Excelling through Extra Curricular

Firstly, thank you to everyone who came to the Year 9 Options and Parents evening last night. Great to see so many students, parents and carers hearing feedback from core subject teachers, and of course speaking to the teachers of every other subject to help with options choices for next year. Thanks also to all my colleagues for making the event a success.

Turn up and read. That’s the phrase/message that I have been sharing a lot this year – in assemblies, in lessons, on this blog. Good rates of attendance and good habits with reading (especially fiction) are the two surest signs that a child will do well in school. Turn up and read, turn up and read, turn up and read.

However I’d like to add to this core message, thanks to an assembly delivered by Mr Osgood and Miss Ditchfield this week. Mr Osgood, along with Miss Ditchfield and Miss Griffies, are currently leading on the development and promotion of our whole school extra curricular offer. As Mr Osgood eloquently said in assembly, turning up and reading are absolutely key to a student doing well in school. But, taking part in some form of extra curricular activity as well really helps a child to excel. Taking part in extra curricular activities helps to build resilience, teamwork, determination and communication skills. It can help a person develop new skills and confidence, boost their sense of wellbeing and make them feel more connected to school and the school community. Basically, extra curricular is great!

At MHS we have over 40 opportunities every fortnight for students to take part in some form of extra curricular club. More than that, we’re developing an exciting online provision called Digital Discoveries. This a new extra-curricular themed challenge that students can undertake at home with minimal equipment, available via the student hub on the school website. There’s something on there already so check it out. Finally, and perhaps most excitingly, Mr Osgood outlined plans for a new set of societies – student led extra curricular groups – that have the potential to expand our offer significantly, as well as give students valuable leadership opportunities. I’m looking forward to seeing who steps up and what societies are formed.

Speaking of turning up…a big ‘well done’ to our Year 11 cohort who are currently engaged in their trial exams. Over 95% of the cohort are in and taking part which in the context of the current national attendance crisis is pretty remarkable. Alarmingly Year 11 cohorts on average this year nationwide are barely reaching 90% attendance, and so the way that our young people have responded to the challenge of the trial exams is a very positive sign indeed.

Best wishes,

Joe Barker


It’s been a chilly week in school this week, -7 was the coldest my car showed on Thursday morning. Tuesday saw some fairly significant snowfall and led to the inevitable calls from some students for me to close the school. I’ll be honest, unlike some wintry days in previous years, I never came close to closing the school on Tuesday. There is always a concern over the safety of our site, which being as large as it is requires students and staff to spend a lot of time outside. Icy paths can be dangerous and this is something that we have to take into account. Not all ‘snow days’ are the same, and sometimes clearing the site can be impossible, but I knew early on that Mr Hutchinson and his site team were well on top of the job even before I arrived just after 6.30am. The second, and often most crucial factor, is the state of the roads and the transport networks. We haven’t lost a day of school to snow since 2019, but when we did – and all the other times before it – the main issue was that the road network had ground to a halt. Students stranded on buses, staff miles from school and no hope of there being enough adults in the building to supervise those students who could walk to school. This simply wasn’t a factor this week, and so in terms of a decision it was the easiest non-snow day that I can remember. Either that, or after Covid the challenge of a snow day no longer seems that big!

Therefore we were open on Tuesday and I was very glad of it. We don’t tend to get snowfall like we used to in the 80s… (I know, showing my age!)… and so in some respects it was nice seeing students actually playing in the snow at break and lunch. We didn’t go down the now common route of banning snowballs, and I’d say 98% of students enjoyed themselves sensibly and within limits. As always in life some couldn’t handle it and took it a bit far, but there was a really good staff presence all across the site to keep things in check. One student did ask me if we could have a staff vs student snow ball fight. I told him that when I was a schoolboy that was exactly what happened in my school. He looked excited as hope seemed to rise in him that I might actually say ‘yes’. Sadly for him the answer was a firm ‘no’. ‘Why, if your teachers were ok with it?’, asked the boy. My answer? ‘Back then I was a student and I thought the staff vs student snowball fight was a great idea. Now I’m in charge, and I can see that it was utter madness’.

Anyway, enough on that and enough snow for 2024 thank you!

To finish, a quick update from some of the charity work done before the end of term last year. There was a lot going on, partly in aid of charities and also partly to support the costs of the Year 11 Prom. Our year seven charity leaders did a fantastic job organising a whole school Christmas jumper day on the last day of term, and along with money raised in PE the total was around £500! The majority of this is going to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation which is great to hear. Well done all!!

Have a great weekend,

Joe Barker

Training for Parents – Empowering People, Empowering Communities (EPEC)

There are a range of parenting courses on offer during Spring 2024,  delivered by parents living in the community. These include:

Being a parent – for parents of children aged 2-11 – Family Hub, Brinnington  and Reddish Vale Start Well, Reddish.

Living with teenagers – for parents of children aged 11-16 – Online

Being a parent together – for parents to complete together – Online

See leaflet below for more information.

Welcome Back

Happy New Year everyone, I hope that you all had a good break and are ready for the year ahead. It’s been lovely welcoming students and staff back into school this week, helped of course by some crisp sunny days as opposed to the seemingly never ending rain in late December.

A new calendar year is of course a great time for fresh beginnings and I hope that students are looking forward to all that is on offer in 2024. Of course it is a very big year for our oldest students as they prepare for and then sit their final exams. We are currently gearing up for the formal ‘Trial Exam’ season which starts in just over a week’s time from now. On Wednesday this week students were able to opt into the most recent round of after-school independent revision sessions known as Pomodoro. 137 students were there this week, working hard alongside their peers and many members of staff. Not bad for the first week back!

A theme of my blogs last term was on the subject of attendance to school, something that was in the news again just after the New Year. We know for an absolute fact that there is a clear and direct link between good attendance and good educational outcomes, and vice versa. Therefore I’ll keep mentioning it as although overall attendance at MHS is higher than the national average for secondary schools, it is still well below pre-pandemic levels. You’ll be aware that in the final weeks before Christmas we tried to incentivise daily attendance and this does seem to have had an impact. In the final week of term MHS attendance was 2.7% above national which is much more than the usual difference. We’ll keep raising this issue as, along with reading for pleasure, attendance is the most important factor in a child’s education.

Best wishes,

Joe Barker

Marple Hall School
Hill Top Drive
Stockport SK6 6LB Headteacher: Mr Joe Barker
Tel: 0161 427 7966
Fax: 0161 426 0931
Email: info@marplehall.stockport.sch.uk
Safeguarding: safeguarding@marplehall.stockport.sch.uk