During the summer term, following my appointment as Headteacher from September 2015, it was important for me to consult with all stakeholders about how we could improve and enhance our provision at DHSB.
I met students, staff and parents and the consultation period was an opportunity to celebrate the good things we do and what we are proud of and perhaps more importantly what our challenges are and what we could do to improve.
We have targeted the most significant challenges since September and have formed our School Development Priorities which you can read here.
One of the suggested areas for development from parents is communication, especially about improvements and the progress we are making towards these.
As a result I will take the opportunity to write an extended Head’s Blog at the end of each half term to outline our progress. Please also relate this back to our development priorities.
Here is the first of many!
Priority 1: Students achieve the highest academic outcomes
Emphasis on ensuring all students are challenged and make excellent progress in lessons.
We have focused on ensuring that all students start the day ready to learn by developing a more consistent and structured first twenty minutes of the day. Tutors and Heads of House have worked hard to implement a new effective programme of study during our registration times so that students are fully prepared to engage and meet the levels of challenge in lessons later in the day. We have received good feedback about this and students are talking more positively about their experiences.
Developing appropriate homework that stretches and challenges learning
Following the consultation with students and parents we have designed a bespoke homework platform that integrates with our most successful practice and workflow in school for students and staff and which will also allow the opportunity for the school and parents to target support when it is most needed.
Initial feedback from the majority of students is positive and the new platform is already making a difference. We have also received many positive comments from parents about this.
Inevitably there are areas that will need to be tweaked to ensure that all homework set stretches and challenges all students and we will be looking at this during the next half term.
Please look once again at the information about Homeworky.
This link will take you to the Homeworky homepage where you will find more information and video tutorials.
If you or your son have any problems using this or if you have any suggestions for improvement then please don’t hesitate to contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Priority 3: Leadership at all levels
Enhancing the application, recording and monitoring of low level disruption
In my letter to you in September I outlined the changes to the way that we are tackling some of the low level behaviour incidents that happen in school. In addition to this we took steps to address some of the concerns surrounding mobile devices to support the development of healthy habits for students especially in maximising their concentration levels in class.
Feedback from students and staff has again been positive; students who have previously made poor choices about their behaviour are now making the effort to improve so that the learning environment in class is productive for both teachers and students.
It was an exciting day in the Learning Commons yesterday as Google Expeditions came to school!
Mr Forte explained, “Expeditions are collections, scenes or virtual reality panoramas, 360° photo spheres, 3D images and video.
“DHSB was lucky enough to be selected as part of the Pioneer Programme touring the United Kingdom. Google supplied Expeditions kits with everything our staff needed to take students on journeys anywhere from the bottom of the sea to the surface of Mars.
Staff and students were very interested in the technology’s potential and look forward to using it again to enhance learning in the future.”
The Learning Commons has now been open for several weeks. The concept and design have been featured by South West Grid for Learning and you can read much more here.
We plan to stage a formal opening with special guests after school on Tuesday 8 December. Please contact my PA, Sarah Nicholson, if you would like to receive an invitation to this event.
Devonport Market Hall
The CEO of the Arts Council England, Darren Henley, visited Plymouth on Thursday.
Mrs Lilley, Mr Forte, Alfie Carlisle and Joe Edwards attended a meeting with him at the Devonport Guildhall to discuss the future development of the Market Hall currently under renovation and development in the heart of Devonport itself.
Mrs Lilley said, “Darren was very open and asked how we would like the Arts Council to help the city to create a space that will put Plymouth on the map as a centre of excellence for new digital media development.
“He seemed very enthusiastic about supporting the project financially and it is both important and exciting for DHSB to be the partner school involved as it is through this connection we can deliver the next generation of creative entrepreneurs.”
DofE Expedition Training
Last weekend saw the completion of successful expedition training for our Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Bronze and Silver students.
The actual expeditions will be staged later in the school year.
Over half term there are two groups of staff visiting our partner schools.
Mrs Burdon and Miss Randles are travelling to Shining Stars School in Kathmandu and Mrs Marsh and Mrs Pearson are visiting Zimasa in Cape Town.
We’re looking forward to their safe return and to hearing about their adventures.
See our latest international news here.
PlymFit is a new venture from former student and GB athlete, Dave King, aiming to “improve fitness, health and lifestyle”.
Fitness sessions will be held on site here in the school and you can find out more here!
Mr Orkney reports a “great day” this week with a 5 – 0 2nd XI win over Plymouth University and a 27 – 22 U16 Rugby win against Plymouth College.
The 1st XI team was not so successful this week and has been knocked out of the Devon FA midweek cup after a disappointing 5 – 1 defeat.