Headteacher’s Newsletter 23rd Jan 2020

Good afternoon VES Parents,

This week we had more sporting triumph in school with our U16s Girls’ Volleyball team. You may have seen on our instagram and facebook accounts the photos and videos from the Sharjah Tournament. If you would like to follow VES on instagram, follow the school @vesuae – for facebook try @victoriaschoolshj. Here you will be able to keep up with the goings on in school on a daily basis.

The sporting achievements of the girls are an inspiration, and it’s great to get them up on stage in assembly so the whole school can show their appreciation. It has also been a timely motivation as our Sports Days started this week, with Key Stage 2 kicking us off in good style this morning- it was great to also see so many parents coming along to support.

Another opportunity to meet parents will come next week when I will be hosting parents each morning to look at a whole host of issues. I will be helping Grade 6 Parents understand what is to come in Secondary, Grade 9 parents unpick GCSE and Key Stage 4 along with giving more information on the British Curriculum and its assessment. I’ll also be talking about developments in school and plans for the future, including a new behaviour policy due to start in February for the second half of the year. I will also be available to answer any questions I am sure parents will have. All are welcome!

The Meetings will be for Parents of Grade 6 and 7 on Sunday 26th and Monday 27th. Please sign up using these links: Parents’ Information Meeting [Grade 6 & Grade 7]. Tuesday 28th and Wednesday 29th will be for parents of Grade 8 and 9 : Parents’ Information Meeting [Grade 8 & Grade 9] and Thursday 30th for the Parents of Grades 10 and 11: Parents’ Information Meeting [Grade 10 & Grade 11] . All meetings commence at 08h15 and tea and coffee will be available.

Also next week it is photograph week in school. The schedule has already been sent, so take a look to double check then hair needs double combing and the tie needs to be really smart! On the theme of being smart, many thanks for the push on uniform this week. When I did my check yesterday, every single secondary student was in the correct uniform – Well Done!!…. although that was just clothing…shoes come next! I took the time to remind students in assembly of the importance of uniform, and we will be keeping vigilant on the issue. Of equal importance is attendance. December and January can always pose issues as people travel and illness is more widespread. Disappointingly our attendance rate dropped to 92% from being a comfortable 95%+ earlier in the term. Attendance below 95% impacts on attainment, all major studies show this. 90% attendance may sound positive but that would mean missing one day per fortnight! It is also worth noting that the Ministry limit for absence is 25 days, or 20 if consequtive. I am hoping that parents continue to help students to ensure they have full attendance and good punctuality. Thank you.

Please can I also send a reminder and a rallying call to parents about the Fete on February 21st, to be held here in school. Plans are coming together nicely and raffle tickets were distributed to students in years 1-8. Many older students have booked tables to run stalls and activities and the staff will be out on force doing games and activities. There will be full, professional, catering and a bouncy castle. If any parents or vendors would like a table at the Fete, please contact Ms Desiree on marketing@ves.ae .The VPA will be there in force too.

The VPA continue to do an amazing job on behalf of the schooling its parents. Their energy and commitment is an inspiration. They push me hard on issues, and that is how it should be. They are also strong supporters of the school and its a pleasure to work with them. They are looking for a couple of new members at present, so if anyone is interested and would like more information please contact me on admin@ves.ae and I will link you to Sereen, the Chairperson.

Finally this week we received our PISA report in school. This is when students take the internationally recognised tests to see where our school ranks not just in the UAE but against students and countries all over the world. It pointed to some work to be done in terms of encouraging deeper and more varied reading in our students, but key points include..

• Reading, Mathematics & Science are all significantly higher than UAE average.
• 19% of tested students at VES achieved the highest Mathematics rating, 5 times higher than UAE average.
• Only 2% did not reach the Science baseline compared to 10% in Singapore and Japan – the highest performing nations.
• Reading Performance exceeded UK average.
• Mathematics performance exceeded countries such as Korea, UK and Germany and only Singapore of major OECD nations mentioned in the study beat VES.
• Science performance exceeded countries such as Germany, Switzerland, Australia and the UK.

For all of the tribulations, frustrations, excitement, fun and rewards of running a school on a daily basis; my favourite parts are the times when the full energy, talents and abilities of our students are manifest. These PISA figures remind us of just what a rich pool it is, and give us cause to reflect on what more we can do to help realise such potential.

Have a lovely, restful, weekend.

Keith Sykes