This term I have focused on the cost of trips, which follows discussion with governors last term. Specifically, are there enough trips that are affordable to families, particularly those that are not eligible for FSM but whose disposable incomes are relatively low?
In the case of students who are eligible for pupil premium funding, the College fully or partially subsidises every trip that is offered. We know that students who are engaged in broader college life are excluded less, attend more regularly and ultimately achieve better outcomes compared to similar peers. It has often been the case that pupil premium students were excluded from trips, music and sporting activity because of family financial constraints. This remains so in some cases, but the instances are fewer now as a result of careful use of the pupil premium to subsidise places and through the practice of reserving spaces on trips for this group of students whose parents do not always complete permission slips to reserve places in a timely manner.
The College offers a significant number of trips and visits that have no or very low cost (<£20). There were 58 trips of this nature in 2015/16 and 34 have been planned so far this year. 3,300 places on trips at no cost have been offered. This has included trips to the mosque and gurdwara in Peterborough for all year 8 students; cross country athletics; musical performances with Oakham school; a languages trip for year 9; a trip to Nottingham university for year 9 and a trip for year 7 to Leicester Tigers grounds. All year groups have had access to at least one no-cost trip, albeit that not all students were offered the opportunity on each occasion. This category has the most number of trips and participants in the last two years, although it should be noted that the amount of trips and available places has decreased this year compared to last.
Many trips are also of moderate costing, between £20 and £100. In the last two years 2,435 participants will have taken part in such experiences. The cost of trips covers the price of admission and transport. Staff costs are paid by the College. Every year group has had access to such trips, which are usually UK based and non-residential. This year this has included: The British Library; Hamlet; Workhouse Trip; Burghley House Arts Trip; Royal Albert Hall; Victoria & Albert Museum; V & A Museum Trip; Bosworth Battlefield; Maths in Action; Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; Birmingham Symphony Hall; Harry Potter Studio Tour and Julius Caesar. The amount of trips in this moderately expensive category has increased, as has participation, over the last 12 months. They offer students an affordable way to experience a wide range of cultural experiences that support and supplement the curriculum.
The smallest number of trips and participants are in the expensive category (>£100). There were 25 trips in this category over the last two years, attracting 856 participants. These trips tend to be residential, often abroad. This year this has included: German Exchange; Spanish Exchange; Geography trip to Sheringham; Kingswood Trip; Battlefields Tour 2017; Berlin Tour 2017; Krakow Trip; Venice Arts Trip and New York performing arts tour. Only two of these trips (New York and Sumatra) was over £1,000. All of these trips are linked to a curriculum area and provide students with opportunities that cannot be easily replicated elsewhere. They provide unique opportunities, albeit relatively expensive ones, that broaden and deepen students’ understanding of subjects they are considering as potential careers. They are also attractive to many families who want to ensure that their child has access to a broad range of opportunities that they might otherwise seek from the independent sector.
There are a broad range of day visits which are at no or very low cost to families. However, we need to ensure that these opportunities are not diminished by an increase in the number of more expensive residential experiences which have increased over the last two years. We will monitor the number of trips that are low cost and use the performance management cycle to ensure that staff who lead trips prioritise low cost and high participation rates. The more expensive trips do have an important place in our ethos, however, as they give students once-in-a-life time opportunities that will stay with them for a long time and could influence their future life choices.
We are preparing to take a tour to southern Iceland to enhance our GCSE photography students portfolio. The tour will give students the opportunity to experience a wide range of photography in the desolate but majestic landscapes of Iceland. We will learn techniques including long exposure, astro-photography, wildlife and street photography. This video which consists of hundreds of individuals images of the northern lights stitched together to create the illusion of movement, it is an advanced technique that we are hoping to teach our students.
The slides from this evening can be viewed here, they give an idea of the sort of locations and photography we will be practising during the trip. The full presentation can be downloaded from here (>100 MB) if it is useful.
The following video is from a trip in 2016 which visited many of the same locations and few different ones, it gives a good idea of the conditions in Iceland and the sort of photography we will have the opportunity to try out.
This gallery gives an idea of the sort of scenery and photography we are likely to experience in Iceland during February.
To apply for a place on the trip please complete the form on this flyer:
FOCUS ON SPORT
We have continued to blaze a trail in sport this academic year, competing in a very wide range of competitions which has led to participating in over 100 fixtures. Notable successes so far include:
- Both the year 10 and Year 11 girls Netball team won their respective Varsity Leagues. The year 10 team has since progressed onto the Leicestershire school’s final against Loughborough High School following victories against Ashby and John Ferneley.
- The under 13 boys table tennis team won the varsity competition and thus qualified to represent Rutland at the level 3 final where they came 5th out 10 teams.
- The year 8 boys and key stage 4 girls’ basketball teams are showing considerable promise in the Varsity basketball league both winning their opening 3 games.
- The cross country teams continue to perform well with over 25 students competing at the weekend in the Leicestershire & Rutland Cross Country league. The junior boys are currently joint second, 2 points behind 1st. Best individual position so far has been Marcus Francis, finishing 7th, with most finishing in the top 25.
- Leicestershire & Rutland Cross Country cup the Junior boys finished 4th competing against predominately older teams.
- In English Schools Athletics Association cross country cup the junior boys qualified for the regional round of the traveling to Leeds finishing 7th out of 12 with a number of excellent performances.
- In addition to basketball, indoor athletics and active clubs ran by the sports team this term Ian Bartlett from the English Team is helping to prepare the year 7’s for their first Varsity Rugby by running a rugby practice after college on a Monday.
In the varsity competition we are currently second, which is our expectation at this time of year. We are once again aiming to be varsity champions by the end!
My thanks go to the sports team who give so generously of their time to coach teams to such success.
We are entering a National Spelling Bee competition for Y7 French. We have all pupils competing at a class level at the moment and getting themselves onto a leader board following a series of tests/challenges. The pupils have been learning 50 words in French and have to spell the word correctly using the French alphabet including the correct accents, also said in French. The winners of the class stage will then go on to compete for the top spots in the year group in front of the whole of year 7 with careful coaching given by the year 11 French Ambassadors. The winners of that will get the chance to go to the regional then national finals. This is proving very popular amongst the boys who at the moment are by far outperforming the girls.
TRIPS AND VISITS
There have been a rich variety of extra-curricular experiences this term encompassing the theatre, cultural experiences in Peterborough and hosting students from Spain as part of our first exchange visit. In total around 400 students have had such an experience this term.
|Oakham Castle Trip||Simon Parker||1&8 November 2016||7||120||History|
|Bosworth Battlefield||Judith Green||2 November 2016||8||130||English|
|Spanish Exchange||Claire Dodson||2 – 9 November 2016||9||30||Spanish|
|Cambridge University||Lee Coupe||9 November 2016||10 & 11||30||Careers|
|Active Rutland Awards||Beth Smith||16 November 2016||Selected||5||Sport|
|Oakham School Choir Performance||Luke Donnelly||18 November 2016||7-9||25||Music|
|Royal Albert Hall, London||Luke Donnelly||27 November 2016||8 – 11||49||Music|
|Mosque and Gurdwara||Judith Green||30 Nov & 7 December||8||180||Cultural|
|A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night||Leanne Mitchell||1 December 2016||10 & 11||46||Drama|
|Clothes Show Live||Kim Hincks||6 December 2016||10 & 11||40||Art|
Alongside planning lessons, assessment and how we feedback is the most important activity we undertake to improve student understanding. It has been a long-held wisdom by some in the profession that the only way to do this effectively is by writing very long comments, that students must also respond to followed by a further response from the teacher; the so-called triple marking method. It is not something I have ever subscribed to nor ever done in my own practice. Feedback in this way is very time-consuming and rarely elicits a substantial response from students that improves their understanding of what they did well and how they need to improve further.
Please have a read of this guidance from Ofsted and the outcomes from recent research into this:
Advice to Ofsted inspectors:
DFE workforce reform:
The best feedback from teachers is received immediately after the assessment, gives clear guidance regarding what is wrong and offers advice about how to improve further which students are asked to act upon straight away. This is how our check point system is designed to work. Check point assessments are not tests, they do not need to be carried out under exam conditions. They do not all need to be marked exclusively by a teacher. Check-points are assessments that replace the normal lesson by lesson assessment that a teacher normally undertakes, they are not in addition to it. Each check-point should have the following characteristics:
- assess how well students have understood their most recent work;
- students should know when the checkpoint is, how they will be assessed and have been taught all of the content;
- be based around GCSE skills and knowledge, even in year 7 and 8;
- be carried out in the same way by each subject teacher;
- be the same task for every student in the year group and same tier of entry for the subject;
- be designed to be assessed quickly so that feedback is prompt and useful.
It is good practise for students to undertake peer assessment of some check points, they will need to be taught how to do this accurately; teachers will need to sample and moderate their marking to ensure accuracy, however teachers do not need to mark every piece of work or check point task. Subject teams should also use their team meetings to moderate checkpoint marking across each year group to ensure a consistent approach has been taken.
The variety of check-point tasks therefore that can be undertaken can be very wide and could include:
- spelling tests, quickly peer marked at the end;
- short GCSE style examination questions, carried out as an assessed homework and peer marked at the beginning of the next lesson;
- a student improving on a piece of work or question that the teacher has already marked – the mark awarded being on the remarked work;
- a short GCSE question as a test, following completion of a similar question for which students have received feedback;
- assessment following controlled assessment or other external examination component that is normally carried out;
- a review of the quality of a task that students have been asked to complete, for example: in science drawing a graph; in maths explaining their reasoning behind solving a problem, in English their analysis of a piece of text, in languages a written piece in the target language.
- Give students a piece of work to assess themselves (not their own work) and see how accurately they can do this – the check point score reflects the accuracy of their assessment. Teaching would need to have effectively supported developing in students the ability to assess.
In respect of written feedback i.e. marking, teachers should use their judgement regarding when this is the best way to feedback to students, what can take five to ten minutes to write can be conveyed to a student in a conversation in just a few seconds. Verbal feedback also offers students the opportunity to clarify their understanding whilst written feedback is one way. Students should always be given the opportunity to act on feedback; the assessment could be how they have responded to the assessment rather than the original task.
There is some very good practise that reduce time but increase the engagement of students, consider:
- highlight work that is wrong in a students book, very effective for picking out spelling errors, incorrect answers in maths or science. The highlighting can be done during the lesson as students complete questions or carry out tasks. Give students time in the lesson or for prep to correct the highlighted aspects of their work. Each teacher simply needs a brightly coloured highlighter pen e.g. blue that is used and understood by students. Lessons need to be planned so that students are completing work independently of the teacher in order that the teacher has the time to go round the class and highlight work that is incorrect. Books could also be taken in with this approach taken.
- Provide students with a list of tasks that need completing and traffic light each aspects so that students are aware when they have met or exceeded their target grade (G) are close to it (A) or are significantly below it (R). In the lesson whilst students are working focus your feedback on those students who are red and give them feedback. Ask students to write down the key aspects of the feedback so that they understand what they need to to get better.
- Marking a sub-section of a class, for example, pupil premium students, the most able, the middle ability students, SEN in order to check and focus your teaching to ensure it is meeting a key groups needs. Over time ensure that you check each students work but not every student, every lesson.
- Peer assessment and moderation. Spend time in lessons teaching students how to accurately assess work. We know as teachers that being able to assess work, particularly in more subjective subjects such as English or humanities is a higher order skill that requires very secure knowledge. If students are able to assess work accurately they will have developed a deeper understanding of the material. By asking students to swap with specific students they will also develop a broader understanding of different approaches to answering questions which will further improve their understanding.
In conclusion, our approach to marking and assessment should be as well planned as the curriculum content. The feedback we give should be designed to elicit the best response from students, sometimes this will be through written feedback, on other occasions verbally or by highlighting errors. We will always give students the opportunity to reflect on, ask questions and improve their work. Our check points should replace much of the on-going teacher assessment, reflect the range of skills and knowledge students needs to complete GCSEs successfully and be carried out in a consistent way across the team in order that the information we use for intervention and report home is accurate and useful.
In a time of significant changes to accountability frameworks nationally, the College continues to perform significantly higher than the national average with respect to the progress our students make.
Progress 8 which measures progress from KS2 primary results through to GCSE is set this year to be the main performance measure and replaces the 5 A*-C including English and Maths.
This measure gives parents an indication of the progress a student makes at each school compared to the national average. A score of zero therefore indicates an average rate of progress.
We achieved a score of 0.36 which is significantly higher than the national average of 0, indicating that our students gain over a third higher grade in each subject than a student who attended an ‘average’ school who had similar performance at primary school. Over the 8 subjects counted, this equates to nearly 3 GCSE grades better.
Our disadvantaged students also performed above the national average, with a result of 0.26. We will continue to focus on this group of students in order that their outcomes give them the best possible life chances.
For students with low prior attainment we have done particularly well, with a P8 score of 1.02. Our SEN team is to be congratulated on this performance. For middle attaining students it was 0.35 and for higher ability 0.16. We have appointed a project lead for higher attaining students to further improve the progress they are making relative to their peers nationally.
Further detail can be read by clicking here.
WIDER LIFE OF THE COLLEGE
We continue to focus on the ensuring students receive a broad education at the College alongside a core academic one.
This term we have already had trips and visits that will include:
|Sainsbury School Games||Beth Smith||9||6|
|Sainsbury School Games Media Hub||Beth Smith/Ollie Teasel||7 – 9||10|
|British Library, London||Judith Green||11||80|
|D of E Beaumanor Hall||Simon Mellors||9||75|
|Peterborough Field Trip||Steve Kelly||11||120|
|Chitty Chitty Bang Bang||Leanne Mitchell||7||180|
|Burghley House Arts Trip||Hannah Reeve||7||100|
|Cross Country Athletics||Debbie Powell||All||–|
|John Clare House Trip||Judith Green||7||53|
|Geography Field Trip||Steve Kelly||10||60|
|New York USA performing arts||Laura Hollick||10 – 11|
We have also hosted an event whereby every Year 10 student has been trained in cardio resuscitation and the use of a defibrillator as a result of a partnership with the High Sheriff of Rutland.
The new Year 7 students have settled in well, with 180 of them enjoying a trip to the theatre to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. They will build on this experience to put on their own show to present to parents later in the year.
The Performing Arts team has also begun auditions for High School Musical, which will be our main production later this year.
I am immensely proud of Catmose, the staff, students and parents; our community. We have a unique way of working and culture that makes us very different from most secondary schools that we should rightly celebrate as it makes such a contribution to the future success of our students. We see the impact of our ethos every day through the excellent conduct of our students in class, on visits and at competition. We know it by the outstanding results they achieve and in time the successes they have in their careers and family life. Catmose students are at the heart of their community, they gain from this and contribute to it, understanding that with rights also come responsibilities.
We are ambitious for every student at the College that they achieve the very best they can, that they have the very best opportunities in and outside of the classroom and receive the support they need if something goes wrong.
The foundations of Catmose success are built on three pillars, that students should attend regularly, that they should work hard and be actively involved in the life of the College.
A Catmose student attends College regularly, an average one for more than 97% of the time, this ensure they have secure friendships, are able to to find out about the opportunities on offer and achieve better exam results because teachers know that each lesson every student will there ready to learn.
Students work hard from year 7 until the moment of the final exam in year 11, we do our best in each lesson and we prepare for the next lesson by completing prep.
Finally, it is not good enough for a Catmose student to simply attend and work hard we expect them to give something back by joining a sports team, performing in music or drama, by attending trips and visits, by applying to become an academic scholar or a librarian. Each and every student is different but they all have something they can contribute to the shared success of the College and its community.
These high expectations apply to everyone at the College staff, students and visitors; no one pushes in queues, we all only eat in the restaurant, refectory or on the Hellerup and we treat each other with same courtesy and respect we would expect ourselves. This helps create an atmosphere that is harmonious and more often we are mistaken for a university than a school.
We have talented individuals at the College, people who are competing on an individual level in national competitions in sport but we also recognise we are at our best when working as a team. Once again it looks highly likely that we will win the varsity sports competition involving the six local schools as we are already significantly ahead of our nearest rival. Our aim now, as it is for our most talented academics, is to compete on a national level and this year for the first time we entered competitions in netball and athletics. We were very proud to see our year 10 girls selected to represent the region having triumphed in the Rutland and Leicestershire competition.
We take every opportunity to recognise the achievements of our students through commendations, certificates, news letter articles, letters home and of course through the badges that many of our students wear.
At Catmose we trust our students this guides the way in which the College is led, our assumption is that all those who attend the College want to do their best and behave exceptionally well. This belief is the foundation stone of how we manage the College, as a result students are able to use their facilities with very few restrictions from early morning into the evening. Students are not impeded by locked doors, areas that are out of bounds or one way systems, they can use facilities such as computers, the library and music practice rooms without direct supervision. At Catmose with rights also come responsibilities; if students cannot be trusted within such an open environment then Catmose may not be the right place for them. We will do all that we can to support students whose behaviour is preventing others from learning but ultimately we expect every one at Catmose to conform to our high expectations. If there is a student whose behaviour falls below our expectations we deal with those individuals – we never punish groups of students for the failings of one or two.
If they do not meet our expectations following an extensive programme of support we will seriously consider permanent exclusion. This approach is supported by the vast majority of the student body who appreciate the calm and purposeful environment they are able to learn in as a result.
An ethos of trust permeates Catmose as a result underpinned by strong attendance, hard work and engagement which leads to the success of every student at the College.
The photograph above perhaps more visually articulates our ethos, over a thousand people who represent Catmose community standing calmly together on a cold and sunny spring morning – and you were able to hear a pin drop.
It seems but a short moment ago that you were all sitting on the Hellerup nervously waiting to start your journey at Catmose. There were many things about Catmose which were new to you; we were much bigger than your primary school, you knew only a few people and in each lesson you experienced a different teacher. In the five years since that first day you’ve grown in confidence so that for many of you Catmose will seem smaller and your fellow students and staff have become more familiar and, with a bit of luck, a little friendlier as well.
What hasn’t changed are my hopes for you as individuals: that you are able fulfil your promise and have been able to gain the skills and knowledge you will need to thrive and grow in the adult world that many of you are so desperate to join.
Inevitably there has been a focus on your academic studies as the qualifications you gain will help determine what courses you study and ultimately what careers you forge; without them many doors to the future would remain closed. I hope though that you have also gained from the opportunities available to you outside the classroom that will have given you the skills and breadth of outlook you will need in order to be successful in a job. We have offered trips and visits to the four corners of the world, sports teams, music groups, instrumental lessons, drama productions, public speaking competitions, the Duke of Edinburgh award, responsibility as prefects and a broad range of other activities, including through the electives programme. The qualifications you gain may well open the door to your future but it will be all of those other experiences that will get you into the building and up the stairs!
You will also have made some good friends who will be there when you need them most, whatever challenges and opportunities come your way in the future.
I therefore hope you leave Catmose as well qualified, resilient characters who are able to lead and work as a part of team with some key memories that will stay with you for the rest of your lives.