Welcoming Year 6
Welcome Evenings for Year 6 pupils and their parents/carers
Over 3 evenings in June 2021, Headteacher Chiquita Henson and her team officially welcomed our new Year 7 (current Year 6) pupils and their parents to Cirencester Deer Park School. These virtual events were broadcast live in MS Teams and aimed to share information and ease the transition. The latest evening concluded on Tuesday 29 June. One parent commended the event: ‘Thank you so much. Incredibly helpful.’
We are very grateful to those families who prioritised our welcome event on Tuesday 29 June and joined us, in spite of England’s game against Germany in the last 16 of the UEFA European Football Championship. For those who missed our welcome evenings, we are pleased to share a recording of our first event on Monday 14 June below:
Working alongside Chiquita Henson, Mr Bellamy (Assistant Head and Pastoral Lead), Mrs Hannis (Year 7 Year Leader) and Mr Reed (Assistant Pastoral Team Leader) provided key information for our new pupils and their parents. The team covered our expectations and school standards and exemplified how we encourage everyone in our learning community to achieve more than they first think is possible, something, former pupil and three times Olympic gold medallist, Peter Reed, still lives by as he faces his greatest challenge ever. We all wish him the very best and admire his courage.
Over the course of the three evenings, four pupils shared their reflections on their experiences at Deer Park and provided some sage advice. Charlotte and Olivia, both now in our (new) Year 11 and working towards their GCSEs as a result of our tradition to roll our timetable forward in June each year to help us maintain the rhythm and momentum of learning, outline the range of opportunities they have had and not only highlighted their engagement in sport and the arts, but also the provision we made for online learning during two significant periods of lockdown. Similarly, Noah and Alfred, now in our (new) Year 8, talked animatedly about their experiences at Deer Park since September 2020.
Click here to read Charlotte's speech (new Year 11)
I'm Charlotte and I have just moved up to Year 11. At Deer Park we move up a year in June to get more curriculum time, which means that we get to start our GCSE options sooner in Year 9. I came to Deer Park in Year 7 with a few friends from primary school. However, when we were put into tutor groups, I found a new friend. It is a massive change coming to a secondary school from a small primary school, and I didn't know what to expect but I now have a completely new friendship group with 3 close friends all from different primary schools. From the very start of Year 7 Deer Park has been a welcoming, safe environment for me and has offered so many amazing opportunities over my years of being here.
In Year 7, we went to the Belgium battlefields to learn more about WW1 and the history there which I hope you will get to experience also. In Year 9, we went on a trip to Wales for a week and did all sorts of activities like climbing, going to the beaches and walking; it was really nice to have a week away with friends and great teachers. Finally in Year 10, I completed my DofE Bronze Award; because of the pandemic unfortunately we weren't allowed to camp but the walking on both days with my friends was so much fun. Just before the summer I was planning to go on the volunteering trip to Ghana for 2 weeks, however due to Covid restrictions we are unable to travel.
Deer Park has something to offer everyone. If you are sporty, like myself, the big astro turf and large field space are great facilities for PE lessons and extracurricular activities. Deer Park PE Faculty have a Talent ID programme for Year 7 and Year 8, which is extra PE to learn and gain knowledge on different sports. As part of the Talent ID programme in normal times there is a sports trip to Twickenham stadium to watch the rugby - I was lucky enough to go and have an amazing time. However, if sport doesn't interest you as much as art or science then other after school activities will take place, so there's something for everyone to enjoy.
In March 2020 the global pandemic hit and schools had to be shut. Many students across the country fell behind with work and education, but Deer Park managed to keep up with the difficult circumstances and adapted quickly, meaning that students didn't miss out on any important teaching and education. Hopefully not, but if this was to happen again you should feel ensured and safe during online lessons.
For my experience with online learning, I feel that Deer Park made sure that I and every other student adjusted well. Although it was a huge change, after the first week it became normalised and showed that the school was prepared and ready. All the teachers were supportive and accepting that some students may be going through a hard time, but the school as a whole made sure that no work was left behind and coming out of lockdown, we would still be on track to carry on with learning.
As I said at the start, it's a huge change coming from a primary school to a big secondary school, but with the amazing Pastoral team keeping everyone happy and feeling comfortable and the positive staff and all the other people in your year group going through the same thing, it's a lot easier than it seems starting this new chapter of your lives, especially at Deer Park. Good luck and I hope to see you in September.
Click here to read Noah's speech (new Year 8)
Good evening everyone, my name is Noah and I have been invited to share my experiences in transitioning from primary school to Deer Park.
The final year at primary school was very different for me due to the COVID restrictions that were in place. I vaguely remembered a visit to Deer Park with my brother 2 years previously and Deer Park not being in my catchment area added to my concerns of securing a place. I was fortunate that a few of my friends from primary school would be experiencing similar concerns as they too had chosen Deer Park. However, once I received the email to offer me a place, I was delighted!
Deer Park School work very hard to ensure that the move to secondary school is smooth. It was very difficult during last year as we were unable to attend the Induction Days or Challenge Days that are normally run to aid the transitioning process. This meant that the first day I had at my new school would be my initial start date last September.
To say i was nervous was an understatement, but this didn't last long. By break i had made so many new friends within my bubble and we've stuck together ever since. Finding my way around school got easier each day and knowing where the Pastoral Office is located is important should I have any problems or worries. At the start and end of each day, I have a long bus journey, so I would meet with my friends and walk to the bus stop together - now the bus driver knows my name!
My time at Deer Park so far has been very exciting. I've taken part in many activities and after school clubs and look forward to representing the school cricket team at some point.
I can honestly say I love my school. The teachers are so friendly and I've met so many new friends. Now I'm in Year 8, I'm really looking foward to what's in store for me and it's exciting to receive a new timetable.
Alfred provided the following top tips:
- Ask questions if you’re stuck on anything.
- Don’t worry about getting lost – there are maps all around the school and teachers everywhere to help too.
- You’ll get an App called ‘Show My Homework’ to help you plan all the work you need to do outside of lessons, so use it to keep on track with your homework.
- Don’t worry about school dinners – the food is really nice.
While Mr Bellamy focused on the detail of the school day, pupils’ timetables, lunchtimes and attendance, Mrs Hannis or Mr Reed offered assurances regarding uniform and the transition. This month, Mrs Hannis, in her role as our Year 7 Year Leader, has spoken to every pupil and their parents over the telephone. This has enabled her to ‘break the ice’, get to know pupils in her new year group and respond to any questions.
'I have had the pleasure of talking to every pupil and their parents over the last few weeks. All of you have spoken about your excitement at joining us for your Induction Days next week. You have told me you are excited about making new friends, joining our production of Matilda The Musical and playing sports. I am really looking to meeting you all and showing you around our school.' Mrs Hannis, Year 7 Year Leader
Together the team shared our expectations. We offer a broad and balanced entitlement curriculum in Key Stage 3 which ensures all pupils can access the full range of subjects here at Deer Park. Chiquita Henson explained that alongside their academic learning, pupils at Deer Park are encouraged to become curious and creative:
We want all of our pupils to become more resilient, resourceful, reciprocal and reflective in their approach to new learning and in response to challenges. By developing and strengthening these aptitudes, our pupils are equipped with the skills to be effective learners and responsible citizens able to retrieve information, exercise their judgements in drawing conclusions, make informed decisions and contribute to solving real world problems.
Chiquita Henson, Headteacher
Each Welcome Evening event concluded with an outline of our proposed Induction Days on Thursday 8 and Friday 9 July 2021. We are still planning to go ahead with these, but we are currently making amendments to the programme, in line with the guidance we have received, to further minimise movement and reduce the number of contacts our new pupils will have. More information will follow.
Mr Bellamy, Assistant Head, commented: 'It was fantastic to meet you all, albeit virtually. I hope that the information provided was helpful for you and your children and will help ease the transition to secondary school. We are excited about meeting you all on our Induction Days on Thursday 8 and Friday 9 July.'