Our Manor 16-20 November 2020

Message from the Principal

The REACH characteristics are an important strand of our ambitions for our students at Manor School. Resilience, empathy, aspiration, curiosity and humanity provide the cornerstones of our work, supporting our curriculum, teaching and learning, and inclusion processes as well as providing the framework for our expectations and rewards. We recognise that these characteristics are also being demonstrated daily in our community beyond school.

We are delighted that we were able to launch our Elephant Group provision with our Year 12 students this week. Aimed at increasing the percentage of our students entering the top third of universities, the Elephant Group will enable them to develop ambitious aspirations and satisfy their curiosity when it comes to making key decisions about choices of post-school destination. We look forward to the positive impact this partnership will bring.

As we reach the midway point of the term, we continue to learn how resilient we are as a school community when faced with extraordinary circumstances. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the students and staff within the school for their ‘can do’ attitude, and conscientious and compliant approach to the guidelines that are in place.

At present, we continue to be cautiously optimistic that our robust approach, alongside the support of students and their families following the guidelines outside of school, is helping to minimise the impacts. Despite the worsening national picture, since September we have only had a total of 8 confirmed positive COVID cases across the student and staffing bodies, resulting in the individuals and a very small percentage of Year 7 and Year 9 having to self-isolate. We hope that this remains the case, however, with the winter months upon us we are bracing ourselves for potential further disruption.

I would also like to thank you as parents and carers for the messages of support we have received that express empathy, humanity and understanding of our circumstances. These are truly appreciated. Similarly, we recognise the difficulties that you face when we are notified of a case in school and you often have to quickly make arrangements and change your own working practices in order to collect and supervise your children. We are grateful for the philosophical and pragmatic approach of parents and carers in these circumstances. Many of us, as staff at Manor, are parents of school-aged children and we understand the challenges that this presents.

The blended learning provision that is new and was unthinkable 9 months ago is in place and working. Staff are going above and beyond what we should expect of them in order to continue to provide learning opportunities even when students - or in some cases the staff themselves - aren’t in school.

Today I have visited classrooms where students who are self-isolating are accessing their lessons from home and so are ‘in the room’ with the rest of their classmates in school. Similarly, other lessons are being delivered by staff at home to a class in school who are supported by another member of staff.

This has allowed us to ensure that subject specialists continue to be able to provide high quality expertise to students and reduce the impacts on their learning and progress as much as possible.

For our students, we often talk about desirable difficulties. That bit of extra challenge that, if faced, helps us achieve beyond that which we thought was possible. Although current circumstances may not be desirable, we can still learn much about ourselves by taking on the challenge. As a school we are trying our best in unchartered waters and I know you are too. So, perhaps now, more than at any other time in recent history, the concept of REACH is important for us all.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Jay Davenport, Principal

Modern Foreign Languages department

Bonjour! Guten Tag! !Hola!

Manor School is one of the few schools in Northamptonshire that offers three languages to its students.

In Year 7 the first language students learn is French. For some students this is an opportunity to build on some French language work at Key Stage 2, whereas for others it is a completely new language as either they have not studied a language at their junior school or they may have learnt a little Spanish instead. The first term gives all students the opportunity to start writing in French as often those who have learnt some French at their junior school have not done this yet.

In Year 8 and Year 9 students continue with French, but have the option of learning a second language – either German or Spanish. By the end of Key Stage 3, students will have developed a sound knowledge on a range of topics as well as having learnt key grammatical ideas in French and their second language.

Students then have the opportunity to choose one or two languages for their GCSE course. In one exceptional circumstance, we have even had one dedicated linguist who not only studied three languages for her GCSE, but then continued with all three at A Level!

Learning a language covers four skills – listening, speaking, reading and writing. When I started as a languages teacher it was presented to me as the idea of how a baby learns to communicate. First they hear people talking, then they attempt to speak themselves. They are then encouraged to read and then finally they start to write. All four skills are assessed in the department from Year 7 through GCSE and finally up to A Level.

We are fortunate to have a very dedicated team of professionals at Manor School, who work well together and support each other at all times. All five members of the team have a passion for language teaching and this comes over not just in the classroom, but also in general conversations around the school. We are constantly striving to improve our offer to our students and recently reviewed the current schemes of work, making adjustments where necessary.

L-R: Mr Brooks, Mrs Donovan, Miss Newman, Ms Per-Gimeno, Mrs Thompson

Colleagues regularly offer after-school and lunchtime language classes to help students prepare for GCSE and A Level exams, and in addition we have offered a lunchtime German club and an after-school Japanese club – something which our recent visitors from Ofsted mentioned in their report.

We are also hoping to offer a Scandinavian Club in the future where students will have the opportunity to not only learn about the history and culture of Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland, but also learn to speak a little Swedish.

The impact of COVID-19 affected all subjects last academic year and continues to have an effect as Ofqal have made changes to the Modern Foreign Languages GCSE examination. Their decision to alter the requirements of the examination led to the removal of the formal speaking test with the intention that this would be beneficial to both teachers and students, and for this year it has been replaced by a less formal assessment.

Another victim of the pandemic was last year’s school trips to Germany and Spain. In the past, students have had the opportunity to spend time in Cologne and Barcelona, but travel restrictions meant this was not possible and disappointed students received refunds on their deposits. It is hoped that we will be able to resurrect these trips in the future and that we may also be able to offer a French trip for our students.

We are proud of our academic results over recent years, but languages are not just meant for the classroom or the examination hall. Last Christmas, former sixth form languages students were invited back to share their experiences of university life with our A Level students, and recently many colleagues have also applied themselves to learning a language having been motivated by an article in the staff newsletter.

We will continue to offer a rich and varied curriculum and encourage students (and staff) to look for the benefits and the sense of achievement of being able to communicate in a different language.

Martin Brooks, KS4+5 Lead for Modern Foreign Languages

Trial exams update

Trial exams for Years 11, 12 and 13 start on Monday 23 November and run to Friday 4 December. Nearly all exams take place at the time when students would be in the lesson for that subject, and students will attend normal lessons when they are not in an exam.

We would request that you reinforce the following examination requirements with your child:

  • All students should arrive for examinations with the correct equipment consisting of pen (plus spare) with black ink, pencil, ruler, rubber and calculator. In addition, a compass and a protractor are required for mathematics examinations.
  • Only clear plastic pencil cases are allowed in the examination room and if students bring drinking water into the examination the label must be removed from the bottle.

Thank you for your support.

Parking and road safety

We are very aware that parking around our school is tight, particularly at the beginning and the end of the day. There are three schools in a very small area, and over the years the volume of traffic has increased significantly. We are developing plans that we are sharing with the local authorities which we hope, if successful, will go some way to alleviating this problem.

In the meantime, we politely ask parents/carers to refrain from stopping on the yellow zig zag lines outside the school when dropping off students. We ask that if you are driving your child to school and you are unable to find a legal drop-off point near the school, that you drop them off in one of surrounding roads and allow them to walk to school. This will go a long way to alleviating the issues of road safety around the school boundary.

Northamptonshire Police and Fire & Rescue Service have also requested that as part of Road Safety Week we distribute the following information to the parents/carers of our students. We all share the roads and need to play our part in keeping everyone safe. Please take the time to consider how you use the road and how it impacts on all other road users.

YouTube safety tips

YouTube is an online platform - owned by Google - where anyone can upload & watch video content. All different types of information, advice and entertainment are uploaded & billions of people tune in to watch, rate and comment on it. As a parent/carer, it’s important you understand exactly what content your children might be seeing.

Please download the poster below for key information and safety tips to help protect your child.

School Shop

We are pleased to announce the launch of the School Shop now on Wisepay. Items such as pencil cases, calculators and dictionaries can be purchased via Wisepay, and will then be distributed to your child at school.

STEM competition

Following last term's logo competition, we are running another STEM competition. This time the competition is open to all year groups, and requires students to design and build a waterslide using recyclable materials. For full details, please see the poster.

Maths Challenges Blog

Issue 3 of Mrs Radd's maths blog starts off with a selection of GCSE problems to help Year 11 prepare for their trial exams next week, but there are still a number of other challenges appropriate for younger students.

Student invited into prestigious music ensemble

Following Year 13 student Henry G’s audition for Birmingham Conservatoire, he has received an invitation to join an ensemble for gifted young musicians. Only 45 young musicians are invited to join the ensemble from across the UK and Ireland. Rehearsals begin on Zoom and hopefully after the New Year they will be able to all meet in person. There will also be a professional recording involved too.

We are extremely proud of what Henry has been able to achieve and this really is a fantastic opportunity. Well done Henry and we look forward to hearing all about it.

Remembrance poem competition entries

Miss Newman would like to take the opportunity to share with you the fantastic entries we received for the Remembrance poem competition. Mr Davenport has read them all and has chosen a winner, which will be revealed in the next competitions assembly.

Left: Lilia C. Right: Elisa D.
Left: Evie K. Right: Chloe B.
Levi K.
Amy M.

The Key Stage 3 Award is presented to...

Noah G

Noah has had a fantastic start to Year 7 music. Noah always makes a conscientious effort to contribute in lessons and keep his written work to a very high standard. His knowledge and understanding is exemplary, and I look forward to seeing how he grows his performance skills across a wide range of instruments and tasks.

Awarded by Miss Bishop

The Key Stage 4 Award is presented to...

Natasha W-B

Natasha is a very hard-working and polite student who has used her practice time in her Year 11 lessons extremely effectively and has engaged in a variety of rehearsal techniques. She has gone above and beyond with her recent performance in our music lesson. She performed fluently and with great emotion, and she has continually worked to the best of her ability.

Awarded by Miss Barron

The Key Stage 5 Award is presented to...

Keya D

In Year 13, students are working engaging with a ‘mock’ of their preparation towards their final live performance. Keya utilises all of her lesson time as well as her independent study, and has created an extremely detailed rehearsal plan, which has clearly demonstrated her understanding and ability to strive and challenge herself within her work. Her confidence and understanding has continued to grow, which is a pleasure to see.

Awarded by Miss Barron

Weekly REACH Champions