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Headteacher's Blog 20-10-23

The first term drew to a close with a biblical downpour in the morning!!

What a start to the last day of the term. It was truly biblical weather between 8.00 – 9.00am that saw many students arrive at school looking like drowned rats!!! As is often the way, the rain then cleared by 9.30. The students coped admirably given the awful journey many had on the way to school. In many cases, PE kits replaced sodden trousers and shoes and the students were able to get on with their day. Please do check that wet clothes have been removed from bags and that they don’t fester over the half-term break!

Today sees the first term of the academic year draw to a close. It has been a productive term with the overwhelming majority of our students meeting our higher expectations and thriving in their learning. I have been hugely impressed with our new Year 7 students. They have settled into life at secondary school incredibly quickly and have made a very positive impression on their teachers. Our Year 11 students, who are already 7 weeks into their final year, have demonstrated an encouraging attitude to their learning and are embracing the opportunities being provided to support them in their learning.

The one blot on the landscape is attendance. Whilst attendance at Severn Vale is above the national average, it is still too low. The school performance tables published this week show that our students performed well, comparing very favourably to schools locally and nationally. When we look into the data in more detail, we can see the massive impact of attendance on our students’ outcomes. Those with good attendance achieved on average over ½ a grade higher in all of their GCSEs; those with poor attendance achieved nearly a grade lower in every GCSE. This meant students missing out on their college courses, Sixth Form places or their apprenticeships. That was heart-breaking to witness, and we want to do all we can to ensure that isn’t the outcome for students in this Year 11 and beyond.  We have resources to support students with their attendance. Please do take advantage of these. Thank you in advance for your support in ensuring your child is in school every day possible.  

Whilst the half-term break offers the students a chance to rest and recharge their batteries, it also offers them an excellent chance for revision too. Students in KS3 will be sitting their Order A assessments in Maths and Science in the second week of the new term. Full details of the assessments and the associated revision activities have been posted on Satchel One and sent home to parents.

Our Year 11 students also have key exams on their return after half-term. In the second week of term they will be taking their first Core Mocks of the academic year. These crucial assessments will enable the students, and their teachers, to see where they are in their learning as they move towards next summer’s GCSE exams. It is really important that the students prepare properly for these exams to get the most out of them. Thank you in advance for your support in encouraging your child with this revision.

This week saw the first of our termly lunchtime performance platforms take place. This opportunity was met with an enthusiastic response, with over 20 students performing from across the year groups. The performers included singers, drummers, a pianist and a guitarist with a repertoire from James Brown, Adele, Jason Derulo, REM, The Kooks as well as from "Frozen" and "Beetlejuice The Musical". The performances have continued to prove this is an ideal opportunity for our students to showcase and develop their musical and performance skills.  They also highlighted the depth of musical talent at the school. Thanks to all who took part, to those who supported the performers, and to the Music department for organising.

It also saw some Year 11 students spend the day at Cheltenham College learning more about careers in the field of Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Science. The day comprised of lectures and the workshops including speakers from a GP practice and looking at medical careers within the Military.  The highlight, however was a Suturing Workshop where students were given pigs trotters to work one and were instructed how to make cuts with a scalpel and sew them up using a medical needle and thread. A truly inspiring day for those that participated.

It has been another busy week on the fixture front including:

  • Year 7 Football – the Year 7 girls played Holmleigh Park this week. In an excellent performance Severn Vale edged a great game 3 – 2 with goals from Brooke F (2) and Maddison T. Players of the Match were Brooke F and Amber H.  

  • Year 7 Rugby – two Year 7 teams played a strong Newent team. It was a great opportunity for some of our players to experience a full contact game in a pressured situation. We played four ten minutes mini games, with every student playing 20 minutes. Newent won each of the quarters, but it was a fantastic learning experience for the boys. We look forward to going back to Newent before Christmas. Players of the Match were Riley C and Josh G for their constant hard work, tackling and running with the ball.

  • Year 8 Rugby – the Year 8 boys came up against an outstanding Newent team this week. Despite being on the end of a 60 – 0 score line the boys stayed in the fight and hopefully they took some positives from the experience.

  • Year 9 Football – the Year 9 girls had a fixture away at Churchdown. A really tight game ended in a 1 – 1 draw. The goal scorer was Ava-Rae L. Player of the Match was Shantiana K for an outstanding defensive performance.

  • Year 9 Rugby – the Year 9 boys travelled to Newent for their latest fixture in what proved to be very challenging conditions.  The boys were clinical in the tackle and ruck area which was so pleasing to see! Their support play and offloading were outstanding. We lost to Newent last year but this year we won 55-5, signs of the excellent progress being made by the team. Next up is the Quarter Final of the EDF Cup against Kingshill, which will be played after half term.

  • U14 Rugby – our U14 girls rugby team played their first fixture against Churchdown this week. There were brilliant tries, fantastic tackling and plenty of good carries and offloads in a close game which SV edged 12 tries to 10! Player of the match went to Chloe S who was so powerful in her runs and tackles. Special mentions should also go to Grace A who scored 7 of the tries and Millie for scoring 3 tries and making insane try stopping tackles.

As always, I include my weekly reminder about Free School Meals eligibility. If your financial circumstances have changed, your child may be eligible for Free School Meals. If you click on this link you will find guidance on the eligibility criteria and the application process. It's a quick process and we are notified of all FSM entitlements by Gloucestershire County Council each Monday. I would urge you to take a look if you think you may benefit from financial assistance. 

After this morning’s rain, who knows what the weather gods will throw at us over the next two weeks. We look forward to seeing the students return to school on Monday 6 November. This is a week B.

Kind regards,

Richard Johnson