Happy half-term

I’m writing this blog on a very wet Friday morning in late May, at a time when I think it’s been raining pretty much constantly for 48 hours. As a Yorkshireman moving to Manchester in 2009 I always knew it’s a bit wetter on the wrong side of the Pennines, but the weather this week has been simply unacceptable! We’re a day away from the ‘summer’ half term break and I very much hope conditions improve for everyone’s sake…although perhaps some unseasonably cold temperatures will mean that our GCSE students are more likely to spend time revising and not sunbathing, so it’s not all bad!

This week, as the class of 2024 continue to work incredibly hard on their exams, students in Years 7-10 have heard presentations from our extra curricular leaders in assembly. As Mr Osgood, Miss Ditchfield and Miss Griffies explained, we now have a fantastic range of extra-curricular activities on offer for students to experience. Not only traditional clubs, but a menu of seventeen ‘digital discoveries’ too which are a great way for people to dip into a new skill or two. The team also shared our plans for ‘Spark Night’ and ‘Spark Day’ 2024, two events in July that promise to be bigger and better than ever. Like most things in life, the more you put in the more you get out, and that’s certainly true about school. Dive in and take part!

Have a great week everyone,

Best wishes,

Joe Barker

Save The Date For MHS Spark Night!


Join us for an Unforgettable Evening at Marple Hall School’s Creative Art Spark Night!

Mark your calendars for an extraordinary night of artistic brilliance as Marple Hall School presents the highly anticipated Creative Art Spark Night! On 11th July 2023, Bradshaw Hall will come alive with an burst of talent, showcasing the remarkable creativity of our students and the vibrant arts community that thrives within our walls.

Prepare to be mesmerised by an enchanting array of performances and exhibitions featuring art, music, drama and dance. Our talented students will take centre stage, captivating your hearts and igniting your imaginations with their extraordinary abilities.

But that’s not all! This year’s Creative Art Spark Night promises even more excitement with an incredible art auction, where you can bid on exquisite artworks crafted by our talented young artists. Take home a stunning piece to adorn your walls while supporting the budding talent within our school community.

Indulge in the artistic ambience as you peruse our delightful summer fair stalls, offering an assortment of fun games and artistic creations. The evening will be an immersive experience, transporting you into a world of beauty, passion, and boundless creativity. From the visually stunning art exhibition to the soul-stirring performances, every moment will leave you spellbound.

Marple Hall School’s Creative Art Spark Night is not just an event; it’s an opportunity to celebrate the transformative power of the arts in education. By attending this evening, you contribute to nurturing the artistic development of our students and supporting their dreams.

So, gather your friends, family, and art enthusiasts alike, and join us for a night that will leave an indelible mark on your heart. Let the talents of our students inspire and uplift you, as their dedication and passion shine brightly through their performances and artworks.

Don’t miss out on this remarkable event! The Creative Art Spark Night at Marple Hall School is an experience like no other, bringing together our community in celebration of the arts. Save the date and prepare to be dazzled on 11th July. We can’t wait to share this magical night with you!

For more information and to secure your tickets, click here or contact our school office. Be sure to follow us on social media for updates and sneak peeks into the incredible talent that awaits you at Marple Hall School’s Creative Art Spark Night!


GCSE Art Exhibition Event

Join us for the GCSE Art Exhibition on the evening of Thursday 13th June 2024 from 3.30pm -6.30pm.

The exhibition will showcase the work of the talented MHS GCSE students in the Art Block, Bradshaw Building.

We hope to see you there!

KS3 Art Exhibition Event

Join us for the KS3 Art Exhibition on the evening of Thursday 20th June 2024 from 6pm -7pm.

The exhibition will showcase the work of the talented MHS KS3 students and a secret exhibition curated by surprise guests.

We hope to see you there!

Turning up is more than half the battle

One of the themes of my blogs this year has been to highlight the important of regular attendance to school. Good attendance (alongside reading good quality fiction) is the best way to guarantee success in school. The correlation between attendance percentages and academic progress (at any ability level) is amazingly close…basically, the more a student turns up to school the better they will do.

Now I’ll be honest. Before Covid, attendance rates at MHS were slightly below the national average. It was something we were working hard on without a great deal of success. Since Covid, the rates of attendance at all schools have dropped across the country. I am sure there are loads of reasons for this, but the basic fact remains that better attendance equals better outcomes for young people, and so raising attendance is front and centre of our work. Missing a day here and there really does matter, as it breaks the flow in learning and makes it harder for students to keep up.

The good news, unlike before Covid, is that attendance at MHS is now comfortably above the national average and is improving as the year goes on. The picture here shows the weekly attendance of MHS students in pink, versus the average secondary school attendance across the country in grey. We’re well ahead, which is GREAT, but we’re still lower in terms of our overall attendance compared to 2019. As we say here, ‘better never stops’ and so we’ll continue to push good attendance for all learners. After all, the secrets to success are to ‘turn up and read, turn up and read and turn up and read‘.

Finally, a belated congratulations from me for the U13 girls football team who were crowned Stockport League Champions at Edgeley Park last week, with a 3-0 win over Cheadle Hulme High School. It’s a fantastic achievement! Well done too to all our sports teams over the year – especially the U15 girls for falling only at the very last hurdle in their own final last night.

Have a great weekend,

Joe Barker

Now is the time

Five years, 200 school weeks, 1000 days (give or take a few)…that’s the length of a secondary school journey from day one in Year 7 to the end of Year 11. Our current Year 11 cohort are not quite at the end yet, but the final chapter officially began yesterday. Small groups of students sat exams in Religious Studies, Drama and Italian on Thursday, and today the whole cohort enter the process with Biology, the first of the core subject exams. Our students deserve to do really well – the vast majority have worked their socks off over the years, especially this year, and I wish them all the very best indeed.

As the exam season unfolds then students will get into the rhythm of revision and exams, and what appears daunting now will become more and more normal. If I can impart two last pieces of advice it would be these:

  1. Sleep. At this stage, sleep is more beneficial than last minute cramming. The teenage brain is a wonderful thing, but the magic happens most when the teenager is asleep. Learning is embedded ready for use when needed, and so sleep is king.
  2. Never leave a question blank. Never! It doesn’t matter how daft or silly the answer given might be, just never ever ever leave a question blank. The only way to guarantee zero marks is to write nothing, so always write something. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about!

Six school weeks from now the exam season will be over and what will be done will be done. I know that the whole team here in school is rooting for every student sitting exams, and we will offer all the support that we possibly can. Good luck everyone!

Best wishes,

Joe Barker

Camera phone safety

Every now and again the Government talks about how schools should take a firm line with mobile phones, encouraging tough policies to ensure that phones are not a distraction to learning and are not used negatively during social times. Whilst part of me wishes the Government would issue a blanket nation-wide ban on student use of phones in school (as is the case in some countries), I do 100% agree that schools need to be firm on this issue and allow no grey areas. I’ve visited perhaps 15 other secondary schools in the past 18 months and every time I go out, I am even more convinced that our mobile phone rules at MHS are absolutely right. Students are welcome to have mobile phones in their possession at our school, and we don’t ask them to be locked away in special lockers each morning like some schools, but they must not be seen or heard at all when a student is inside our school gates. If a phone is seen or heard then it is confiscated, a policy enforced by every member of staff, and the phone is only returned to a responsible adult. It’s a very simple rule and an effective one, and one that I know has had an impact on learning, behaviour, student wellbeing and in a reduction of online bullying. I am aware that the policy can be annoying to some parents and carers at times, but I stand by it as being one of the most transformative things we have done in the 11-ish years I have been Headteacher. I will always remain very grateful for the support of families with this policy, as together it is making a difference.

However, no matter what safeguards we put in place at school or at home, we as adults need to be mindful that the camera-phone can be a danger to the teenager who uses it. The BBC reported this week that the authorities had taken the unusual step of asking schools to warn students about the dangers of voluntarily sharing explicit images of themselves. The article is here. It is a timely reminder that we need to keep impressing on young people that they should never share such images of themselves online. Once the images are out there, they can never be deleted. So often young people believe in or trust the person that they are sending pictures to, only to have that trust broken with serious consequences. More and more, criminals are now deliberately targeting teenagers and young adults in the hopes of exploiting their shame and embarrassment for money. For that reason we as a school will carry on making our students aware of the dangers of voluntarily sharing images online, and I’m sure that parents and carers will do the same.

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