EHT News – 8th September 2019

Sep 8

Dear all,

The first week of the 2019-20 academic year is behind us already! Monday and Tuesday were staff training days, and our students arrived on Wednesday morning looking ready to learn! A huge thank you to parents and carers for ensuring that our uniform policy has been followed – if you require any assistance on what is and isn’t compliant, please don’t hesitate to check the guidelines on the website, or to get in touch with us.

It’s always great to start the new year on the back of good news, and we were able to do so again this year with another excellent set of GCSE and A-level exam results.

We said a brief “hello” to our year 13 students on A-Level results day, followed by “goodbye and good luck” as they all achieved the grades necessary for them to go on to their chosen university, apprenticeship or employment.

This year group produced the best A-level outcomes that JCSC has ever seen, with all measures above the national average and some outstanding individual success stories. In fact, the A-level results this year place us right amongst the very top performing schools in the county – a testament to the hard work put in by both students and staff, and to the ongoing high quality education and outstanding pastoral support we have given those students throughout their nine years with us.

This year’s GCSE results were also the best that JCSC has ever recorded, for the second year in a row! 2019 also is the third year of consecutive improvement in key performance indicators – 2017, 2018 and 2019 have all seen higher headline figures than the previous year. James Calvert Spence is a great school to be part of, and I’m proud of each and every student and member of staff that gives our school its unique atmosphere and contributes to our ongoing improvement.

 In 2019, 60% of our students passed both English and maths at grade 4 and above [the old A*-C benchmark], with all 60% achieving the benchmark for entry into sixth form or college with 5 or more GCSE passes at grade 4 and above, including English and maths. The main headline figure of grade 5 or more in English and maths [a strong pass in both] was 38% this year – an improvement of 10% on 2018.

Subjects excelled across the curriculum, with both traditional academic and vocational subjects performing extremely well.
Biology, chemistry and physics all had a 9-4 [A*-C] pass rate of 100%, with French, business, sport, engineering, food and BTEC art all had 9-4 pass rates above 75%.

As ever, there were some outstanding individual performances at GCSE with more students than ever achieving the new top grade 9 and Distinction* grades across a wide spread of subjects.

Monday saw several new members of staff arrive and attend training. I detailed most new starters in the summer newsletter but we also have two new cover supervisors in the form of Mr Shiel and Mrs Christodoulidou. They will lead classes when the regular teachers are unavoidably absent. Miss Bramwell joins our staff as a learning support partner, and Miss Douglas will support PE lessons at South Avenue.

The new members of staff who parents will be most likely to contact are the members of our expanded pastoral team.

Mr McCudden is our Assistant Headteacher for Ethos & Culture and is responsible for rewards, behaviour and attendance amongst other things. He leads the rest of the pastoral team which comprises the tutors, and four pastoral support officers:

  • Ms Stewart is Pastoral Support Officer for years 5 and 6
  • Ms Hills is Pastoral Support Officer for years 7 and 8
  • Ms Young is Pastoral Support Officer for years 9 and 10
  • Ms Cassidy is Pastoral Support Officer for years 11, 12 and 13

Year 5 arrived on Wednesday and quickly settled into life at JCSC and with their teachers Miss Middleton, Mr Heeney, Miss Cartmell and Mr Bailey. They are all looking forward to their three day residential at Dukehouse Wood in just over a week’s time – and with outdoor activities such as high ropes, zipwires and abseiling, who can blame them? It promises to be the perfect introduction to JCSC, the staff and to each other!

Year 6 moved up to their new classes and, I think they’re quite enjoying being the oldest students on the lower school site. Even the pouring rain just before school on Friday morning didn’t dampen their great moods – we just took the whole of years 5 and 6 into breakfast club in the dining hall. Toast, cereal and fruit juice is a great way to start the day, even if you are soaking wet!

Year 7 and 8 moved to the upper school site this week, and the building is more vibrant for it! Despite the understandable first day nerves, they were all enjoying the additional space, fantastic resources and more mature atmosphere at the upper school site. In order to ensure that lunch time runs as smoothly as possible with these extra students to feed, we introduced sittings this week. This ensures that everyone gets through the dinner hall and has the time to sit and eat their lunch. We have issued stickers to all students, with a different colour per year group, which is put on their planner – they hold their planner up as they enter the lunch queue so staff can quickly and easily ensure that the right students are getting in for their lunch at the right time. So far, so good – our younger students are getting in for lunch without fuss, and thoroughly enjoying the tasty meals on offer.

Our Acklington Road old hands, years 9, 10 and 11, settled into their studies seamlessly and studiously. Given the positive attitude they are displaying, and the talent we have in those year groups, I think we can be confident that we’ll be celebrating even greater GCSE results for years to come. 

Excellent GCSE results often mean that we have a large intake into our sixth form and that is certainly the case this year with year 12. As ever, we ask our year 11 students about the courses they would like to study when they reach the sixth form and, as a result of student voice, this year we are running Level 3 Applied Science for the first time. Mr Gwillim is leading the course, and he has an enthusiastic bunch of practical scientist for a class.

Year 13 are in good spirits, balancing the pressures of A-level studies with university applications and I do worry that it’s getting to one or two of them… Crocs, Holly? Really? Sandals, Aris? Seriously? Pie for breakfast, Billy? Not porridge or cereal? Deconstructed sausage rolls, Amy???? I’ve no words…!

James Calvert Spence College is a vibrant and improving school. I’m proud of our students, delighted to work with my colleagues and happy to be providing a better education for our community.

Week one over… bring on the next thirty eight!!!

Neil Rodgers

Executive Headteacher