Headteacher’s Newsletter 26th Sept 2019

Good Afternoon VES Parents

Another amazing week at VES comes to a close. There have been many highlights this week I’d like to share with you. Last Thurday there was an enormous school-wide exercise in democracy as student representatives were voted for in each class. We were all impressed by how many students put themselves forward, and the quality of their speeches. I was also impressed by the attitude of even our youngest students, showing magnanimity and maturity in defeat – congratulating their friends who won.

On Tuesday in Primary Assemblies we had a visit from Diann Floyd Boehm the US Author of “Harry the Camel” – a book set here in the UAE and co-illustrated by our own, very talented, Ms Yoshita. The children were treated to a reading and a question and answer session about the process of storytelling and illustrating. The assembly was shared by Mishka and her team from Grade 12 who are really motivating the younger students to take part in the Emirate Literature Festival Readers’ Cup. I am so proud to have such amazing Sixth Formers whose only motivation is to share their love or reading and enthuse others. Grade 5 and 6 students interested need a planner note form parents to be brought in on Sunday 29th September. Then we can gauge interest.

After announcing our decision to look at reducing plastic use and waste – I was also amazed by our Grade 6 students who are zealously collecting up litter and plastic after breaktime to keep the environment great for all of the community. They even came to show me their haul! Great work!

This Thursday to round the week off we will be learning all about World Heart Day that is coming up. Students will be getting a form period educating them on how they can appreciate and look after their hearts courtesy of Ms Sonia, Head of Science. It is so great to see so many students really engaging in all aspects of school life, making contributions and growing into responsible and healthy citizens.

Thanks also to the many parents who continue to get in touch and who I enjoy meeting. I am still overwhelmed by the kindness of so many who have offered to join the new VPA. I know some parents are concerned that meeting times will be too early for them with their work commitments. I am happy to have meeting times in the evening if necessary, to allow as wider participation. We can work out the meeting times to suit everyone, please do not see that as a barrier.

The Parental Survey revealed parents feel their youngsters are progressing well, learning new knowledge, engaged in lessons, you have positive relationships with staff and most importantly for me – safe at school. As Headteacher and a VES parent myself, rest assured this is my primary and most important responsibility and I thank you for your trust and feedback. You, as parents, also told us you want to be more involved in school, we could be better organized at times and we could still make learning more active and focused on developing new skills. Again, this is great feedback and something that will be included in our Action Plan for the year – a document I will be happy to share with the VPA when we convene for the first time next month. Asking opinions like this can be uncomfortable at times, but I believe it is essential that we survey students, staff and parents to get a feel for how we are progressing and to inform our improvements. The students will be getting the results of their survey through the student council meetings in the coming weeks.

In the next few weeks in an attempt to continue to respond to your feedback I will be holding a series of brief coffee mornings for parents of students in each year group, starting with secondary. Ms Adila (admin@ves.ae) will post the details on Breeze. If you still are a little in the dark about using Breeze and need further help, please do not hesitate to contact her. The Coffee mornings will be 08h00-09h00 starting with Grade 7, Wednesday 2nd October and Grade 8, Thursday 3rd October. I hope to be joined by the Deputy Headteacher, Mr Keyes, and it will be great to meet more parents and to hear your comments and have a discussion. 

In the meantime, thanks for all of your continued support – signing planners, checking uniform, helping with homework – and generally doing the best for your children. This week, as an Emirati is launched into space for the first time, I invited the students to imagine the ambition of space travel. Although space travel may or may not lie ahead for us all – I believe ambition is a key element to the human story and something we should embrace. I certainly remain relentlessly optimistic and ambitious for your children, as much as I do for my own. Together I am certain we can do it.

Have a lovely, restful, weekend.

Keith Sykes