19 January 2024

Image of Friday Bulletin

 Dear Parents and Carers,

It has been a ‘winter’ week in school. As you will well remember from being one yourself, teenagers have a propensity for complaining bitterly about the cold, whilst also choosing not to wear the coats, gloves, hats and scarves that previous generations have designed with that specific issue in mind. I recognise that behaviour from my own time at school and it is good that whilst many things are rapidly changing, other things are consistent across generations. Similarly, we work very hard to communicate with parents and carers effectively but there will always be things that we could do more consistently. That is why we seek the opinions of parents and carers at key points during the year.

Last week, I explained that we had analysed the results of our last two parental surveys (July 2023 and November 2023) and had identified some areas where we are keen to find out more from parents, carers and students. We would like to ask more detailed questions in each of the following areas:

  1. Joining the school in Year 7 or Year 12: What works and what might we do differently? (This group is for parents and carers of Year 7 and 12 children only).
  2. School reporting and feedback on a child’s progress across the year: What works and what might we do differently?
  3. Setting homework and additional reading in subject areas: What works and what might we do differently?
  4. Personal, social, health and economic education and extracurricular enrichment activities: What works and what might we do differently?

We would like to set up a focus or consultation group for each of the four areas identified above, and will also meet with groups of students in school to consider the same questions. Members of the school’s senior leadership team will co-ordinate groups, and we will try to ensure that each group is as representative as possible of our diverse school community. We hope to arrange the first meeting for each group in February 2024 and will share details about how to participate in a separate email next week. Each group will have capacity for thirty parents or carers. We will invite students to participate from February too, as we are keen to consider both student and parental voice as we prepare for the year ahead.

Have a good weekend.

Mr O’Sullivan

What is my child learning?

In the Learning section of our website you can find guidance on what every student at the school is studying. As well as an overview of our curriculum and principles behind it, you can find an overview of each subject area.
You can also find a guide to the content being covered in every subject and how you can support your child for each half term here:  
Year 7 | Year 8 | Year 9 | Year 10 | Year 11 | Year 12 | Year 13


Year 11 Study Support

As we progress towards Year 11 mock and then summer examinations, there are a number of drop-in sessions available for students to attend, where staff are available for revision and subject-specific support.

Please click here to see the full timetable.


Vex Robotics Competition

On Tuesday 16th January, our Design and Technology VEX Robotics’ Stem club had a team (Hephaestus) of Year 9 students competing in the regional finals at Nissan Sunderland.

Since September, the students have been designing and producing a robot that must work both autonomously and manually to complete a set range of tasks. The robot was required to drive around a competition field collecting blocks, then deliver them to different areas of the field, and finally, to drop them into a raised collection bin. The team had to complete the tasks using two drivers within a given time and finish in the parking area, as well as programming the robot to complete the tasks autonomously.

The first round was on the manual field where the chosen drivers were Mikkel and Asaph. Mikkel started off scoring some good points before passing over to Asaph. Round 1 put the team at the top of the leader board. The second round was well under way when another team knocked us off the top spot. That didn’t last long as our drivers added to their score and regained top spot.

The Autonomous round followed, and Masha and Sascha were in control of the programming. The program ran extremely well, sending the team to the top of the autonomous group. Hephaestus was the team to beat!

Several manual and autonomous rounds took place, and each time the team added to their scores, eventually winning both the Manual and Autonomous sections to be crowned Regional Skills Champion.

After lunch, the Team challenge rounds started which meant the Hephaestus had to work in partnership with different schools to achieve a combined score. Out of the 5 rounds, the team only had one issue; a mechanical problem where part of the robot’s lifting mechanism broke free meant it had to limp home (not before achieving some good points).

The final round was the playoffs, where each of the teams were partnered up in order to win one of the National Final spots on offer. We were up last, and the penultimate partnership posted the joint highest score of the day. It was down to Mikkel and Asaph to produce another excellent performance to win the Team Partnership challenge, which means that they are now through to the National Final in Telford in March – congratulations to Sascha, Masha, Mikkel, Asaph, Leonardo, Aiden, Afonso and Adam!

In total, the Team won three Regional awards:

  • North East Vex Robotics Skills Champion 23-24 (Place at the National Final)
  • Team Partnership Champion 23-24 (This also won them a Place at National Final)
  • Amaze Award - The Amaze Award is presented to a team that has built an amazing, high-scoring robot that clearly demonstrates overall quality.

Mr Glover

Design Technology Department


Careers and Guidance Department Notices

Please click here to view the latest Careers Notices.

Mr Kennedy
Subject Leader, Guidance


PE News

Excellent news from the County cross-country championships which took place last Saturday at Farringdon School. We had 30 runners who had qualified for this event, and after some great performances, around half of them qualified to represent the County at the Northern Inter-County Championships in two weeks’ time. Special congratulations to Henry Engelhart and Charlotte Dillon, who won their races to become County Champions.

Also well done to our U16 basketball team who beat RGS, Newcastle last Friday in the English Schools Cup, 62-31. They now face Jesmond Park Academy next week for a place in the national knockout stages.

On Monday, our U14 girls basketball team took on Trinity School Manchester in the English Schools Cup. They are one of the best teams in the country, and despite taking an early lead they proved too strong for us. Lily Goss was POM.

The main focus of this week has been the Bishop Auckland futsal tournaments. Our U13 girls started the week with an excellent 16-2 win in the final against Bishop Barrington to become champions and reach the next round. The boys have had competitions at all age groups, and in an outstanding achievement all five teams won their competitions to become champions and reach the next round.

On Wednesday, we hosted the Year 7 Area basketball tournament. We had two teams entered and our A team remained unbeaten to win the competition and become champions. Our B team only lost one game – to our A team – to finish runners-up. George Eddy was POT.

Rugby fixtures and tournaments that were due to take place this week have all been postponed due to frozen pitches.

Finally, good luck tomorrow to 12 of our athletes who are traveling to Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, to compete in the Northern Regional Biathlon Championships hoping to qualify for the National Finals in March.

Mr Hopper
Subject Leader for PE