EHT News – February 2019

Feb 15

Dear all,

Half term is upon us yet again and, while it seems to have flown by, Christmas seems like a long, long time ago…

The final 2018 secondary school performance tables were published late last month, and we were delighted to see that James Calvert Spence College is the joint 5th best performing secondary school in the county, using the key performance measure of Progress 8. Our score of +0.05 puts us above the national average, and with exactly the same score as Ponteland High School.

Our more able students performed incredibly well again this year – their Progress 8 score of +0.37 places us 9th in the North East of England!

There was an article in the Northumberland Gazette which explains Progress 8, and ranks all schools in Northumberland – click here to read it.


At the turn of the year we reminded students [and parents] the need to come to school properly equipped. The letter that went home at the end of last term listed the following essential items of equipment:

  • Reading book, planner and pencil case
  • Black or blue pen
  • Green pen
  • Pencil, rubber and sharpener
  • Ruler
  • Protractor
  • Calculator and compass [upper school only]

The first piece of equipment on that list will prove essential for students in years 5-9 from next half term, as we launch DEAR time in KS2 and KS3. ‘Drop Everything And Read’ time will take up the first 10 minutes of a lesson each day, where staff and students will spend a little quality time reading for pleasure. Please help this be a huge success by reminding your children to bring their book to school every day!! In fact, putting it in the schoolbag on Sunday evening should become a weekly routine.

I’ve visited almost all of the first schools over the past few weeks, with Grange View arranged for Friday 8thMarch. I’ve met the parents of year 4 students to discuss some of the changes that have happened at JCSC in recent months, and many of the changes we’ve planned for the future – all done to ensure that your children receive the very best possible education.

One of the highlights of recent weeks has to be the Y11 Speed Dating Revision event, organised by Mrs Charnley and Mrs Payne. The turnout was fantastic – thank you to parents who attended – the roses on the tables were fabulous, the love hearts went down a treat, but the real star of the show was all of the amazing advice our teaching staff were able to share with the students in small groups. Whether it’s flashcards or Hegarty Maths, there was certainly something for everyone. Our Year 11 students are focused and with their eyes on the prize – outstanding GCSE results in the summer!

Valentine’s Day was also the day that the lower school site enjoyed a little D.I.S.C.O. in South Avenue hall, a reward promised to the students for completing the paper chain challenge just before Christmas. Moves were busted, Baby Shark being one of the favourites, and a good time was had by all of our year 5, 6 and 7s!

Mr Nisbet has been wearing his pinny on a Thursday evening, hosting a halogen cooker event. He has demonstrated the use of the cookers to produce meals such as beef casserole, sweet and sour pork and chicken curry. Parents who accepted his invitation to the event cooked with their children and took the meals home with them for supper. Even better, at the end of the course, they took their cookers home too!

Our classroom staff are always looking for ways to improve their skills – teachers work together and plan collaboratively each Wednesday evening after school, with ‘differentiation, pace and challenge’, ‘project based learning’, ‘oracy’ and the primary team make up our four groups this term. Our learning support partners [LSPs] receive weekly training from our new Assistant Headteacher, Mrs Johnson.

The Year 9 options interviews are drawing to a close and I’m delighted to say that, despite news headlines about schools restricting their curriculum to just ‘academic subjects’, we are determined to ensure our students get a choice of a wide variety of subjects and courses. Sport, ICT, art, photography, performing arts, engineering, business studies, food and design technology are just some of the subjects that are on offer this year. We also have exciting plans for our year 9 students later in the year…

The Poland trip is proving to be a popular choice again this year, as is the art & design trip to London – some superb experiences to be looking forward to!

As ever, thank you so much for your continued support. You really do help us by ensuring you child arrives at school each day in full uniform, on time and equipped to learn. We want to be a great school for our community, and we can only do that by working together.

Best wishes,

Neil Rodgers