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South Dartmoor
Community College

Blog 06 (14-01-19)

Dear Parents/Carers,

May I firstly take this opportunity to offer a warm welcome back to school and wish you all a very happy New Year.  I know in 2019 we will go from strength-to-strength with such fantastic staff, students, parents and community spirit.

Throughout last half term, weekly training opportunities were provided for staff to work together as we continue to drive forward and build upon our post-Ofsted improvement plan.  The focus and actions from these sessions included:

1.    Supporting the needs of our SEND students
2.    Use of effective behaviours for learning through our behaviour blueprint to allow teachers to teach and learners to learn
3.    Ensuring tutor consistencies and ensuring maximum attendance of all students (your child will be able to now tell you their most recent attendance figure since these conversations are being had with tutors every week)
4.    Meeting the needs of every student in every lesson

It was an important time to also revisit my vision for the school as we move forward with our fundamental principles based around being our best, belief and achievement.  A tutor group competition has taken place to create a design idea that communicates our vision statement (“Be the very best you can be. Believe in yourself: you can achieve it”).  The student entries have been submitted and Mrs Mukherjee has started a four week project with her Year 9 graphics group to create a design idea from these entries.  I look forward to sharing the winning design with our community in the near future.

Looking ahead to this half term our staff training will be based around:

1.    Raising aspirations through effective differentiation
2.    The use of effective coaching conversations between teachers to provide challenge and support
3.    Vocabulary development and the explicit teaching of key words each term which will also be shared with parents/carers so you can support at home

Our Governing Board will continue to take an important monitoring role in relation to the progress we are making as a school which will include regular visits with a specific focus for each.  Our governors give their time and expertise selflessly to help make the school the best it can be and I want to again thank them for their ongoing challenge and support.

We have also reinstated our Friends of South Dartmoor Association (FOSDA) who recently met for the first time with the aim of supporting and connecting parents, carers, family members and the catchment area communities with South Dartmoor Community College.  This meeting was very productive with a total of 18 parents attending (with 6 apologies).  Topics and actions included generating hardship funds, voluntary teaching assistances, responding to specific requests for support (i.e. work placements, etc.), ground maintenance, garden and allotment projects, making the school an inspiring environment, school sponsorship and fundraising.  The next meeting will be on Wednesday 16th January 2019, if you are interested in joining, but have not yet done so then please contact Mr Dinnie for attention of Alumni here:-  http://www.southdartmoor.devon.sch.uk/form/?pid=25&form=16

The next step is also to reinstate our Parents’ Forum which will give an opportunity for the school to present and share development priorities but also obtain valuable feedback from parents.  We will shortly be scheduling these meetings but in the meantime it would be helpful if parents/carers could contact the school for attention of Parents Forum here:- http://www.southdartmoor.devon.sch.uk/form/?pid=25&form=16 with suggested agenda items they would like included.  The next meeting will include updates on the progress and actions since our inspection.

Looking ahead to the Summer Exams, which are not very far away now, there are ever increasing pressures to ensure we have enough exam invigilators.  If you, or anyone you know, feel you could volunteer any time at all to be an invigilator in the summer then please contact our Exams Administration Officer for attention of Exams here:- http://www.southdartmoor.devon.sch.uk/form/?pid=25&form=16

Early in the year a group of 6th form students were invited by our Postmaster Stuart Rogers to take part in sharing ideas on the future of the Post Office.  The experience and outcomes were such a success that the group consisting of Louis Keeling
Sam Hodgson, Nye Wilson, Kieran Till, Fern Dobson, Taylor Simmons, Ellie Snow, Rhys Sherryn, Tom Zalman, Skye Shepherd, Abby Hall, Ben Davis were then invited to the London Head Office.  The Post Office Proposition Development Manager (Michael Bratt) was incredibly complimentary and impressed with our students and we look forward to a bright collaboration together.  Special thanks also goes to Mrs Brooks who made this trip possible.

You are also reminded that the directors of South Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust are currently consulting on a proposal to join Education South West and are keen to hear your thoughts on this. Although SDCC’s presentation took place last week with Rachel Shaw and Roger Pope, there are still a number of meetings taking place (see dates below) and parents/carers are welcome to attend any of them. If you are still unable to attend and wish to comment you can email consultation

Tues 15th January 2019   – Ilsington C of E Primary – 5pm
Tues 15th January 2019   – Widecombe-in-the-Moor Primary – 6pm
Thurs 17th January 2019 – South Dartmoor Community College (main hall) – 6pm (please note this is an additional meeting as some parents were unable to attend the earlier one) 

Before I close we’ve received some excellent news that Alex Still, Hannah Ashford and Toby Rudling have all been given conditional offers from Oxford University to read either History, Geography or Philosophy, Politics and Economics.  This is an amazing achievement and reflects the combined hard work and dedication from both students and staff which today was further recognised by being informed and congratulated on the fact that our 6th form is again ranked in the top 25% of schools and colleges across the UK.

Paul Collins (Principal)