On Wednesday, we had a fantastic evening with Year 9 students, their parents and our staff as we worked through the Key Stage 4 Options process together. In education, we often refer to the power of the three-way partnership between the child, the parents and the school. If this partnership is open, honest, mutually-supportive, and focussed, then it makes an enormous difference in the short term to the quality of education the student receives, and in the long term to the opportunities that they will be able to take advantage of in their life after school.

Transition events such as this, our Open Evening, and our Sixth Form interviews, show this partnership in action probably more effectively than at any other time in school. Getting students onto the most appropriate courses (and in the case of our Open Evenings at the most appropriate school) is crucial in making sure they achieve their potential. It is on those courses that, through excellent teaching and plenty of hard work, students will excel.
Almost all of our students attended Wednesday’s event, as did the vast majority of their parents. Once there, they listened to brief presentations from our subject staff and then had the opportunity to ask questions about the course content, the exams and assessments, and anything else they felt would help them make the right decisions for them. There was a wave of enthusiasm that washed from our passionate subject staff to our students and their parents. But far from being a “sales pitch”, our staff spoke openly and frankly about the demands of their courses, and what it takes to be successful.

Options Evening supplements Year 9 assemblies, sessions in our tutor programme, and information that can be found on our Virtual Learning Environment (“The Vault”)

It is a source of great pride that students of all abilities and backgrounds can find courses that engage them. I spoke to many Year 9s and their parents that evening, and no one suggested that there wasn’t a set of courses that they were enthused about. This is as much about their motivation and open-minded approach to learning as about the range of courses available to them. In fact, typical comments included “I don’t know what not to take – I want to do everything!”

In the final analysis, whether the choice of school, or the choice of course, it is crucial that children and their parents make choices that the young person will enjoy, that they feel they can achieve success in, and that will give them better opportunities for the next phase of education and life. It’s our job in school, once those choices have been made, to do everything we can – inspirational teaching, fantastic resources, enrichment opportunities, support for students from their peers – to ensure that the choice of school or course is vindicated as the right one. Our results bear out that we usually get it about right. But without parents and students engaging in the process so actively, and with such enthusiasm, our job would be so much harder!

Thanks as always for reading.

M Donoghue

Posted by JTMAT