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News from Mr Taylor

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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