Introduction

The Spring Term Newsletter is prepared for students and their parents/guardians and aims to provide important information, guidance and advice, review recent activities and highlight a number of forthcoming events and dates. Parents and students should note those specific dates and arrangements that will be relevant to them.

Parents are also advised to visit this website regularly to keep in contact with College arrangements, activities, dates and important communications. This also includes the News section which provides magazine style reports of a range of student activities which take place. Students are expected to check Moodle and their College emails at least twice daily. There is also a link within the Moodle facility to the News section.

Parents and students had the opportunity, in November, to attend subject-based Consultation Evenings. A process of Progress Reviews, including preparation of Reports, has recently taken place for all students in all subjects and students have then reviewed their overall progress with their Personal Tutors. On Monday 6 February, Reports were distributed electronically to parents and students. The Reports were emailed to all parents who have provided a contact email address. For parents who have not provided an email address their son/daughter’s reports were posted home. Looking further ahead, a further Parents’ Consultation Evening is scheduled for Year 1 students on Tuesday 4 July. If there are issues regarding progress or other issues which affect academic progress that parents wish to raise, please contact your son’s or daughter’s Personal Tutor, Senior Tutor or other senior staff as appropriate.

The College Library, including the IT facilities, was open during the half term period and will again be open for students to use in some of the forthcoming Easter break period (open on Monday 3 April to Thursday 6 April inclusive and also on Monday 10 and Tuesday 11 April). Further details will be made available to students via the Library Bulletin posted on Moodle. The Easter break period is, of course, a very important time for students’ independent revision programmes prior to the public examinations - which begin just a few weeks afterwards in early May. There will be a number of subject and course specific additional workshops and revision classes offered at College in the Easter period. The specific details regarding the options will be posted up on Moodle in advance of the vacation and departments will also communicate the specific detail of the opportunities offered. In any of the vacation periods, if individual students wish to use specialist College equipment and facilities where there are skill or training or safety or security issues, for example in Product Design or Media Studies, specific requests must be made in advance to the relevant teaching staff. They will then liaise with senior staff to make firm arrangements.

Many congratulations to the students who received Jack Petchey Achievement Awards in 2016:

  • Hannah Smith
  • Harrison Phillips-Pearce
  • Michael Manning
  • Thomas Bellis
  • Jack Sydenham
  • Shannon Lacey
  • Oliver Nix
  • Nathan Rigg
  • India Thomas

They all have received a framed certificate and £250 each towards providing education resources at College. A Jack Petchey awards evening will be held in March, at the Mercury Theatre, where all Achievement Award winners will be presented with medallions. The students were all nominated by their teachers and the awards were for a variety of positive achievements.

Our newly elected student College Council Executive, and their committee chairs (Charity, Social, Sports, Arts, Culture and Science and Environment), have already organised a series of student activities – with much more planned for the period ahead. This includes the Environment Committee undertaking a student survey re sustainability issues and activities and a recent ‘Toilet Twinning’ activity, raising the awareness of the importance of sanitation facilities in developing countries. The Charities Committee have been very active – please see later section for detail. Regular reports on a number of College Council activities will be posted on the College website News section.

The College Friends are pleased to report that they have recently used money raised from their fundraising activities to offer financial support to a number of students to offset the costs of travel to attend HE and employment interviews and are also aiming to offer financial support to further enhance independent study facilities at the College.

A list of forthcoming Key Dates has also been included at the end of this Newsletter. Term dates for the current academic year and 2017/18 academic year can be viewed at Term Dates.

A Reunion and Awards evening was held in December and was a very successful celebration of achievements of our 2016 leavers. The event was attended by nearly 1000 former students, parents and family members. Students collected their examination certificates and a series of College, Departmental and sponsored awards from the guest speaker Kaneesha Johnson a former student. Kaneesha is currently at Harvard University, working towards gaining a PhD in Political Science, and is also a writer for the Washington Post. A celebration event will be organised in December 2017 for our 2017 leavers.

As a matter of routine, we have been asked by OFSTED to pass on to parents details of an ongoing parent feedback survey (see detail below) and would be pleased if parents could find the time to submit an online return. You can complete the questionnaire and find out more information about it by navigating to Further education and skills parents and carers questionnaire. Our students are also invited to complete a separate OFSTED survey to give their views as learners. All students have received a communication via email and Moodle - with the appropriate link provided to enable them to take part in the survey.

Ian MacNaughton
Principal
February 2017

Safeguarding

All students at College, born between 1 September 1998 and 31 August 2000, have recently been offered the opportunity by the NHS, to have a vaccination to protect against Meningitis W. This national immunisation programme is part of a Government initiative, with students encouraged to have the vaccination to provide protection against a particularly virulent form of disease - which can be fatal (in approx. 1 out of 10 cases). The 16-23 age group is deemed to be amongst the higher risk groups in terms of infection and the Government, therefore, has given priority to providing free vaccinations for those 16/18 year olds who would like to be immunised. Information was posted up on Moodle in September – and has also been posted on this website. See Vaccination Programme for details. During the September to January period, over 2000 students received the vaccination through the NHS programme at the College. Three additional and final vaccination opportunities have now been made available, on 28 February, 20 and 21 March, for those eligible students who have not yet been able to take advantage of the opportunity. Thereafter, the relevant aged students who would like to be immunised will need to make arrangements through their GP practice or a ‘Walk in Centre’. Older students, who were born before 1/9/98, will need to make arrangements with their GP practice to receive the vaccine. We understand all younger people, born after 1 September 2000, will be included in the national NHS vaccination programme taking place in schools.

The Government has recently announced that a new UK Safeguarding website Educate Against Hate has been launched to provide information for parents and teachers specifically regarding the Prevent duty. This contains advice and guidance regarding concerns over the potential radicalisation of young people. A recent Tutorial activity, and a number of materials posted up on Moodle have provided guidance for students.

Tuesday 7 February 2017 was Safer Internet Day. A range of online safety and other relevant materials have been posted up on Moodle for students to support their safe use of social media and other internet sites. Support materials were also distributed to students in the Autumn Term and a Tutorial activity, focussing on online safety was held in September.

Forthcoming Arrangements – All Students

Summer Examination and Study Leave begins for Year 2 IB students on Friday 21 April at 4.05pm - and for Year 1 AS Level and GCSE students at 4:05pm on Friday 12 May.

Year 1 IB Internal Examinations take place Tuesday 2 to Friday 5 May. Year 1 IB students then return to College on Monday 8 May for the normal teaching timetable. IB Activities Week takes place between Monday 5 June and Friday 9 June. Activities will include a United Nations Conference, TOK visit to London and International Mindedness Day. The Group 4 Science Project will take place on 12 and 13 June. On 14, 15 and 16 June Year 1 IB students will be involved in the 3 Day Programme. The IB timetable will then resume on Monday 19 June.

All Year 1 AS Level students will return from Examination and Study leave on Wednesday 14 June, initially for a 3 Day Programme of action planning progression (careers, employment, HE) activities and briefings. During the 3-Day Programme a choice of 300 talks will be available, from which each student will choose 13 sessions to attend. Employers, Apprenticeship providers, Universities and Higher Education representatives, Gap year providers, former students and College teaching staff deliver sessions. Students can explore careers or courses in which they are interested, and begin the start of planning for progression after College. Students will also undertake a Progress Review with their Personal Tutor, and give an updated indication on their second year course choices. Teaching in all subjects for the first A Level courses then begins on Monday 19 June. Teaching classes for all Year 1 students will continue until the end of Summer Term (Tuesday 18 July).

Year 2 A Level students begin their Exam and Study leave on Wednesday 24 May at 4.05pm. In addition, Monday 22 May will also be an Examination Study Leave Day for Year 2 students as there are a substantial number of students involved in AS level exams on this day. In general, the national timetable for the summer period 2017 has scheduled the majority of AS level examinations within the period from 15 May - 9 June with the main programme of A2 examinations scheduled for the period between early and late June.

A ‘Careers, HE and Gap Fair’ was recently held at the College with over eighty exhibitors relevant for progression including universities, employers apprenticeship providers, representatives from ‘Year Out’ and volunteering organisations. This should have been particularly useful for all Year 1 students and for those Year 2 students who have not yet finalised their progression plans for next year, or beyond.

Year 2 students

Over 1000 of our current and former students have now applied to UCAS for future entry to university degree courses. Many of the students who applied in the autumn have now had at least some responses from the universities to which they have applied. However, please note that some university admissions tutors wait until all applications have been received by the UCAS January ‘deadline’, and/or their programmes of interviews are completed, before they make any ‘offers’. Students who have not heard from a specific university course should therefore remain patient – responses are likely to be received by mid-March.

If students have received more than two ‘offers’, they are generally advised that their ‘insurance offer’ should be both lower than their ‘firm’ offer and realistically achievable. For the most competitive courses, universities are unlikely to be very flexible if students do not achieve the required ‘offer’ grades.

The College has been informed that the updated Student Finance Service for England will open later this month. Students who are planning to take up a university place in 2017 can apply via www.gov.uk/studentfinance. We recommend that the application be completed as soon as possible, certainly before the 31 May 2017 deadline.

Any students who need HE-related or employment/training or wider careers guidance and advice should contact the College Careers Department or their Senior Tutor for help. A good number of students have already submitted applications for employment, training or apprenticeship appointments. If students are thinking about apprenticeships and employment now is a good time to be looking for vacancies. Appointments can be made in Careers (Room 113) for a chat and further help.

Please remember that for all 2017 leavers, support and guidance will also be available in the late summer period following the release of A level and AS level results, and the university notification of admissions decisions via UCAS, on Thursday 17 August. Help and guidance will, of course, also be available through the summer term, including the period immediately after the release of IB results on Thursday 6 July.

A Higher Education ‘refresher’ briefing, including a summary of 2017 HE financial arrangements, designed for parents of Year 2 students, has been scheduled for the evening of Thursday 11 May. The briefing will also outline information relevant to the summer period and will give guidelines as to how to proceed in August following the release of examination results. Invitation letters will be sent out to Parents in April. Students intending to enter employment after leaving College should now be involved in research and planning, and can seek advice and support by contacting the College Careers Department, if they have not already done so. The regular ‘CareerScope’ publication provides useful information (available on Moodle).

Year 1 Students

Year 1 AS Level students have started the process of considering their course choices for Year 2 study. In early January, students were given written information that outlined the likely AS/A level and other course options available for next academic year. They were also briefed by Senior Staff and have been helped by their Personal Tutors and other specialist staff where appropriate. The briefing notes are available on this website. See the Student Notes box in Documents for details. Each student should have now completed and returned a pro-forma to their Personal Tutor with their ‘indicative course choices’ for next academic year. There will be opportunities to review these choices after the completion of AS examinations in June, and again, if necessary, after AS results are published on Thursday 17 August.

In considering their course choices for Year 2, AS Level students have been strongly advised to consider the likely or possible HE and/or career progression routes they wish to keep open beyond A level. Specific qualification requirements for particular degree courses or employment areas may exert influence on choosing subjects and courses for Year 2.

A ‘Higher Education and Employment Introductory Evening’ has been scheduled for all interested Year 1 students and their parents for the evening of Tuesday 21 March. These talks will outline the reasons to go to university, and, how College supports students through the process. The evening will also include a briefing on Employability for students thinking of entering the world of work rather than Higher Education when they leave College. This will show how we support students researching careers and employment and there will be a talk about employability skills. Communications inviting Parents and Students will be distributed after half term. Relevant College staff will be in attendance, as well as an Admissions Officer from the University of Essex.

A busy programme of higher education information, guidance and advice specifically designed for Year 1 AS level and IB students will also be provided during the Summer Term and in particular in the June/July period following completion of examinations. An Essex Higher Education Exhibition takes place on 14 and 15 June (9.30-1.30) at the University of Essex, Wivenhoe Campus, which students are able to attend, although the College organised its own Careers Fair in February with approximately 60 universities represented and many students collected materials and information as this stage.

A Parents’ Consultation Evening will be arranged for Tuesday 4 July and the evening also provides an opportunity to attend a Higher Education Finance Briefing, for 2017 HE entry cycle. The briefing will also include an outline of how we support students through the application process. An evening briefing for parents of students considering applying to Oxford or Cambridge Universities will be held in early July. The College ‘Oxbridge’ programme will continue with a briefing meeting for all students potentially interested in applying to Oxford or Cambridge University for 2018 or 2019 entry at lunchtime on Thursday 2 March. There will also be an opportunity provided to visit Cambridge early in the Summer Term - primarily designed for those potentially interested but who have not otherwise made an individual and more specific arrangement to visit an Oxford or Cambridge college or subject day.

Examinations and Assessments - All Students

Entries for summer examinations are now being finalised for imminent submission to the examination boards by their deadline date. Students have recently been given Statements of Entry and were asked to check and confirm their provisional entries including any resit entries. Students should, very urgently also communicate any learning support issues relevant for exam and assessment arrangements. The relevant Government agencies and exam boards have been drawn forward the deadline date for submission this year. If there are any remaining issues, students should, contact the Exams Department with some urgency.

Many A2/AS/GCSE students have important practical assessments, assessed work or project work requirements in some specific subjects during the February-May period, for at least some of their courses. Year 2 IB students will be given their individual timetables for their May examinations at the start of the Summer Term and in late April the overall timetable and detail for the Summer AS/A2 and GCSE examinations is published on Moodle in the Examinations Section (My College Information – Exams section). Students are urged to check all their details very carefully when the confirmation of entries is distributed to them. If there are any errors or changes, or if ‘clashes’ are identified, they should inform the College Examinations Office immediately. More generally if students currently wish to look at the detail of the Summer exam programme to identify when their specific examinations will be taking place, they can view this website, see Exams Department for details, or ‘Exams Information – Moodle’. In line with Government guidelines, students are reminded that, if they choose to withdraw from a subject or fail to complete assessed coursework or practical assessments, or if they do not attend examination sittings, they will be charged the relevant qualification entry fees. It is not possible for the College or the Government to gain reimbursement from the ‘examination boards’ for ‘withdrawals’, non-completion or non-attendance once the exam board deadline has past.

The College advises that students allow adequate time to prepare effectively for external public examinations, projects, coursework and practical assessments and plan their use of time very carefully. Very productive use of the Easter break is important. Each student will have an individual schedule of exams coursework and practical arrangements specific to them. This detail should be carefully logged and appropriate planning undertaken. To ensure that students achieve their full potential in public examinations, we strongly recommend that all AS/A2/GCSE students involved in public examinations arrange to discontinue any part-time employment for the period from late March at the very latest until the end of their summer examination programme. All year 2 IB students should discontinue any part time employment a little earlier, by mid-March at the latest, as their exams begin a little earlier.

AS/A level results will be released on Thursday 17 August, GCSE results are released on Thursday 24 August, and IB results on 6 July.

Expeditions, Field Trips and Visits

A group of students and staff visited the Russ Foundation community in southern India over the Christmas/New Year period (see Charity and Community Activities below) and in July a group of students, studying our Spanish courses, along with staff, will conduct a new expedition activity to Paraguay where they will work in a disadvantaged community. The group are currently involved in preparations and also undertaking fund raising activities to enable them to make a sizeable donation of resources to the community and help support a future visit to Colchester for a few of the 16-18 year olds from the community.

There has been a large programme of fieldwork and visits this academic year. Visits that have taken place this term include; a Politics trip to Westminster; groups of students from the Art Department visited the London Galleries including the Tate Britain. In February, students from the Debating Society participated in a simulation of the United Nations at the Model UN Conference in London and Liam McKenna won best delegate on the Economics and Finance committee (to add to his offer of a place studying Law at Oxford University). Groups of Biology students will visit Colchester Zoo. During February a group of Sociology and Art students will be visiting New York, a group of Politics students visited Brussels and groups of Spanish and German students visited Mallorca and Bremen. Geology students will be undertaking fieldwork in Mersea and later this term students from History, Sociology and Psychology Departments will be involved in Conferences, History students will be visiting the Royal Academy of Arts, Dance and Performance Studies students will be visiting Move It at Excel and Drama students will be visiting the Garrick Theatre.

There are a large number of trips and visits scheduled for the June and July period – with a series of other trips and visits being planned for next academic year.

Charity and Community Activities

Last term saw on enormous level of activity including fundraising activities related to supporting Cancer Research UK, the Russ Foundation Community in India (see below), preparation of a large number (over 100) of Christmas Hampers for local families, (distributed by Social Services and other support agencies). Monies were raised for Smile Train (a charity supporting Cleft pallet surgery), a Save the Children – Christmas Jumper day, and Children in Need. £200 was also raised to support the World Cancer Research Fund. A recent Tutorial highlighted charitable activities and this has been supported by videos and materials posted on Moodle. Forthcoming activities include fund raising in conjunction with Sport Relief Red Nose Day, International Women’s Day and The Big Board Game Day (NSPCC).

Students studying the Citizenship course recently held a Day of Citizenship including a series of displays for various charities highlighting social issues, and a good number of students have been involved in working with local primary schools this year – including sports students involved in organising sports activities at the schools.

The College India Expedition group spent three weeks over Christmas and New Year at Russ Foundation in Tamil Nadu, Southern India. The students and staff had spent six months organising fundraising events both as a group and individually in their own communities. Then, over Christmas and New Year, they spent three weeks at the Russ Foundation campus near Madurai, sleeping under the stars, working in the fields and playing games with the children in the home for disadvantaged young people.

Russ Foundation supports the most marginalised and disadvantaged in rural Indian society such as those living with the social stigma of HIV, poverty or gender discrimination. They also visited a number of the Russ Foundation projects, gaining a fascinating insight into the various aspects of Russ Foundation’s community health work with those living with HIV/AIDS.

Student Ed Smith said, “The staff and children at Russ perfectly testify to the long lasting impact this charity has on children from deprived areas in Southern India. Seeing the work and success at Russ Foundation was truly a life changing experience.” Sophie Eggleton said, “I am so thankful to have been part of such an amazing trip. I will treasure the time spent at Russ and all of the fun with the kids!”

The Sixth Form College has been supporting Russ Foundation since it was founded 25 years ago, through weekly tutorial collections, fundraising for the Expeditions and the generosity of the donations of former students.

Sport

The Sport and Physical Education Department continues to operate a busy schedule of sports fixtures, with some notable successes (more detailed information about some of these activities is posted on thus website. See News for details. The men’s Basketball team are through to the quarterfinals of the National Cup, and also have qualified for the British Colleges Finals and also top the Essex league. The netball first team came second in the Essex Schools Netball Cup competition, which meant they have qualified for the regional round of the national competition. College has not qualified through to this stage for a very long time (10 years). In addition, the 1st XI football team are successfully through to the semi-finals of the prestigious Essex Cup - which is a significant achievement as the county contains a plethora of soccer academies. Four runners represented North East Essex at the Essex Schools Cross Country Championships at the end of January, with Mary Ann Deasy and Joseph Patterson being selected to represent Essex at the National Championships.

A number of students have already qualified for the British AoC National Finals, to be held in Nottingham, in April. So far, students who have qualified to represent the Eastern region:

  • Mandy Lee - Ladies Badminton
  • Josh Coleman – Golf

The Men’s Basketball team have also qualified.

The recreational programme of activities organised by our Sports Activator currently includes Yoga sessions, which, given its stress-relieving benefits, are likely to be very popular in the lead-up to the exams – students will be able to sign up for them at any point. There will be a Colour Run in April open to all College students. Our Cheerleading group came second in their first competition recently held at Five Lakes.

The Sports Committee are planning forthcoming Table Tennis and Badminton competitions as well as a Basketball ‘dunk’ competition and in May, the sporting achievements of College students over this year will be recognised at Sports Awards Presentations.

The Arts

Last term saw a series of excellent productions, performances and events. Most recently, a number of bands competed in the College ‘Battle of the Bands’ heats, with the finals being held at Colchester Arts Centre in early February 2017. The overall winning band, Misprinted Lines, will now perform at the Colchester Schools Rock Prom on 23 February and will have an opportunity to record at a local recording studio. In addition to our excellent College radio station, Storm Radio, a College recording label, Storm Records is now providing our students with excellent recording opportunities and a number of College bands/musicians have been signed-up for recording opportunities.

Performing Arts students recently performed their assessment pieces – and a very high standard was achieved. AS Drama and Theatre Studies will be performing extracts from A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller as part of their Practical examination assessment. The exam will take place on Tuesday 14 and Wednesday 15 March during the college day and family and friends are welcome to come along and watch. The Dress rehearsals for the same pieces take place on Monday 27 February and Tuesday 28 February . These will take place in the Drama Studio from 5pm each evening and parents and friends are again more than welcome to attend and support the students.

The Drama department is also organising a trip to see Lee Mack and Griff Rhys Jones in the London production of Moliere’s The Miser at the Garrick Theatre in March. This trip will be open to both AS and A2 students in preparation for their written examination.

Successful EPQ/RADA Shakespeare evening back in December with various students performing their chosen speeches and sonnets. RADA Shakespeare continues to run on Wednesdays, preparing students for their RADA assessments. Recent achievements in RADA Bronze has been awarded to Tom Davies, Lily Downes, Tabetha Parrick and Emily Warren. Kayleigh Gibson has recently completed her Gold award and Gemma Saints her Bronze award.

Students involved in Visual Arts (covering Art, Photography, Textiles, Sculpture, and Art History) are heavily involved in coursework and preparation for forthcoming practical assessments. Exhibitions of their work will then be prepared for viewings in the Summer Term.

Forthcoming performances this term include:

  • Colchester Schools Rock Prom at 7:30 pm on Thursday 23 February
    Tickets are available from the Arts Centre, Church Street (01206 500900) an event involving local schools and colleges putting forward their talented bands. This includes the winning band from the College ‘Battle of the Bands’.
  • College Spring Music Concert 7:30pm on Wednesday 8 March
    To include items from the Band, Choir, Orchestra, Music Students, Soloists and smaller ensembles - Tickets £5.00 and £3.00 (students) available in advance or on the door.
  • Colchester Schools Prom Concert 7:30pm on Friday 17 March
    Tickets can be booked from the above mentioned website or customers can call the Mercury Theatre box office on 01206 573948.

Further ahead, we are planning to organise a College Arts and Culture Festival in early July. Further details will be published in the Summer Term. Events planned include a range of performing, visual and creative arts, as well as others with a cultural focus.

2017 KEY DATES
Easter Holiday (including Easter Bank Holiday) Monday 3 April to Monday 17 April
IB (Year 2) Study Leave starts Monday 24 April
IB External Exams start Monday 1 May to Friday 19 May
May Bank Holiday Monday 1 May
(IB Biology exam -pm)
AS and GCSE Study Leave starts and
Public Examinations AS/GCSE begin
Monday 15 May
Year 1 IB Internal Exams Tuesday 2 May to Friday 5 May
Year 1 IB return to College Monday 8 May
A2 Study Leave starts Thursday 25 May
Half-term break Monday 29 May to Friday 2 June
Year 1 IB College Activities week Monday 5 June
Year 1 IB Group 4 Project Monday 12 & Tuesday 13 June
AS Year 1 return to College Wednesday 14 June
3 Day Programme Wednesday 14 June to Friday 16 June
A2 Teaching commences Monday 19 June
Non-Teaching Days – Induction Wednesday 28 and Thursday 29 June
Parents Evening Tuesday 4 July
IB Leavers’ Day Thursday 6 July
A2 and GCSE Leavers’ Day Wednesday 5 July
Last day of term Tuesday 18 July
Examination Results:
IB (Year 2) Thursday 6 July
AS/A2/IGCSE/Applied General/EPQ Thursday 17 August
GCSE Thursday 24 August
Enrolment:
Year 2 Thursday 31 August/AM

PLEASE NOTE:

After the Easter break students will have the following amount of teaching time before examinations.

Year 2 IB students have 4 days of teaching/revision activities at the start of the Summer Term and before Study Leave period and the start of their public examinations.
Year 1 AS and GCSE students have 18 teaching days available at the start of the Summer Term and before the start of their Study Leave and their public examinations.

Year 2 A Level students have 25 teaching days at the start of the Summer Term and before the start of the A level Examinations and Study Leave (25 May) although many students will be involved in AS Level examinations which begin on 15 May. 22 May is also a day of Exam and Study Leave.

It is very important that all students have an individual and independent programme of revision in place and underway before the start of the Easter holiday and that they actively engage in independent study and revision during the Easter vacation and in the period leading up to the start of the public examinations.