In keeping with our tradition at Deer Park, we started our new timetable on Tuesday 7 June and our pupils are enjoying meeting their new teachers in Years 8 to 10 as we work through the first fortnightly cycle.
I have been impressed by how quickly our pupils have adapted to the change and our former Year 7s are already walking tall! I was privileged to see pupils in our New Year 11 working so hard on Friday 10 June when I completed a learning walk during their last lesson. They have certainly stepped up: many were enthusiastically engaged in activities related to their GCSE controlled assessments and others were rising to the challenges presented in exam practice.
Chiquita Henson, Headteacher
At the start of each new term or school year, it is important that we remind all pupils of our school standards and expectations. Following consultation led by our pupils with members of the community of our school in the autumn, our revised school standards were launched in January 2016. These reflect our school values and underpin all that we do:
In our learning community, we are all responsible for our actions: we
- Welcome everyone
- Respect and cooperate with each other
- Apply our best efforts
- Support and value everyone
- Embrace and celebrate difference
- Prevent bullying
- Take pride in our uniform
- Look after our school.
We are very grateful to our pupils’ parents’ for their on-going support and appreciate the help they give us by ensuring our pupils attend school punctually, are correctly attired and prepared for learning each day.
We would like to thank you for everything you have done to provide our son with such a fulfilling five years at Deer Park. He has been taught by some inspirational teachers and been provided with a huge variety of opportunities.
Parent of pupil in outgoing Year 11
We will be focusing on developing our pupils’ resilience as we move into 2017. This was reflected in our New Year 10 and 11 Learning Conferences and in our current round of Welcome Evenings for our New Year 7 pupils and their parents. Please read our pupils' thoughtful reflections on their experience of joining our school.
Good attendance is essential to success and we are pleased to note that there has been an improvement overall this year from a school average of 94.8% in 2015 to 95.4% in 2016. However, we are especially keen to maintain the rhythm of learning throughout the academic year and to see even further improvement. Our aim is to exceed 96%. We remind parents that we do not authorise any requests for absence in term time, unless there are truly exceptional circumstances. This is in line with the new guidance published by Nick Gibb, Secretary of State for Schools, on Friday 10 June 2016 .
To help parents ensure our pupils wear our school uniform correctly and conform to our expectations, we have shared our dress code ‘Dos and Don’ts’. These are clear and unequivocal. They should avoid any misunderstanding and will ensure we can all focus our energies on supporting your son/daughter’s and other pupils’ learning. There will be a further review of our school uniform in the Autumn.
Since September 2015, we have been reviewing our practice and management of behaviour. Although this has consistently been judged ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted and the vast majority of our pupils have exemplary attitudes towards their learning, we recognise there is always scope for improvement. Colleagues across the school have been working together and to help us achieve greater consistency in the reporting of early transgressions to parents we have been able to set up new email alerts that will be used to advise parents immediately of any failure on their children’s part to hand in homework or if a pupil has not brought in the necessary equipment required for learning, such as a pen, calculator, PE kit or ingredients for cooking. We will be monitoring this closely and Mr Johnson, Assistant Head, will welcome feedback on this from staff, pupils and parents.
Furthermore, following our successful pilot in September/October 2015 we have developed our in-school exclusions as an alternative to fixed term exclusions and this practice clearly provides a stronger deterrent as we have seen a significant reduction in the need for this type of sanction this year.
Throughout the forthcoming year we will invite our pupils and their parents to provide us with feedback. This will help us with our evaluation and planning.
On Thursday 5 May 2016, parents of pupils now in Year 10 completed a ‘Parent View’ style survey at our annual Key Stage 3 Celebration of Achievement. This indicated a very high level of satisfaction with the school: 99% feel their children are safe and happy at Deer Park.
Deer Park has a very good integration record. In the last 10 years I have known the school, my impressions of the school remain highly positive. Keep it up.
Parent of pupils in new Years 8 and 10
Some responses, however, highlighted some areas for us to work on. Consequently, Mrs Lang, Deputy Head, will be working with our Heads of Faculty to ensure all homework is purposeful, challenging and routinely set. Miss Brace, Head of Key Stage 4, shared good advice for parents on how to help their children learn independently at home in our recent Learning Conferences. Parents of pupils in Key Stage 3 will be invited and are encouraged to attend similar events next term.
I would like to thank you for your time and energy this evening. It was a really thought provoking presentation. The hour or so flew by! It was varied and pitched just right. It was important for my husband in particular as it's all new to him and he picked up some valuable tips and messages. We were both impressed and felt it was a really useful evening. The sweets and refreshments were a nice touch too and made us feel like our attendance was valuable to you.
New Year 10 Parent
We hope our pupils take advantage of the ‘head start’ they have been given by moving up a term earlier than their peers. We look forward to seeing the progress they make across the curriculum and in response to the personal challenges posed in our annual Enrichment Week in July.
"I am still looking forward to events such as Enrichment Week in which we will be doing water sports, visiting @Bristol and loads more." Louis (new Year 8)
"I am looking forward to developing my skills in PE." Aaron (new Year 9)
"Now I am thinking about my future. I want to go to Swindon College when I leave. Deer Park has given me the opportunity to go there on a Taster Day with other pupils to sample some of their courses." Maya (new Year 11)