipate at least one significant site development project.

January has come to end and the academic year is racing by!

24th January 2020

It is unusual for me to say, in the month of January, how quickly a week has flown by, but this is so true of the last week!

Thanks to the hard work behind the scenes, the Y13 Mock exams have gone well, and will no doubt inform students and staff about what work needs to be covered in the lead up to the final examinations. Meanwhile, today, Y11 have received their PPE results. Mixed emotions, but again part of the learning and preparation journey to GCSE examinations, now just three and a half months away.

On Thursday morning I showed the CEO and Director of Secondaries of the WVAT round the school. How proud was I! Learning behaviour was exemplary without exception; focused, engaged. Our visitors commented on the high quality of our display and the clearly positive relationships between staff and students, both being confident in their respective roles; learning and teaching.

Also on Thursday, I was pleased to be part of the annual Rotary Dinner which we host at school. A detailed report will be in a future edition, but the evening was well attended, students were exemplary in the work they were doing, with some being extremely experienced; two contributing to the evening for the 5th year running. Both are considering being in our Sixth Form, so we hope they might achieve the complete 7 years! I was also delighted to be able to break from tradition in asking Ben Mensah (Head Boy) to take my role which is to make some closing remarks and observations on the evening and comment on the relationship between the Rotary Club and our school. He did this eloquently and with thoughtful and insightful views.

17th January 2020

Week two of 2020 and I am already dumbstruck by how amazing our students and our parents are! Y11 took seriously the opportunity for a ‘mock interview’. They dressed for the part, frankly outshining many of the staff, including myself; but more importantly they had prepared well and benefitted hugely from the experience, being able to articulate clearly what they had learnt and how they could improve in the future. This two-day event also served to be aspirational for others in our school community, it being a hot topic of conversation. A huge thank you to Mrs Copeman for masterminding the whole event.

Thursday, saw us hit an all-time record for attendance at parents’ evenings – 87%. Thank you Y10 parents! You have certainly thrown down the gauntlet to parents and carers of students in other year groups, many of which have planned evenings for this term. I am sure there will have been much useful information gained from both sides of the table which will feed into on-going progress and success.

Y7 had a great experience this week as they took part in their PSHEE enrichment day; great staff buy-in and positive attitudes from students ensure this will be an impactful event!

Meanwhile, at the upper end of the school Y13 are planning, preparing and revising for their important mock exams next week which will help them to diagnose, with their teachers, what they need to do in the final stages of their A Level courses. We wish them well!

Finally, and importantly, it is right to recognise the hard work of our Business Support colleagues who, among other important tasks currently, are working on bids to access additional finances for the school, arranging guidance meetings for potential sixth form students, ranking Y6 applications to decide who will be in our Y7 September 2020 intake and completing a census, all of which will have a massive impact on our school!

10th January 2020

Happy New Year to our students and their families!

Firstly, as I reflect on last term, I want to publically thank our amazing Sixth Form Council for their commitment, creativity and organisation of a ‘hitch free’ RAG week; coupled with the other Christmas /end of term activities meant we had a very festive, enjoyable end of term, whilst still educating effectively!

And so to 2020! It has been brilliant to welcome students back after a good break, to Celebration Assemblies. So much being celebrated; a great occasion for each year group.

Y11 PPEs were taken before the break and anticipation of ‘Results Day’ is tangible. This should really help Y11 to decide where they need to focus attention going forward. Meanwhile, Y13 are preparing for their Mocks. These start next week and we wish them well.

I am so pleased to be able to let parents know that we have had record numbers of applicants to our Sixth Form for September (160). Over 40 applications from schools other than our own! Guidance meetings are being scheduled as I write, taking place at the end of the month.

This is quite possibly the most important, impactful term of the academic year; timetable & staff planning, options for Y9 being made, Sixth Form options being decided, careers offers playing out and being reviewed. Y7 offers being made!

Exciting and exhilarating! 2020 is going to be a year to remember for SJLHS for sure!

20th December 2019

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

13th December 2019

I have been very impressed this week with the preparations being made for RAG week. Ably led by the Sixth Form Council, sixth form students are really pulling together to achieve what I anticipate will be a vintage year. I sincerely hope that their hard work, creativity and attention to detail pays off and that they reach their ambitious total for the week of £5K. As I left school on Thursday evening, the Main Hall was being seasonally be-decked, lighting and sound tested and rehearsals for key events taking place. It will be a great way to mark the end of a long term.

It was pleasing to see how well Y11 bought-in to the Work Wise Day, which in turn feeds into the Mock Interview days just after Christmas; invaluable preparation for next-steps and for life in general!

Finally, a huge thanks to all those involved in the preparation, serving and eating of the Christmas Lunch! This is always a great community event, with many strands of the school coming together to mark the Christmas Season by sharing a traditional meal.

6th December 2019

Following my reminder last week regarding Christmas Lunch tickets, I have been delighted to see the queues purchasing these. I anticipate there will be record numbers enjoying this key school community event next Thursday.

Lots to reference this week regarding our Sixth Form – Still time for Y11 to make applications for next year! Many have done so already and we are pleased with the number of external applicants. Sixth Form Council and many others are gearing up for RaG Week, which I am thinking will be a vintage year and certainly, if the record went on effort alone it would be; fantastic team work, creativity and hard work. Staff across the school, and members of the Sixth Form Team in particular, have been focused on ensuring UCAS references and associated preparations are completed to a high standard, by our internal deadline. I am grateful for students and staff working together to achieve this.

Finally, from a Sixth Form angle, let’s celebrate the fantastic turnout at Thursday evening’s Y12/13 Parents’ Evening. Around 70 %; it may be a record! Thank you.

We have been very pleased, this term, with the range and quality of the feedback we have gleaned from students about a range of activities. This will inform what we can improve and develop going forward.

As I end this week’s article; a personal note. I was fortunate to be invited to attend the Y11 COPE French Breakfast. Food, decoration and information were well prepared. I particularly enjoyed the bread and cheese! But even more than that, I enjoyed speaking French with those who had prepared the event. Their effort and sense of enjoyment in communicating in another language were tangible. Well done to all.

School is now decorated for the festive season and there is much to look forward to!

29th November 2019

Mid/late November is always a challenging time; short days, long nights, rain and heavy cloud!

Perhaps not the best context for a Waveney Valley Academies Trust review of Behaviour and Attitudes! I am pleased to report however, that this went well, with the review team commenting on positive relationships with the depth of support available being cited as valued by students. Good order and focus of students was also noted. Detail to follow once we are made aware of the final grading.

Two members of the Sixth Form Council attended the Leadership Meeting on Monday evening to present proposals for our RAG Week; the week is looking to be exhilarating, building on the best from the past with new ideas for 2019! The discussion was profitable and some fine tuning is now taking place. Good luck to the Sixth Form and thanks, in advance, for their hard work and commitment to this unique event which brings our community together as well as raising significant funds for charities. Please encourage your son/daughter to get involved in the wide range of activities being arranged.

As we hit December and with the end of term rapidly heading towards us, can I encourage as many as possible to purchase Christmas Lunch tickets, and on this seasonal note please, do put in your diary the Christmas Concert; St Michael’s Church, 18th December, 7pm. A truly fantastic community event and a chance to enter the Christmas spirit!

22nd November 2019

I am indebted to Y9 parents and staff for the fantastic Y9 Options Information Evening which has just taken place; an informative time, with an opportunity to research and ask key questions at the start of this process. Great turnout!

As I reflect on the week, I do so with pride, thinking of the 4 performances of Annie Jr. This production exceeded expectations and as I said at the final performance on Saturday, I was impressed with the commitment of both staff and students which brought this creative and high quality work to fruition. Furthermore, it was pleasing to see that the cast was truly representative of our whole school community.

Languages Day this week, led by Mr Naudot and our Language Leaders not only went extremely well, with our students feeling a real sense of pride and achievement, but also found primary school attendees enjoying the work and left feeling very positive about languages and language acquisition. We have already received a number of emails stating what a fantastic experience children had received.

All the above took place alongside our day-to-day work of learning and teaching! My many tours around the school this week saw much excellent practice; great student focus and resilience and students taking responsibility for their own learning.

15th November 2019

It was an absolute privilege to be able to take part in community based Armistice Commemoration events last weekend, where I was proud to see how many of our students were involved in the local organisations being represented. Laying the wreath at the Beccles Memorial, I was joined by the Head Girl Lucy Thurbon, and Mirudhushan Raveenthiran as acting Head Boy. We were the only local high school represented and it was great to see the Head Boy and Head Girl from Beccles Primary Academy also taking part.

At school on the Monday we were, as is tradition, able to mark the event by a whole –school silence, sandwiched between playing of Last Post and the Reveille in three locations across the school; our Union Jack being lowered and raised during this period as appropriate. Several visitors to the school were moved by the buy-in being displayed; 1400 students paying their respects.

To enhance our recognition of this event, the final Armistice Assembly, to Sixth Form, was delivered by Mr Melchior and displays and art work produced by students have been put up around the school. A phenomenal school response which says a great deal about our community spirit!

A significant number of visitors have been in school this week, enriching our day-to-day work; Y9, Y11 and Sixth Form being a particular focus with a variety of events taking place.

Finally, as I complete this article, I have just received very positive feedback from colleagues who attended tonight’s first night of Annie Jr. Thanks to staff for organising (Miss Holt and Mrs Forster in particular) and to students for giving of their time and talent. I am looking forward to attending both the Friday and Saturday evening performances. Tickets are still available on the door, if you have not already purchased tickets online, please do try to join us!

8th November 2019

It was a pleasure to be able to welcome so many parents, carers and students to our Sixth Form Open Evening; record numbers from both our own Y11 as well as from other local schools, both state and private. Many applications are in already, but plenty of time for more with deadline being the end of term! We would encourage Y11 to have applications to at least two options for the coming September.

At the time of writing school is looking forward to the drama groups performance of Annie Jr. The cast will be involved in a full day of rehearsal on Saturday which I am sure will be significant, in preparation for performances next Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Please do purchase tickets in advance if at all possible.

Also in the Arts area, we thank staff and students for their contribution to the D-Day Remembrance event in Beccles last Saturday, raising money for the Royal British Legion. The school contribution was significant, with three school singing groups performing. There was some fantastic feedback from both attendees and the event organisers.

1st November 2019

It’s Halloween, marked in school by a Sixth Form ‘dress-up day’ and pumpkin carving competition; the half-term break already seems a distant memory, but in a positive way! Students have settled well and are engaging in productive learning.

This is a key half term; Y6 are busy deciding if SJL is for them, closing date today! Y9 will be engaging in the KS4 Options Process and Y11 will have a focus on preparing for PPE exams and their ‘next steps’, post-16. We hope that a large percentage will attend the Sixth Form Open Evening next Thursday and consider their own Sixth Form as a strong option. Y10 Work Experience is now being arranged, following the application deadline this week, and in terms of enrichment, we have PSHEE days for several year groups and I was moved, today, to attend a Y11 assembly, a presentation featuring the school acapella choir and detailed information with visual illustration given by Mr Melchior, commemorating The Armistice. It’s a strong and unique community moment.

The school community is excited at the prospect of performances of Annie Jr by the school drama group. If you have not already done so, please purchase a ticket, I can assure you it will be an evening to remember! This is scheduled for the week after next.

Staff development has also been a feature of our work, with staff reviewing their personal targets, safeguarding training up-dates for all and bespoke sharing good practice sessions! This should benefit individuals and the whole school community.

18th October 2019

Since the last Newsletter, we have continued to welcome prospective students to the school to show them on a day-to-day basis; significant numbers attending from Hobart High School this week, with the process being well supported by the Sixth Form Team and student leaders.

The first ‘Saturday morning’ transition event last week saw record numbers (223) who might potentially apply for our 250 places. Staff and children alike had a great time!

The A Level Recital Evening was good and the staff worked hard to ensure that the programme was both appropriate and varied. The Arts Days have been the most successful ever with over 200 students attending and all seeming to have a great experience; so too the Hobart Y11 visits.

As we welcome our first half term of the year, I want to take this opportunity to thank staff and students for a great start to the year; great engagement, and a great offer. We wish all a restful and enjoyable week off.

11th October 2019

Following Open Evening last week, which saw footfall over around 1000 visitors, this week has seen the school being a hub for a variety of activities and events. I’m not quite sure how our calendar planning allowed so many events to be scheduled in such a small window, but it has been quite exhilarating: 

  • Open Morning
  • KS4 Pathways Evening (packed to the rafters!)
  • Hobart and Pakefield Y11 Visits
  • Y7 PSHEE - Online Safety Day (highest number of attendees ever)
  • Y7 Meet the Tutors Evening
  • Primary Arts Day

The 1000+ visitors this week for these events were current parents, prospective students (primary and secondary), prospective parents, colleagues from partner schools and a huge range of local employers and post-16 educational providers. Students, teaching staff and support staff, have presented such a strong team spirit.

Feedback from all quarters has been phenomenally positive and the Local Authority visitor I took round school today also commented positively on the school; her first visit. She remarked on the calmness of the school, the positive learning ethos, the quality of display and the way we celebrate success on a range of levels. She also commented positively on our approach to safeguarding, and in her role as a ‘critical friend’ to the school, she stated how impressed she was with both outcomes and students progress this past summer. I was pleased to be able to report that we are expecting Summer 2020 to be even better!

All of the above serves to highlight a great start to this academic year. Well done to staff and students alike for their brilliant buy-in to our offer and thank you for the fantastic support we get from parents.

4th October 2019

There have been some great and I hope impactful assemblies this week, helping to support our sense of community and support academic and personal development. I hope students have heeded the advice!

Students this week have also been encouraged to get involved in extra-curricular/enrichment opportunities; a time to try new things and to push out of their comfort zone; to help realise their potential!

Following last week’s amazing Open Evening, we have held our first Open Afternoon, a chance for prospective students and their parents/carers to see the school in action. Over 30 families shown round school by staff and student ambassadors, leaving with positive feedback about what they saw.

Albeit crazy, but after a very busy evening last Thursday, our Sixth Form still decided they would hold the annual MacMillan Coffee Morning on Friday of last week, and what a great success it was! A great number of attendees, some fantastic discussions and around £300 raised for a fantastic charity. I am so proud of our Sixth Formers’ commitment to community relationships.

27th September 2019

There has been a great deal going on this week, not least a fantastic PSHEE day for Y10. The culmination of the week was our annual Open Evening; the school looked amazing, some great activities and displays and students were a credit to themselves and our school.

I was humbled by the level of interest in our school: 400 families, close to 1000 adults and children in the school.

I think we displayed a phenomenal sense of community; students so proud to talk about their school, to show people round with teachers and support staff working together to show what the school offers.

The school’s reputation is rightly riding high at this time, after great results; something we should all be proud of, but we are not complacent, although I do believe our offer is second to none in the area. We look forward to, and hope, that we will fill our Y7 number of 250 students.

Finally, I urge all students to take part in the many and varied extra-curricular, enrichment and trips offer.

20th September 2019

I am grateful to staff for their hard work preparing and delivering both safeguarding and online safety assemblies; an important part of our role in educating and supporting the personal development of our students. PSHEE day for Y10 next week is designed to support careers knowledge and aspiration.

At the time of writing we are looking forward to next week’s Open Evening, with Student Leaders preparing to support the event, being proud to show potential parents round their school and talk about our USPs.

I hope that parents have looked at our enrichment and extra-curricular offer, something for everyone! As I said to students in my opening assemblies, I hope that as many of them as possible will take up at least one activity; it will broaden horizons and life experiences. I am delighted that next week sees the re-launch of our Duke of Edinburgh Award programme, following the withdrawal of support from the Local Authority, with assemblies for Y9 and Y12 to be led by our new team. It’s very exciting and I hope that the number of participants will be strong.

13th September 2019

Wow! Such a great summer for the school, where we are able, along with students and their family and carers, to celebrate the success of so many of our students, both Y11 and Y13.

Headlines show notable improvements at both KS4 & KS5. We are particularly pleased with two key accountability measures; the number of students gaining a 5+ in both English and Mathematics has increased by 11% and our progress figure shows that students at SJLHS made significantly better progress than average. This places our results as the best in the locality.

I am grateful to parents and carers for supporting the school by purchasing suitable school resources and uniform. A little work to do to ensure consistency on the latter, but students filed in to assembly looking very much part of our large and diverse community, now numbering over 1500. Our new Y7 have made a particularly impressive start.

I have spent a significant amount of time as we started the term, in assemblies and visiting lessons; I have been impressed with student ‘buy-in’ to our ethos and values. A particular focus for development this year is peer and self -assessment, to enable students to be more effective learners. I have already seen this being effective!

With such a positive start, in this uncertain and unstable world, I am very optimistic for our school, both in the short term and well in to the future!

19th July 2019

I was proud to show Jeremy Rowe (CEO) and Helen Wilson (Director of Secondaries) of our Trust round school on Monday. Despite it being close to the end of a long term, they noted that the school was very calm and students were well-focused and enthusiastic about their learning. What more could we wish for?!

My trip to Belgium, joining part of the Music Tour, was more moving and memorable than I ever anticipated. Our singers performed to around 600 attendees at the nightly Menin Gate ceremony; such a wonderful sound! Another venue, a bandstand in Ostend saw a wide-ranging programme performed to around 200 audience members, some staying for the duration, some dropping in and out between shopping.

The term is still continuing at full pace! STEM fortnight drawing to a close with a Fair; some impressive and imaginative ideas being presented. The induction on Thursday evening for our new Y12 was well attended on Thursday evening and it was great to see so many of our Y11 parents along with new families from other local schools. I am optimistic about numbers joining our Sixth Form in September.

Sixth Form work experience is also reported to be going well, so too the entrepreneurial work undertaken at school by those not able to find a suitable place. My understanding is that some will be delivering a presentation to the Beccles Town Council in the near future, the Mayor being impressed with what she heard.

As this newsletter is published we are mid-way through our first of three transition days for Y6. We have been impressed with their approach to the day and consequently we are already looking forward to September, but I conclude this, the final Newsletter of the 2018/19 academic year, wishing both staff and students all the best for an enjoyable and restful and safe summer break!

12th July 2019

At the time of publication of this issue of The Dolphin, I will be traveling to Belgium, to join the Music Tour party. The purpose of my journey being to take part in the daily First World War Ceremony at the Menin Gate. Our students have the honour of performing at this daily event on Friday 12th July, I will be taking part by laying a Poppy Wreath on behalf of the school, with students also laying a wreath on behalf of the Beccles Royal British legion. We anticipate it to be memorable and moving.

Once again the week has been punctuated by two of our key annual events; Tuesday Sport Day, with 1100 students out on the sports field in the afternoon, cheering on one another and witnessing several school records being broken. More of this in future editions I am sure, but for me the event was a great opportunity for us to get together as a community and celebrate endeavour, skill and resilience.

The second event was our Academic Awards Evening. There were 420+ subject nominations with overall winners for every subject studied across the school. I was grateful to the Beccles Mayor Andrea Downes for delivering a brief but insightful and encouraging address, which was heard by over 350 parents and family friends who attended. We will share her speech more fully with students in due course.

Next week is the final fully week of term, a second STEM week and the final phase of Y6->7 transition to look forward to. All 250 of the new Y7 cohort will spend the last three days of term with us, starting next Friday, as they complete the final lap to becoming a fully-fledged Sir John Leman Student.

5th July 2019

Exhausted and exhilarated in equal measure!

If you read the Beccles and Bungay Journal you will get a taste of how phenomenally successful the Y11 Prom was. Students looked amazing, had a great time and were rightly treated with a magnificent firework display.

Staff were extremely impressed with our Y6-7 Transition Saturday; friendships formed, a clear view of SJL expectations and a display of fantastic resilience and focus. This was closely followed by further transition in the form of a ‘Tea Party’, arranged and hosted by the SEND Team, which again was a huge success.

Y10 are now in mid-Mock Exam phase. The purpose of which is to highlight to them what they need to do as they move in to Y11; life changing if they respond to outcomes positively.

I write this article, on return from a most amazing Summer Concert, an evening which I described to the audience as a microcosm of our school; high standards, demonstration of resilience, team work and great maturity. Staff leading from behind, supporting and orchestrating, which helps to develop team work and leadership.

We wish our musicians all the best as they start their tour to Belgium next Thursday, with a highlight being the Menin Gate Ceremony; suitable music and a poppy wreath to be laid on behalf of the school.

28th June 2019

Another week to remember for so many staff and students!

The last examination of the summer season has been sat; season started with GCSE and ended on Wednesday of the week with A Level students. We are proud of how our students have approached this intense and challenging time! We look forward to seeing them at results days to celebrate the outcomes of their hard work.

Reports from staff, punctuated with some outstanding pictures informed us, ‘back at base’, what a fantastic and enriching time staff and students have had on the Hadrian’s Wall trip. New friendships formed and quests for more historical knowledge and further study ignited. More of this in future editions.

Now to the end of the week, Thursday to Saturday! We wish all well who set off at the crack of dawn on the Geography Trip to Devon, with weather looking finely set, they are sure to have a fantastic trip. Thanks to Mrs Remer and the Staff Team for leading this. The day was extended for many staff, as we had the pleasure of being in the audience at the Music Department’s Fund Raising Event for the Belgium Tour, which sets off in a fortnight’s time. Attendees were very generous, with raffle tickets selling out!

There is a further opportunity to hear great music and get involved in fund raising at the Summer Concert next Thursday at 7pm.

Friday sees staff and students celebrating together at the Year 11 Prom; Hotel Victoria being a great setting which will only enhance the ‘special treat’ for a great year group. More of that next week! The Prom ends at midnight, so after a few hours sleep, school will be back on duty on Saturday at 9.30am; the last of our Year 6/7 Transition Days. We look forward to working with over 200, soon to be Sir John Leman Students, and to meet with their parents for coffee and an opportunity for some online safety training.

The week ends with school music groups representing the school in the Beccles Hospital Fete. Weather is looking good, so we hope the event is well attended and that the school’s contribution helps to enhance the occasion and thus help swell the coffers of Beccles Rotary, enabling them to support many good causes in the year ahead. We are proud of our link with the Rotary, a relationship which is mutually supportive.

Sunday sees the week over! 

21st June 2019

A week to remember!

Predictions about the negative impact the weather might have on our Leman 4 Life event began on Monday; in the event we were blessed with a fine afternoon, which saw, in my view, the best year ever! Great organisation and great engagement; a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the strength of our school community spirit. We are quietly optimistic that we can exceed our £70K target – still time for your financial support!

Thursday evening saw school hosting an event for parents of those students who will be joining our school in Y7 this coming September. It was a well-attended, positive meeting with an important presentation from Mrs Francis outlining, among other things, some of the key expectations which support our strong ethos and culture.

On the back of an Outstanding grading from WVAT for Learning & Teaching last term, we went in to our Leadership & Management Review with great positivity. The review panel commented on the consistency and common sense of direction across the school, citing this as a strength. Following the Review, we now have an Outstanding rating for this aspect of our work too. We are delighted and staff should be rightly proud of this acknowledgement of our on-going journey, which we will continue to pursue with great energy; striving as ever to improve our offer and our practice.

14th June 2019

Not quite ‘flaming June’, and a soggy Wednesday evening did not dampen the spirits or the excitement and anticipation of all those who attended our 11th Annual St Michael’s Partnership Awards Ceremony. The church was full to bursting and among the assembled throng of 138 award winners representing 12 schools; students from Year 1 to Year 13. The event was enhanced by music from the Partnership Choir and own school Jazz Band.

At the time of writing we are busy working on preparations for the coming academic year as well as delivering our standard curriculum offer with many enrichment opportunities; Leman4Life next week!

As we plan for 2019/20 the budget position is positive, we are fully staffed with well-qualified staff and working on completion of a complex school timetable is nearing completion. We also have plans in place to up-grade aspects of the fabric of the school and facilities; most areas will benefit from improvements of some kind. It is pleasing to be able to be this positive in such challenging times.

I will be talking about our plans, our expectations, our values, our USPs and our broad and dynamic offer to parents of the new Year 7 next Thursday, whose sons and daughters will be joining our school in September. An event I always look forward to immensely as the circle of the academic year moves towards it’s end and beginning.

7th June 2019

Thank you once again to parents, for turning out in great numbers for the Y8 Parents’ Evening on Thursday; the three-way partnership or student, parent and school, is key to success. We don’t take parental support for granted, but really appreciate it, in our endeavour to deliver the best possible education we can.

At the time of writing, many students are looking forward to a trip or enrichment opportunity in the last 6 weeks of the academic year and just this evening, I was present as staff briefed parents about the Devon Trip. This, and all such activities, offer students an opportunity to broaden their horizons, develop new skills and expand their knowledge and friendship groups.

We are extremely proud of our Y11 and Y13 cohorts in this intensive examination period, with half-term serving as useful respite! Before half-term Y13 had a fantastic Leaver’s Ball and tickets are going well for the Y11 Prom at the end of the month. It will be an evening to remember, I am sure, and a fitting way to end the examination season.

Ourselves and our partner primary schools are looking forward to the 11th Annual St Michael’s Award Ceremony next Wednesday. Fine weather would make the event all the more memorable! More on that next week.

24th May 2019

Congratulations and well done to Mr Slater, the Y10 Tutor Team, Mr Melchior and other staff for the preparation and delivery of a new event; Taking Flight! Thank you too, to students and parents who attended in good numbers and who will have benefitted for timely and bespoke advice, with the intent of setting up Y10 for the ‘big year’ ahead. Great generic and subject specific advice was given.

This week sees the conclusion to the two-week work experience window for Y10, which has been a great success! I have been privileged to see many extremely positive feedback reports and letters of commendation.

It was great to meet with our partner school Headteachers recently, to discuss how we can further develop our links and support successful transition. We also discussed final arrangements for St Michael’s Award Ceremony.

Half-term to look forward to! Despite the first-half of the summer term being the shortest in memory, it has been exhausting for staff and students with all the usual activities and requirements being condensed into this short window. The week will also serve as a break for Y11 and Y13 who are mid-exams. It will give them a useful revision ‘catch-up’ period.

Hope all have a relaxing and effective break!

17th May 2019

Well done Y11! – a busy start to their GCSE Examination period with English and Science being among the suite of exams taken this week. Examination briefings have added value to the revision and exam preparation undertaken in advance of the days.

Well done Y10 on work experience! – some great feedback to date….”great attitude”, “working really hard”, “developing many new skills”, “a credit to themselves and their school”, ”making a great contribution to the organisation”.

Well done to Y7/Y8/Y9 for coping well with finding much of the school closed down at break and lunch; corridors and social spaces out of bounds, meaning they had to be more quiet than usual as they moved around the site and having to consider new ways to get to familiar classrooms.

Well done and thanks go to many support and business staff for going ‘above and beyond’ in the past week supporting various aspects of school and community outreach work.

Finally, well done to our Examinations Team; day one of the GCSE season saw us being inspected by the Examinations Regulator. An annual visit, but tough on day one, despite that the team did brilliantly and we came out with ‘flying colours’.

A great week in so many ways!

10th May 2019

A short week, but a week riding high with emotions!

Students and staff are feeling apprehensive about the forthcoming examination period for Y11 and Y13; joined by Y9 students who are excited by the next phases of their learning.

School is also very much looking forward, with anticipation, to the coming academic year; a budget to set, a timetable to be written, admissions to be made, staff to be appointed and learning to be planned. Another busy period in the school year, but very much excitedly looking forward to the future.

We wish Y10 every success, as they embark on the two-week work experience window which starts next week. I am particular grateful to Mrs Copeman and Mrs Moye for their hard work and tenacity in ensuring the highest percentage of students having a placement, at the time of writing around 94%! A truly fantastic achievement and testament to our strong relationships; students, parents, community and staff! Thank you all.

3rd May 2019

A week of ‘events’!

It all began last Saturday – a Saturday morning of activities with Y6 students; those who have chosen and been offered a place at our school for this coming September. I am grateful to staff for giving up their time at this already busy time of year, and they, in turn commented on what a brilliant time they had, citing maturity, resilience and creativity as key qualities being evidenced. This makes us feel very positive about the coming academic year!

It was a great pleasure for myself and other audience members to attend the Y13 Performing Arts performance on Tuesday, an exam piece based on a Dylan Thomas poem; thought provoking!

Wednesday evening saw a ‘good crowd’ attending the A Level Recital Evening at the Raveningham recording studio. Not only did the A Level students have chance to showcase their final performances but other talented musicians were given the opportunity to perform; solos, duets and small ensembles. Music of a high standard and across a wide range of musical genres was presented and enjoyed by attendees.

Thank you to Y7 parents who have maintained the high standards of attendance at Parents’ Evening – 79%. We really appreciate your interest and engagement with the school and in your childrens’ education.

A further thank you goes to Y11 for their excellent attendance; this will be impactful on results this summer; this coupled with their positive attitude to learning, advice and support, and attendance at revision and intervention sessions makes me feel very positive about the KS4 Results this summer. Y13 are similarly ‘buying in’ to the examination preparation offer and I think the word has got out about what a great Sixth Form offer we have, as we are still receiving applications for September!

We hope all enjoy the longer, Bank Holiday, weekend!

26th April 2019

The return to school for the summer term sees us possibly the shortest half-term ever, just 22 school days! So likely to be intense. I was pleased, therefore, how purposeful this week has been, and nice to be able to punctuate each morning with a Celebration Assembly; an opportunity to mark success in many varied ways. Great for staff and student alike.

With reference to staff, we started term a day earlier; an opportunity for staff development and training. One of the foci on Tuesday was developing and consolidating how we make use of the Purple Pen of Progress (if you have not heard of this, ask your son/daughter!)

New furniture for the outside of the Atrium and magnificent work undertaken by Sixth Formers, with the support and encouragement from Mr Ainslie to massively develop the Sixth Form Garden, all being paid for from donation or donations in kind, which have served to make a legacy impact on the start of Summer 2019!

5th April 2019

The last week of a long term, the week before the well-earned Easter Break and it has been truly action-packed!

I was delighted to be able to be part of the Origami Challenge Pop-Up Shop. The atmosphere in the hall as students set out their stalls were energised and discussions demonstrated clearly to me, the enjoyment, skills and knowledge gained.

Over 700 audience members; over 2 performances, experienced high quality, skilled and expressive musical performances from a wide variety of ensembles that rehearse weekly; the range of musical styles and genres was also impressively varied. The afternoon Y5/6 primary school audience was impressively attentive, seemed to have good knowledge of musical instruments and took part enthusiastically in the group singing. 

Y11 students are very much ‘in the zone’ for this important phase in their lives and I have been impressed with those I have seen recently, as I undertook an ‘Academic and Futures Health-Check’ with their preparation for next steps academically and also how most are strategically engaging in intervention and other support opportunities. School wishes them well as they prepare for the exam period. It’s not too late for those who have yet to ‘buy-in’!

Y10 had a brilliant day preparing for Work Experience; once again receiving phenomenal feedback from external visitors who came in to support this process.

Finally, I would like to thank parents for attending the Y12 Higher Education Information Evening in good numbers and wish all students and their families the very best for a safe, restful and enjoyable Easter holiday.

29th March 2019

I was pleased to welcome in to school members of the WVAT and it’s CEO. We toured the school and I was delighted to receive so many positive comments about the school curriculum offer, the broader curriculum, student behaviour and learning focus (which was exemplary) and the general organisation of a very large institution. Following a tour of the school, we discussed a wide range of topics related to the school; a useful opportunity to raise awareness and showcase our school.

On the back of last week’s PSHEE day, I am very much looking forward to the potential impact of the Y10 day today; staff buy-in and commitments is much appreciated, as well as student engagement and focus.

I am particularly pleased to have been made aware of the large number of students who are taking part in enrichment and intervention activities at the end of the school day. There is a capacity for more to get involved! Where applicable, please encourage your son/daughter to at least look at what is on offer and hopefully sign-up to something!

A long term, one week to go! Students and staff have demonstrated energy and resilience.

22nd March 2019

The week started by welcoming back students from a very successful trip to Spain, with school being in receipt of some very positive comments about the progress made and the very positive behaviour and engagement displayed by our students whilst away. We have been further buoyed up by longer daylight hours and more spring like weather this week; being phenomenally busy. A week likely to be impactful to students on many levels.

I write this article on return from the Sixth Form Parents’ Evening, which, like main-school evenings this year, was attended well. Parental support, understanding and engagement in what we do in school on a daily basis is crucial in removing ‘glass ceilings’ and enabling students to achieve their true potential. With Alde Valley High School part of the Waveney Valley Academies Trust, we are preparing a permanent display area at the school to advertise and celebrate the USPs of our school Sixth Form.

There have been some important assemblies for students in each Key Stage this week; please talk to your son/daughter to find out what the key messages were!

I am grateful to our PSHEE leads and other staff who delivered sessions for Y9 on Thursday. Topics addressed are so relevant to events in our contemporary world; aiming to equip students with skills, knowledge and understanding of the complex, volatile and challenging issues they may have to deal with in the future.

15th March 2019

This term is moving on a-pace!

Much activity across all year groups, both in the classroom and beyond; a great number of students participating in extra-curricular and enrichment activities.

I have previously mentioned how delighted we are by the numbers applying to our school for both Y7 and Y12 and at this time, we are now actively planning our staffing for September, recruiting as appropriate. I am impressed with the number and calibre of applicants for a recently advertised Geography post; I believe this is testament our school offers to teachers; the ethos, values and opportunities. As ever, I anticipate and am pleased to say that we will be fully staffed with qualified teachers for the coming academic year.

As the time of writing, I am continuing to receive feedback on the Spanish Trip. This is of a very positive nature; great pictures and great comments about our students, “...the best group they’ve ever had… So polite and speaking lots of Spanish…”. We wish them well on the return journey this weekend.

8th March 2019

A phenomenally busy week at SJLHS!

As well as great work in the classroom; commented on by staff who have undertaken Learning Walks and a number of visitors who I have shown round, there has been much impactful work in other areas.

Y11 are gaining a great deal from morning intervention, now moving over into the Sixth Form too! I was personally excited and impressed with the Y11 RS Day this week for half of Y11 (other half to have the same experience soon). Staff had prepared very well and students were impressively engaged, telling me how much they had learned and how valuable they found the whole-day immersion.

More holistically, as a school we are busy planning for the coming academic year; financially, staffing, Y9 options, numbers for Y12 - so much to do, so exciting!

Finally, it’s a pleasure to report to parents how fantastically students have engaged with World Book Day; lots of interesting activities being undertaken and the vast majority of classrooms having creative book-themed doors.

1st March 2019

We were blessed with some great weather over the half-term break, which I am sure will have added value to the break for both staff and students.

On return, Y9 were asked to hand in their final Option Forms; we have 100% return! Not only is this helpful for planning, but it also tells us that Y9 are interested and engaged in the process. Well done!

I have been impressed with how students have settled back to a busy, and possibly the most important half-term of the academic year. This is particularly true for Y11 who, today, have had a great time engaging in workshops to support their examination/revision preparation during the day,  followed by our first Making Giant Leaps Conference; a great concept which received some very positive feedback from parents who attended: “……helped us to make sense of the information we have received to date….”, “…….great to have clear bespoke subject related advice alongside more generic information about how parents can support and direct…”

As this article gets published we are looking forward to our Sixth Form Open Morning on Saturday, being optimistic about the number of students we will welcome in to Y12 in September. At the other end of the age range, we have learned today that we will once again be full in Y7 this coming September (250 students) with a significant number of first choice students on the waiting list. We very much appreciate the support of those who have made us their high school of choice!

15th February 2019

As I write this we have just completed the first half term of 2019!

So much as been achieved; preparation for examinations, discussions about future subjects to be studied and embedding some quality learning skills. We have been well supported by members of the local and wider community, for which we are grateful.

Wednesday evening was a real highlight - KS3 Performance Evening! Quite frankly the standard was outstanding; such talent at such a young age. Much to look forward to for the future! The evening was well attended and music was varied. I am hoping the newly formed Rock and Pop Band will perform to their peers in the near future via an assembly.

Y13 have just finished the Mock Exam Results. Support, challenge and advice is in place to help as students move to the final phase of their time at our school and work towards fulfilling their targets.

Finally, we wish those well who have entered for the Rotary Photography Competition; work will be on display in the Public Hall in Beccles on Sunday.

We hope all enjoy a restful and enjoyable break and re-charge batteries for the second part of the 2018/19 academic year.

8th February 2019

Part 3 of the ‘trilogy’ took place this evening - Y9 Parents’ Evening! Attendance exceeded attendance by Y10 & Y11, which being over 80%, were themselves a record. So… Y9 hit 85%. Well done parents, students and staff - a marathon evening, but important as the last piece of the Options Process Jigsaw! The gauntlet has duly been thrown to the Lower School, with Parents’ Evenings for Y7 & Y8 still to come! Thank you all for this phenomenal commitment to your children and their learning.

Ms Gurney is just in the process of sending out her half-termly Pastoral updates. Please read, note and act on some of the key messages. Can I also add a reminder regarding the importance of regular attendance! Feeling a ‘bit under the weather’ needs to be met with resilience and a commitment to power through the day!

Finally, can I say how lovely it has been this week to receive a number of comments from the local and wider community on how strong the school’s reputation is. This is down to the support of staff, students and parents in ensuring consistency and certainty. Your on-going support of our behavioural and uniform expectations is appreciated and powerful.

1st February 2019

The long month of January has come to an end and I always think that last week’s Y11 Parents’ Evening is a turning point in the school year. Mr Slater and I have been having fruitful conversations with Heads of Department, identifying a range of support, advice and guidance we can offer to students. It has enabled us to become aware individuals in detail; their needs and ambitions.

As well as ‘stepping-up’ to the final stages of their preparations for GCSE Examinations, Y11 have been attending guidance meetings at school, considering choices and options and some have been attending college and apprenticeship interviews. We are expecting a record number joining our Sixth Form this September.

Y13 have just started their Mock Exams. We wish them well and look forward to supporting them in the final phase of their time with us as they prepare for examinations in June.

Y7 & Y8 have impressed staff as they demonstrate their increasing independence and resilience. Great to see unusual places around the school being used for learning opportunities.

Y9 are very focused on the Options process and attendance at Parents’ Evening next week looks to meet or exceed the high target if 80%+, set by Y10 and Y11 already this term! - Thank you.

25th January 2019

Well done Y11 Parents; 80% of whom attended the Parents’ evening on Thursday. The meetings seemed very positive an the information very focused and I hope impactful, on the back of the PPE Results Day, which saw Y11 receiving results which hopefully indicated what the minimum set of grades they will get and will help them focus on how to approach the next few weeks. Talking to students and parents, it was great to hear their positivity and how many intend to return to our school for Sixth Form.

This week, as many weeks do, we saw a large number of employers and key staff employed locally, coming into school to support our careers and guidance work from Y7 upwards; particular thanks to Mrs Copeman who heads up this aspect of our work.

The Y7 assembly, featuring performances of songs from musicals, as worked on in music and drama lessons was a new and entertaining addition to the collaborative work we do. Well done Y7!

Finally, the school wishes Y11 ‘good luck’ for forthcoming College and Apprenticeship interviews as well as Sixth Form Guidance Meetings.

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


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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