Reading Girls' School Newsletter - 7 JUNE 2019

Principal’s message — They say a leopard never changes its spots.

I would suggest it is fair to say that at this moment in time, the Brexit agenda and the behaviour of some Politicians have tested the resilience of the nation. Speaking from the world of education, I could say the same about the educational landscape and OFSTED.

In recent editions of the newsletter, I have talked about imminent changes required of schools from September 2019 onwards under the new OFSTED framework. At the heart of this change is a drive to ensure that through the curriculum, pupils are receiving lifelong learning that goes way beyond examinations. It is a move that is very much welcomed by most teachers across the country.

However, in the same breath, the new framework fundamentally says and I quote “it is the Government’s ambition that 75% of year 10 pupils in mainstream schools should be starting to study EBACC COURSES by 2022 rising to 95% in 2027”. It goes on to stipulate that “it is important that inspectors understand what schools are doing to PREPARE for this to be achieved”.

So on the one hand, the Government want schools to develop young people who have “an appreciation of human creativity and achievement”. Yet in the next breath are making it very difficult for schools to obtain a GOOD Ofsted grade if up to 95% are NOT WORKING towards an Ebacc pathway, even if outcomes are as high as those that we achieved last summer.

In essence, schools like RGS who are performing in the top 5% of the country, with attendance as high as 97%, with 95% of pupils who say they feel safe and that behaviour is very good and whose number on roll is increasing by over 100%, are at risk of being penalised because they ironically don’t enforce the EBacc on 95% of their students. Arguably, OFSTED’s rationale is that they believe an EBacc education addresses social disadvantage, which is a long term issue that current and previous Governments have been trying to grapple with. The MIND BOGGLES!

You are aware that we will be working on our curriculum development during our inset days on 15th -18th July 2019. However, we will not be forcing 95% of pupils to study the Ebacc. When our girls come to selecting their GCSE courses, those who want to study the EBacc will have the opportunity to do so and those who don’t want to take that route, will not have to. I am aware that we are taking a risk of not being awarded a GOOD Ofsted grading, but I don’t need to have a grade to tell me that this is a good school that tries to do its very best by all pupils and still produces better outcomes than any other school in Reading with the exception of the two Grammar schools. We will therefore be working very hard in July to ensure that our curriculum offer is as broad as possible and delivers learning experiences beyond examinations. This is challenging because of the current size of our school but we will do our very best to provide for everybody.

Our current year 8 girls will begin this selection process from 26th June 2019. They will have some experiences to learn about their GCSE courses and talk with current year groups and teachers. Following that, we will invite our year 8 parents to join us on the evening of 3rd July 2019 to finalise selection choices. More details about that event will follow in due course.

Jon Gargan, Principal

Physical Education

The Year 7 and 8’s were out on the track at Palmer Park for the start of the U14’s Athletics League. We had a few experienced Year 8 girls who competed last year and a group of year 7’s who were competing for the first time. The girls all worked really hard in their events. They will compete in the league for two further weeks before the finals at the end of June.

PWC Dragons' Den

PricewaterhouseCoopers recently visited the Year 10 Business Studies class to run a Dragons' Den activity.

Students worked in teams to participate in a business challenge to help them to better understand factors affecting their daily lives and also gain basic skills. The students worked together to come up with a business idea which they then presented to the class and the panel and a winning team was then selected by the Dragons.

The staff running the event were both on an apprenticeship programme, having decided that this was a better route for them personally, and they talked about the various options available to students considering a career in accountancy and how to become qualified.

They were extremely good role models and presenters and facilitated the activity excellently. We are very grateful to PricewaterhouseCoopers for enabling our students to have this opportunity.

Technology and Houses of the Future

On their STEM day this week, the Year 8 students started the day looking back at how technology has progressed. They could choose various topics to investigate how they have developed. Printing, cameras, cars, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, cameras, watches and phones have all changed considerably over the last few years.

They were then asked to consider how housing might develop over the next 50 years. Will we have circular houses, or underwater ones? How will building materials, sound proofing and temperature control change? They designed houses of the future and considered what they would be like. Many of the students considered the effects of global warming and and ecological issues. Will we be using solar power more and watering our gardens with waste water?

They finally considered the items in people's homes and how they might have changed. There were some very imaginative ideas including mirrors that were big touch screens, self-clearing tables, and self-heating butter knives!

The day finished with the teams presenting their ideas and a winning team was selected.


Year 9 Art students were introduced to a range of techniques, materials and processes this year.

The theme students are currently working on is 'Festivals' and they have created their own ticket designs, banners and costumes to support their planning. Students are currently working on their final preparation for the end of year Art examination.

Teaching and Learning

Has your lesson been REAL (Relevant, Engaging, Active Leaning)?

This academic year has been an exciting time for staff and students at Reading Girls’ School, with the launch of REAL. At the end of lessons students get the opportunity to feedback to teachers about the lesson. Students are presented with the question ‘Has your lesson been REAL?’ Students inform the teacher by taking a token and placing it in the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ box in their classroom. The tokens are then collected in at the end of the week and counted.

Results for week Monday 3 to Friday 7 June 2019

YES - 422 tokens

No - 10 tokens


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