With all year groups now back it has been delightful to walk around school and see lessons in progress, learning happening and our new procedures making a difference in minimising risk to students and staff. I have been very impressed to see our students quickly settling into the new routines, following instructions and understanding that whilst many things have necessarily changed in school, that we are here to help them prepare for the future. They look smart in their uniforms and have mostly been arriving at school within the time frames set out for each year group. From the conversations I have had with students, they are pleased with the move towards Microsoft Teams for the setting of home learning. Thank you to you their parents/carers who have clearly done much to prepare them for the return to school.
School life has resumed but there are differences in how we go about some things. For example, on Wednesday, I delivered an assembly to all of Year 7 via Microsoft Teams. It was a new experience for all perhaps but it was nice to finally welcome all of Year 7 to Darrick Wood School, even though we could not do this in the Hall as usual. On Monday I will deliver a short assembly to the whole school in a similar way.
I was pleased to meet Gareth Bacon, MP for Orpington this afternoon. He visited the School in early March so much has happened in between! We were able to discuss the last few months and the situation currently. I am grateful for his interest and support.
Teaching, learning and assessment
Our mission is to provide the very best teaching and learning we can. This is important now more than ever. With the well publicised acknowledgement that despite schools’ best efforts, most children in varying ways are likely to have gaps in their knowledge, understanding and skills as a result of the lockdown period, we now seek ways to make up for this. Year 13 were given assessments in class this week and Year 11 will have assessments next week. From these will build a picture of how we can best support these year groups. We will of course want to do something similar with all year groups. This is going to need commitment from all and no doubt will involve a range of strategies depending on the year group, the subject and the individual.
School photographs for Years 7 and 12
School photographs are being arranged for Years 7 and 12 on Wednesday, 23rd September. For more information please see the letter sent separately to parents of students in these year groups.
We have supplied information about Bromcom and ClassCharts to parents/carers of Year 7 students. Please check you can log into these systems and let us know if you have any issues.
As part of the Year 7 Transition, you will have the chance next week to speak on the telephone to your child’s Form Tutor, if you have not already done so to date. This is an opportunity to discuss your child’s first few weeks whilst they settle into Darrick Wood life. You will be able to book a 10 minute timeslot using Bromcom, which is why it is essential that you are able to log in. Please be advised that your child’s Form Tutor will be available for two 2 hour sessions after school next week so as to ensure that telephone calls are staggered. If you have been contacted already by your child’s Form Tutor, you do not need to book another timeslot. This 10 minute appointment is to provide brief feedback to parents/carers. To ensure that all parents/carers can be contacted at their booked time, please arrange to make an alternative appointment with the correct member of staff if there is a specific issue that you would like to raise about your child’s transition.
A reminder about the PSFA AGM on 5th October at 7pm. This will be held online. To attend, please complete this form.
Replacement ID cards
Student ID cards and lanyards that are lost or damaged will need to be paid for. The cost is £5. Please pay online using this link and we will then issue your child with a new one.
Parents/carers of students in Key Stage 3 may have noted that some of the class names for their child this year may be different to previous years. Part of the government guidance is to reduce the amount of mixing between different students within a year group in school. It has been acknowledged that this is less possible for older students taking option subjects and it is impossible for students in the Sixth Form taking three A level or BTEC courses. We have therefore made the decision to change some of the groupings at Key Stage 3 and have general ability groups that cover several subjects rather than individual setting arrangements per subject. Government guidance is such that there is benefit to be gained from any strategy that can be implemented even if it can only be implemented partially.
Students in Years 7, 8 and 9 will continue to be taught in different groupings including mixed ability form groups and mixed ability teaching groups. In addition we have reduced the number of subjects that use individual setting and increased the number of subjects organising their classes in bands. This will reduce the amount of mixing that any one student does with other students in the year group and is one of the strategies that schools have been asked to use.
As an all ability, comprehensive school, our staff routinely teach classes that cover a range of abilities, even within individual sets as there can be students with a range of knowledge and understanding of the subject content and our schemes of work and lesson activities are designed to meet the varying needs of students. Teachers will be reviewing the levels of understanding that students have at the beginning of the year so that they can identify any gaps in learning that may be present. School groupings will not change at this point in the year whilst teachers get to know their classes after the prolonged absence from the school site so please do not request a change of grouping at this time. Parents/carers should contact their child’s Form Tutor or subject teacher via firstname.lastname@example.org if they have a specific query about the progress their child is making.
A message from PE
A reminder to all parents/carers and students about kit expectations for PE within lessons and for the days they are expected to wear PE kit to school. In addition to their kit, students should only wear the Darrick Wood three-quarter zip top for PE. If they do not have this, they can wear their blazer/cardigan/jacket as an additional layer (but this must be taken off for the lesson itself). They should not be wearing their own hoodie or tracksuit top.
Likewise they are not to wear their own version of sports leggings. The only addition is a pair of plain (black if possible) tracksuit bottoms.
Socks must be white and above the ankle, or the yellow football socks can be worn.