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Headteacher Blog - Autumn Term 2023

Updated: Jan 10

Merry Christmas all!


As we reach the end of 2023, it is always a good time for reflection on the time that has passed.


On a personal level, I am proud to reach a milestone of effectively a year in charge, and I am proud of the school and its achievements, despite significant national challenges. The vast majority of students at Rugby Free Secondary School have enjoyed an excellent year both inside and outside the classroom, and it has been a pleasure to have worked alongside staff, parents, and carers on our journey to date.  


What I have been proud of is the collaboration between all our school to ensure it is a better place, and I look forward to strengthening that connection even further in the New Year.


Mr Green

Headteacher


Round Up from the Heads of Year


Year 7

I am immensely proud of how each and every Year 7 student has settled into secondary school life. The transition from primary to secondary school can often be daunting, but the students’ adaptability, resilience, and eagerness to embrace new experiences have truly shone through.

 

It’s been great to see so many Year 7s immersing themselves in extra-curricular opportunities. The dedication and enthusiasm they’ve shown, whether it's been in sports, clubs, or artistic pursuits, have not gone unnoticed. I was also so proud of how many Year 7 students took part in the fantastic Matilda production. The talent displayed was outstanding; well done to each and every one of your who contributed to making it such a resounding success.  

I am really looking forward to celebrating Year 7’s achievements at our first awards assembly. To those who received awards, congratulations! Your hard work, commitment, and accomplishments deserve all the recognition. Keep up the fantastic work – your dedication serves as an inspiration to us all.

 

As we approach the holidays, I hope you take the time to rest, recharge after a very long first term of secondary school! Enjoy the break, stay safe, and I look forward to seeing you all back, refreshed and ready for another exciting term ahead! 

Miss Wright - Head of Year 7


Year 8

As we reach the midpoint of the academic year, it's a pleasure to reflect on the incredible journey we've had so far. The Year 8 cohort has demonstrated remarkable dedication, positive behaviour, and active involvement in various aspects of school life.


One of the standout features of this academic year has been the consistently positive behaviour choices made by our Year 8 students. From the classrooms to the corridors, your respectful and responsible conduct has set a high standard for the entire school. It's heartening to witness the supportive and inclusive atmosphere you've collectively cultivated, creating an environment conducive to learning and personal growth.


I want to commend each and every one of you for your commitment to academic excellence. The effort you've invested in your studies has not gone unnoticed. Your achievements in various subjects reflect not only your intelligence but also your determination and resilience. Remember, success is not just about grades; it's about the skills, knowledge, and personal growth you acquire along the way.

 

Year 8 students have not only excelled academically but have also showcased their talents and interests through participation in numerous extra-curricular activities. Whether it's the sports field, the arts, or various clubs, your enthusiasm and passion have been truly inspiring. Your active involvement not only enriches your own experiences but contributes to the vibrant tapestry of our school community.


As we round up the first half of the academic year, it's important to acknowledge the achievements but also to look forward to the exciting possibilities that lie ahead. The second half brings new opportunities for learning, personal development, and more chances to showcase your talents. Continue to set goals, embrace challenges, and support each other as you navigate the path ahead.


Our Year 8 cohort has also embraced the value of representation, ensuring that a wide range of interests and backgrounds are celebrated within our school community. This diversity not only strengthens our collective identity but also fosters an environment where everyone feels seen and heard. Let's continue to celebrate our differences and learn from one another.

 

In conclusion, I want to express my gratitude to the Year 8 students for making this academic year an exceptional one. Your positive behaviour, academic achievements, and diverse engagement in extra-curricular activities are the cornerstones of our success as a school community. As we look ahead, let's carry this momentum forward and make the remainder of the year even more memorable. Wishing you all a restful break and looking forward to the exciting adventures that await us in the upcoming term.

 

Warm regards,

Mr Rupal - Head of Year 8


Year 9

This term has been a busy one for sure! Students have been heavily involved in considering their GCSE options, supported by an incredibly-well attended options evening last month. Year 9 students have had the chance to learn more about languages in work, in particularly sport, where they experienced a ‘Mingalaba’ workshop, learning about speaking Spanish in the world of football.

 

Year 9 were given the opportunity to take part in a session led by 'The Riot Act', as well as a session led by 'Prison me, no way' which saw students learn more about choices or more so, the consequences of bad choices. Both days, students in Year 9 were complimented on their behaviour, maturity and participation.

 

The new year brings an important time for Year 9, with options taster week, parents evening and options form hand-in, all dates will be sent out as reminders, but please ensure you are prepared for this. I'm looking forward to getting started with this! 

 

As we get closer to Christmas, it's an important time to remember, and to feel grateful. To all students, and families alike, I want to thank you for your support, and wish you a happy and safe Christmas. Although we are not in school, please find comfort in knowing I am only an email away if you have any issues or concerns over the festive period. 

 

Have a lovely Christmas break.

Mr Hallmark - Head of Year 9


Year 10

This has been a fantastic start to an academic year for our Year 10 students. There is a real ramp up in expectations for pupils as they enter KS4 and start the work for their GCSEs. This cohort has met the challenge head on this term. As HOY, it is often my privilege to receive emails from teachers detailing the brilliant work in my year group and this term, I believe, I have received more examples than ever before. 

 

The focus this year has been on building important habits that will stand them in good stead, from coming prepared, to organising themselves efficiently and even focusing on the importance of active learning. We have highlighted the significance of self-motivation and built on this, not only in subject lessons, but also in our PSHE assemblies throughout the year. The students know that to fully achieve everything they are capable of, they need to find the motivation to push themselves fully and this work needs to begin in Year 10.

 

When the pupils return from their Christmas holidays, I would like to issue them all a challenge for the rest of the year ahead: to see every lesson in Year 10 as a step closer to achieving the grades they want. Too many students, historically, have waited until halfway through Year 11 to prepare themselves mentally for the challenges of GCSEs. I really believe this group of individuals has what it takes to embrace that workload now and to exceed what they currently think is possible. I am proud of every single one of you and hope you all have a fantastic, well-earned Christmas break! 

Mr Doherty - Head of Year 10


Year 11

I have been really impressed with the start Year 11 have made this term, towards a very important year. Students have been incredibly focused and have been working hard in preparation for their first set of PPEs in November. Students handled their first set of PPEs in Year 11 with maturity and dedication, and I know that they are looking forward to receiving their results on Friday 15th December.

 

Year 11's attendance to lunch and after school interventions this term has been fantastic, particularly in Maths and English. Students have given up their own time to spend additional hours with their subject teachers, revising content and practicing exam style questions. I know that this extra hard work will really pay off when they open up their results envelope at the end of term, and more importantly in August next year!

 

Students have also been working hard completing coursework and meeting deadlines, having practical assessments in GCSE PE, Music, Drama and Food Technology. The feedback from the Year 11 teachers has been really positive and I hope this continues into next term. The results students receive at the end of this term, really gives students a good indication about what grade they are currently working at for each of their subjects, and what they are predicted to get in the summer. Going through the PPE exam papers in lessons, has also been an effective way to identify students' areas of strength and weakness, so they know what areas to focus on for future revision.

 

It's important that Year 11 students start thinking about their 'next steps' and plans for the following year. Students have been working hard on their personal statements and applications during tutor time this term, and looking at possible options and opportunities they might be interested in next year. Students should ensure applications to sixth forms, colleges and apprenticeships and completed and sent off as soon as possible.

 

Year 11 have got another important term ahead. It's key that students continue to stay focused next term, so they can come out with grades which they are proud of in the summer. 

 

I hope you all have a lovely (and well deserved!) Christmas holiday. Rest up, relax, and spend time with loved ones, and get ready to step it up another gear next term!

Miss Probert - Head of Year 11


Year 12

At the close of the autumn term, Year 12 at Rugby Free Secondary School has shown remarkable dedication with an outstanding overall attendance, setting a commendable example for their peers. The high prior attainers' trip to Oxford University was an enlightening experience, offering invaluable insights into higher education and inspiring aspirations for academic excellence.The launch of 'Reading Buddies' program showcased the admirable commitment of Year 12 students, fostering a culture of literacy and support within the school community. Their involvement in encouraging younger students to cultivate a love for reading is truly commendable. Enrichment Block 2 has kickstarted with enthusiasm, focusing on vital aspects such as understanding apprenticeships and navigating competitive university admissions. This initiative is pivotal in empowering students to make informed choices about their future pathways. Moreover, the introduction of 'Change Your Mind' enrichment, promoting a healthy mindset in local primary schools, is an exemplary display of social responsibility. Students visited Rugby Free Primary School and St Matthews Bloxham to discuss 'Digital Detoxing.' Year 12 students engaging in this initiative are not only fostering positivity but also becoming role models for younger minds in the community.

 

Within tutor time students have been exploring a range of PSHE activities and also started some MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) on our career's platform Unifrog, designed for students to explore and decide if a specific field of study is right for them. Some students who sit vocational courses in Digital Media, Business and Sport will need to revise for external examinations in January 2024.

Overall, Year 12 has exhibited exceptional commitment, leadership, and community engagement, setting a strong foundation for continued success and contributions in the future. We wish all of Year 12 a happy holiday and look forward to welcoming them back in the New Year.

Mr Chadwick - Director of Learning for Sixth Form

Mr Edwards - Assistant Director of Learning for Sixth Form

Ms Bagnall - Assistant Director of Learning for Sixth Form


Year 13

As ever, the Autumn Term has been full-on for Year 13 with plenty of challenges, opportunities and achievements to keep everyone very busy. Students hit the ground running when we returned to school in September and embarked straight away with working on their applications to universities and apprenticeships. It is fantastic to see students focusing on their futures with high aspirations, and we were particularly pleased to send off 6 competitive university admissions this year (those for Oxbridge, Medicine and Veterinary Medicine) which is an impressive increase from the 1 we sent off last year. The majority of UCAS applications have now been sent off, and it is excellent that most students are receiving multiple offers from universities already.

 

In November, students sat their first set of Year 13 PPEs and they should be really proud of how they prepared themselves for conducted themselves throughout these. It is great to see students actively engaging in the feedback their teachers are giving them on these exams, and working hard to address any actions they have been given, while also celebrating the successes they have had.

 

Outside of academics, we have had another "first" this term, as we have appointed our first Year 13 Head Students. Damien and Lyd are heading up the team of Student Leaders, all of whom are working hard to represent their peers and continue to improve student life at RFSS. Their help at school events has been invaluable. Students have also had the opportunity to attend various trips this term, and the Business Studies students are even organising their own trip as part of their coursework. 

 

We would like to take this opportunity to wish all Year 13 students a peaceful and restful holiday, and we look forward to welcoming them back, ready for the next exciting stage in 2024.

Mr Chadwick - Director of Learning for Sixth Form

Mr Edwards - Assistant Director of Learning for Sixth Form

Ms Bagnall - Assistant Director of Learning for Sixth Form



House Update


This half term we have focused on collecting as many items as possible for our annual Christmas hamper collection. House heads will reveal the winner of this competition in the new year.


Huge congratulations to Turing House who came first and second in the Christmas card competition and Ali House came third.



 

This week we will have completed our second interhouse competition which is dodgeball. Well done to Ali House who won the basketball competition last half term.

 

Well done to Pankhurst who had the best attendance and Attenborough who had the highest number of positive points last half term.

 

All of the house competitions that have taken part so far this year have been very close in points. Every student at RFSS has their part to play in gaining as many points as possible for their house.

 

Thank you to everyone who has participated in house competitions, events and those who have attended enrichment. Keep up the good work and we wish you all a very Merry Christmas. 

Mrs Cassidy, Mr Goodwin, Miss Vella and Miss Cowperthwaite - Heads of Houses



Set For Life


Community is part of our Set for Life curriculum and is our commitment to ensuring students have the opportunity to develop their social skills through working collaboratively and celebrating similarities and uniqueness!


Sixth Form Art Trip

We started off at The National Portrait Gallery where we did a workshop working with an artist on some quick sketching we then walked round the gallery and did some further drawings. After this we went to the Tate Modern and saw the “capturing the moment” exhibition.








SRP Trip

The Special Resource Provision (SRP) and 3 mainstream students who were able to be mentors to the students, joined up with The Alpaca Pals to walk their beautiful Alpacas.


They met at Ryton Pools Country Park, where all the students gathered to listen to a safety and animal handling briefing then proceeded to walk the Alpacas in pairs around the park.

 

The students had lots of obstacles to face, such as fallen branches, mud and puddles which the Alpacas didn't like and had to negotiate the alpacas around these. This was done with amazing calm and responsibility.

 

We followed this with a picnic on the buses (due to weather) which the students had planned and prepared as part of their preparation for adulthood, finished with a hot chocolate before returning to school.



Student Music Recital


On Thursday 30th November the Music Department held its first student recital of the academic year. The recital opened with a performance of two songs by the school choir, followed by a selection of solo performances by students from Years 9, 10, 11 and 12.

 

The performances included pieces on the piano, electric guitar, bass guitar and vocals. Several of the soloists were from the GCSE Music groups in Years 10 and 11. This performance experience will help them greatly in their preparation for the performance component of the Music GCSE.

 

The students, despite being nervous performed brilliantly, with their performances being warmly received by the audience of parents and friends.



Health and Wellbeing is also part of our Set for Life curriculum and is our commitment to ensuring students are given lots of opportunities to take part in activities which will promote health and physical fitness and mental wellbeing.


Sports Fixtures

Basketball

Year 7 girls had their first basketball fixture of the year. Great effort by them all including a victory! They then travelled to Rugby High School where they finished 2nd in a triangular tournament. Year 8 girls had their first fixture away at Avon Valley. They performed heroically with the final score 32-19.

 

Boys basketball season has kicked off in victorious fashion. Both Year 9's and Year 10's are undefeated! The Year 10's look particularly strong winning by convincing margins and playing an entertaining brand of basketball. Year 7's and 8's had a mixed start, but are growing in confidence whilst playing 2 simultaneous tournaments. In addition, impressing in the invitational NBA Junior National League! They got their first win on the road away at North Leamington!

 

Hopefully we will build on the successes and numbers will continue to grow on an already highly popular Monday night training session.

 

Badminton

Years 7 - 11 all took part in fiercely competitive badminton tournaments over the last half term. Massive well done to the Year 8 boys and Year 11 boys team's who all qualified for the final!


Our Year 9 girls beat Avon Valley and were crowned Badminton Champions!


Year 7 Girls Football

The Year 7 girls football team, the self proclaimed "Super Six", finished second in the big Daventry 7-a-side competition! They were narrowly beaten to the title by the hosts. They played 4, won 2, drew 1 and lost 1, playing some scintillating football and scoring some cracking goals along the way!



Football

Year 7 started the term in style with an emphatic 7-0 win away at Avon Valley. They then travelled to Harris for the big local derby. An excellent all round team performance saw them triumph 3-0!

 

A couple of losses followed in tightly fought matches. Their final game saw them battle to a thrilling 4 - 4 draw with Lawrence Sheriff.

 

Year 11 beat Harris 3-1 in the big local derby. Year 8 also triumphed against Harris with an exciting 3-2 win in a ding dong battle of Herclean proportions! Three Year 7's played up a year having a big impact.

 

Year 9 Football v Harris. A great team performance the best one to date, even though we lost against to a very organised team, RFSS Year 9 Team displayed a great team effort with lots of resilience, keeping the Harris team at bay and staying organised in defence.


The Year 11's (plus several Year 10's) had a tough away draw at Southam. They responded to the challenge and managed a superb 2-1 victory in front of a hostile crowd. Another tough draw sees them travel away again in the quarters to either Alcester GS or Arnold Lodge.

 

Netball

Netball fixtures were fiercely contested. Year 8 and 9 travelled to Ashlawn and were victorious. They then travelled to Rugby High, played really well, but narrowly lost. The whole team were superb, stuck together, played their hearts out and are improving game by game. The future is really promising! Year 10's and 11's continue to improve and impress!

 




Indoor Athletics

The girls kicked off the indoor athletics season in spectacular fashion! Year 7 are Sports Hall Athletic CHAMPIONS! A sensational performance in their first year, Year 8 girls were also incredible and finished a well deserved second place! The boys' competition is at the end of term, look out in January for how they got on!

 

Core PE 

Year 11 Core PE has seen the embracing of emerging sports in an attempt to capture the imagination of the students. Kabaddi has grown in popularity, with students asking if this can be a more permanent feature, highlighting their curiosity and willingness to embrace innovation.


Employability is the third part of our Set for Life curriculum and is our commitment to ensuring students have opportunities to meet with employers, explore career opportunities and develop skills needed for the future.


KS4 and 5 Careers Fair

As the school year started, we hit the ground running with our Key Stage 4 and 5 career fair in October! The event was a great success with over 20 universities, colleges and companies to talk to our Year 10, 11, 12 and 13 students. RFSS students had a chance to discuss Post-16 and Post-18 opportunities and discover apprenticeships opportunities both in our local area and further afield. Our guests were incredibly impressed with how engaged and confident our students were and are looking forward to attending future career events at the school.


Following the careers fair, some of our guests stayed on to deliver multiple in-depth talks about college options and degree apprenticeships. Staffordshire University stayed to present degree apprenticeship opportunities to Year 12 and Rugby College and Ask apprenticeship stayed to discuss Post-16 options with select Year 11 students.


Careers in the Curriculum

As part of our stable careers programme, employability lessons have started across all year groups as part of the PSE curriculum, students have been accessing Unifrog during this time and have a chance to complete the personality and skills quizzes to help guide them in their career aspirations.


To supplement careers in the curriculum, our Careers Advisor has been meeting with our Year 11 students - these will continue in the New Year and all Year 11’s will be offered a meeting by Easter. We have also had many visitors in school who have attended lessons and ran subject specific workshops to enhance knowledge around career pathways and raise awareness for particular careers.



Independent Living is part of our Set for Life curriculum and this term we have ensured students know how to keep themselves safe both in school and as they go out into the wider community.


At RFSS we take the education regarding safety in the community very seriously and as such our students have received the following external sessions alongside their Tutor Programme and PSHE sessions:

Prison Me, No Way - Year 9 

The ‘No Way Trust’ provides real-life learning experiences for children and young people between 8 and 18, to help reduce risky behaviour and prevent them from becoming involved in crime.


The Riot Act Show - Year 9 

The Riot Act show - performance is funded by Warwickshire County Council as part of the Road Safety Education programme that has been developed since last September.


PSHE has focussed on the various areas of abuse that can be encountered and has been delivered both by tutors and the Safeguarding Team in lessons and as assemblies.


We are also delighted to say that we will be welcoming the Rugby Youth Engagement Team from Warwickshire Police in to RFSS on the following dates to work with entire year groups

  • 12th January – Year 7 – Sophie Lancaster activity /Prejudice

  • 22nd January – Year 8 – Sophie Lancaster activity /Prejudice

  • 29th January – Year 9 – County Lines: VR Headset experience

  • 2nd February – Year 10 – County Lines: VR Headset experience

  • 5th February – Yeah 11 – County Lines: VR Headset experience









New Staff

We will be welcoming the following new staff in January who will make a fantastic addition to our team. Joining us are:

Staff Name

Position

Fae Bantleman

Assistant Head of Year

Tracey Colbourne

Exam Invigilator

Robert Fairbrother

Key Stage 4 Outcomes Lead in Science

Deeksha Golla

Exam Invigilator

Neal Herbert

Facilities Officer

Maria Lasala

Learning Support Assistant 

Allan Macdonald

Exam Invigilator

Howard Stokes

Interim Head of Music

Mark Ward

Teacher of English - Mat Cover


We will welcome students back into school on Tuesday 9th January 2023. Doors open at 8:35am. See you there!


Kind Regards,

Mr Iain Green

Headteacher



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