Headteacher’s Newsletter 9th Jan 2020

Good Afternoon VES Parents

Happy New Year!

The first week back can sometimes be a shock to the system, but our students have had a good week and have settled back into routine well. In assembly this week we spoke about how people use New Year as a benchmark to re-launch a harder working, better organised, usually healthier version of themselves. One of the messages we always give the students is that each new day, regardless of its position in the calendar, affords this opportunity – and they should take it!

The weather has been cooler of late, but this has meant some of our students have been a little creative in the jackets, hoodies and other tops they have tried to sport. We would all really appreciate it if parents could double check that their children are leaving the house with the correct uniform. If anybody needs to purchase new sweatshirts or cardigans then please see the school nurse. I have been speaking to the students this week again about the reasons for having a uniform. VES has a school uniform which creates a feeling of belonging and togetherness as a community. It also makes life simple and cheaper for parents. In school, it helps to avoid distractions and reduce the temptation to judge one another on appearance or through the brands worn. I wonder if sometimes the students think we just have one so we have reasons to nag them! They couldn’t be further from the truth.

On another organisational point, please can you help us to ensure that all students have their school planner operational in this New Year? Over the holidays, sometimes things can often go missing around the house but it is absolutely essential that all students have their planner ready for school. If this had been misplaced, then a replacement can be sought from form tutors.

January is a busy month here in school as we start the admissions process for next year, our grade 11 and Post 16 exams, we also have open days and sports days too. Our next open day for prospective parents is indeed next week, on January 15th. Looking forward to February 21st, it will be our Annual Victoria Fete. I am pleased that the Fete will be in school grounds – as it should be! Fete details are attached and I hope as many parents as possible can make it into a great School occasion.

In and amongst all of our busy events, students will soon be receiving their midyear reports. Obviously in the next couple of weeks, the grades and reports will be analysed closely in school and we will be looking to set up some extra catch up and revision classes in key subjects and year groups for specific students where their progress has fallen behind what we would have hoped. More details will follow on which students, and when these classes will be in the coming few weeks. It is important to me that when we have such a large amount of information on our students in school that we make sure we use it carefully to identify where we can intervene and help.

In some of the classes I have taken this week I have been speaking to students about how they can also help themselves and their brain function by reflecting on their study practices – especially revision. Additionally, we talked about how learning is also a physical activity, and the brain needs to be looked after with water, good food and correct amounts of sleep….and less television! As I have said previously, preparing students for the next round of exams will be improved. We still have some way to go in getting them to understand some aspects of their own cognitive processes, the general learning process and how they can maximise their potential.

This week our older students in school had a visit and presentation from the organisers of the International Education Exhibition at Sharjah Expo Centre. This is in conjunction with Sharjah Education Authority, along with SPEA, The Chamber of Commerce and the Ministry of Education and will be running on January 22 and 23: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m and January 24: 3 pm to 9 pm. We encourage everyone concerned to pay a visit and take the opportunity to get information on Higher Education opportunities from across the globe.

In other good news VES has also been selected to take part in the prestigious Taqaddam project from the British Council. Taqaddam is a life skills programme that supports young people to transition into adulthood with the skills they need to flourish in life, work and society. The project is currently offered to young people across the Middle East and North Africa. Taqaddam puts young people at the heart. The programme aims to support young people to have:

• an increased self-awareness 
• a greater sense of confidence in themselves and their future
• an increased capacity for creativity, critical thinking and collaboration
• a greater confidence and capacity for social leadership and action
• a greater ownership, skills and tools for ongoing personal development

We are delighted to have been selected as the aims of the programme align perfectly with our ethos here at VES, to not only promote academic endeavour but also to educate the whole person.

As you also know, I, like you, am a VES parent too so I thought I ought to do my bit for home school partnership too and I dragged the kids out of bed to see the eclipse on the 26th December, hoping to stimulate some scientific interest. It was an amazing few minutes, and I was taken with how – for the briefest of time – it could leave my loud and over energetic children motionless and silent. In a world of sensory overload from all of the copious options around us, the lesson I took for the New Year was to start appreciating more the wonderful and amazing things that are around us and in our lives every day. Our kids are there waiting for us to help them see it…

Once again, Happy New Year everyone.

Have a lovely, restful, weekend.

Keith Sykes