The following is a copy of the article in the recent edition of Connect, Nottingham High School’s newsletter:
As the 500th Anniversary Year comes to a close our thoughts have turned to planning for the next academic year. In thinking about this I was determined that it would not be a quiet year after all of the activity we have enjoyed this year. It is important that the impetus of school development is maintained and that we continue to strive for excellence in all that we do.
In terms of planning for the next stage we have a very thorough School Development Plan, which is developed using the parental and staff questionnaires and informed by discussion within the Senior Management Team, and then with the School governors.
It has become clear in recent years that if we are to implement an ambitious plan we need to have a slightly larger Senior Management Team. Thus, we have created some new SMT posts at Assistant Head level. I am delighted, therefore, to be welcoming the following to the SMT:
Dr Andrew Wood – Assistant Head (Director of Studies)
Mrs Wilma Robinson – Assistant Head (Head of Sixth Form)
Miss Lisa Gritti – Assistant Head (Pastoral)
Mr Kieron Heath – Assistant Head (Co-Curricular)
With Dr Paul Sibly retiring at the end of this term, for an interim period Mr Paul Spedding will combine his current role as Senior Teacher with the role of Deputy Head Pastoral. We will advertise this latter role in September.
These new members will join myself as Headmaster, Mrs Clare Bruce, Head of the Infant and Junior School, Mr David Williamson, Deputy Head Academic, Mr Rob Dunmore, Director of Finance and Estates and Mr Paul Spedding, Deputy Head Pastoral, as members of the SMT.
These new appointments will enable us to press on with introducing many of the initiatives from our development plan. Many of these build on the comments parents have made in our bi-annual questionnaires and I would like to thank you for your input in this way.
I hope that the following outline of some of the major projects for the next academic year will be of interest to you all. Following a thorough review we are finalising the shape of our curriculum for the future. We have looked at our timetabling arrangements, our subject choices, how we will enrich the curriculum, our exam offering, and the balance of time spent on each curriculum area. We are now in the final stages of discussing all this with the staff ready for full implementation in September 2014.
We have also done a good deal of work with colleagues on how we can best share good practice in the School – a theme which emerged from the parental surveys. We want to ensure consistency of the highest possible standards in all areas. This has involved changes to our pre-term training days, as well as the establishment of peer observation in which staff have gained a great deal from watching each other’s lessons. We have reviewed the roles of our Heads of Department to ensure consistency of standards in their departments. We are also looking at how to develop our use of pupil tracking, building on the work which has started in the Sixth Form. We also plan to have a major focus next year on promoting independent learning and there will be more on this in future editions of this newsletter.
Parents regularly rate our pastoral care as one of the strongest elements of our provision. However, we are aware that it is vital that there is consistency of provision in this area and, with Miss Gritti’s new appointment, we are making this a focus for the next academic year. We aim to look at how we train new tutors and Heads of Year, as well as ensuring that good practice is again shared in this area.
Mr Heath’s new appointment as the Assistant Head (Co-Curricular) means that we now have a member of the SMT who has the major responsibility for keeping an overview of our extensive co-curricular programme. He is planning to develop systems which enable us to track just what activities each boy does so that we can encourage those who are less involved to become more active. It is through our activities programme that so many boys develop their characters. We want to build on the outreach work we do with other local schools and the community. We also want to build on the recent initiatives where senior boys have gone into our Infant and Junior School to lead activities. Mr Heath will also keep an eye on the balance for individual boys, ensuring that they can both academically thrive and follow a varied programme of activities.
Another important area of development over the next year will be to complete the integration of the Infant and Junior School. Mrs Bruce and I have been working to develop the plans to ensure continuity of care and practice over the whole of a boy’s education from 4-11. We have looked at almost every area of our provision building on the good practice that already exists, and looking at how we can make smooth transitions between each stage of the School.
Under Mrs Robinson’s role as Assistant Head (Head of Sixth Form) we want to review our practices to ensure that we can both retain boys between Year 11 and the Sixth Form and also look to recruit more to join us to study their A Levels. At our recent Year 13 Leavers’ event for students and parents I was delighted to hear how much the boys had enjoyed their sixth form experience and how positive they were about the ethos we have created.
We are very keen to involve all of our staff in moving the School forward. With a number of long-established staff retiring this summer, many colleagues are taking on new roles and they too have exciting plans for the future. Just as we use the parental questionnaires to develop future thinking we have also undertaken a major staff survey and we are establishing a staff welfare group to move things forward. We also want to encourage staff to be innovative so we are planning to introduce a scheme where they can bid in Dragon’s Den style to introduce projects of their own, which will help them to lead change in the School. This will give staff with leadership potential the ability to take a lead in developing innovation in the School and to share good practice with their colleagues. We are also introducing an appraisal system for our support staff to mirror that which already exists for teaching staff.
We have recently undertaken a major review of all of our support services, again informed by some of the comments in the parental survey. Thus, in the next academic year, we intend to have a real focus on ensuring that we give excellent customer service to all, followed by a review of our bus services and our catering services. Finally, we continue to work to maintain our school site and this will be another focus of the coming year as we undertake a survey to plan the next stages of refurbishment and development in all sections of the School. We want the boys to have an environment that they can be proud of and which enhances their studies.
In conclusion, I hope that I have given you a flavour of what will be a very exciting period for the School. It would have been easy to see the next year as a lull after the 500th Anniversary but I am determined that this will not be the case. With our enlarged management team providing a fresh impetus and with so many colleagues taking on new roles there is a real sense of excitement in the School for what lies ahead. We seek to build on the strong position we are already in by enhancing what we are offering further. We have done the groundwork for all this over this past year so are now in a strong position to implement the improvements to lead us into the next chapter of the School’s History.