Dear Parents and Carers,
I hope you have enjoyed the bank holiday weekend: the weather wasn’t all it could have been, but I think we all appreciate a 3-day weekend no matter the weather.
I was so proud of our school and students last week: in two extra-curricular successes. Firstly, the boys’ Year 9 football team won the Brighton School’s cup – in extra time against Hove Park. We meet them again in the Sussex cup this coming week. The ‘double’ is on the cards! Secondly, we put on an awe-inspiring concert at the Dome, with a huge number of Year 7-13 students performing along with local primary schools. The talent and quality of performance was exceptional – and these two events last week were a salutary reminder that whilst classroom learning is vital, so is the expressive and physical side of education. Blatch is a school that values all learning and last week was one of my proudest since September. A parent commented to me on how many staff members were at both events, and I agree we have a hugely committed staff. Another parent commented that their experience at Parents’ Evening was fantastic as staff knew their child so well – this is one of our core aims and it is wonderful to hear it is an area of success. Year 10 Parents’ Evening is this Thursday so please do make your appointments and I look forward to seeing you there.
We’ve been looking at the Parents’ Evening format and when they are in the year. We’ve got some proposals for improvement and will be discussing these with staff over the coming weeks. In addition, we’re reviewing our Firefly and Passport systems over the coming weeks. We’re really pleased with some aspects of both, but appreciate and acknowledge there are some improvements that can be made – we’ll look to do that over the coming weeks and months and will keep you informed as we do so.
I can update you on the progress of our uniform change for 2016-17. We’ve had some brilliant conversations with students, parents and staff about uniform and are getting closer to designing a uniform that the entire community takes pride in. We have had some uniform samples in school for students to look at – and their feedback was intelligent, commonly insightful and usually articulate! Some parents have asked for clarification over the timeline for uniform and I have set this out below. We appreciate a diversity of opinion over uniform change – but if asked to summarise the rationale for why we will be changing – it is about our desire to be a truly inclusive school. Uniformity, by definition, is about a sense of belonging. Our school is a wonderful, diverse community, but the reality is that some students still achieve less well. We cannot accept that disadvantage or background determines your future success. We want all students to feel pride in what they wear to school, and to know the feeling of being smart. For many students it may be something they are already comfortable with but, for our vulnerable, for our disengaged and for our disadvantaged students it is a leveller – and it will help them achieve. The final uniform is not designed yet and we will keep you informed as it develops.
- From September 2016, our new intake of Year 7 students will wear the new uniform.
- All other year groups will keep their existing uniform for the next academic year (2016-17), and will be able to buy that uniform at a 20% discount from the supplier over that period (while stocks last). This price reduction starts now.
- Any students in an older year group will be allowed to wear the new uniform from September as they choose – or can wear their existing uniform up to July 2017 to ensure we don’t waste any uniform already purchased.
- The PE kit will remain the same.
- To address concerns raised over the postage charge for uniform we will keep small items (e.g. ties) in school to save the postage charge for parents buying a small item. In addition, all larger items will be able to be ordered online and delivered to school for free.
- From September 2017, all students in Year 7-11 will wear the new uniform.
The building work on new classrooms continues apace – it is remarkable how quickly mud and concrete turns to a recognisable structure. The classrooms will be completed in October 2016.
Finally, Peter Kyle, MP, came to school last week to meet students. He was so impressed with them. I said to him that working with our wonderful students is like breathing rarefied air – they are incredibly special and we will be working for the rest of this term to raise their achievement; please encourage them as much as you can from home.