You can download the letter here:May Update 2019
Dear Parent/ Carer,
You will shortly be receiving by post, a ballot form for a Parent Governor vacancy that we currently have on our Governing Body. Please cast your vote and return the form in a sealed envelope to the main reception by Friday 17th May. This is an extremely important time in the development of the school and new additions to the Governing body are welcome and I’d like to thank all of the candidates for being willing to put themselves forward. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank parents, students and staff for their support in supporting my transition to Headteacher. I certainly feel the change has been seamless and most importantly there has been little disruption to students. In my first assembly with students in January I told them that change would be gradual rather than immediate and I have stuck with that policy, so as not to unsettle students unnecessarily. I have strengthened our Leadership Team by appointing Mr Parker as Assistant Headteacher for Achievement and Progress. I have also appointed Mrs Carr as Deputy Headteacher with responsibility for Quality of Education and Outcomes. She took up post on May 1st and I am confident that both appointments will help drive the school forward. Staffing at Seaham unlike many schools remains very stable – at time of writing we have had two members of our Lunch-time supervisory team who have retired after many years of service. In addition, we have one member of teaching staff who has secured a post in another school for September. On behalf of everyone at the school I’d like to thank them for their years of service and wish them every success for their future.
The challenge of coping with rising numbers is a privileged position to be in. When we left the old school site in July 2016 we had around 790 students on our school roll. In September we are expecting our figure to be around 1110 students. This is a dramatic transformation, which is around a 40% increase in numbers. Predictions are that this should continue the following September with another small year group leaving. As of yet I have had no further contact regarding the development of the Garden Village other than to be aware that planning was conditional on funds being made available to extend the current facilities and had sight of the feasibility study into building an extension. Rising numbers mean we have to give further thought to our dining arrangements and I will be bringing some proposals about changing the school day soon. This should not involve significant changes to start and end times but may bring about structural changes to the organisation of our school day.
Consultation about the use of mobile phones is coming to a close soon and we will make a decision in due course. If we do opt to ban phones inside of school, bringing us in line with many, if not most other schools then it will be from September and I will provide plenty of notice. The vast majority of our students do bring bags to school. Currently this is compulsory for only Year 7 and Year 8, however I intend to make this compulsory for all year groups from September 2019.
Attendance is excellent- above national average and Persistent absence, which are those students who have an absence figure of greater than 10% is significantly below national average – again an excellent figure. I know that sometimes our stance on attendance can be frustrating but the correlation between good exam results and good attendance is clear. My ability to authorise holiday requests is extremely limited and permissible only in exceptional circumstances and whilst I recognise the financial pressures of taking a holiday in the set holiday period, I am unable to be flexible on this. I am aware that this brought us some interesting press coverage in recent weeks but am proud of the work done on this area by staff. Contrary to reports or comments in the press I did attend the Final at Wembley with my children, was thoroughly disappointed with the outcome and made it back home on the Sunday evening despite a breakdown en-route. Fixed term exclusions are below national figures and current figures are around half of what they were when we left the old school, which given the increase in student numbers is very pleasing. I never make the decision to exclude lightly but believe passionately that a school cannot function well if it does not have the highest expectations of behaviour and standards. We have done much work in recent years around developing our culture and understanding of the 6R’s. This work is clearly paying dividends and I am determined to further develop our work in this area. Good education is about more than exam results – it is about learning to be kind and respectful of others, to be honest and have integrity. It is about having pride in ourselves, our school and our community.
I would also like to remind you of our uniform policy and would like to highlight that we expect students to wear skirts of an appropriate length. I have asked staff to address this in the coming weeks and months.
Predictions for current Year 11 are that both progress and attainment will rise. The students are highly motivated and are working fantastically hard alongside staff to achieve the best that they can. This is particularly important as progress last year was not good enough and we have all worked hard to improve those outcomes. I will update you on the final outcomes in the Autumn term.
Finally, can I request that when picking students up from school at the end of the day you please park responsibly. I have no desire to have to request the Traffic Enforcement Team to attend site, but parking on Double Yellow lines and the Keep Clear lines outside our entrance is increasing the risk that one of our students might be involved in an accident. In the interests of fairness, as I did previously, if I involve Traffic Enforcement and request their attendance then I will put a notification on our Facebook and Twitter accounts to try and alert parents to their potential presence. Unfortunately, I may not always be aware as they do complete spot checks on schools and may not always be able to do this. If you arrive prior to the gates closing at 3pm you are more than welcome to pick up on site – it just means you have to wait until the gates open at 3:15pm. I’m sure you will appreciate that the safety of students is paramount and will always be my first concern. Thank you once again for your continued support.
Mr G Lumsdon – Head Teacher