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Headteacher Letter to Parents August 2018

30th August 2018

Dear Parents and Carers,

I do hope that you have all had a very good and relaxing few weeks over the summer. I am sure that you are all looking forward to the beginning of term and the new Academic Year.

Having worked at the school for most of last year, but on a part time basis and combining my duties at The John Roan with those at my other school in Tower Hamlets, it will be really great to start the new year with a single school to focus on. I am thrilled to be taking up my post as Headteacher of The John Roan full time from September P 1 and I am looking forward to continuing to work closely with all parents and carers and the local community to move the school forward, and to ensure that The John Roan School provides a rich, broad and enriching education so that all students are able to make excellent progress, whatever their starting points.

Exam Results

As you will be aware, we have been receiving exam results for our Sixth Form students, as well as our GCSE students, over the past weeks and I am pleased to be able to share with you some stories of outstanding success in both year groups. There is further detail on the website, and you will be able to access greater detail once fuller results are in and the analyses have been completed.

However, some highlights to share with you for now are below:

Key Stage 5: A Levels and BTECs

At this stage, the results- whether A Levels, BTECs or a combination of both- are the keys for students to access the next stage of their education, employment or training. The majority of students opted to apply to university and their grades have provided them with success in this area.

We are delighted that over 20% of the students have gained places at Russell Group Universities, and also that we have one student who will be taking up her place at Somerville College, Oxford University to study Law.

Key Stage 4: GCSEs

Despite the national changes to over 20 subjects and the significant shift to more challenging content with a reduction in coursework elements, as well as the new grading system, our students demonstrated their resilience and it was a delight to share in their successes as they came in to school to receive their results. We had many students genuinely surprised and delighted in their successes and excited about the opportunities ahead of them. Our top achieving students were in line with those top achievers across the country, with one of our students achieving a phenomenal 9 grade 9s and two A* s. Enrolment for our Sixth Form has begun and we are very pleased that we are firmly the destination of choice for many of the year group.

New Chair of Governors

You will be aware that since Easter, Linda Karlsen has been the Chair of Governors on a temporary basis and I would like to extend a huge thank you to her for stepping into the role at short notice and for leading us through a challenging term. At the last Governors meeting, Jill Todd was elected as the new Chair of Governors and I would like to welcome her to The John Roan and to this important position at the school. Jill Todd started her working life as a secondary school teacher and then worked as a radio and television journalist for nearly 30 years, winning the Gold Award in the New York Television and Film Festival and the Sandford Saint Martin Trust award for Radio.

She comes to the school with a wealth of experience in education. In addition to Chairing Schools Forums and the Governors Conference in Tower Hamlets for the past four years, she is Chair of Governors of a primary school and has been appointed as an NLG -National Leader of Governance – by the National College of School Leadership. She was honoured in the last round of Queen's Birthday Honours for her work in Tower Hamlets and in Education.

In 2014, Jill was appointed as Chair of the Board of the oldest and one of the largest Reform Synagogues in the UK (West London Synagogue) and when her term ended she was invited to Chair, the Trustees of the Leo Baeck College, the only progressive rabbinic seminary in the UK - there are 3 such seminaries in the world. She also runs a Communications Agency which works with Global companies to improve their communications skills with trainers in most major countries and languages.

Priorities

As the school moves forward and to ensure that we provide excellent opportunities for all of our students to grow and develop over their 7 years at the school, we will be working to key priorities that will ensure the school responds to its recent Ofsted inspection report, examination results and our own self-evaluation. Our overarching objective for the school this year is:

To ensure that across all year groups and in a wide range of subjects, including English and Mathematics, current students make consistently strong progress, developing secure knowledge, understanding and skills, considering their different starting points. In particular, that the progress of all key groups is at or improving towards that of other students with similar starting points. No one group should be achieving significantly Jess well than others.

To achieve this we will have a relentless focus on:

  • Robust leadership and governance
  • Improving outcomes
  • Improving teaching, learning and assessment
  • Consistent implementation ofthe Behaviour for Learning Policy
  • Improving attendance and punctuality
  • Effective use of additional funds (for SEND, year 7 catch-up, Pupil Premium etc) to drive rapid school improvement in all areas
  • A high quality and successful curriculum Post 16

Start of Term

To ensure that everyone can get off to a flying start at the beginning of term, I am sure that you are already sorting out uniform and other beginning of term essentials. Staff will be in school for training on the 3rd and 4th September and we are inviting Year 7 and 12 students in to school on the 5th September to allow them time to get settled prior to everyone returning on the 6th. Full details of the first week of term will be on the website for your reference, but please help us to make sure that the term starts well by ensuring that your child is fully ready and on time for the first (and subsequent) days and that we have all of the correct contact details for you. If there are any changes to any of the essential details we have on file, please let us know as a priority. In particular, at least two contact numbers for emergencies and an up to date email address for all communications.

Photographs

We have school photographers coming into school at the beginning of term to take individual photographs of each student. These are used for our records but will also be available on line for you to purchase if you wish. Details will follow about how to review and purchase these. Years 9, 10 and 11 will be photographed on Friday 7th September, and Years 7, 8, 12 and 13 on Monday 10th.

Staffing

A key concern last year was the high level of cover and temporary staff that the school was using.

We have worked hard to address this and I am pleased to be able to tell you that, with 2 exceptions at this moment in time, we are fully staffed to cover the timetable for September. I continue to work to address this last piece of recruitment, but I am sure that you will agree that this is a strong position to be in for the school.

We welcome a number of new staff to the school, both teachers and support staff, and your child will soon get to know their names and faces. In particular, I am very pleased that we will have Josephine Okokon joining us in September. Josephine is our new Associate Headteacher and will be working closely with me and the Senior Leadership Team to address the priorities for the school.

Based on the Maze Hill Site she will also provide strong leadership for the 'Lower School' and I am sure that many of you will be able to welcome her to the school in the mornings at the school gate on Maze Hill.

The Broad, Balanced and Exciting Curriculum at The John Roan

Over the past few months our students and staff have been involved in a wide variety of exciting opportunities that have supplemented the curriculum offer and enriched their learning experiences.

We do our best to provide you with updates about the successes and activities of our students through our Twitter account and on the website, but I thought I would use this letter to draw your attention to just a few of the news items from recent events.

The Library- Promoting Literacy to Everyone

This year we have invited in a number of authors to inspire our students and share their experiences of writing. In addition to our Patron of Reading, Philip Womack, we were pleased to host Laurel Remington and Matt Dickenson in the summer term, both of whom were able to bring their books alive with the stories that inspired them. Members of the Journalism Club have visited The Guardian newspaper for a workshop and our student librarians went to the Harry Potter Exhibition at the British Library.

Remembrance I Lest We Forget

Some of our students visited the First World War battlefields in Belgium and engaged in a range of activities as part of a huge, nationwide project led by the Commonwealth Institute. Returning from their visit they led a moving assembly to share their experiences with their peers and a group of our Foundation Trustees who had supported their visit.

Some Year 13 students undertook a memorable and powerful visit to Poland to tour the remains of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and the school organised for a Holocaust survivor to come in to school to speak in an assembly.

Sport

We have had a hugely successful year of sport with our PE Department ensuring that our students are representing the very best of John Roan in as many different sports as possible. Recently we have had students in cross country championships, rugby tournaments, indoor rowing championships to name but a few areas. Our Sports Leaders have been actively working with primary schools and the whole school Sports Day was a great success. In addition to team successes, we are really pleased that some of our students are representing the district, London and even the country in some areas.

During the Sports Relief week, our students engaged in a range of sporting challenges to raise over £1000 for the Sport Relief charities. This was a great time to bring our school community together and a particular highlight was the sponsored run, although the lunchtime Zumba was perhaps a close second.

This year was the first at The John Roan for our Greenwich Basketball Academy and a 'Green and Gold' Day was held in July to celebrate its success. We are now an elite basketball centre of U18 players in South East London and are looking forward to our second year, more students and even more matches to win.

Braithwaite Centre

The last three weeks of term saw groups of students from The John Roan travelling up to the Lake District for their 'Braithwaite Experience'. Students in each of the years 7, 8 & 9 spent 5 days at the Hope Memorial Centre enjoying the glorious weather, fantastic countryside and a wide range of activities in the area. We have already booked our slots for the new academic year and I am sure that the GALs will soon be making plans for their year groups again.

Collaboration in Art

Earlier this year our Year 8 students from the DSP took part in an exciting art project alongside students from Thomas Tallis School and Halley College. This 'Tate Exchange' project was reported in a large feature in the Times Educational Supplement last term and celebrated the engagement and learning that emerged from the work of all those involved, as well as highlighting the great work the school does in this area.

Performance

Many of our parents came along to see the school production of Hairspray earlier last term and will have enjoyed the showcase of talent that it presented. At the end of term, some of the students reprised their roles and added in other performance pieces in a showcase to raise money for the Sickle Cell Society and the Greenwich Sickle Cell Support Group. A total of £600 was raised on the night as we remembered the short life of Emmanuel Amutu with his family and friends.

Founder's Day was also a great success and a wonderful opportunity to showcase the many musical skills of our students. We have a large number of students learning musical instruments through the school and it is always a delight to have the opportunity to hear them perform.

Keeping You Informed

We will continue to update our website with news and information, so please make sure that you check it regularly to see what is going on at the school. Additionally, I will write to parents regularly with key information as I did last term, so please could you make sure that your email and account details are up to date as we use the Parent Pay system to send out letters and communication texts.

You can set up a Parent Pay account to receive communication from us even if you do not use it as a payment method.

I wish you all the very best for the last week of the holidays and look forward to seeing your children back at school for the new term next week.

Yours faithfully,

Cath Smith

Executive Headteacher