December 2016 Newsletter

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December 2016 Newsletter

Dear Parents and Carers,

 

Reflecting on the past term at Broadlands Hall, I’m struck by just how amazing our students and staff are.  I recently observed an indoor bowling match between our boys and local senior citizens; what was happening was extraordinary.  All of the students, with their wide ranging needs and fears, were utterly wrapped up in a competitive and social collaboration process that was highly complex, nuanced, dynamic, multi-layered and difficult – and they were all managing brilliantly. Mutual respect, encouragement, listening, calculating, patience, modesty and generosity were there in abundance and the heady mixture produced laughter and heartfelt joy. Some experts might tell us that our students couldn’t engage in such a noisy, fast paced and thrilling activity but they were! In part, this is as a result of their fantastic teachers who challenge them and refuse to accept the limitations that might previously have been described and in part it is because of the bravery and resilience that all our students demonstrate every day. This simple bowling match, for me, was symbolic of everything we strive to achieve with and for our students. I couldn’t have been more proud of both students and staff.

In fact, I saw several fabulous events last term. Each student has been engaged in a learning path, using a range of strategies, tasks, questions and modes of assessment, which they worked through willingly and with a desire to do their best. Woven into the mix of learning was kindness, patience and growing self-belief; it’s inspiring to see.

Of course, a Broadlands Hall education isn’t simply about classroom lessons; it’s about blended learning that reaches into the community, ensuring that students that leave us have the very best start in adult life, with as much independence as possible. This type of education requires a good deal more effort and dedication from staff, rather than simply working in the classroom and I would like to take a moment to recognise this. Broadlands Hall has, like most schools, taken its fair share of knocks in the past but at the present time it is an incredible place, where, every single day, amazing people do amazing things and where kindness oozes from the walls.

 

Theatre: ‘Oh Happy Day’. November started with a bang as students enjoyed a fantastic, high energy musical treat at a performance of `Sister Act`. The weather was still very warm so students were able to have a picnic before the matinee, which culminated with them seat-dancing along to ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’!

 

Remembrance Day. All students participated in our special Remembrance Day assembly, wearing their poppies respectfully for the week, as they reflected on the sad outcomes of many wars, past and present, as well as the concept of sacrifice. Some students made a special wreath which they placed at Haverhill Memorial.

WonderLab – The Statoil Gallery. Our ‘Big Day Out’ this half-term was a trip to the Science Museum in London where we had special tickets for the newly opened, experiential Wonderlab. Inspired by the power of wondering,`Wonderlab: The Statoil Gallery’, contains 50 cutting edge and immersive experiences including high-energy shows, live experiments at the Chemistry Bar, and live lightning demos at the giant Tesla coil.  Students, even in this brief period, learnt a good deal about forces, electricity, light, sound, matter, space and maths.  It certainly encouraged them to be curious. The traffic was the only down-side. Fortunately, we had the luxury of a 52 seater coach and the boys were perfectly behaved and hardly seemed to notice.

Gymnastics. PE this half term has been centred on Gymnastics. Working in pairs, Gymnastics requires intense concentration as well as physical ability and is a very inclusive activity. I must say, the new PE kits look incredibly smart as well.

Rochford Review: changes to SEND assessment and our School Reports. The Rochford Review’s findings were published in October. They recommended that P-Scales (commonly used to assess students’ ability and progress) are scrapped and that students are assessed using ‘7 Areas of Engagement’ and something else that has not yet been defined. There is much debate and discussion about the report, but while the dust settles, we have implemented an approach which retains P-Scales (for now) and incorporates the Areas of Engagement. In fact, our pre-existing monitoring already evaluates soft skills, so it has just been a matter of creating detailed descriptions and expanding the grading to give even finer qualitative measures. You will see on this half-term’s reports the new ‘Engagement’ levels recorded. I have attached a description grid which I hope will provide you with clarity. In addition, for the remainder of the year, students’ progress will continue to be measured against the wide variety of different assessment tools we currently deploy, including P-Scales and National Curriculum Levels. If you have any questions about your child’s assessment, please call the Lead Teacher directly, or myself.

Inspirational Out and About. Some students also enjoyed community learning trips, including the outing to the Centre for Computing History in Cambridge, where the boys were treated to demonstrations of Charles Babbage’s early computer and were fascinated by hands-on access to early computer games such as Space Invaders.  Their visit to Ely Cathedral was very inspiring and some of the boys were able to make links to their study of the Tudors.

e-safety matters. Technology is part of everyday life and there is no escaping it. With the many advantages and entertainment assets, come potential dangers, thus we have given considerable time this term to educating the students about safe use of the internet and we have signed up for Safer Internet Day 2017, (www.saferinternetday.org.uk). If you would like to discuss this further or would like additional guidance, please give me a call.

 

What’s coming up?

 

  • Thursday 15th December – Christmas Jumper for Charity day and Christmas lunch
  • Tuesday 20th December – last day of term
  • Wednesday 4th January – PD day
  • Thursday 5th January – first day of term for students

 

Kindest regards,

 

Hazel Simmons

Head Teacher

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