Dear Parents and Carers
Welcome to a very exciting year at Casterton College Rutland.
I am absolutely delighted to report an outstanding 10% improvement in GCSE results this year. 75% got 5 A*-C and 65% with English and Maths. A Levels results were also excellent and above the national average. We are now 13% ahead of any school in Stamford and improving all the time.
The new school I promised is already taking shape, and I wanted to share with you the latest exciting developments. If your child doesn’t know about all these things yet, they soon will.
Literacy is our top priority. The introduction of our Accelerated Reading Programme will roll out this term and together with a process called DEAR (Drop Everything and Read); this will mean all students will be reading silently for up to an hour every day. Year 7-9 students will have their own designated reading book, pitched at a level which is challenging for them, and followed with an online test which can be taken at home. We are also launching The Writing Academy which means students will spend a lot more time writing, and being taught how to write successfully, whether as a scientist, historian, designer, journalist, or in any other specialist field. They will also have a Big Writing Assignment in every subject, every term. The first of these for Year 7 was taken over the summer with Mr Smith’s Brilliant Writing Competition and many of the entries have been fantastic.
We are also starting the Progress Ladder which will publically rank every student by the overall progress they are making, and updated on a termly basis. This has nothing to do with their current ability and everything to do with the effort they put in. It is also linked to a new homework system that will focus on short, regular homework tasks, usually followed by a weekly test in each subject. In addition, three times a year all students will sit formal exams, the first one being their baseline tests which are coming over the next few weeks.
Communication with parents was not always what it should have been in the past, but you will have noticed already how much we are doing to put that right. The new SIMS Learning Gateway enables parents to see online what homework their child is due, as well as any behaviour points they have been given. Every parent has the emails of their child’s teachers and if your child gets behaviour points in class, the class teacher will immediately send you an email. The new Parent Panel has its first meeting in the next two weeks and we have revamped our regular Progress Reports to ensure it easier for you to see exactly how well your child is doing. Attendance at parent’s evenings leapt from 60% to 80% last term and because of major changes to Student Services whole School Attendance rose to nearly 96%, well over the national average, and much better than in 2014. Punctuality has also improved vastly due to new systems introduced last term.
Enhancing our Environment
We have made huge strides in both the physical appearance of our buildings and our students. We may not have a huge budget for improvement works, but it is amazing what a little imagination and hard graft can achieve, and we think the building is already looking much smarter. In every classroom, you will now see our new Teacher and Student Pledges which outline our intentions for teaching and learning and make our classroom practices and expectations very clear. We have also revamped our website and will continue to do so over the coming months; please have a look at it at www.castertoncollege.com. Most importantly, we are phasing in our new uniform, and the students look fantastic. We realise this has been introduced quickly, and the delays in delivery, together with a rise in prices, have been frustrating for parents, but the result is wonderful and we thank you for the sacrifices you have made to make this work. By 23rd September, all our Year 7-10 students will be in the new uniform and it will be an impressive sight.
Attitude to Learning
As promised, we are raising expectations everywhere, and this is particularly evident with our new Attitude to Learning strategy (ATL). In every lesson, teachers now set a minimum work expectation, and if a student fails to meet it, they will be given a Level 3 or 4 ATL score which will automatically result in a lunchtime detention, or, if the problem persists, a session 5 detention. Session 5 detentions take place during electives time on a Wednesday afternoon, and after school on a Friday, and have been set up for persistent offenders. Teachers will not tolerate students who are coasting or failing to work hard and this will be rigorously enforced. In this school the vast majority will not be held back by the tiny minority, whether it is in the classroom or anywhere else in the school.
A Climate of Scholastic Excellence
Every child in Year 7-9 is now being set the same target, Scholastic Excellence, which is equivalent to the top grades in the new, harder GCSEs the government are introducing. Also, our Russell Group University Entry Programme will be open to any student with the determination and ambition to aim for entry into top universities, so we are not closing doors to those who didn’t shine at primary school. We strongly encourage parents to look at their child’s books, and add comments they may have to any pieces of work, including whether they are pleased with their progress. You will notice our approach to marking has transformed so that students have more time to reflect on what they have done well and correct what they need to improve. For GCSE students, we are raising achievement through our Aim Higher Workshops which are put on as part of our extended day, so they can revise effectively, and to celebrate all this success we introduced a Year 7-10 Awards Event which many of you attended in the last week of term. For Year 7 and 8 parents, we are also putting on a new ‘Success at CCR’ evening on 9th September to explain how they can help their children do well at school, and how all our new systems work.
Sixth Form Consultation
Finally, may I once again remind you of our exciting plans for relocating the sixth form, and while many of you have already voted we are very keen that everyone has their say, so don’t forget to cast your vote via our website. So far, the response has been an overwhelmingly positive but the consultation last until our Open Evening on 23rd September and we need the turnout to be high.
Thank you for your continuing support
Mr C A Smith MA