It never fails to amaze me how quickly the academic year goes by, but here we are again, on the cusp of the summer holiday break and it only seems like five minutes ago when the year started. It does seem, as ever, to have been an eventful and busy year.
The news at this time of year always has a story about the school holidays and the need for children to stay safe. Two story’s this time caught my ear. The first about swimming in unsupervised waters and how cold water shock can overcome even the ablest swimmers. This was a warning I heard when I was at school, to stay away from unsupervised swimming. But the second news story I heard is most certainly one of our time. It was about ‘SnapMaps’, a feature of Snapchat, which can permit those who wish to do harm know the location of a child. I would ask all parents to familiarise themselves with this new development and ensure your child has the correct settings in place so that only friends and family can know of the whereabouts of other friends and family members. So at this time of year, let’s all be mindful of the additional spare time our students have and enjoy this, yes, but also stay safe.
With that said, I would naturally like to wish all of our students and parents a restful and enjoyable summer holiday break and I all look forward to receiving all of ourstudents back in September, safe and well. Do please remember we start back a day earlier than the rest of Nottinghamshire, on Tuesday 5th September. Staggered start arrangements will appear on the website.
This academic year has, once again, been an eventful one. We started the year with the keys to our fabulous new buildings in languages and the sixth form. These two new areas have transformed the facilities available to our students in these two important areas of the school. Last autumn we received our annual health check from OfSTED (their inspection dashboard) which declared there were no weaknesses with our 2016 results, a testimony to the hard work of our staff and students.
Along the way we were crowned ‘Nottinghamshire Sports School of the Year’ which is a well-earned reflection of the talents of our young people and the dedication of our sports staff.
There were challenges to avoid closure and we were tested on a number of occasions when our water was cut off by the housing developers at the rear of the school. Only the herculean efforts of our site staff, on each occasion, kept us functioning by manually ferrying water to our school kitchens. On a bank holiday our IT staff also achieved wonders by beating the hackers with their ransomware and restoring access to our data. Without access to parental contact data we would not have been able to discharge our safeguarding duties to you.
Throughout the year some of our students were able to share wonderful experiences on our usual array of trips. Our annual ski trips at Easter are an established highlight. The New York trip is now in its 6th year but a fledgling compared with our German exchange in its 42nd year. The latter now faces difficulty to be maintained because of new government regulations which require us to DBS check every adult in a host family. The DfE never intended this to be the case and we have been pressing them, along with other organisations, to review this.
Our Italian Football Tour was a winner and shortly our students depart for Germany on our Music Tour. Then, of course, there is our Model Flying Club who always end their year with a flying lesson in a real plane. Sadly, the inspiration behind this club, Mr Green, is retiring after 32 years of service. He will be sadly missed by all but especially our flying enthusiasts.
Another member of staff who is leaving us this summer is Mr Vullier, our Head of Languages. Mr Vullier has been with us for 9 years but will become the Head Teacher of a British School in Toulouse. I naturally wish him well in his new and exciting challenge.
Our students who have recently departed us have faced unprecedented turmoil in the national examinations system. Not only are the examination specifications getting more difficult at GCSE, numbers, for grading purposes, will replace letters for the first time. Because there are more numbers than there were letters it will be much harder for children to achieve the highest grades, thus, in turn, making it more difficult to achieve the entrance requirements for college or sixth form. We can state with certainty however, that West Bridgford School has done its very best to shepherd them through this difficult time.
As a school we continue to do all we can to further improve our environment and our students will have already seen work has begun on the refurbishment of two more science labs bringing to 8 the number we will have now refurbished. Work will also start on relocating our Students Services area to the front of the school, making this facility much easier for parents to access. This work will also see us create a new additional computer room.
Parents will be aware that we are also a growing school, having moved from 8 forms of entry in year 7 to 9. This has placed pressure on our dining areas and Student Council requested some improvements to this area of the school. Consequently, we have commissioned our architects to look at extending our dining room and creating an additional outdoor catering area on the site of the existing student services porta-cabin, which is set to be demolished when Student Services move.
Our Post-16 continues to thrive and grow and as a result we have increased the number of staff in the Post 16 team. We are also looking very closely at the possibility of broadening our post 16 offer for 2018 to include A Level Law, Graphics, and possibly Government and Politics.
Of course, all of these challenges and developments are taking place in the back drop of an unprecedented financial challenge for the school. The funding of our public services did become an election issue and one can only hope that these concerns have been listened to. I understand that the overall school funding settlement from the Treasury is set to be announced this week and we can only hope for a positive proposal. The proposals which have been consulted on for the National Funding Formula do not look kind to us and the final details of this are set to be published in the autumn.
Regardless of this, as a school we try to never stand still and to always be better tomorrow than we were today. Only by doing this can we be sure we are offering the best service we can for our local community.
Have a restful break.