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) (email@example.com) 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.
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.
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