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16th September - Welcome back

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Welcome to the first Stockport Grammar School Email Newsletter of the Autumn Term. We hope that you enjoy reading it and find it a useful roundup of news and information.
Message from the Headmaster

The beginning of a new school year is always an exciting time and it is good to have this opportunity to write to you so early in the term. Our girls and boys seem to be refreshed, invigorated and pleased to be back in the daily routine of school life. We are all looking forward to another busy and productive year, both inside and outside the classroom.

Summer Activities
I am very grateful to the many members of staff who accompanied groups in our crowded schedule of summer activities. An enthusiastic party travelled to Iceland in July and keen physicists participated in the now annual visit to CERN in Switzerland as well as having the opportunity to visit NASA in Florida. Outdoor Pursuits enthusiasts enjoyed a busy and sunny stay in Grasmere with a small group kayaking off the North Wales coast in July whilst older pupils completed their Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award Expedition in late August. The school site was again extremely busy throughout the holiday period with several sports camps attracting large numbers of enthusiastic and energetic girls and boys.
Staffing News
Mr Ben Bowles joins as Deputy Head (Staffing and Co-Curriculum) from Hampton School, Middlesex. He will also teach mathematics. His initial responsibilities will focus on development of teaching and learning, supporting children’s academic performance and progress in the Middle School and overseeing our co-curricular programme. He will work alongside Mr David Howson (Senior Deputy), Mrs Donna Harris (Deputy Head Academic) and Mrs Jo White (Deputy Head Pastoral).

Mr Philip Kennedy, formerly of Fallibroome Academy, will be our new Assistant Director of Music. Miss Ruth Moore joins the Physics department and Miss Leanne Curl has made the short move from Cheadle Hulme School to succeed Mr Parker as Head of Economics & Business Studies.  Mrs Annabel Cole will teach Spanish and French, having previously worked at Altrincham Grammar School for Girls.  She will work in close collaboration with Mr Robert Grundy who will be teaching Modern Languages for the duration of Mrs Psaila-Harris’s maternity leave.  Miss Heather Morgan is our new teacher of Life Studies, PSHE and Citizenship and Ms Catherine Griffiths joins the History department.  Miss Jessica Perkins (Old Stop 2010) returns to Stockport Grammar School from North Chadderton School to teach Geography.  Mr Philip Arthur will teach Mathematics and Mr Michael Sallabank will be a new member of our English department. Miss Sarah Hodkinson from The Sacred Heart Catholic School, Newcastle upon Tyne will teach on a part-time basis in the Food Technology department.

We remain very keen to ensure that the School offers an exceptional range of opportunities to foster the personal development of young people in areas other than the academic and have appointed Mr Adam Hughes from an excellent field of well-qualified and experienced candidates to co-ordinate, lead and expand our provision in Outdoor Education. A highly accomplished climbing instructor and mountain leader, he has worked for several years with the department at Bolton School and his responsibilities will include supporting Mr Steve Pownall who oversees our Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme programme in which almost 300 girls and boys are currently engaged.

As you may be aware a number of members of staff have taken on new roles from the beginning of this school year.  Mr Tom Byrne will be our Head of First Year for the remaining period of Mrs Esther Suttle’s maternity leave with Miss Sharon Withington serving as Head of Second Year.  Mr Anton Hanson continues as Head of Third Year with Mrs Helen Lawson overseeing the Lower School.  Miss Rachel Hindley (Head of Fourth Year) and Mr Niall Clarke (Head of Fifth Year) work alongside Mrs Jackie Smith in leading the Middle School.  Mr David Stone, our Head of Sixth Form is assisted by Mrs Heather Ashton (Head of Lower Sixth) and Ms Katrina Britton (Head of Upper Sixth).

Examination and Curriculum News
In recent years, politicians and the media have emphasized the need to make our public examination system more demanding and rigorous. The days of ‘grade inflation’ are past and there is little doubt that it has become harder to secure a range of top grades across the curriculum. More pupils are taking the most demanding subjects and they can no longer benefit from the opportunity to retake modules, having learned and reflected from experience.
Against this national background, our candidates have enjoyed another very successful year. Once again over 80% of A Level entries were graded at A*, A or B in a 100% pass rate and there was a further increase in the proportion of papers being awarded A* and A grades. Twenty two pupils achieved at least three A grades, and an additional six pupils obtained at least three A* grades.  Results of this calibre ensured that our boys and girls remain highly attractive candidates to the most selective universities and the overwhelming majority of last year's Upper Sixth met the requirements of their preferred institutions.
 

At GCSE Level, nearly two thirds of all papers were awarded A* or A grades with a slight increase in the percentage of papers securing the highest grade of A*. Forty four pupils gained at least ten A* and A grades, including 18 who secured ten or more A*s.  Over a quarter of the year group achieved a clean sweep of * and A grades. As in previous years, the large majority of girls and boys have taken 10 or 11 subjects – rather than the nine which is the norm in most independent schools.

More detailed coverage of the many outstanding individual achievements can be found on the website.

This academic year sees a further acceleration in the pace of national ‘reform’ of the examination system. In most subjects, students beginning A Levels will be judged entirely on their performance in an exam after two years of study. They will not have the chance to modify their aspirations, revise their programmes of study or improve from external feedback on their progress. There will be no opportunity to comeback from under-performance. This makes it vital that pupils embark upon their A Level studies with a confident grasp of the core material covered at GCSE Level. Depth of subject knowledge, effectively honed independent study skills and well-developed examination technique will be essential to success. The School’s requirements for entry into the sixth form remain less stringent than in many selective schools, but the national alteration to the structure of A Level examinations does make it more important than ever that pupils embark upon their sixth form studies with the confidence derived from achieving A or * grades in the subjects they have chosen for Advanced study.

As explained in a previous letter, Autumn 2016 also brings significant structural changes at GCSE Level. These combine more demanding syllabus content with a return to linear assessment. Tougher grade criteria reward depth of understanding rather than breadth of coverage. The recent review of our curriculum has been designed to ensure that our boys and girls remain well-prepared to meet the academic challenges they will face whilst enhancing the qualities of character and personality developed through active engagement in our expanding co-curricular programme. This combination should, we are confident, equip them for success and happiness at university and beyond.

The following – previously announced – internal curriculum changes take effect from the beginning of this term:
• An increase in teaching time for A Level academic subjects in the Upper Sixth year.
• An increase in teaching time for Mathematics and English in the Middle School.
• An expanded programme of Personal and Social Education in the Sixth Form.
• A wider range of subject options in the Third Year.
• An extended range of activities and options in the programme of Outdoor Education at all levels of the School.
Please do not hesitate to contact Mrs Donna Harris, Deputy Head (Academic) (harrisd@stockportgrammar.co.uk) should you have any enquiries about our teaching curriculum.

Facilities and Accommodation
A huge amount of maintenance and refurbishment work has been completed by the Bursar and his team over the summer holiday. There have been major improvements to our teaching accommodation in science and technology, our facilities for careers education and medical care together with significant work to raise the quality of our sports facilities. Demand for places at all levels of the School remains strong and we are now at capacity in a number of years. I am most grateful to parents for all they do to celebrate and promote the quality of education we provide throughout the local community. It is central to the continuing success of our school.

Inspection
The last full inspection of our school took place in the Spring of 2011 and we anticipate a return visit by a team from the Independent Schools Inspectorate at some point of the Autumn 2016 or Spring 2017 Terms. A maximum of 48 hours’ notice is given to schools. Inspection focuses on both regulatory compliance and the quality of the education provided, as assessed through pupils’ achievements (inside and outside of the classroom) and their personal development. Parental views – together with the opinions of pupils - play a significant part in the process of inspection and these are gathered through the completion of an anonymous on-line questionnaire once the date of the inspectors’ visit is announced. The timescale for completion of the survey is very short indeed – normally a maximum of 72 hours. I shall, of course, contact all parents with arrangements for submitting their views and opinions to the team as soon as we receive notification of the impending visitation.

Requests for Absence during Term Time
I would ask all parents to ensure that they have an accurate record of the published Term Dates for the forthcoming year readily to hand when making holiday arrangements. Parents will be aware that, in common with all schools in the country, we are no longer able to grant any leave of absence for family holidays, unless there are ‘exceptional circumstances’ which support an exemption being made. Where a family chooses to take children out of school during term time without the Headteacher’s written permission, the absences must be recorded and reported as unauthorised. We define ‘exceptional circumstances’ as comprising serious family illness or bereavement rather than such discretionary considerations as personal convenience or financial economy.

As I am sure you will realise, absence for even a single day can have an impact on a student’s work and progress. Moreover, it is difficult for the teaching staff to maintain the momentum of a group’s work if there is an incomplete attendance. The official authorisation of absence for pupils now requires the provision of a greater degree of information regarding the perceived educational benefit of the activity. Isolated requests to extend the already generous holiday periods must be made to the Headmaster in writing well in advance of the proposed absence and include full background details in support of the application.

Public Examination Results in 2017
I should also remind the parents of pupils taking public examinations of the dates for the publication of results in Summer 2017.

A Level results will be issued on Thursday 17th August, 2017
GCSE results will be issued on Thursday 24th August, 2017

Each year following the receipt of results, a significant number of candidates will need to take decisions concerning their future courses or option choices and it is very important that they are able to discuss these with senior members of staff in person. It is much more difficult to ensure that these deliberations are well-founded and realistic when pupils and their families are on holiday in California, Australia or Antibes.

Traffic Matters
I would be most grateful for your continued and active co-operation in our efforts to make the area a safer environment for our boys and girls and to promote the very best of relations between Stockport Grammar School and local residents. In particular, please ensure that any cars parked in nearby streets are done so legally and with due consideration for our neighbours. As parents will be aware, the pressures of traffic congestion can strain the quality of relationships at times.  I also add my ‘traditional’ request to all parents and visitors to provide the best of examples in their driving and parking habits and avoid bringing motor vehicles on site unless absolutely essential. Cars and children do not mix and thoughtlessness and frustration do compromise the safety of our pupils.

I do hope that your sons and daughters will flourish this year. As ever, I am always very happy to receive any views or opinions which you may have and look forward to meeting as many parents as possible in the course of the term.
 
A H CHICKEN
HEADMASTER

Open Events
Our Open Events for this year will take place on Saturday 17th September and Saturday 12th November 10am – 12pm. These events are busy and popular occasions, attended by many families and for some it is their first contact with Stockport Grammar School.  Families with children in Second Year to Upper Sixth will already have received a letter (click here to download a copy), requesting the assistance of pupils to tour guide at both Open Events.  First Years will be contacted later in the term regarding the 12th November Open Event. Thank you to those parents who have returned the form indicating that their child(ren) can help on the morning, however assistance from more pupils is needed and pupils can bring the permission slip with them on the morning.  If you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact the External Relations Office on 0161 419 2408.

Thank you to all pupils who have volunteered to guide, they should sign in, in the Main Hall, by 9.30am and please ensure uniform is smart. Pupils are advised to bring a coat and a watch.  We receive visitors between 10am and 12pm so tours may not return until after this time.

Careers Convention
Parents and pupils in the Fourth Year to the Upper Sixth are warmly invited to a Careers and Higher Education Convention on Thursday 22nd September 6 - 8.30pm. Over 80 advisers will be available to offer advice and information to individual pupils and their parents concerning possible choices of career and Higher Education courses.

Author Visit
We are delighted to announce that bestselling novelist Jodi Picoult will be speaking at school on the evening of Tuesday 22nd November.  Eleven of Jodi Picoult’s titles have been number one bestsellers in the UK and her last eight novels have debuted at number one on the New York Times bestseller list.  The evening is a public event organised by her publishers who expect high demand for tickets which must be purchased in advance at http://www.eventbrite.com/o/silverwood-events-8390734856
Artwork by A-level pupils has proudly been put on display at Booth Ainsworth LLP, a local chartered accountants. The Stockport based firm is exhibiting work that has been completed by Stockport Grammar School pupils as part of their Art and Design A-level qualification.

Online Safety Centre
There is a link from the Top Links section on the homepage of our website, to an Online Safety Centre, the h2bsafer (how to be safer) hub.  This Online Safety Centre is designed to provide you and your children with information and advice that is easy to access, simple to understand and constantly updated.  The Safety Centre is provided by the Ineqe Group whose Chief Executive is Jim Gamble, the former Chief Executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) and recognised globally as an expert on child protection.  The Safety Centre is compiled and kept up to date by h2bsafer advisers, who work closely with the safety teams of popular social media platforms.

We would be grateful if you would look at the Safety Centre and talk to your children about it.  We hope that you will use it to ensure that you and your children have the most up to date online safety information.

Lower School
First Year
First Year pupils have spent time this week learning study skills in sessions led by the Heads of First Year Mrs Suttle and Mr Byrne, and the Head of Lower School Mrs Lawson.  The boys and girls have worked on a range of topics including time management, using SGS Online, reading instructions carefully and how to make effective revision notes.

Next week, all First Year forms will go on their residential trip to Ilam Hall in Derbyshire.  The pupils will stay overnight in the picturesque village of Ilam, visiting Poole’s Cavern, Dovedale and Chatsworth.  A comprehensive kit list has been given to the pupils this week in form time.  The pupils are expected back at SGS at approximately 6.00pm after their visit to Chatsworth.  The dates of the trips are:

1P and 1Q: 19th to 20th September
1R and 1S: 20th to 21st September
1T and 1U: 21st to 22nd September
1W and 1Y: 22nd to 23rd September

Middle School
Fourth Year
It’s School Council election time again! The attached video link will help pupils think through the role of a School Council Representative https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-sZx5Fa5Y8&feature=youtu.be  Forms elect two Form Representatives, a boy and a girl by 23rd September.  Anyone who wishes to be the Year Representative will need to give a short presentation in the assembly on Friday 7th October.

All Fourth Year pupils have discussed the importance of good work habits and have been given practical suggestions.

Fifth Year
Pupils have considered how to manage their time effectively during this particularly busy school year.  Middle School pupils are considering their possible career path during Life Studies lessons.

Sixth Form
The first Shaa Sixth Form Lecture will take place on the afternoon of Thursday 29th September, when we welcome Mr Simon Snell to the School to discuss the themes of Online Safety with the pupils.  Simon is a former child protection officer with the Devon & Cornwall Police, who works for both the FA and the NSPCC advising these organisations and others on online safety.

The Sixth Form are being encouraged to model the characteristics we expect of our pupils to their younger peers.  All Heads of Year are keen to ensure that pupils are fully adhering to the School Rules with regards to dress. For the girls, the wearing of lycra skirts and painted fingernails are an early issue we are keen to address. With the boys, ensuring they are clean shaven is a persistent challenge for some. Festival bands (Leeds/Reading) do not form part of the School uniform and should be removed. Fundamentally, the large majority of the pupils set an excellent example to their peers and your support with this is most appreciated.

Lower Sixth
The Lower Sixth form began the new term with a Sixth Form Induction Day, where they had a session on study skills, they were introduced to the co-curricular opportunities on offer at School, and they sat the ALIS test; the results from which will form an important part of the target setting discussions with them in the forthcoming weeks.

Upper Sixth
The Upper Sixth form have been reviewing their ALPS targets in light of the grades they have received this summer. They will be working with their tutors and UCAS Advisers on their university applications; especially those who are aiming for the early 15th October deadline.

Parents are warmly invited to attend the first Stopfordian Parents’ Association meeting of the school year on Monday 10th October at 7.30pm in the Governors’ Room.  All parents are members of the SPA so please come along if you would like to find out more about the contribution the SPA makes to school life.  SPA meetings are held approximately once per term throughout the year and all parents are invited.  The meetings are informal, sociable occasions with refreshments provided; upcoming events are discussed and how any funds raised can be used to make a positive impact on the opportunities available to your children.
Please note that the new rate for private music lessons is £15 per half hour lesson.

Please click here for the new schedule for music practices.

Whole School Musical
This year’s whole school musical is Annie and will take place in March 2017.
Auditions for roles will take place week commencing 26th October.  Singing auditions will be on Monday lunchtime, Monday after school and Wednesday after school.
Acting and Dance auditions will be on Wednesday after school and Thursday after school.  All interested pupils must attend a singing and acting/dance audition.
For more information click here.
Our U13 and U14 Netballers enjoyed an action packed weekend at Condover Hall last week.  The U13s won their competition, remaining undefeated all weekend, and the U14s were runners-up in the plate competition. 
Emergency Contact
Parents are reminded of the procedures for contacting school in an emergency.

During school hours : please contact the main office on 0161 456 9000.

Out of school hours :  in the evenings or at the weekend, the emergency contact number for the on-call member of the Senior Management Team is 07860 430754.  This number is available on the Parent Portal.  THIS NUMBER SHOULD ONLY BE USED IN THE EVENT OF A DEFINITE EMERGENCY.

During off-site trips : for routine enquiries during an off-site trip you will be provided with a contact number for the trip leader in the trip paperwork.  For overnight trips you will be provided with a contact number for a member of the Senior Management Team.

The overview of our co-curricular programme is available on sgsonline and the Parent Portal.  We offer a great variety of activities and there really is something for everyone.  Mr Hughes, the Outdoor Education Co-ordinator will be enhancing the range of outdoor sports/activities available to pupils over the coming term, looking to add to the climbing opportunities, start a Snowsports Club as well as working to improve the kayaking provision.  Day trips climbing and gorge walking will be offered in the near future. 
Please encourage your son or daughter to get involved and make the most of the opportunities available.
Library staff were delighted to meet a number of First Year pupils on Roald Dahl Day this week.  During the lunch break lower school pupils completed quiz sheets, designed chocolate bars, added a dream to the BFG’s dream collection, found out their Roald Dahl name and celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birth of the legendary story teller with cake!  The magic of his stories are a great reminder of how much pleasure can be obtained from a great book. 

What is reality? The Library will be exploring this question over the Autumn Term. The first Café Sci events of the year will offer pupils the opportunity to experience a parachute jump or driving a tank using a virtual reality headset (oculus rift). Numbers are limited and pupils should obtain a ticket from the Library.  All pupils are welcome to come along on Tuesday 20th and 27th September to find out more.  A philosophical response to the question will be presented by Richard Klomp during Thursday’s Symposium talk.  Further activities and displays will run over the coming weeks in collaboration with other departments. 
Well done to Old Stopfordian Ross Millington who took part in the Olympic 10,000 metres final.  Before heading off to Rio, Ross presented the awards at the Senior School Sports Day.
Parents are reminded of after-school procedures:
 
First to Fifth Years
Unless supervised by a teacher (for example in a co-curricular activity), pupils must either leave the premises by 4.15pm or work in the Library which is open until 5.30pm.  Once the library is closed pupils can work in the Sixth Form Work Room until 6pm. All pupils must leave the school site by 6pm. Pupils staying at school after the end of the day are expected to remain on the school site until they leave for home.

Sixth Form
Unless supervised by a teacher (for example in a co-curricular activity), pupils must either leave the premises by 4.15pm or work in the Library which is open until 5.30pm, or their Sixth Form Common Room, Sixth Form Work Room or Sixth Form Quad until 6pm. All pupils must leave the school site by 6.00pm. Pupils staying at school after the end of the day are expected to remain on the school site until they leave for home.
The newsletter is emailed out fortnightly in term time to Senior School parents. We would welcome your comments and suggestions at externalrelations@stockportgrammar.co.uk.
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Stockport Grammar School · Buxton Road · Stockport, Cheshire SK2 7AF · United Kingdom

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