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 published in the Spring and Summer Terms. The College website is also an important ongoing source of information: www.colchsfc.ac.uk. The ‘Documents’ section of the website has a range of very useful materials. From early November, the website will include copies of invitations to the two forthcoming Year 1 Parents’ Consultation Evenings in late November. Term Dates for this academic year, and also for 2022/23, can be found on the website. The ‘News’ section of the website http://www.colchsfc.ac.uk/news/ provide regular reports and photographs from some of our student activities.
Start of Term
We are very pleased to be able to return to normal operational arrangements so far this term, albeit with a number of mitigations in place to ensure that we are keeping all our students and staff as safe as we can. All staff are working very hard to support individual students as much as possible to be able to engage effectively with their learning and broader college activities, and to develop a sense of purpose, also the tools to be resilient, to work collaboratively with their teachers and peers and independently outside of classes. As well as developing subject knowledge and skills teaching staff will be focusing on developing our students’ examination skills in order to ensure that they can do their very best in the summer examinations. We are delighted with the high numbers who are also participating in extra-curricular activities, through which they will gain a broad range of experiences and skills.
We are very mindful, however, that our students have lived through exceptional circumstances through the coronavirus pandemic, causing disruption to learning and anxiety. We have strengthened our pastoral support services to work with those students who may need additional support to thrive at College. In addition to their Personal Tutor or Senior Tutor, students can drop into the Welfare Hub or contact the Welfare Team via email. Our Welfare Coordinator will then help them to access the support they need, either within College or from an external provider. Parents who are worried about a student’s emotional wellbeing should contact their Personal Tutor, Senior Tutor or, in more serious or urgent situations, ask for the Safeguarding Lead. If a student needs to be sent home, then we would normally expect a responsible adult to collect them from College. It is essential that parent/carer contact details (appropriate telephone numbers and email addresses please) 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.
Please note that Friday 3 December 2021 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 also be slight adjustments to our normal timetable arrangements between Wednesday 20 and Friday 22 October - related to our Open Evenings for prospective students to be held on the evenings of Wednesday 20 and Thursday 21 October. Students were provided with the detail of the adjustments last week – including a posting on Moodle.
At the start of term all students were issued with a paper copy of the Student Handbook and Charter. This document, and also the 2021/22 Parents' Handbook, is also available on the website within the Documents section. The handbooks both 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 links above, or the website, please contact the Principal’s P.A., Fiona Weston (email@example.com) or the College General Office and paper copies will be provided.
Students have ongoing access to important internal communications and a large range of teaching and learning materials through our ‘Moodle’ virtual learning environment and communication facility. Students are expected to check Moodle, and also their College email, at least twice a day as our College systems rely very heavily on these electronic forms of communication. Please also note that in the event of an emergency or in instances when there are potentially severe winter weather conditions, any information and guidance will normally be posted on Moodle – and the information will also be posted 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 Documents section of the website - and are also within the Parents section of the website. 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.
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 local based responsible adult contact who can 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 provided the College with their parents’/carers’ current email addresses in late August. We use these contact details for most key communications to parents/carers from the College. It is, therefore, important during the academic year that the College is informed if there are changes to parental email addresses. Please email Fiona Weston – firstname.lastname@example.org with the detail of any changes as and when they arise.
If you have a concern about your son or daughter’s wellbeing, please contact their Personal or Senior Tutor and, if appropriate, Jo Cadman, Assistant Principal with responsibility for student matters. Please do contact me if you feel this appropriate.
Key Information items and dates
2021 examination results and destinations
The results achieved by our students in the summer of each of 2019, 2020 and 2021 were excellent - and above the national benchmark levels, which is a great achievement, particularly in 2020 and 2021 when students worked through so much disruption caused by the covid pandemic.
As a result of strong results and academic achievements, student progression has been excellent. Over 1000 of last year’s Year 2 students are now studying for degree courses at universities or specialist visual arts, design or performing arts courses, or have arranged ‘GAP’ or other ‘Year Out’ placements and experiences – with most having places to enter higher education in 2022. Others have obtained employment and training opportunities in London or in the local area or abroad.
Our current Year 2 students also achieved encouraging results in their June Internal Assessments. Their progress provides a sound basis upon which they can build on for success at GCSE, AG and A Level, and in other qualifications next summer. Solid preparation for the forthcoming Mock Exams and the External Exams and Assessments in January is clearly important. With regards to GCSE, where the majority of students involved were repeating examinations to improve grades from Year 11, 2021 results were also excellent and 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 students in their studies and wider experiences in exceptional and demanding circumstances. The achievement of last year’s second year students will be recognised at the Annual Reunion and Awards event to be held virtually from 3rd December. We expect that live events will be held in both December 2022 and December 2023 to celebrate the achievements of our current students.
Year 2 students
We anticipate that around 1000 of our Year 2 students will apply for higher education courses - either for 2022 entry or, on a deferred basis, for 2023 entry. Staff are currently very busy advising and working with those students to help them prepare and finalise their UCAS applications - and a good number of applications have now been dispatched to UCAS. The specified deadline for the receipt of applications for most degree courses at UCAS is 26 January 2022 although for some specific 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 from a student to their Personal Tutor, there is a very significant amount of checking, administrative work, and reference preparation by a range of relevant staff that needs to be undertaken. We therefore require that draft applications are completed and submitted to College staff by Friday 12 November at the latest to enable staff to undertake their work and ‘dispatch’ by the end of this term (17 December) and an internal deadline of just a week later (Friday 19 November) applies for submission of draft UCAS applications for the College to guarantee to be able to meet the main 26 January 2022 UCAS deadline.
To help achieve good offers from universities we strongly advise 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.
In the late Winter/early Spring, when Year 2 students are making their final UCAS choices from the offers they have received, we also strongly advise that they should arrange 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 their ‘Current’ grades - although for some this may be slightly less ambitious and below their ‘Target’ grades.
Students considering applying for competitive employment or sponsorship or training scheme options offered by many of the national and multi-national organisations commencing in Summer/Autumn 2020 will, in most instances, also need to make early applications – and a good number will need to submitted in the Autumn/pre-Christmas period. Year 2 students exploring employment and training options are strongly advised to undertake their research regarding their progression options as a matter of urgency to avoid the risk of missing deadlines.
All Year 2 A level students will be involved in a programme of Mock Exams and Assessments between 6 January and 14 January 2022. Following the marking and grading of the Exam papers and Assessments, Reports will be published 23 February and a Year 2 Parents’ Consultant Evening will be held on Thursday 24 February 2022.
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 courses and to the College in general. We feel it important to highlight to parents and students some important Spring and Summer 2022 period arrangements.
Please note that the Easter break period, in April 2022, is not long before the start of the May Internal Exams and Assessments Programme for A level courses. Following these Internal Exams and Assessments, in June students will receive revised Current and Target grades reflecting their progress on their academic programme of study. Students should therefore plan to make substantial progress with their independent programmes of revision and preparation for the May exams during the Easter period – and the Easter 2022 period is therefore not a good time for Year 1 students to take substantive holidays. Some Year 1 students will also have some Exams in May or early June.
The revised target grades that follow the A level Exams and Assessments will help ‘inform’ the Predicted Grades process subsequently used for university applications completed in the early autumn period.
Consistent attendance through to the end of the Summer Term, on Wednesday 20 July, is essential for Year 1 students to be able to progress to study a second year programme in September 2022. We remind students and parents that holidays should not be taken by students at any stage within term time including within the second half of the Summer Term period.
Year 1 A level students should be aware that in July some work will be set by staff in each subject area for completion during the summer holiday period and many A level students will be continuing their Extended Project Qualification work.
All students - Progression
A major College programme of Higher Education and Employment progression information and guidance has begun. Year 2 students are being encouraged to make firm progression plans for the end of the academic year – including by researching employment and apprenticeship and completing their UCAS applications. All students should now have completed an Employability Skills audit.
Our annual substantive Careers Fair will be held either in the Multi-Purpose Hall or virtually on Thursday 10 February 2022 with approximately 130 exhibitors attending - including representatives from over 80 universities, employers, apprenticeship and training providers and ‘Year Out’ providers. Please see our Careers website http://www.colchsfc.ac.uk/departments/careers/ for further details. There will also be a Higher Education and Employability Briefing Evening for parents of Year 1 students (details TBC).
In addition, after the May Internal Assessments, all Year 1 students will be participating in a College-wide Career Progression ‘two day programme’ where over 300 talks will be taking place to assist students in planning their next steps. Students and parents may also wish to attend a regional UCAS Higher Education Exhibition at the University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park (details TBC). Students will need to sign up to attend the event via UCAS website.
On an ongoing basis all students are able to sign up for individual careers appointments.
Learning Support detail – Exam Access Arrangements
There is drop in support available in every teaching block in No.58 (the pink building behind Cock and Pye). This is open to ALL students, where they can get support around organisation, time management, essay writing, revision techniques or anything else they are struggling with. Students can book a session with an LSA or just come and work in the building. To book a session, please email Alison Day: email@example.com
Exam Access Arrangements
Students have been reminded to check that their individual Learning Support detail, including any possible Examination Access Arrangements, are accurately logged on the College Database. They can check their details by looking that their ‘home’ page on Moodle and clicking on ‘Exam Details and Seating Arrangements’ (in the top right-hand corner). If any of the details are incorrect, students have been asked to inform the Learning Support team (firstname.lastname@example.org) or their Personal Tutor as soon as possible. This information needs to be accurate as the College has to officially apply to the examination authorities for Access Arrangements and the first deadline for this was in early October for both November and January examinations. The deadline for us to apply for arrangements for Summer 2022 examinations is early March. Failure to meet this deadline will mean that the College is unable to apply for Exam Access Arrangements.
Forthcoming Progress Reviews / Parent Consultation Evenings / Reports
In the period ahead there will also be an opportunity to make subject appointments within one of the two forthcoming Year 1 Parents’ Consultation Evenings via Teams (30 November or 2 December). See below for more detail. Full Progress Reviews with subject teachers will take place in early November, where Current and Target grades will be given in each subject/course, culminating in an overall individual student progress discussion with their Personal Tutor. Following this, the Progress Reviews will be completed and published to both students and parents via Go4Schools in the late November period (but prior to the commencement of the programme of Parents Consultation Evenings). Students and Parents will separately be emailed to inform them when the Review is available online and with details of how to log on to their Go4Schools account.
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 the relevant member of staff directly by email or phone.
With regards to the subject focussed Consultation Evenings mentioned above, which will be held for parents of all Year 1 students, on Thursday 30 November or Tuesday 2 December 2021, letters inviting parents to make specific appointments with relevant staff for one of the two evenings, will be emailed after half-term (details will also be posted on the website). Students are encouraged to join their parents for these meetings which will be held via Teams. If the specified date initially allocated to you is inconvenient there is flexibility for you to have an appointment on the other evening. If you feel it necessary, appointments can also generally be made with Personal Tutors and Senior Tutors in addition to those appointments with subject teachers. It is each student’s responsibility to make the appointments with their teachers. Please leave a ten minute gap between the end of one appointment and the start of the next.
Full Reports for Year 2 students will be prepared and distributed in February – following a further Progress Review. Reports will also be distributed via Go4Schools. First years have mini-review and full reports in June following the May Internal Assessments.
Parents of students (and the students) following the Advanced Foundation Programme (AFP) were invited to the AFP Consultation Evening we held on 7 October, which gave an opportunity for dialogue at a vital early stage with regard to those students aiming to improve their GCSE grades. Parents of our 1st and 2nd Year AFP students will, of course, also be invited to the November evenings.
Summer 2022 results and post results arrangements
We have been informed by DfE and Ofqual that arrangements for Summer 2022 public exams will again vary from the last ‘normal’ examinations in 2019. If examinations can go ahead, awarding bodies will publish an indication of the content to be examined for each GCSE, AS and A level subject by 7 February 2022. This is in order that schools and colleges can focus revision arrangements on the key topics to be assessed before the examinations. The full specifications are expected to still be completed. The Government’s aim is to take into account the disrupted education that all young people have experienced since March 2020. Furthermore, the Government is currently consulting on proposals to have a ‘Plan B’ in place for the determination of student grades, should public examinations have to be cancelled. This will be a similar methodology applied for Summer 2021. We are already prepared with mechanisms to collect fair and robust evidence of our students’ progress through internal assessments, which will help to inform their current and target grades.
We have also been informed that Summer 2022 A Level results will be released on Thursday 18 August 2022 - and GCSE results released on Thursday 25 August 2022. Results will be released electronically via individual student Moodle accounts. A large team of Senior and Careers Department staff will be in College from 18 August to help students and parents to offer guidance and advice. Enrolment will begin with new students starting on Tuesday 30 August 2022.
Getting involved and supporting others
Our students take part in a huge number of voluntary activities and there are countless opportunities to get involved.
Friends not Foes is an award-winning, student led group which works to support the local refugee community in Colchester area, and raise awareness of the refugee crisis. Our activities range from teaching English, baby-sitting, running a crèche at community meetings, waiting tables and kitchen work at the pop-up cafes, running stalls at various events, and organising a Christmas party for the children in partnership with the Colchester Police. The College continues to be an active member of Colchester Citizenship Alliance and was awarded College of Sanctuary status in 2018.
There are significant numbers of opportunities available to our students to get involved in ‘peer support’ or ‘buddying’ schemes at College – either involving the subjects they study or in some cross-college areas. There are also a number of volunteering opportunities including student Library Champions and College Ambassadors – who work with the Admissions Department. If any students wish to get involved in these schemes, which provide an excellent opportunity to develop skills, they need to liaise with the appropriate members of staff with responsibility. Any students wishing to be involved in a College Ambassador role should contact Adrian Frost, Assistant Principal.
The Charites Committee are planning events to promote awareness and collect donations for both Prostate Cancer and Breast Cancer Awareness and students will be collecting donations for Y.E.S. during our Open Evenings. Later in the term, there will be Children in Need activities and Tutor Groups will prepare Christmas Hampers for local families, via local Social Services agencies. There will also be a Christmas Jumper Day on 10 December to raise funds for Save the Children.
The Sixth Form College conservation volunteers will be back out on local nature reserves and green spaces over the winter months. Our first task is to create a hibernaculum at High Woods Country Park and the following weekend we will be joining Essex Wildlife Trust to help with their work restoring heathland flora and wildlife at Tiptree Heath reserve. Over thirty students have signed up for the work parties this year and we hope to arrange some extra events to ensure that everyone who wants to gets an opportunity to take part. The work includes a range of habitat management tasks such as tree planting, coppicing and hedge-laying. As well as helping to address the serious problem of loss of biodiversity, volunteering is a valuable step in career progression. A number of former volunteers have gone on to study conservation and ecology at university, including Nick Shimwell who has recently been appointed Senior Ranger at the Sudbury Common Lands charity.
Former student achievement
Former Sixth Form College student Teymour Kashani is currently 50 miles north of Tenerife aboard the fabulous tall ship Bark Europa, on its way across the Atlantic to Montevideo, Uruguay. Teymour says that his love of traditional ships originates from his experience on the college’s Duke of Edinburgh scheme, when he completed a residential aboard the gaff cutter Golden Vanity, one of the Trinity Sailing Trust’s fleet of historic vessels. Since then, Teymour has undertaken an apprenticeship with Shipshape Heritage Training Partnership and worked on the rigging of HMS Trincomalee at National Museum of the Royal Navy at Hartlepool. Europa set sail from Scheveningen, Netherlands on 7th September and expects to arrive in Montevideo in November.
Expeditions, Trips and Visits and European Language Day
Our European Day of Languages event recently took place (Tuesday 28 September). It was a very well attended event, with students making fantastic presentations to celebrate their language and culture, such as Arabic, Nigerian, Sardinian, Macedonian, Italian, German, Romanian and Turkish. There was a great, vibrant atmosphere in the language centre, a successful event.
On Thursday 11th November, the Sixth Form College will be hosting the Music Department’s Autumn Concert, which will include College ensembles such as the orchestra, choir, concert band and choir, and exciting solo performances. The concert will begin at 7pm and will include an interval with refreshments being served. We hope to see you there!
Christmas Carol Service
A Christmas carol service will take place in St. Peter’s Church, North Hill (just ‘up the hill’ from the College) on Friday 10 December at 7:30pm. The service will be very musical with significant contributions from our College musicians, including from our choir, orchestra, band, ensembles and soloists. After the event all are invited back to the College for drinks, including mulled wine, and mince pies.
The Sport & PE Department have been busy organising and coaching the different squads in preparation for the AOC 21-22 league. Numbers of students involved has been high and new students are continually wanting to join the number of sporting Additional Studies available. Here is a round-up of the different teams, currently preparing for their first fixtures of the season.
Over 60 players attended for the trials. Well done to the 30 that have been selected for the two College squads. These players will be representing the College in the Essex Football League.
This year has seen more girls trial for the netball team than ever before, with over 50 girls attending the first round of trials. As a result, three stages of trials have needed to take place to select our squad of 20! It has not been easy. The two squads are very strong and looking forward to the first round of fixtures shortly, with the first team in the AOC Cup and second team against Plume in the league.
The Men’s Basketball Squad had their trials on Monday 20th September with a great turnout of close to 40 students all wanting to make the team. After a difficult decision-making process, with a number of very talented players, we had to whittle it down to just 20 students to be invited to the squad training sessions. The men competed in their first game on Wednesday 29th September, traveling to Grays to face off against Palmers College.
The Women’s Basketball Team Have also made a good start to the year with a great turnout of 13 players at their first 2 training sessions. They will be competing in cup fixtures for the first time in a number of years this season and we are excited to try and grow the number of participants and get a team entered into a league in the coming years. If you would be interested in playing for the team please come along to training on Thursdays at 4pm.
The men’s team have a knockout cup fixture on 20th October and the team are hoping to arrange a couple of friendlies before then. We should have three strong squads going forwards this year with over 35 students trying out for the teams.
Numbers have been high. The first game is on 6th October at home against Samuel Whitbread KO 2:30pm at Colchester RFC.
The Badminton Squad has a cup competition on Wednesday 6th October and the College have entered a Squash Team into the National Schools Championships.
Congratulations to the following students on their recent sporting achievements:
- Reuben Hedman competed in the Manchester Athletics Internationals on 18th July where he was selected to compete for Team GB U18s in the 100m hurdles.
- Essex Junior Closed champ Lara Newton who has won the GU17 England Squash Silver Tournament in Brighton and recently became crowned East Regional Under 17 Champion.
The East Region covers Essex, Hertfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire.
- Theo Baker won the Club Championship at Colchester Golf Club.
- Edward Appleby who is a figure skater and is currently competing for GB.