Many thanks to those parents that have responded to the letter that was sent home on Friday. We have begun analysing the responses and the issues raised are varied. Some responses are positive but there were some concerns raised that we aim to address here.
In the original communication we described the changes to the school day that we are proposing and our reasons for considering the implementation of these changes. These proposed changes are the result of a consultation with all Darwen Vale staff that has taken place over a period of over 4 weeks. In response to parental requests we are including a visual of the proposed school day that will be distinct to Darwen Vale High School.
Visual of Proposed School Day
In addition to this we want to reiterate that Fridays’ letter is the first stage of our consultation with parents and we are keen to take into account the views of all our stakeholders. No decision has been made yet. Governors have discussed the proposed changes and have agreed for us to consult with staff, parents and students. The timeline for this is as follows:
We believe that the proposed changes are based on ensuring the best outcomes for all our students. This belief is based upon the following:
- More curriculum time for students’ learning (2 hours 40 minutes extra each week) will allow us to deliver the increased content in the new courses.
- The longer lessons will allow more in-depth study of key topics and concepts for older students and will provide the opportunities for project based cross-curricular work for younger students, similar to the style of learning that students are familiar with at Primary school.
- Year 7 will develop their own identity and have a designated supervised lunchtime as a year group.
- Fewer afternoon lessons for Key Stage 4 (9, 10 & 11) will be more productive.
- A more purposeful start to the day.
- Less time will be lost in student movement between lessons.
We are aware that there may be concerns around the idea of “back to back” lessons. What we need to make clear is that the vast majority of lessons are planned to be 80 minutes in length. This was a key point that came out of the staff consultation. We would only consider back to back lessons where subject teachers have asked for them, where it’s felt that learning would be enhanced, and where the timetable only allows for them. To reiterate; no back to back lessons will be timetabled without very good reasons. We are in fact proposing an increase in lesson times of 20 minutes. This will reduce movement time within the school day, it will allow staff to develop those really important higher order skills and practice the more demanding exam questions that the new specifications require of our young people. We have a job as a school to help our students develop the resilience and ability to concentrate that will be needed to tackle the more challenging GCSE courses. Many of the KS4 courses now have examinations that are over 2 hours long.
We find that lessons in the mornings are more productive and feel that students would benefit from a focused start to the day. We also understand that pastoral care is very important to Parents and students so we have decided to increase the time available for tutor period to 20 minutes each day. We are also proposing that the time available for breakfast be increased to 20 minutes in length.
After extensive consultation with our catering staff, we are confident that we will be able to comfortably cater for all our students in 30-minute lunch periods. We will ensure that students have time to eat their lunch and spend some time with their friends. We will also be able to continue to run a programme of clubs and activities at lunchtime and after school.
Once again, thanks for taking time to read through all the information and please send your responses into school for the attention of Cathy Kenyon via our school email address – firstname.lastname@example.org.