It’s hard to believe that we have started with yet another summer term; it seems like 5 minutes since the last one a year ago. With GCSE exams exactly 3 weeks away, the staff and pupils are beginning to gear up for the last big push for the best results.
During the Easter Holidays there were 8 days on which the school opened for staff. These days are normally fairly quiet with maintenance and office staff able to get on with preparations for a new term. This year however, Year 11 students flocked into school to do extra revision. Altogether we had over 550 students through the doors getting to grips with a wide range of subjects over these 8 days. Many students had to make a choice between subjects in order to prioritise the most important activities for revision.
The Modern Foreign Languages Department also headed off to Normandy to tune-in their ears ready for the summer examination period. With visits to the market to buy the ingredients for lunch and interviews with local French residents, as well as a visit to the Cider Farm, a good time was had by all and students returned with a better knowledge of the Normandy region and – hopefully – improved language skills.
Our visits to our primary feeder schools to see Year 5 children thinking about their choice of secondary school have now been running for a number of weeks and we have managed to visit the majority of schools. It’s such an important time for everyone and decisions will ensure that children have a good match between their needs and the type of school chosen. Last week we received the names of those who will transfer to UCC in September; altogether there are 254 requests for places, which we have agreed in all cases.
During the Spring Term Mrs Campbell organises a Paired Reading Scheme to help Year 7 students brush up their reading skills in order to make the most of the work they do in lessons. This year, 38 Year 7 students paired up with Sixth Form mentors to read together during registration times over 15 weeks. The reading ages of those students taking part were measured at the beginning of the project and then again at the end. Astonishingly, the average improvement in reading age was 3 years and 3 months, with the largest increase at 7 years 3 months. The impact on learning is profound and it just goes to show that regular practice in reading makes a big difference to all aspects of school life. A big thank you goes also to those Sixth Form students who volunteered to help.
Easter has also meant that many of our pupils are busy helping out with lambing on the family farm. On a much smaller scale my few ewes have delivered 34 lambs; mothers and little ones all doing well. As seen in the picture not all mothers are totally confident that I know what I’m doing and a close inspection is always required to prevent incompetent handling.
It’s also potato planting time and the attached photo features yours truly, Mr Pattinson Junior and Miss Clarke, Year 5 teacher at Yanwath Primary School, putting our Maris Pipers in for the year. Huge thanks also go to Mr Ogden, father of Robson and Joel, for the loan of his vintage potato planter; it makes life a bit easier than the alternative, which was to plant the 480 tubers by hand!
On 30th April we host The Prince’s Teaching Institute at UCC for a seminar on Vocational Education. The Directors of the PTI and the Chief Executive of The Prince’s Trust will attend together with a number of Headteachers from as far away as Cornwall, London, Hertfordshire and Wigan. Lots of our students will be involved and all attending the seminar will have the chance to look around UCC to see how the school operates and what it feels like to be a student here. We’re looking forward to a productive and enjoyable day.