Introduction

The Newsletter is designed to provide students and parents with information about recent developments at the College, to highlight forthcoming activities and events, and to provide guidance on a number of important College-related matters. Further editions will be prepared and distributed in the Spring and Summer Terms.

The College website is also an important ongoing source of information. The Key Documents section of the website has a range of very useful materials. From early November, the website will include copies of invitations to the forthcoming Parents’ Consultation Evenings. The News section provides regular reports and photographs from some of our student activities.

Term Dates for this academic year, and 2018/19, can also be found on the website. Please note that Friday 1 December 2017 will be a ‘non-student’ day (a staff training day). Students will not be required to attend the College on this day, although the Library and all independent study facilities will be available for any students who would like to study on the College site. There will be slight adjustments to our timetable arrangements between Wednesday 18 and Friday 20 October related to our Open Evenings for prospective students on Wednesday 18 and Thursday 19 October. Many thanks to our current students who have volunteered to help during these evenings.

At the start of term, all students were issued with a paper copy of the Student Handbook and Charter. This document, and the 2017/18 Parent Handbook, are available on the website within the Key Documents section. The handbooks provide in-depth information regarding College policies, procedures, systems and arrangements. If any students have not received a copy of the Student Handbook, or if parents cannot access either document from the website, please contact my secretary, Catherine Lilley, or the College General Office and paper copies will be provided.

Students have ongoing access to internal communications and a large range of teaching and learning materials through our ‘Moodle’ facility. Each student has an individual Moodle account and login facility. Students should check Moodle, and also their College email, at least twice a day. Our College communication systems rely very heavily on these electronic forms of communication. In the event of an emergency or instances when there are severe weather conditions, updated information will normally be posted on Moodle – and also on the website for parents.

The safety and wellbeing of our students is always a primary concern. Details of our Child Protection Policy and other policy documents, including the College Prevent strategy, are available from the Key Documents and College Policies sections of this website - and are within the Parents' Information section. As a safeguarding measure, in line with expectations of Government agencies, we require all our students to have their College Student Card on their person at all times they are on College premises. Staff and Visitors are required to wear visible ID in the form of lanyards or clip badges. More generally our Assistant Principals, Senior Tutors and Personal Tutors have a Student Welfare and Health Support Coordinator, Karen Cooper, together with a team of trained ‘first aiders’, available to also help provide initial support to our students. They will deal with any first response health issues, illness or injury problems that may occur whilst students are present at College. If a student needs to be sent home, then we would normally expect a ‘responsible adult’ to collect them from College. Where this is not possible, we will normally arrange a taxi to take the student home, but you may be liable for the cost. It is essential that parent/guardian ‘contact details’ are kept up to date so that we can, where appropriate, contact home in the event of an accident or illness, during the College day.

If parents/carers are not available ‘for emergency contact’, for example, during their son or daughter’s participation in a residential College trip or visit, and/or where parents are out of the country on holiday or business, it is important that clear arrangements are made for a nominated ‘responsible adult’ contact who can and will assume ‘duty of care’ for their son or daughter. The College needs to be made fully aware of the detail of this arrangement prior to the relevant trip taking place. Students wishing to participate in any College trips and visits must ensure that all health difficulties, physical and/or mental, are declared to the trip organisers on the application form relating to the trip. In some instances, risk assessments will need to be undertaken.

Students have provided the College with their parents/carers email addresses – and we use these addresses for most key communications from the College. It is, therefore, important that the College is informed if there are changes to email addresses.

The Clerk to the Governors would like to remind parents/carers and other stakeholders that the consultation period regarding the proposal for the College to convert to a Single Academy Trust closes on 11 October. The Clerk sent an email to parents earlier this term. The consultation, including response, and details are posted on the College website home page – Latest Announcements section or directly from the following link:

Academy Proposal Documentation (PDF, 298 KB)

The College Friends welcome parents/carers of ‘new’ students and hope that you will be able to support its fund-raising activities to enhance the facilities available for students at College. Funds raised by the College Friends are currently being used to provide extra student independent study facilities. Many thanks to all who have supported or will support our students’ experience at the College.

Where needs arise, please contact your son or daughter’s Personal or Senior Tutor and, if appropriate, Carol McAuley, Assistant Principal with responsibility for student matters. Please do contact me if you feel this appropriate.

Ian MacNaughton
Principal
May 2017

2017 Examination Results and Destinations

The results achieved by our students in the summer 2017 public exams were excellent - well above the national benchmark levels.

90% of last year’s Year 2 A level students achieved an average 3 or more A levels passes – significantly above the national average for 18 year olds in all schools, academies and colleges in England including independent and grammar schools. Our cohort of Year 2 IB Diploma students achieved an average IB points score of 32, significantly above the international average. The ‘top 100’ achievers at the College again attained average UCAS and DfE point scores better than those achieved by the ‘top 100’ students in any selective or independent school in the country and our students had the highest level of overall achievement in any College in Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk.

Over 1000 of last year’s Year 2 students are now studying for degree courses at universities, specialist visual arts, design or performing arts courses, or have arranged ‘GAP’ or other ‘Year Out’ placements and experiences before they enter higher education in 2018. Others have obtained employment and training opportunities in London or in the local area or abroad.

Our current Year 2 students also achieved excellent results in their AS exams in the summer, with overall pass rates and A - C grades above the national averages. The AS marks achieved generally provide a sound basis upon which Year 2 students can build for success at A Level next summer. Students who took ‘unreformed’ AS subjects need to make skilful and considered decisions about AS modular re-sit exam entries next summer. There will be a further ‘window’ available in January for modular resit entries in Summer 2018.

At GCSE, where the majority of students involved were repeating examinations to improve grades from Year 11, results were also excellent – overall approximately 10% above the national average level in the A*- C grades range for 16-18 year olds. GCSE English and Maths resit results were really outstanding – considerably higher than national averages.

Congratulations must be offered to our students for their hard work and successes last academic year, and credit must also go to the College staff who supported the students in their studies and wider experiences. The achievement of last year’s second year students will be recognised at the Annual Reunion and Awards event to be held at Charter Hall on the evening of Tuesday 19 December, our guest speaker will be former student Dave Coulson (2001 leaver) who is now producer of BBC television’s CBBC.

Year 2 Students

We anticipate that nearly 1000 of our Year 2 students will apply for higher education courses - either for 2018 entry or, on a deferred basis, for 2019 entry. Staff are currently very busy advising and working with students to help them prepare and finalise their UCAS applications - and a good number of applications have now already been dispatched to UCAS. The specified deadline for the receipt of applications for most degree courses at UCAS is 15 January 2018 although for some degree courses deadlines dates were substantially earlier than this. (Relevant dates have been clearly and regularly communicated within College). Please note that from the ‘first submission of a draft’ UCAS application to our staff, there is a very significant amount of checking, administrative work, and reference preparation by staff that needs to be undertaken. Last year, on average, draft UCAS forms were sent back to students by staff for necessary amendments nearly three times. We therefore require that draft applications are completed and submitted to College staff by Friday 17 November at the latest to enable staff to ‘despatch’ by the end of the term (mid-December). An internal deadline of just a week later (24 November) then applies for the College to guarantee to be able to meet the 15 January UCAS deadline.

We have strongly advised all year 2 students to submit their UCAS applications as early as possible. Feedback received from universities indicates that early applications are generally given greater and more favourable consideration by Admissions Tutors. When making the final UCAS choices from offers received, we strongly advise that students should have a ‘fall-back’ option as their insurance ‘2nd choice’. This should allow students to be confident they can achieve an ‘offer’ that is likely to reflect ‘Current’ grades - although it may be below ‘Target’ grades.

Students considering applying for competitive employment or sponsorship options to many of the national and multi-national organisations for Summer/Autumn 2018 start will, in most instances, need to make early applications – a number are in the Autumn/pre-Christmas period. Students are, therefore advised to undertake their research as a matter of urgency to avoid the risk of missing deadlines.

Certificates for all the AS Level and GCSE exams taken at the College last summer will be distributed to relevant students, via Personal Tutor Groups, in December.

Year 2 IB students are currently finalising their Extended Essays (deadline 2 November) and Theory of Knowledge work needs to be completed by the 30 November deadline. Year 2 IB mock exams will be held between 3 January and 9 January 2018 and students should ensure they are well prepared for these. The Summer 2018 IB external exams period is from Monday 30 April to 18 May 2018 (N.B. - although Monday 7 May is a UK Bank Holiday, there will be IB exams taking place on that day). IB results are scheduled for release in early July 2018 – over a month earlier than the Government release of AS and A2 results on 16 August 2018.

Year 1 Students

We have been very pleased to welcome our newly enrolled students this term and the first signs are that the vast majority are settling very quickly into their individual programmes of study and the College in general. Forward planning is important. We feel it important to highlight to parents and students the Summer Term 2018 arrangements. The main period for the national AS Level exams in 2018 is between early May and early June. In some subject areas, students will complete practical assessments, or language orals, or assessed projects or coursework, in the period between October and May. Each subject area will give students the relevant detail of the applicable assessments and dates which students are then encouraged to record in the diary section of their Student Handbook, together with details of homework and other work set.

Please note that the Easter break period, in April, is just before of the start of the AS exam programme. Students should therefore plan to make substantial progress with their independent programmes of revision and preparation for the AS level exams during the Easter period – and as highlighted in the Induction Parents Briefings held in June, Easter is not therefore, a good time for our students to take major holidays. There will also be Revision Classes and Workshops offered in many subjects during the Easter break period.

First year IB students will have their ‘Internal Exams’ in May (Tuesday 1 May–Friday 4 May). From Tuesday 7 May to Friday 25 May, normal timetable arrangements will resume for IB students. From Monday 4 June to Wednesday 13 June, the students will be engaged in a mixture of study skills, TOK and Extended Essay work, a Group 4 Science Project and ‘Model United Nations’ activity. The IB Internal Exams in May will help ‘inform’ the Predicted Grades process subsequently used for UCAS/HE applications completed in the early autumn period.

On Wednesday 13 June 2018, Year 1 AS Level students will return to College after their exams to re-commence their studies and in the period to the end of term (17 July), the teaching of A Level courses will begin (and IB teaching continues). Attendance is essential for students to be able to progress to study a second year programme in September. Students intending to keep the option of a second year of A level study open are expected to be in classes for the teaching of the first A level work during this 5 week period. We remind students and parents that holiday should not be taken by students at any stage within term time including within the second half of the Summer Term.

Students should be aware that in July some work will be set by staff in each A Level subject area for completion during the summer holiday period. IB students will also be expected to make significant progress over the summer regarding preparation of their Extended Essays as well as completing some work in most subjects.

To inform and guide students, and their parents, an outline of 2017-18 working arrangements was included in the Student Handbook - and can also be found in the Parent Handbook.

First year Tutor Groups have now completed the process of identifying their Tutor Group representatives and the process of nominations and hustings, culminating in elections, is now underway for our College Council Executive Committee (student elected body). Over the next few months, each of the College Council Committees will also be electing new Chairs. All students who wish to get involved are welcome to join one of the committees – Social, Arts, Cultural, Sports and Science and Environment.

Any students wishing to be involved in a College Ambassador role should contact Adrian Frost, Assistant Principal or Gaby Wheelhouse, Admissions Department.

All Students

On an on-going basis if parents/carers particularly wish to discuss a matter with their son’s or daughter’s Senior or Personal Tutor, please contact them directly by email or phone. Next month there will also be an opportunity to make an appointment for one of the forthcoming Parents’ Consultation Evenings (details in the section below).

A major College programme of Higher Education and Employment progression information and guidance will begin in January. The annual Careers Fair will be held in the Multi-Purpose Hall on Wednesday 24 January 2018 with approximately 70 exhibitors attending including representatives from Universities, Employers, Apprenticeship providers and ‘Year Out’ providers. Please see Careers Department for further details. There will also be a Higher Education and Employability Briefing Evening for students and their parents, on the evening of the 21 March 2018. Students have recently had an opportunity to attend the Colchester Careers Convention; there will be an excellent opportunity for students and parents to attend the major regional Higher Education Superfair to be held on 20-21 June 2018 at the University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park. All students are able to sign up for individual careers appointments, as appropriate, on an ongoing basis.

A Volunteering Fair was recently held – with a number of national and local organisations represented. The event was very well attended by students and there is a good range of volunteers, citizenship or social action opportunities available to our students.

The College Friends not Foes group is again very active this year, supporting local refugees. A group of students and staff are involved in Colchester Citizenship Alliance. Their activities include a Listening Campaign and in November a group will be involved in a training activity organised by Citizens UK.

Students with Learning Support Needs/ Exams Access Arrangements

Please be aware that we have recently asked all students who have Learning Support Needs and/or wish to request Exam Access Arrangement to check the details that we have listed on our College database this week. Students can check this detail by logging onto Moodle and then Selecting ‘Exam Entries’ in the ‘My Information’ section (top right hand corner).

The detail should display below with a code outlining the specific Learning Support Need (e.g. Dys for Dyslexia) and a summary of the Exam Access Arrangement (e.g. 25% ET – 25% extra time). If there are no records under the headers then we do not have anything listed in our database. If there is a blank under the headers and you or your son/daughter believe that this is inaccurate or there is information we have not been made aware of, then it is vital that this is updated as soon as possible. If it this is case, students have been asked to email the Director of Learning Support, Sarah Prince as soon as possible outlining what needs to be amended.

All exam centres have been given a very short window this year in which to apply for Exam Access Arrangements with the Government’s agency JCQ (Joint Council for Qualifications). Therefore, it is imperative that this information is checked this week and any changes or amendments are passed on by the end of November.

Failure to update the records now could mean that it is not possible to put the Exam Access Arrangements in place for the summer examinations this academic year. We have stressed that it is the students’ responsibility to ensure that the correct information is recorded for them, so please do encourage your son/daughter to check this as soon as possible.

Reviews/Parent Consultation Evenings/Reports

All students have recently undertaken Initial Progress Checks with Personal Tutors. Full Progress Reviews with subject teachers will take place in early November, culminating in overall progress discussions with Personal Tutors. Following this, Progress Reviews will be completed for all students and published to both students and parents via Go4Schools in late November (prior to the Parents Consultation Evening on 23 November). Students and Parents will be emailed to inform them that the Review is available online and with details of how to log on to their Go4Schools account.

Subject focussed Consultation Evenings will then be held for parents of all students on Thursday 23 November, Tuesday 28 November and Thursday 30 November. Letters inviting parents to make specific appointments with relevant staff, for one of the evenings, will be distributed after half-term (details will also be available via the website). Students are, of course, also warmly invited, and indeed encouraged, to join their parents for these meetings. If the specified date initially allocated to you is inconvenient, there is flexibility, so please simply make your appointments on one of the other two evenings. If you feel it necessary, appointments can be made with Personal Tutors and Senior Tutors in addition to those appointments with subject teachers.

Full Reports for all students will be prepared and distributed in mid-February – following a further Progress Review – Reports are also distributed via Go4Schools.

Parents of students (and the students) following the Advanced Foundation Programme were invited to the Consultation Evening we recently held (4 October) and this gave an opportunity for dialogue at a vital early stage for students aiming to improve their GCSE grades. Parents will, of course, also be invited to the November evenings.

Summer 2018 Results and Post Results Arrangements

We understand that the relevant Government Agencies and Examination Boards are planning to release summer A and AS Level results on Thursday 16 August 2018 - with GCSE results released on Thursday 23 August 2018. Results will be released electronically via individual student Moodle accounts. Alternatively, results can be collected in person at the College from 8.30am on the 16 August. Year 1 AS Level students should ensure that they are available to come into College at some stage within the period between 17 and 22 August to receive post-results help, advice and guidance, should this prove to be necessary. A large team of Senior and Careers Dept. staff will be in College from 16 August to help students and parents to offer guidance and advice. Enrolment for ‘new’ students will begin on Tuesday 28 August 2018 and all students returning for Year 2 A Level or IB study will need to be in College on Thursday 30 August for their re-enrolment.

Expeditions, Trips and Visits and Language Day

A large number of trips and visits are scheduled for this term. Students will continue to be informed, as appropriate, via departments or in the Student Bulletin and Moodle as appropriate as specific opportunities arise. In the Summer period a very successful project expedition to visit and support a disadvantaged community in Paraguay was undertaken. Details are on the News section of the College website.

Forthcoming trips will include a group of History students visiting Berlin in October and Geography fieldwork visits are also underway. Taking place in November, a group of students will be visiting Krakow and Auschwitz as part of the Holocaust Memorial Programme. During February a number of trips have been arranged. Sociology students will be visiting New York, Geography students will be going to Sri Lanka, Politics students will be visiting Brussels and group of History students will be visiting Rome. Students from the Art department will be visiting Barcelona.

A European Day of Languages took place on Thursday 28 September. This featured a large number of language ‘taster’ sessions many of which were given by our students. Relevant national foods were also supplied! The events were very well attended and staff were very impressed with the amount of effort that students put into delivery of high quality presentations.

The Arts

After a busy July in the Performing Arts Dept. with a series of performances and also a Performing Arts Careers Conference, including visiting workshops from Alumni now working and training in the Industry, our current A2 students are now drawing on these experiences to inform their applications and preparing auditions for universities, Conservatoires and professional opportunities.

East 15 Drama School are visiting College on October 10 to run a workshop linked to their BA World Performance course. Students will have an opportunity to take part in a workshop and ask questions relating to studying Drama and Performance at East 15. The workshop is open to all Performing Arts and Drama students and is free.

Drama and Theatre Studies, IB Theatre Arts and BTEC Performing Arts students will have the opportunity to see one of the country’s leading and innovative theatre companies ‘Frantic Assembly’ performing at The Mercury Theatre in Colchester on 17 October. Students will be studying the work of ‘Frantic Assembly’ as part of their course. The production of “Things I Know to Be True” is visiting Colchester as part of a worldwide tour.

In addition, the department is also organising a visit from Anglia Ruskin University for BTEC Performing Arts students that will include sessions on performance and expression through Music, also interactive sessions on preparation for university entrance auditions for Performing Arts students.

In early January, Performing Arts and Dance students will be visiting Sadler’s Wells in London, to see Matthew Bourne’s “Cinderella”. Students on both courses are studying Bourne as a practitioner, the Performing Arts Department is excited to be able to see this performance, this work is returning to Sadler’s Wells after seven years.

The Performing Arts Department have a significant programme of events scheduled for this term.

  • The Autumn Music Concert will be held on Thursday 16 November 7:30pm in the Drama Studio. There will be a range of musical items including the choir, band and orchestra, everyone is welcome. Tickets are available on the door.
  • Dance Performance Evenings take place on 6 and 7 December. The performances will consist of a mixed programme of items from the diverse mix of dance studied at the College.
  • The Annual Carol Service will take place on Tuesday 12 December at St Peters Church (opposite the College) North Hill at 7.30pm. This features a large number of contributions from the College Choir, Orchestra and Musicians. All are welcome and there will be complimentary mince pies and mulled wine in the main Refectory at College after the event supplied by the College Friends.
  • Shakespeare /EPQ Evening Wednesday 13 December at 7pm in the Drama Studio. Members of the College Shakespeare Club will be performing individual sonnets and monologues, which they performed (or will be performing) for their RADA Bronze, Silver and Gold award performances. As part of their EPQ work, students (from Drama and Theatre) will also be sharing performance based work content from which they will be basing upon their final assessed production log and essay.

Rock Workshop activities are held every Wednesday and an annual programme of ‘Unplugged’/’Plugged’ lunchtime performances is well underway. This started with performances within the recent Knollfest. Through the late autumn/winter period, ‘Battle of the Bands’ heats and finals will take place.

Sport

The College has begun the year with another comprehensive fixture list, covering a very wide range of sports. Information from the team managers will be made available on a half-termly basis on the College public website, summarising the team performances to date. The Netball team in particular are very strong this year, coached by Shelley Johnson and Angie Syrett. Shelley comments, ‘We have a really strong squad again this year. We are playing in AoC league one, which will be a much higher standard of competition so will be quite a challenge for the players but they won last year’s league very convincingly. We are hoping to qualify for the regional schools competition again’. Mike Cura and Steven Welsh have had a very busy time with approximately 60 students trialling for the College’s two football squads. There appears to be both strength in depth here as well. Jack Lock would like to see more girls join the ladies soccer squad – which meets periods 7 and 8 on a Friday.

The wide range of Sports Additional Studies opportunities include Yoga, Cheerleading, Boxing and Trampolining.

The Association of Colleges regional sports competitions begin in October. College is looking forward to another successful year, we are hoping to have a large number of students qualify for the finals. This year Jack Lock has assumed the role of the College Coordinator for AOC competitions.

The College continues to work in collaboration with the satellite volleyball club in conjunction with Essex University furthering the opportunities available to students to begin, continue and improve their sporting prowess. We have recently appointed a new Basketball coach, Tom Sadler, and are excited about the expertise he will bring to our Basketball team.

The Principles of Coaching Sport groups, levels 2 and 3 continue to attract large numbers of students who enhance the links College has made with local primary schools. Students continue to gain part-time and later, full-time employment from these awards. Coaching in local primary schools for this current year’s students has already begun.

Following on from the initiatives started last year, Boxing and Yoga additional studies continue to attract significant student interest.

In addition to the current Sport and PE courses available at College, we have added an additional course to the Programme of Study for this academic year – BTEC Certificate in Sport with the opportunity to follow the Extended Certificate in Sport in the second year. This course has already proven to be popular with 2 groups. An excellent range of competitive and recreational opportunities continue to be made available, with an overall strategic aim of encouraging greater sports participation.

Charitable Activities

A significant level of charitable activity and support has taken place, or is planned, this term. On an on-going basis, the College supports the Russ Foundation Community in Kerala Tamil Nadu, Southern India. The Russ activities support a disadvantaged community of orphaned children and community healthcare projects. The weekly collections and profits from sales from the Russ Shop and Coffee Bar continue to raise funds to support the Russ.

A very successful cake morning has recently been held in aid of MacMillan Cancer Support. Other charity activities that are planned for the period ahead include fund raising on Pink Day activities to support Cancer Research, activities and fund raising in conjunction with World Mental Health Day. Further ahead, activities include Children in Need, and Save the Children.