The end of term has arrived and therefore I’ll keep this short. The spring term is the shortest term of the year, but also one of the busiest. Trial exams for Years 11 and 10, the same for some subjects in Years 8 and 9, and key events like Options Evening, parents evenings for Year 11, 9 and 8, and Trial exam results day for Year 11. Loads of sporting fixtures (including far too many penalty shoot outs for MHS teams), auditions for the next school production and the Marple Hall Dance show. Not to mention teacher strikes and the odd bit of extreme weather too.
Students and staff now have a two week break and I hope that everyone makes the most of it. Year 11, and exam students in Year 9, will hopefully see these two weeks as the perfect opportunity to get ahead with their revision and preparation whilst still taking some time out for themselves. Getting the balance right is so important, but we do strongly recommend that Year 11 in particular put in a decent effort – I promise it will pay off!
Thank you to everyone connected with the school for your hard work, determination and support this term, as always it is greatly appreciated.
On Tuesday this week Miss Sargent and Mrs Hornsby accompanied six of our leading eco-tech students to the annual Stockport Council climate change debate, where councillors debate five ideas for environmental projects chosen from over 170 sent in from schools across the borough. For the second year running MHS was one of the five schools chosen to represent their idea, and this year the team did even better than last time and won the debate. With a bit of luck the plan to create more community gardens across Stockport will be voted into policy and actually happen – very exciting! Well done to everyone involved, and especially to Freddie Gee, Sophie Higgins, Annalise Mill, Lucy Bradbury, Lillia Walker and Bethany Rourke for arguing their case so successfully. It goes to show what can be achieved with a bit of spark and determination.
Also on Tuesday, a little bit later on, the Year 9 boys football team took on Stockport School in the semi-finals of the Stockport School’s Cup. I was lucky enough to escape from a meeting just in time to watch the final few minutes, where the MHS team put the game to bed with a last kick goal to make it 3-1. The team had gone behind to a very talented opposition and so it was great to see their teamwork in action as they turned the game around. I was also really heartened to see the excellent sportsmanship on show, especially after the final whistle. The final takes place next Tuesday against Bramhall, and I wish the team and the staff who support them the very best of luck.
A quick check of the news just now has confirmed that the Secretary of State for Education, Gillian Keegan, is to meet with the four main teaching and school leader unions next week. After four days of strike action over the past few weeks, the talks are a sign that hopefully a compromise may be reached without any further strikes. As I have mentioned before, I support the right of staff to strike and I share their concerns over an education system that has failed to recruit enough trainee teachers year after year after year. The country needs teachers and school based support staff, needs them to be happy and fulfilled in their role and – most of all – needs them to stick at it for a long time. Hopefully the discussions will bear fruit and there won’t be any more disruption to learning for the remainder of the year.
In other news, this week our Governing body discussed the recently closed consultation on whether MHS should apply to become an academy alongside our partner school, Romiley Primary. The consultation was a positive experience and although not all the responders agreed with the proposal, others did and in either case there was often a healthy and productive discussion. The MHS Governing body formally approved the consultation document on Monday, and so we can now proceed with the application process. This does not mean that academisation is a done deal, and there is in fact still a lot of work to do, but hopefully we are one step closer.
I am writing to you to share information about the next planned teacher strikes on Wednesday 15th and Thursday 16th March 2023. As I have explained in previous blogs, these strikes are not action against the school but are instead about concerns over teachers’ pay and the overall funding for schools, which is damaging to every child’s education and leading to challenges recruiting and retaining school staff. These issues affect MHS as much as they do all schools.
Arrangements for both Wednesday 15th and Thursday 16th March are as follows:
Students in Year 11 will be expected in school for a normal school day. Thursday will start with the planned ‘trial exam results’ assembly which is very important.
Roughly 60% of lessons will take place as normal, and so students should be prepared with the right books and equipment.
Where teachers are not available students will take part in supervised independent study.
Many students have a practical PE lesson that day. Students will need to choose whether to take part in some physical activity OR study in the hall, and bring the right equipment for their choice.
On Wednesday 15th March there will be a formal exam for students in Miss Worsley’s RSL Drama class. This is compulsory and not optional, all students in the class must attend school for the full day. Please see details on a letter here.
School will be closed for students in Years 7-10, unless a place is requested under the provision for vulnerable learners. See below for more details.
On Thursday 16th March there will be a formal exam for students in Miss Worsley’s Year 10 RSL Drama class. This is compulsory and not optional, all students in the class must attend school for the full day. Please see details on a letter here.
Students not in school will be provided with work to undertake at home. This is slightly different to the previous strike and will consist of either:
Links to online platforms (as per the previous strike day), OR specific work for their class set on Satchel One, OR Teams lessons lasting between 30 and 50 minutes. Where the class teacher is not on strike, every lesson will begin with at least a short online Teams session where the tasks for the class will be explained by the teacher. This is different to the last strike.
The offer will differ per lesson per student depending on whether their teacher is striking or not striking and available. A letter explaining the offer and how to access it can be seen here.
We may be able to provide accommodation for the most vulnerable learners on the day of the strike. If you believe that your child meets this criteria and wish to book a place, then please follow the link here.
The deadline for letting school know is midday on Monday 13th March.
Free school meals
The parents or carers of any child who normally receives a benefits-related Free School Meal, who will not be in school on 15th or 16th March should also follow the link below and complete the final question of the form if a meal is required. These meals will be available for collection before the end of the day on Tuesday 14th March from Bradshaw canteen. Only pre-booked meals, via the form, will be available. The deadline for letting school know is midday on Monday 13th March.
The form for requesting a meal is here, please see final question.
I hope that this information above is helpful and of course, if anything changes, we will let you know.
One of the most important things that society can do for a child is to teach them to read and inspire them to actually do it.
Schools have always had a huge part to play in helping students to become readers, but I would probably say that until a couple of years ago the focus was more on primary schools than secondaries. We had always helped individuals who struggled with the basics, but to some extent our work on encouraging all students to read often and widely was more limited. Thankfully that has changed, and here at MHS we are well on our way to bringing about a ‘Reading Revolution’ at our school. I’ve blogged about why reading matters so much earlier this year, and if you’re interested then the blog is here. We have massively ramped up individual support for students who haven’t yet mastered reading, embedded literacy teaching into every single subject area (ask your child about what vocabulary they have learnt in different subjects) and have really raised the bar on encouraging students to read for pleasure. Lots of work still to do, but it’s great.
Yesterday (Thursday) was World Book Day, and as such there was no better time to encourage students to pick up a new book and give it a go. The theme for the day was to introduce students to five of our ’16 before 16′ novels, a carefully selected group of twenty novels that we think all students would benefit from reading. The challenge is to complete sixteen of them before the end of Year 11, and if they do then we think their vocabulary, confidence and cultural understanding will really flourish. In yesterday’s event teachers introduced their classes to five different novels, reading an extract and discussing the theme of the different stories. By the end of the day itself the Hub leader, Mrs Goodall, was inundated with requests for copies of the books and so it clearly worked!
If parents/carer would like some support on how to encourage reluctant readers to get back in the habit, then you may find some good ideas and resources here.
Finally, advance warning that there are another two days of national strike action on Wednesday 15th and Thursday 16th March. It is too early to say what the impact will be as of yet, but parents of students in all year groups should be prepared in case should some or all year groups have to close.
Marple Hall School
Hill Top Drive
Stockport SK6 6LB
Headteacher: Mr Joe Barker