24 November 2023 - Letter to Parents
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24 November 2023
Dear Parents and Carers,
I hope that you and your families have had a great week.
Key Dates for this term
There are still some important dates to be aware of. Please make sure you put these remaining dates in your diary.
Parent Subject Consultation Evenings
• Year 8 Parent Subject Consultation Evening – Thursday 30 November 3.30 – 7pm
• Year 10 Parent Subject Consultation Evening – Thursday 7 December 3.30 – 7pm
7A1, 7W2 and 8W2 deserve a big well done for the best attendance last week across the school!
A reminder that we communicate in multiple ways with regard to attendance and we are always happy to answer any queries that you may have; please contact your child’s Pastoral Manager in the first instance. Thank you for your support with ensuring that your child attends school every day.
Post-16 Open Events
Post-16 providers have ensured that numerous Open Events have been on offer before this Christmas break, and many more will be available from January onwards. We have been very impressed with the attendance of our Year 11s to these events and would just like to remind you of the following key application deadline dates.
December Application Deadlines:
North Bristol Post 16 Centre: Friday 1 December
St Mary Redcliffe Sixth Form: 9.00 am Monday 11 December
If students apply after these deadlines, they may not be offered a place.
Year 10 and 11 Revision Sessions
Thank you to the families who were able to attend our first information evening focused on effective revision and learning strategies. It was great to see so many families engaging in this practical session to understand how learning and memory works, and how as a family, you can use this information at home as well as school. Session 2 for Year 10 and 11 parents and carers will be on Thursday 25 January from 6pm-7pm, where we will focus on the more practical elements including designing effective revision timetables, using effective learning techniques, as well as further information on how to support mental health and wellbeing.
Our first Key Stage 3 revision session is on Thursday 22 February from 6pm-7pm. Further details of how to sign up for both sessions will be communicated next term.
Ms. Wickson, the Assistant Headteacher with responsibility for Teaching and Learning who is leading on this area, will be available to talk to parents at our parent consultation evenings, too.
The accompanying effective revision and learning strategies guide for families can be found on our website here. It is relevant for all year groups.
Lunch Arrangements During Yr 11 Mocks
In order to support Yr 11 during the mock examination period, there is a slight change to arrangements at lunchtime from 4 December – 12 January.
Year 7 – Lunch in the main dining hall (with Year 10) in their own queue
Year 8 – Lunch in the main dining hall (with Year 9) in their own queue
Year 9 – Lunch as normal
Year 10 – Lunch as normal
Year 11 – Lunch in the small dining hall at 11.55
Each year group will have their own areas on the all-weather pitch at lunchtime. We will walk through the arrangements with both Year 7 and 8 next week so they are confident that they understand the plan for their breaks.
Music and Art Showcase
On the evening of 13 December, from 6-8pm, we are presenting a Music and Art showcase. Tickets are £2 per person, and we have a limited number of tickets available through ParentPay.
This special evening is a chance to come and see the great work the students produce in our creative subjects. There will be musical performances, food and drink, creative writing, carol singing, poetry readings and an exhibition of art & design work. We do hope you can join us to celebrate the students’ work.
To ensure all our students have adequate IT to fully engage with our curriculum and home learning, we are carrying out a parent and student survey.
The survey will take less than a minute to complete and we would be grateful if you could do this at your earliest convenience. The link is available here.
The Lockleaze Neighbourhood Trust invites locals to join in their local festive workshops with 2 Lockleaze legends: Jody Cook co-hosting the lantern making workshops and Steve England co-hosting the wreath making workshops.
Festive fun that's free or affordable! Visit their website to book.
The Ardagh continues to offer a range of events around Horfield, including a Christmas Lego Party on 2 December! Upcoming Events – The Ardagh Community Trust.
Thank you to the parents and carers who took the time to complete our stakeholder voice survey. The Senior Leadership Team will review all responses and use them to inform our improvement plans.
I wanted to address a few points that were raised – and thank you for doing so.
Parents and carers can access information on the curriculum here – just click on the subject you are interested in and you will be able to find out the aims of the faculty, what is taught, why and in which order: Curriculum Faculties (Curriculum menu tab)
In terms of homework, we wrote out last term to let parents/carers know when to expect homework to be set, and you can find that here: Orchard School - Home Learning (orchardschoolbristol.co.uk) If you have any further queries regarding homework or homework platforms, the person to contact is Ms Wickson, Assistant Headteacher for Teaching and Learning, at email@example.com.
A key policy for you to be aware of, which we follow in relation to behaviour for learning, is here:
Behaviour for Learning
Please do contact your child’s Pastoral Manager or Head of Year if you have any concerns following an incident. If you feel that you need further support, the members of the leadership team to contact are Mr Coxon or Mr Edmonds.
In the case of any safeguarding concerns, we wrote last week about students using the Whisper Button on the website under ‘Quick Links’, but I also want to remind you who our Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSLs) are. These are the people who manage any safeguarding concerns. If you require feedback following an incident that has concerned you as a family, please do raise this with Mr Coxon or Mr Edmonds via e-mail or via the Whisper button, which can be used anonymously.
DSL – Deputy Headteacher – Dorian Coxon
DSL – Assistant Headteacher – Phil Edmonds
Year 7 Pastoral Manager and Deputy DSL – Emily Bhakherd
Year 8 Pastoral Manager and Deputy DSL – Debbie Murphy-Piper
Year 9 Pastoral Manager and Deputy DSL – Beth Jones
Year 10 Pastoral Manager and Deputy DSL – Tracey Pointing
Year 11 Pastoral Manager and Deputy DSL – Gary Scott-Mullen
We are pleased to have some dates in the diary for a Parents’/Carers’ coffee morning for parents and carers who have children with SEND, facilitated by Bristol Parents and Carers Forum. The dates of these events are Thursday 18 January, 9 – 10.30 and Friday 1 March 9 – 10.30. The aim of these sessions is to provide a forum for parents of students with SEND to meet the SEND team and discuss students’ needs. Guest speakers with specialisms in supporting children with SEND will also be invited to these events. Please save the dates. Further details to follow.
Our SENDCo can also be contacted at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org. along with Ms Wickson, for Teaching and Learning information, at email@example.com; she is the Senior Leader who oversees the SEND team alongside our SENDCo.
Cost of Living Support
We recognise that, with rising prices and increasingly large bills for basic family needs such as food and utilities, the winter can feel particularly difficult. We have adapted and attached a fact sheet on local services, and relevant websites, which could help you and your families at this time. Please remember that we also have a hardship fund that you can access, the terms of which can be found at the bottom of the webpage here: Orchard School - Online Payments (orchardschoolbristol.co.uk)
May I politely remind all parents and carers that courteous, non-discriminatory, respectful language is required at all times when communicating with staff. This includes in your responses to reminders such as attendance texts or letters as well as when engaging in face-to-face meetings. Two of our key values that we live at Orchard School are to be open-minded and respectful, which means respecting all cultures and recognising that we are part of a global community. Please bear this in mind in all communication with staff, whether in relation to your child, or to others’ children.
Wishing you a lovely weekend.
Melanie Sweet, Headteacher