Headteacher Blog - 17 September

Posted on: 17th Sep

Welcome back, and a very warm welcome to our new Year 7 and Year 12 students.  It was wonderful to finally get everyone back last week, after our staggered start to the term and our students are already demonstrating our CREARCI values. The testing once again went extremely well, I would like to say a huge thank you to our testing team for doing such a wonderful job. I would like to take this opportunity to remind you of the importance of all students testing twice a week. They must stay at home if they have any of the three symptoms - please see below – book a PCR test immediately and wait at home until they receive the result. This will ensure that we can prevent any potential outbreaks at school and allow us to provide as ‘normal’ an education as possible this year.

Covid symptoms

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

Once again, we celebrated remarkable exam results at both GCSE and A Level over the summer.   It has been a difficult couple of years for our students, so I was especially proud to see them demonstrate true maturity and responsibility at a time of great upheaval and uncertainty.  The diligence and effort that students put into their studies was clear to see as staff began the process of marking key assessments and awarding final grades.  Everyone worked diligently to create the assessment schedules, then methodically went through the moderation process to ensure fair and consistent results. Students could then be rest assured, that the grades they received from The Downs School, were fairly awarded and a true reflection of the hard work and commitment that they showed throughout their time with us. This was certainly a real team effort, the students, staff and parents all working so hard to make it happen. I would also like to thank my staff again for their professionalism through this process. We are still waiting on a decision regarding what exams will look like next year; I will update you when this becomes clear. Whatever decision is reached by DfE and Ofqual, we will work hard once again make sure that our students are fully prepared for the challenges/assessment process ahead.

Last night, the 6th Form held its annual information evening. Hosted on TEAMs, the focus is on providing parents and carers with information on life in the Sixth Form and careers next steps, including what support we will provide and how parents and carers can support their children. The event was well attended, all the information from the evening can be found via a link on the homepage of the website. Next week, we will be hosting our KS4 information evening, details of which have been sent home to you.

Looking ahead, I am delighted that this year we are able to hold our Sponsored Walk  this year, which takes place on Friday, 24 September. This is one of the highlights of the school calendar for students and staff, with everyone walking along The Ridgeway to raise money for school-based projects. Students and staff are encouraged to come in fancy dress and this is such a great event in bringing everyone together and will be particularly special this year after the challenges of the last 18 months.  Sponsorship forms have already been sent home, we really appreciate your generosity and look forward to hopefully sunny conditions for the event.

Our Rising Yr7 Open Evening takes place on Thursday, 7 October, and we are delighted to be able to open up the school this year for visitors after we had to host a virtual event last year. The school will be open from 5:45-7:45pm, with prospective students and their parents given small group tours of the school and the opportunity to take part in some fun and interesting activities. I will be giving three presentations in the hall during the evening.  Please note it will be early close to existing students that day, finishing at 1.25pm.  Please feel free to pass on the details of this event to any friends or colleagues with children currently in year 6.  You can also find details of the event on the homepage of the website.

It is always good to hear about students’ achievements outside of school and I would like to congratulate Lucas in Year 8, who is contesting the ultimate karting championship.  At his last race weekend, Lucas had a difficult start after hitting the tyre wall in his pre final race, but despite starting the final at the back of the grid, he fought his way up to third place overall in the final, securing the fastest lap time in the process.  Congratulations also to Elliott in year 9 who has been shortlisted in a competition run by the University College of Estate Management, asking young people to decide on an alternative use for Reading prison. Elliott’s suggestion was to create a shelter for the homeless and recovering drug addicts, his ideas included turning the cells into rooms, having the kitchen refurbished and creating a football pitch in the courtyard. Elliott’s ideas were then passed onto an academic to debate on his behalf and the winner will soon be decided after a public vote. We wish him the best of luck.

Finally, I wanted to let you know that Café 6 is now open for students for breakfast. There will be a selection of yoghurt, granola, fruit pots, fresh pastries, breads and hot chocolate available daily from 8am for students to enjoy during the Winter months.

I wish you all a good weekend.

Mr Prosser





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