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News from Mr Taylor

13th May 2022

I hope that parents, students and staff will understand that my article for this week’s Newsletter will be shorter than normal following the announcement of an Ofsted visit. The working week became somewhat busier than anticipated!

I took a call from the Ofsted Admin Team at 9.30 Tuesday morning informing us of a visit and checking factual details, followed by an initial 2 hr call from the Lead Inspector at 10.30 and a follow-up call at 3.30pm. The scene was set for a two-day visit following the Section 8 Inspection Framework; a monitoring inspection. The only outcome would be to confirm that the school was still good or not!

Wednesday started a full two-day visit; visits to lessons, talking to staff and students, evaluating plans and triangulating information.

The Ofsted Team were perceptive and understood our ethos and priorities. During the visit the students and staff were amazing, doing what they normally do. Supporting one another, as they normally do, and clearly articulating what they were learning.

Thanks to parents, staff and students who have completed surveys.

The outcome will be shared once the report has been through the Ofsted Quality Assurance process and published.

Keep well, keep safe! The future is bright, the future is positive! We have still more exciting and significant plans for the future for us all to look forward to, so watch this space!

Finally we wish Y11 andY13 well as they move into the formal Examination period.

6th May 2022

Huge congratulations and thanks to staff and Y7 students for a hugely successful PSHEE day. As you know, such enrichment events really support student personal safety, life-skills and well-being and are seen very much as part of our core educational offer.

Y12 have been undertaking Mock Examinations this week, Y11 are taking Language orals next week and then the extended Y11 & Y13 examination period begins. We wish all well and hope that students are giving themselves the best chance of success by revising thoroughly. There is much support planned and available on a voluntary basis; students need to be proactive and seek support where they need it.

At the time of writing this Newsletter article, many staff and senior colleagues are looking forward to welcoming to school our new Y7 from September. This will be an important opportunity for the school to set out our expectations and the importance of positive relationships and will also give the attendees the opportunity to begin to build new relationships in the bigger high school context. I am sure fun will be had, and that it will be a memorable day.

We continue to recruit to both support and teaching staff positions; applications are strong due to the good reputation of the school locally and more widely. I am confident, therefore, that we will continue to be fully staffed with well-qualified staff in all areas of the school. We welcomed recently:

Lucy Sandford - Senior Reprographics Technician

Nancy Gray-Davies - Cover Supervisor
Katie Evans - Apprentice Administrator
Chris Brown and Nikki Kenward - Site Team

Keep well, keep safe! The future is bright, the future is positive! We have still more exciting and significant plans for the future for us all to look forward to, so watch this space! Keep well, keep safe!

29th April 2022

It was lovely to welcome students for the Summer Term, always a busy and interesting period of the school year; much to get involved in and we hope that students will grasp every opportunity, whether part of our ‘core offer’, or part of our extra-curricular, enrichment, catch-up and intervention activities.

The trades workers and Site Team have tidied up after decorating work; corridors and classrooms. New, energy saving lighting has been installed and the arterial J Corridor has been re-carpeted, part of a number of enhancements which also address identified Health & Safety issues. We will benefit from this significantly.

On Wednesday evening, the A Level Recital Evening at Raveningham was an absolute treat, for those of us able to attend. The music was varied and of a consistently high quality showing great skill and musicality and I am sure the evening will be memorable for both performers and audience, enhanced significantly by the great venue, which is a professional working environment, but with an intimate feel.

We, as a school, continue to work hard to rebuild our strong learning community and we thank and appreciate support as we do so.

Finally, I could not publish this edition of the Newsletter without referencing the departure of Mrs Harmer, to pastures new in the NHS. She has supported, advised and worked with staff, students and parents in her many and varied roles. She contributed phenomenally to our response to Covid and will leave a long lasting legacy. We are sad to lose her, but we wish her well and thank her for her massive contribution to the school over the last six years.

Keep well, keep safe! The future is bright, the future is positive! We have still more exciting and significant plans for the future for us all to look forward to, so watch this space!

Keep well, keep safe!

8th April 2022

The final edition of The Dolphin before the Easter break. Staff return for professional development training on Monday 25th with school welcoming students back to the Summer Term on Tuesday 26th. Within a few short weeks both Y11 & Y13 will be sitting their GCSE and A Level examinations. Perhaps a useful time to remind those students in particular that they should use this break from school well; some study/revision, of course, but also preparing themselves mentally and physically for the challenging weeks ahead. We wish them luck and all the best.

In both this edition of the newsletter and those of the last couple of weeks, I am sure you will have noticed the increasing number of events that students have been engaging in over this half-term. This enrichment to our core offer really helps to foster student engagement and a passion for learning in its many forms; in many cases new skills and interests are gained too.

A particular highlight this week has been the Debate Club’s trip to Albert Pye Primary School. I won’t ‘spill the beans’ by telling you what they did, as I am aware that they are preparing an article for a future edition. I am also looking forward to a display detailing their work and promoting and sharing the value it can give to an individual. It’s a ‘well done’ from me for being great ambassadors for the school.

Exciting and daunting times. Thank you for your on-going support.

Keep well, keep safe! The future is bright, the future is positive! We have still more exciting and significant plans for the future for us all to look forward to, so watch this space!

Happy Easter

1st April 2022

An edition of the Newsletter with many ‘thank yous’ and praise.

Firstly, tonight teaching staff took place in a Sharing Good Practice session, arranged by the Learning and Teaching Team and led by Mr Ainslie. This was a great session, with an element of interactivity and I am confident it will have impact; developing learning.

Secondly, those of us who attended Wednesday night’s Spring Concert were treated to an evening of high quality music covering a range of genres. Those performing and those in the audience clearly had a fantastic time; so many smiling faces. The evening really showcased talent, high skill levels, team work and resilience. Thank you to Music staff and students for a wonderful evening; they should be proud.

This edition of the newsletter also highlights some of the enrichment opportunities that have been taking place. These support, enhance and extend planned KS3, KS4 and Sixth Form lessons; such an important part of what we do and serves to support engagement and aspiration. We encourage students to get involved !

Keep well, keep safe! The future is bright, the future is positive! We have still more exciting and significant plans for the future for us all to look forward to, so watch this space! Site Team and contractors are waiting for the Easter Break to swing into action.

Keep well, keep safe!

25th March 2022

Hard work, determination and resilience have been, and will remain, qualities greatly needed from staff and Y11 & Y13 over the coming weeks. TAG2 is now over but we move rapidly towards completion of key pieces of work and preparation for the examination period. Colleagues have been thinking creatively about how to support both academic preparation and a positive ‘can do’ mind set; many strategies being shared. I think, from conversations I have heard, and from work being undertaken, that there is a mutual understanding that both parties ‘have it tough’, working through the current context, but realising  they will be stronger and more successful together.

It was fantastic to see the Sixth Form garden and Greenhouse bustling with activity during tutor time this week, as spring tasks were being undertaken. Students were preparing beds, planting seeds and have created a time referenced work plan. It was fantastic to see the smiles on students' faces and the sense of achievement they felt. In other Sixth Form news, the new outdoor/indoor spaces now have furniture and are ready for use; great timing with this lovely weather

Thanks to Y13 parents and carers who attended virtually the parents' evening tonight. I was hoping we could facilitate the up-coming Y10 evening as a face-to-face, as the Y7 one was. Sadly, I have had to re-think, following a review of the local and school Covid-19 statistics. That evening will now also be virtual.

On the back of recent arts events, including a visit to the school this week by The Brook Street Band who performed and informed Y7, and worked to broaden the knowledge of Upper School and Sixth Form students, we are hoping that the Spring Concert on Wednesday 30th will take place, live. Start time, 7pm in the main hall. It would be great if you could join us as students have been working hard to prepare for this event.

Keep well, keep safe! The future is bright, the future is positive! We have further exciting and significant plans for the future for us all to look forward to.

18th March 2022

This has been a busy and almost certainly impactful week for many students.

Y13 have been undertaking their second TAG assessments, with Y11 starting theirs on Thursday. It was a pleasure to be able to pop along to the Y13 Tag Breakfast; food and a positive and productive environment, setting students up for the day.

Y11 have re-started morning intervention and in a ‘walk around’ school earlier this week, I was impressed by the learning engagement I saw in classes. Students and staff are to be congratulated. Many are enjoying and responding to Mr Slater’s Tik-Tok.

It has been fantastic to see that inter-school and county Sporting activities have resumed with SJL continuing to be hugely successful. Well done to students and thanks to staff.

Another example of further steps towards a more ‘normal’ future.

Y7-9 have settled back in to school well with good academic focus and improving social skills. Students and parents need to remember that consistently high standards and expectations, whether academically or in terms of behaviour, will reap its rewards in the future.

The future is bright, the future is positive! We have still more exciting and significant plans for the future for us all to look forward to, watch this space!

Keep well, keep safe!

11th March 2022

It has been brilliant this week to have opportunities to meet with parents and carers.

The first being at the performances of the Wizard of Oz. Fantastic performance, staged well, cast well and with some amazing talent on display. The performances came together so well; enhanced by some excellent technicals. The audiences clearly had a great time and as well as some very complimentary feedback from them, we have received a wonderful portfolio of responses to the performance attended by students from St Benets; very personal and colourful.

The second being the first face-to-face Parents’ Evening for two years. It was an absolute pleasure and delight to welcome parents, carers and their children in to school, for feedback from staff on attitude to learning and progress. Attendance was high and feedback from staff and parents was that it was a great evening; the first time most parents had had to visit the school due to the Covid -19 context. It was lovely to meet parents and for them to have the opportunity to have a look around school and begin to build our relationships.

Y11 have had a strong, and potentially impactful assembly this week, which I hope has set them up and pointed them in the right direction for the final stages of Y11. This has been supported by the innovative launch in to the TikTok world by Mr Slater and the team, with great revision ideas. This has gone viral! New ‘drops’ are imminent. Keep watching, keep noting!

I am grateful to Mrs Copeman for taking the lead on our work for National Careers Week; a number of events and opportunities, including a trip to a careers convention at UEA.

Further steps towards a more ‘normal’ future. The future is bright, the future is positive! We have still more exciting and significant plans for the future for us all to look forward to, watch this space!

Keep well, keep safe!

4th March 2022

Although the last full week of February was the half-term, school was still buzzing with activity. As well as some excellent intervention and catch-up work being supported by staff and appreciated by a good number of students, there were many contractors on site. Important maintenance work has been undertaken, new lighting installed, additional areas decorated, which I know students appreciate, and a new classroom created for the Humanities Team. Decorating and other work to complete this will be undertaken over the next couple of weeks.

It’s been a phenomenally busy week and has felt a ‘little bit more normal’! It is also great to see the enrichment offer growing as opportunities arise; English trip today, RS day trip to various venues tomorrow, World Book Day today. On top of this, the Performing Arts Faculty have staged The Wizard of Oz, three evenings plus a dress rehearsal to a small group of students from a local primary. The audience numbers have been pleasing, with a reported ‘sell out’ on the last night; rightly so! I have just attended the Thursday Evening performance; creatively set, technically flawless. Entertaining and full of drama, emotion and strong performance skills. An absolute triumph!

Two other things to bring to your attention. Firstly, we have this week received the names and details of those Y6 students who will be forming our Y7 this coming September. Again our maximum number, 250, have been offered places, with a waiting list. This is good news from a stability point of view and the information helps with our planning. We can now begin our extensive range of transition activities, as we move through the second half of this academic year.

Secondly, I am really proud of the school population, who, in the face of the terrible and unfolding situation in Ukraine, have come together to create a plan to support charity work being undertaken; supplies via a Morrison’s collection point, cash to support the Disaster Emergencies Committee fund for Ukraine, which is being match funded by the UK government and the ability to support events on the ground directly and right now, through our already planned for Red Nose Day activities.

Exciting and daunting times. Thank you for your support. Keep well, keep safe! The future is bright, the future is positive! We have further exciting and significant plans for the future for us all to look forward to.

18th February 2022

I appreciate parents'/carers' support of the difficult decision we had to make today regarding closure to the school site on 18th February due to predicted severe weather conditions. Safety of students and staff is always our overriding priority

This has been a long and challenging first half-term of 2022, but a huge amount has been achieved.

We should all be proud of the way we have begun to build back into our daily routines those things which have served us well and been important to us in the past.

Working together as a community means that we can have a safe leaning environment and a school with high academic challenge, strong pastoral care and a broad enrichment offer to support and enhance life experiences.

I wish students and staff well for this welcome break, and perhaps parents who are fortunate to be off too. We look forward to the brighter mornings and lighter evenings as well as a more stable future.

Keep well, keep safe! The future is bright, the future is positive!

11th February 2022

A momentous week!

It was an absolute privilege to be able to attend the KS3 Music Performance Evening; the first ‘live’ music event for two years. Almost worth waiting for as the standard was high and emerging talent evident.

We have returned to the national guidance regarding the wearing of face-coverings, following improving data. This removal of restrictions is pleasing and we hope this will continue.

This edition of the newsletter highlights some of the extra-curricular / enrichment activities that have now resumed. There are many more! Please check out the website and encourage your child to get involved after half-term.

The future is bright, the future is positive! We have still more exciting and significant plans for the future for us all to look forward to, watch this space!

In other news, an additional classroom is due to be created for the Humanities Faculty over the half-term break.

Keep well, keep safe!

4th February 2022

It has felt like a very busy and very rewarding week! Day by day we seem to be moving towards a greater sense of ‘normality’ within the school; those strong and positive relationships. Covid-19 is still about, of course, and we are dealing with that pragmatically, but still heading forward, which I feel is psychologically good for us all.

As I write this article, early Thursday evening, students from Y11,Y12 & Y13 are making their way back from an English Department day trip to London. Here’s hoping they have had a fantastic cultural experience and that a future article in the newsletter will ‘tell all’!   Running alongside this the Y9 Parents’ Evening, at this time still virtual, but this format does make good use of time for both parents and staff. This one particularly is important, as the feedback will feed strongly into the options process and the choices students will make for their curriculum from September.

I have enjoyed my recent meetings with members of Y11, talking about how they found their first TAG assessments, what their aspirations and next steps are and checking whether or not they thought they had a careers offer, as well as talking about ways the school could support them over the next 5 months or so. Most were very mature, thoughtful and had a clear plan. Any Y11 who isn’t in this position is encouraged to talk to us, for support, advice and guidance as soon as possible.

Final reminder – first live music event in school planned for next Tuesday evening!  We would love to see you there. 

Keep well, keep safe! The future is bright, the future is positive! We have exciting and significant plans for the future for us all to look forward to.

28th January 2022

There have been a number of highlights this week, the most notable being the arrival and successful commissioning of the temporary boiler, which concluded at 10.45 pm on Tuesday. A huge relief to me when I arrived at school the following morning to feel significantly more warmth in the heating system across the site. This meant we could revert to Plan A! A return to full uniform.

Students did themselves, us and you, as parents and carers, proud. Students had clearly been supported in remembering what was required and they seemed proud to be able to have their full uniform on display and not to feel cluttered. I am sure I detected many more smiley faces around the site today.

Students have also responded well to the return to the nation Plan A; pragmatically and personally with regards to the wearing of face masks. Students and staff will be cautious, and rightly so. It is right, therefore, that they can opt to continue to wear a face-covering in both lessons and in social and communal areas. Many chose to do just that.

To maintain this air of positivity, I would like to conclude this edition of my Newsletter article by promoting the Key Stage 3 Performance Evening on February 8th. I am happy to confirm, at this stage, that we intend this to be a live, in person event. It will be held in the main hall, with a start time of 7pm. Myself and other colleagues are looking forward to seeing many of you there and we hope that this will be the first of a return to some face-to-face meetings and events.

Keep well, keep safe! The future is bright, the future is positive! We have exciting and significant plans for the future for us all to look forward to.

21st January 2022

I am pleased to see the ‘blue’ day, the mid-point in January, has come and gone and we are now very much looking forward to Spring; a positive thought for us all!

I am writing my article for the newsletter this week whilst sitting in my office, as colleagues are participating in the Y8 Virtual Parents’ Evening. If you are a Y8 parent, I sincerely hope it has been a good experience and a useful additional opportunity to communicate with school staff. Ordinarily I would be circulating and talking to parents at such events; this might return one day. I do hope so!

Thanks to Y7 Skills staff and Ms Fassbender and Mrs Harrod for successfully planning and delivering a useful PSHEE session. Student engagement was good and they responded well to the good preparation and planning that had taken place. As referenced overleaf, Y13 and Y11 are currently undertaking assessments to inform Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs). This is a big moment for these students as they move into the final stages of their courses. Assessment will both help inform ’next steps’ as well as producing a good evidence base.

Last week I was very proud of a number of students who participated in a ‘Focus Group’, created to work with colleagues from Waveney Valley Academies Trust, to help inform their (our) IT Strategy. The group was diverse and representative of the whole student population. They were a credit to themselves as well as the school, giving insightful and thoughtful answers to questions posed. They were also asked to think about how IT is used in their lives now both at school and more widely and how this might look in the future; an opportunity for some blue sky thinking! Thanks to Mrs Remer for facilitating this meeting.

Finally, please could I ask that parents/carers reiterate and support the school community by reinforcing the message regarding the need for us all, unless exempt on medical grounds, to be wearing face covering correctly, in all public indoor spaces; corridors, social areas etc. This remains the case at the time of writing, despite the change which came in to operation today following a Government announcement yesterday, that masks are no longer expected to be worn in the classroom. We all need to do our bit!

Keep well, keep safe! The future is bright, the future is positive! We have exciting and significant plans for the future for us all to look forward to.

14th January 2022

The first full week of 2022 has been busy, challenging and productive.

Students have risen well, with the support of staff and parents, to the challenge of a school running on half-boiler capacity. Classes, as I have toured the school, have been focused with the usual good student/staff relationships and the usual variety of learning tasks and opportunities. It is pleasing to note that student attendance holds up at a similar level to that before Christmas and staff absence, to date, has been low; great news for us all!

Y11 have benefitted from the great opportunity, provided by Mrs Copeman, (Careers Leader) and her team of ‘mock interviewers. Students I spoke to found the process really valuable and enjoyed ‘dressing for the occasion’. Many will have increased their skills and confidence exponentially.

Good luck to all as they attend Sixth Form, College and Apprenticeship interviews. As a school we are delighted with the number of applications to our Sixth Form; 164 to date. This figure represents the equivalent of around 70% of the year group. We look forward to them joining us in due course and enjoying new enhanced facilities; additional study spaces, outdoor/indoor social spaces, new dedicated computer workspace. Time still to apply!

It was a privilege to attend the Y7 assembly this week, where Mrs Francis praised the year group for their great start to the year and also took the opportunity to reminded them of expectations and opportunities. I spoke in the assembly, urging students to make a New Year’s Resolution relating to school life; improve effort grades, completing all homework, taking up a new extra-curricular activity etc. The same message is applicable to all year groups.

Y10 engaged well with their important PSHEE day this week and I publically thank Ms Fassbender and Mrs Harrod for leading on this, supported well by a significant number of colleagues. Similar praise goes to Mr Slater and Mr Miles for leading on a Facebook-live event, launching the Y9 Options Process.

A truly action packed week! A week when I have also ordered a new suite of computers for F13 and a set of laptops for F14, for Sixth Form use. We have also been working with the Trust on a plan to improve site security.

The future is bright, the future is positive! We have still more exciting and significant plans for the future for us all to look forward to, watch this space!

Happy New Year and best wishes for 2022. Keep well, keep safe!

17th December 2021

Such an exhilarating week and despite local and national Covid-19 developments so much that reminds us of the ‘old normal’, but within the new context.

Students have engaged well and contributed enthusiastically to House Matches; lovely to hear students talking about their House’s achievements.

The Sixth Form have continued to impress me, adding significant value to our school community; lighting at Oulton Broad, as in the earlier article, student v staff football, (amazing atmosphere) and of course our RaG week which is in full flow, and has been a great way to give students new and entertaining experiences for the end of term whilst also contributing to the school’s charitable giving total.

Staffing wise, we have continued to recruit successfully to key roles and look forward to these colleagues joining us in the new year. It also means that we have said farewell to a number of colleagues and we wish them all well, whether moving in to retirement or on to a new position. I would also like to thank Mrs Francis and the Y7 Team for their ‘cameo’ videos; staff introducing themselves to parents, in lieu of the planned for meetings that had to be cancelled for this term.

Work begins next week on the male staff toilets, which will also enable us to add to our secure file storage, which is good news and, as trailed last week, we have taken delivery of a new addition to our vehicle fleet; a VW Sharan. A significant spend is now planned on computers; F13 and F14.

The future is bright, the future is positive! We have more exciting and significant plans for the future for us all to look forward to, watch this space!

Merry Christmas and very best wishes to all for a happy healthy 2022. Keep well, keep safe!

10th December 2021

Today, Thursday, has really set us on the trajectory for a fantastic RAG week; Christmas Lunch and Jumper Day. A great atmosphere and some creative looks!

I have been so impressed with the Sixth Form students who have taken on board the need to develop their RAG activities within the changing Covid -19 context; so mature, so creative. Their resilience and commitment to deliver a great experience for the whole school community has been incredible. I wish them well and hope that students and staff, and by extension parents/carers, will support this amazing fund-raising opportunity.

You will be aware already that I had to take the difficult decision to cancel our live Christmas Concert, scheduled for next Thursday. I am grateful to staff who have worked hard to deliver a recorded version of the concert which will be broadcast; an opportunity to share the results of students’ hard work and regular rehearsals.

In other good news we have successfully recruited to a caretaker position and will be, next week, taking delivery of a replacement for our VW Touran, part of our vehicle fleet for 9 years. The VW Sharan will I am sure serve us well and with its rear sliding doors, will improve vehicle accessibility.

The future is bright, the future is positive! We have more exciting and significant plans for the future for us all to look forward to, watch this space!

Keep well, keep safe!

3rd December 2021

You will get a flavour from this edition of the Newsletter that much has been going on; a range of current events and activities, and looking back with a great nostalgic photograph, as well as to the future with thoughts of end of term Christmas events. The latter will, of course, reflect our cautious approach and awareness of local and national operational Covid-19 advice.

It has been good to see Y11 putting an increasing focus on taking control of their future destiny, whether that has been through their ‘Mock Exam’ period or the planning of the ‘next –steps’ of their learning journey; Sixth Form, College, apprenticeship etc. The WorkWise day will have supported this journey well, with good tips and advice. I was pleased to be able to share with some Y11’s my recent experiences of reading applications, many of which lacked direct application and reference to the actual role being applied for!

In a similar vein, I hope the briefing Mr Miles gave to Y13 regarding the requirements on the school to create Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs) was informative and reassuring. Students will soon know what assessments will be used as the basis for these and a timeline for these assessments, in advance of the formal examination period, which at this current time is expected to go ahead in the Summer, allowing students to sit formal examinations in the traditional way.

Last Friday, you will no doubt be aware, the Government announced that they wanted schools to undertake LFTs for all eligible students on their return in January. Our plans for delivering this have been shared with staff today and communicated to all; the aim was to deliver what was required with the minimum amount of disruption to learning at this crucial time in a challenging context.

Finally, please could I ask that parents/carers reiterate and support the school community by reinforcing the message about the need for us all, unless exempt on medical grounds, to be wearing face coverings correctly, in all public indoor spaces; corridors, social areas etc We all need to do our bit and I am pleased t say most are!

Keep well, keep safe! The future is bright, the future is positive! We have exciting and significant plans for the future for us all to look forward to.

26th November 2021

I would like to take an opportunity this week, to congratulate Y11 for their approach to the current period of PPEs (Mocks). The outcome of these exams will serve staff and students well, in terms of identifying strengths and ‘plugging gaps’. This is a busy and challenging time for Y11 as not only are they taking many exams they are, I hope, planning their next steps in terms of education and training; applications to college, apprenticeships or indeed, our own Sixth Form. Deadlines for all of the above are fast approaching!

As December approaches (next week), you will no doubt be aware that we have some ‘seasonal plans’ although of course these are having to be tempered within the Covid-19 context and relevant risk assessments within our school. I am grateful to the Sixth Form Council for their flexibility and keenness to run a Raising and Giving Week (RAG Week) which will be enjoyed by as much of the school community as we can allow. Further details are already with students and will be in future newsletters. At this time we are also planning our annual musical celebration of Christmas, at St Michaels’ Church Beccles on 16th December 2021.

In further evidence of more normal times, it was good to see Y7 heading into Beccles for a visit to the towns Museum. Ms Fassbender reported some fantastic feedback on our students’ interest and engagement in the work undertaken there. Similarly, the Y8 PSHEE day will have been important and impactful, I am sure in developing our young people with knowledge and information beyond the core curriculum offer.  

Finally, I am pleased to be able to inform you that following a review of Leadership and Management across the school, undertaken by our Trust, they continue to rate us at Outstanding. I am grateful to the staff and students who gave up time to take part in this review.

The future is bright, the future is positive! We have exciting and significant plans for the future for us all to look forward to, watch this space!

Keep well! Keep Safe!

19th November 2021

Mrs Taylor has kindly prepared an article (see newsletter); but on a personal front it was an absolute privilege to be able to represent the school, with Head Students, Lilly Ellard and Gabriel Huke-Jenner at the Beccles Commemoration of the Armistice on Sunday. As I surveyed the scene, I was pleased to note the large number of our students who are involved in Cubs, Scouts, Brownies, Guides and the Army, Sea and Air Cadets. The skills and personal qualities they will gain from such memberships will add real value to their lives; a similar added value to that which our students will gain from extra-curricular and enrichment activities at school, as referenced last week.

We have been impressed with Y11 this week as they face their first period of formal assessments, their Mock Exams. Teaching staff and the Exams Department have commented on their exemplary approach to this important time. The results will provide an essential diagnostic opportunity to enable staff and students alike to identify areas of strength and areas for development.

I am grateful to both careers and PSHEE colleagues who add real value to our day-to-day academic offer; Y11 and Y9 in particular have benefitted particularly over recent days.

In two link meetings with colleagues this week it was reported to me that great value and developmental ideas had come out of work with student ‘focus groups’. The value of student input is invaluable and will enable us to enhance our offer and improve student outcomes.

The future is bright, the future is positive! We have more exciting and significant plans for the future for us all to look forward to, watch this space!

Keep well, keep safe!

12th November 2021

On the back of reporting to you our pleasure in being able to successfully recruit a new Academic Mentor for the Upper School in last week’s edition of the Dolphin, this week we have been pleased to be able to secure the services of Mr Crawford-Sharpe to undertake the position of Senior Science Technician from January 2022. Mrs Lewis, who currently fulfils that role so brilliantly, will be sadly missed by staff and students alike, after over 30 years of service to the school. As well as fulfilling her role so well, she has always given above and beyond to the wider school community, from Kenya Exchange to serving mulled wine at the Christmas Concert, and so much more in between, giving so freely of her time, expertise and experience. We wish her well.

Just over a week of remembrance events started last Saturday, when I was privileged to attend an event staged by the Royal British Legion called ‘Beccles Remembers’. This Festival of Remembrance also served as a fundraising event, and I was proud to witness two of our Sixth Form Students, Lily Ellard and Isaac Carter, along with members from the Service Cadets, presenting readings entitled ‘Memories of VE Day’. Our students read fluently and brought the words to life with great characterisation. There were many positive comments from the audience.

On 11/11, in line with the national marking of the Armistice, and now very much a tradition of the school, a bell was sounded for a five minute period of reflection for the whole school; Last Post and the Reveille could be heard across the school site with a minute for silent and personal reflection between. Students were exemplary in their observation of this event and I am grateful to both the brass players from the music department who performed so well, and also to Ben Jordan who prepared a PowerPoint Presentation, which was shared in all Tutor Groups that morning, to set a context for the event. Great work Ben!

I would like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to Fran Banham, Isaac Carter and Ms Turner for re-establishing our Debate Club. The inaugural meeting was well attended. This is a great addition to the already strong extra-curricular/enrichment offer, which following some rough calculations, would suggest that around 25% of the student population is taking part in, on a weekly basis. If your child has yet to get involved in one of these great activities, please do take a look at the list with them on the website; so many different challenges and opportunities for personal development beyond our core offer.

Finally, please could I ask that parents/carers reiterate and support the school community by reinforcing the message about the need for us all, unless exempt on medical grounds, to be wearing face coverings, correctly, in all public indoor spaces; corridors, social areas etc. We all need to do our bit!

Keep well, keep safe!

5th November 2021

If you are an avid reader of my weekly item in The Dolphin, you will have noted that I have recently deployed the following strap phrase ‘we have exciting and significant plans for the future for us all to look forward to’. Some of these have come to fruition over the last ten days and I hope that students and staff will soon be enjoying the benefits:

· Further re-decoration: E Corridor

· New Minibus added to our transport fleet

· Two new ‘outdoor/indoor’ spaces created to add to Sixth Form social spaces

I am also delighted to be able to report that we have successfully recruited to the role of Academic Mentor (Upper School). Miss Debenham will start work with us as soon as she has worked her notice period in her current role; we look forward to that day and to welcoming her in to our vibrant positive learning community. The same is true of a vacancy we had in D&T. It has been humbling to hear from candidates to both roles about how impressed they are by the school; focused, organised, purposeful with clear evidence of mutual respect. We should all be proud of such accolades.

Keeping on the positive theme, Miss Woodhouse sent me some comments articulated to her during her visit to Sizewell today; guides said how lovely our students were, asking good questions and being polite and attentive! Ms Fassbender, one of our leaders of PSHEE reported how impressed she was with Y7 following recent PSHEE sessions during Skills Lessons. Well done Y7 and Skills Teaching Team.

The future is bright, the future is positive! We have more exciting and significant plans for the future for us all to look forward to, watch this space!

Keep well, keep safe!

22nd October 2021

A short week for students, but an eventful one nonetheless.

Helen Wilson, Director of Secondaries for WVAT, spent the day in school working with myself and other senior staff, looking at the Sir John Leman offer, helping us to review and validate plans we have going forward. This was a very positive experience. Part of the day saw us both visiting classrooms, which we can now do, to quality assure the learning taking place. We had a great time looking at students’ work and talking to them about their learning; Helen was impressed and at one point said to me, ‘you have a lovely school’. On behalf of the whole learning community, at the end of a challenging half-term, I was grateful to receive that.

In good news, it was great to have the pleasure of giving out DoE certificates and badges. Bronze Awards, Silver Awards and some for practical tasks completed. Felt like ‘old times’. Was also good to hear the students talk of the value of the scheme and how keen they were to undertake the next challenge.

Further good news has come in the form of a successful bid made by Mrs Taylor, Leader of Music, to Universal Music UK, Sound Foundation. We have been awarded £1000 towards the purchase of a class set of Samba instruments. We look forward to the arrival of these instruments and hearing exhilarating samba music echoing around the school. It’s always great to see students getting a real sense of group achievement from participating in such music-making opportunities.

There has been further advice from the Local Authority regarding safety measures to take with the back drop of rising cases of Covid-19 within Suffolk as a whole, and the Ipswich area in particular. These communications are on our website under the Covid-19 tab.

I hope that all will enjoy a restful, safe and most welcome half-term break and we look forward to the challenges and opportunities that the rest of the Autumn Term hold for us when we return on 1st November.

The future is bright, the future is positive! We have exciting and significant plans for the future for us all to look forward to.

Keep well, keep safe!

15th October 2021

I am writing this Newsletter article on my return home from tonight’s tremendous Sixth Form Open Evening. Brilliant for so many reasons, firstly for being able to hold such a large-scale event. Secondly for the phenomenal turn out, from both our own students and from students who attend other High Schools locally. Thirdly, for the brilliant feedback we received regarding the quality of the offer. We sincerely hope that this will result in a strong number of applications, and a new record for Y12 starters in September 2022.

Since last weekend, the school has seen record numbers of students visiting, with a view to making applications for either Y12 or Y7. Y6 took part in a Transition Morning on Saturday and Open Mornings during the school week. Y11 students from Alde Valley Academy and Pakefield High, enjoyed being entertained by current Sixth Formers, who offered a real insight into life at SJLHS Sixth Form, served drinks and cake and showed a real sense of pride in their school. I am grateful to, and appreciative of, all involved; again feels like further steps towards ‘normality’.

Further sporting and other extra-curricular activities have been added to our offer this week; many students benefitting from the opportunities this represents. Thank you for participating, thank you colleagues for the offer!

The future is bright, the future is positive! We have exciting and significant plans for the future for us all to look forward to.

Keep well, keep safe!

8th October 2021

A short week for students, with a Waveney Valley Academies Trust Conference on Friday 8th for teachers, with support staff taking tours for potential applicants for Y7 in September 2022. This is proving to be a popular option. I hope students and their families will be able to make the most of the extended weekend.

Today was a big day for the school; hosting Trust senior leaders’ meeting. The school was acknowledged as being calm and orderly, with polite, caring, confident students. As part of the day I toured the school with the CEO of the Trust and the Director of Secondary Education. They were both very impressed with the focus of students in class, the variety of learning experiences on offer to students and the quality of the relationships between staff and students. Student behaviour was noted as being exemplary. They commented that, as Head, I should be proud of the school. I am! We have a great student population and all staff are committed to giving students a fantastic journey through the school.

I am grateful to Mr Gorbould, Online Safety Lead, and Ms Gurney, for delivering high quality assemblies. I sincerely hope that students will absorb and follow the clear advice and guidance given; so important in this complex and challenging social media world.

As the student week comes to an end we are looking forward to Saturday; a morning of activities for Y6 students who are considering our school for next year. Thank you to staff for offering their services for this. At the other end of the school we are looking forward to our Sixth Form Open Evening next Thursday. Feedback and interest to date suggest this will be a busy evening with an opportunity for some great conversations.

The future is bright, the future is positive! We have exciting and significant plans for the future for us all to look forward to.

Keep well, keep safe!

1st October 2021

As I write this article (Thursday evening), the wind is blowing in a blustery manner outside; somewhat mirroring the whirlwind kind of time we are having in school, and all so positive!

A first day of Covid -19 vaccination has come and gone with plaudits for the school about our organisation and the good conduct and manners of our students, your children. An impactful Y8 PSHEE was well-delivered by our strong and well-led staff; only too aware that what students learn can be life changing.

On the back of our phenomenally successful Open Evening last week, we are now close to being fully booked for both the Open Morning Tours, during the school day, and the Open day on the PDDay next Friday, which as a reminder is a non-pupil day. Members of Support Staff will be leading these and I am grateful to them for stepping up to this challenge, as Teaching Staff are attending a WVAT Teaching Conference, virtually.

Readers of recent editions of the Dolphin will be aware that we are also busy at this time attending events to recruit to our Sixth Form for next September. Tonight we had a very positive welcome from staff and students at SET Beccles and I had a very wide-ranging conversation with the Headteacher about our offer and links we can make. I hope our own students in Y11, and their parents, have made a note of our Sixth Form Open Evening, too, just a fortnight away!

In Pastoral news, following a successful recruitment process to replace Ms Marler, we have now re-structured roles; Mr Cable will be Year Manager for Y7&8, Mrs Sayer Y10&11 and Mr Taylor will be responsible for Y9 but also working on transition fromY8 to Y9 and Y9 to Y10 as well as supporting across all year groups to add capacity where needed. I am delighted to confirm that Mrs Nabarro also remains in post within the Pastoral Support Team.

Well done to the Sixth Form Council for arranging a very successful MacMillan Coffee Morning and finally, can I thank parents for their support of our Uniform Policy; some adjustments still to be made by some students, but largely students are looking good!

The future is bright, the future is positive! We have exciting and significant plans for the future for us all to look forward to.

Keep well, keep safe!

24th September 2021

Wow, what a fantastic school Open Evening!

A huge thank you goes to staff, students and all those prospective parents who took part in our re-designed event, planned to be in line with the school’s Covid -19 Risk Assessment, to minimise the risk of virus transmission. I am grateful to all for their adherence to this. It seemed a good time was had by all; great to have the opportunity, as of old, to talk to parents/prospective parents about the holistic school offer. The student guides talked about their school with a real sense of pride and enthusiasm, which was well received by attendees. There were some fantastic, engaging demonstrations to watch too.

You will be aware that this week we felt the need to amend our Covid-19 Risk Assessment, asking all on site to wear face coverings in indoor public areas once again and increase use of hand sanitiser, both on entry to the school and to classrooms. I was phenomenally impressed with the mature response from the student population to this change, no doubt with parental support and backing, for which I am grateful. There was a general resigned acceptance of the need for these changes and comments such as ‘I’m glad we are doing this’ and ‘better safe than sorry’ were heard from many.

As well as starting our recruitment process to Y7 for next September with our Open Evening, we have also started to attend Y11 ‘Pathways’ events at other local high schools to recruit to Y12 for September 2022. Tuesday saw myself and members of the Sixth Form Team, accompanied by Sixth Form students, attend just such an event at Hobart High School. We received a good reception and the students were excellent ambassadors of our Sixth Form. They talked eloquently and confidently about the offer and I think the Y11 Hobart students welcomed the fact that they were able to talk about life as a Sixth former first hand. More events over the next few weeks and of course our own Sixth Form Open Evening on 14th October. I hope Y11 and their parents have this date firmly in their diary.

As I conclude this article I am about to attend a meeting to discuss refurbishment work and facilities up-grades at the school, due to take place at half-term. The future is bright, the future is positive! We have exciting and significant plans for us all to look forward to.

Keep safe and well!

17th September 2021

Further steps towards the ‘new normal’ this week!

We said goodbye, and thanks to the Test Centre last week. This has enabled us to hold Year Assemblies, which we have not been able to do for such a long time. I am grateful to Ms Gurney for planning and leading assemblies on the multifaceted area of safeguarding. Students have responded well to this and a heightened awareness of responsibilities of us all should be the result; staff have just undertaken annual training too.

It has been pleasing to see how, as we remind ourselves and get used to the day-to-day expectations, that students are looking increasingly confident. Furthermore, it is a privilege, on a daily basis, along with other senior colleagues, to be able to welcome students to school as we supervise the back gate, bus arrival area, drop-off areas and various social areas. These simple, yet personal interactions are invaluable. There is a general and impressive calmness across the school, which facilitates pleasant social times and a positive learning environment. This engagement, focus and mature attitude was exemplified in our first PSHEE day of the year; for Y11, which went extremely well on Thursday. I am grateful to all staff involved for their contribution to the delivery of such crucial content.

It feels incredulous that, as I write, we have a week to go to our Open Evening; an event carefully planned to showcase the school and outline the offer, whilst also taking into account the health and well-being of attendees as well as staff and students, within the current Covid-19 context. From bookings to-date, we are anticipating record numbers over a phased period and we have, due to demand, increased the School Tour options during the day before the application deadline. With a change in date, the Sixth Form Open Evening follows hot on the heels of this in early October. Members of the Sixth Form Team will be representing us at ’Pathways’ events in local schools, supporting recruitment to our successful and growing Sixth Form

Finally, I would like to thank Miss Marler for her significant impact during her time at the school, as she moves to pastures new; a promotion within a Multi-Academy-Trust based in Norwich. The school wishes her well for the future.

Keep well, keep safe

10th September 2021

The first newsletter of the 2021/22 academic year!

It’s great to be back, and despite the continuing unprecedented circumstances, it does seem like a new normal; students can move around the school freely, undertake group and practical tasks and staff can look at work more closely than they have been able to do for some time now. Staff and students alike are enjoying this! As of Wednesday of this week, all 1500+ students were onsite all day attending a full timetable.

I would like to thank parents, staff and students for their part in the staggered return, necessitated by ‘mass testing’. The plans have been enacted efficiently and I am grateful to BorderBus for their organic response to our needs. The process has gone phenomenally well, with only a handful of positive cases being identified.

As I have toured the school daily this week, I have been impressed with student engagement, positive/ ‘can-do’ language, alongside consistent behavioural expectations and academic challenge. Students are responding well and quality relationships are being built. This will serve us well.

New staff are settling in well and I can already see that they will help the school to move forward and continue to ‘raise the bar’ in terms of our academic and enrichment offer.

I am sure that students will have enjoyed the refurbishments and re-decoration of the site we have made over the summer and the new computer suite in F12 is being enjoyed by Computer Science students in particular. Further site improvements will be undertaken during the year.

The future is bright, the future is positive! We have exciting and significant plans for us all to look forward to. Thank you for your on-going support of our work.

OPEN EVENING: Thursday 23rd Sept. (Booking required)

Keep well, keep safe!

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