I wish to bring to your attention several matters connected to school policies and advice regarding pupil conduct, attendance and uniform and appearance. In each case, if a policy is included, please click the link provided:
UNIFORM: By and large, standards exhibited by the pupils are very high and the envy of many schools. Thankfully, instances where pupils either forget or wilfully ignore the expectations laid out in the policy are rare. Nevertheless, I must remind everyone that these standards will be upheld. In particular I advise that care is taken with hairstyle (boys and girls), no fake tan & jewellery (most frequently girls), inappropriate footwear (most frequently boys) as well as other aspects of appearance. The rules are set to make life easy for everyone and are not designed to accommodate individual whims. Click here for policy.
SMART WATCHES: I have noticed that a few pupils have arrived at school wearing a “Smart Watch”. These watches are very expensive as well as allowing pupils access to the internet in a similar way to a mobile phone. In particular they represent a threat to the integrity of exams. Therefore, I ask your co-operation in ensuring that your son / daughter DOES NOT wear one to school. If a pupil is found to be wearing one of the watches, it will be treated in the same way as a mobile phone below.
MOBILE PHONES: We have recently updated our policy on mobile phones - specifically, the section explaining what happens if a phone is temporarily confiscated. Mobile phones may be brought to school but must be switched off and kept out of sight for the entire time for which a pupil remains on the school site. Mobile phones found to be switched on during the day, even when not in use, may be confiscated by members of staff. Mobile phones represent a significant distraction, for many pupils, from our core purpose of teaching and learning and it is for this reason that they MUST be switched off at all times. (The school reserves the right to carry out ‘spot checks’ to ensure that this rule is being adhered to). For emphasis I have included the section about what happens in the case of a confiscation in the body of the letter but you can also read it directly in our policy: Click here.
The phone (or smart watch) will be confiscated by the member of staff and sent down to the main office; this confiscation will be recorded on SIMS. Parents will be informed about the confiscation.
A member of the office staff will then securely store the confiscated phone (or smart watch). Such a confiscation is in line with Section 91 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006, which enables a member of staff to confiscate, retain or dispose of a pupil’s property as a disciplinary penalty, where reasonable to do so.
Depending on whether this is a first, second or third (etc.) offence, the following sanctions will be applied. IN EACH CASE, THE CONFISCATED PHONE HAS TO BE COLLECTED BY A PARENT / CARER:
First offence: Lost merit.
Second offence: Lost merit, 1-hour Senior Leadership Team detention (usually Thursday).
Third offence: Lost merit, 2-hour Senior Leadership Team detention (usually Friday).
Fourth offence: Lost merit, 2-day attendance in our Inclusion Facility.
Fifth offence: Fixed term exclusion (FTE). Length of exclusion determined by the overall record of the pupil and at the discretion of the Headteacher.
More than 5 offences: This is persistent disobedience and represents strong evidence that the pupil is not prepared to adjust their actions. At the various points in this escalation, the easy collective decision between pupil and their family could be that the phone is not taken to school. In these cases, whilst it may be appropriate to issue a longer FTE, the Headteacher reserves the right to permanently exclude.
CHEWING GUM: Just recently we have experienced greater numbers of pupils than usual chewing gum in school. Chewing gum is totally banned. Regardless of the fact we have carpets across most of the school, chewing gum has always been banned. We will be emphasising this point to the pupils again and SLT detentions will be given to pupils who do not comply. Occasionally, pupils will tell us “it’s only a sweet”. To be clear, such a response will not be accepted and we will still issue the detention.
CONSUMPTION OF FOOD OUTSIDE OF THE DINING HALL: In a similar way to chewing gum, food which is consumed outside of the dining hall after either being brought in to school or being purchased in school can cause staining and litter if dropped accidentally (or deliberately). We have litter control measures and, as in all spaces where people socialise, we do have some litter but overall this has not, hitherto, been to any serious extent. In order to maintain the cleanliness and good order of the school site we are issuing new advice to pupils about this and need pupils’ co-operation to ensure that food is only consumed in the designated spaces and at the appropriate times as follows:
Dining Hall (at all times when in use), Drama Theatre* (break and lunchtime): - food brought in or purchased in school.
*When the Drama Theatre is out of commission, the lecture theatre will be open for this purpose. Pupils will be advised when this is the case.
Courtyards outside LRC, main school yard areas (break and lunchtime): - food brought in only.
Nurture food brought in and purchased in school (the latter must be transported from the dining room in the sealed containers provided).
Chapel only during certain events, with express permission and under direct adult supervision
Food must not be consumed in the following areas: corridors, classrooms, AstroTurf pitch and sports halls.
Pupils are reminded to dispose of all litter and food waste in the bins provided. Failure to do so may result in sanctions being applied. We expect pupils to take collective responsibility for the cleanliness of their shared environment.
ATTENDANCE: Once again I feel I must draw attention to the importance of good attendance and punctuality. Last term we introduced a ‘Late gate’ routine which seeks to identify pupils who are persistently late to school and remind them of their responsibilities by issuing a same day detention after school. This is having a positive effect on punctuality for many pupils who have failed to arrive on time intermittently but there is still a very small hard core of pupils who are not yet responding fully. We will continue to prosecute these routines as they are connected very much to outcomes in terms of qualifications and life skills. Click here.
NEW HEADTEACHER UPDATE: I have recently met with St Mary’s new Headteacher from September Mr Thompson. We are both very keen to ensure a smooth transition and he will be visiting school on several occasions over the next term to meet staff and pupils as well as to help with staff appointments and ensure that planning for next year is secure. Parents / Carers should feel very reassured about the direction St Mary’s is moving in. I feel confident for the schools future.
Finally…St Mary’s is a successful and still rapidly improving school of which we are all very proud. Much of our success can be attributed to the vigilance of staff in ensuring that high standards are maintained and to the fantastic support we receive from parents. I thank you for this continued and highly valued support.
Did you know that by registering your child for Free School Meals our school will receive very significant amounts of money to support his or her education? The government has increased funding to schools to help children from lower income families do their very best. This additional funding, called a ‘Pupil Premium’, is only given to pupils registered to receive Free School Meals. For every child registered for a Free School Meal. St Mary’s gets £935 a year. With this money the school could purchase additional resources/equipment or buy in specialist support to benefit all our pupils. You can register your child for Free School Meals by completing this form or visiting the school’s website.