Wednesday 02 March 2022
Learning from each other
Dear Parents & Guardians,
Spring is in the air: a time of growth and regeneration. A cursory glance at the news underlines just how challenging it can sometimes be to sustain a sense of optimism but there is much to be grateful for here at Shimna.
For example, Breakfast Club has been a resounding success, with a steady rise in numbers over the past week. As a reminder, this is a free service for all students between now and the end of term. And, as you will see on the website, there are many positive stories of success and endeavour.
On the other hand, staff absence levels are currently higher than usual and, with the general shortage of substitute teachers, we are setting aside the assembly hall for supervised lessons when it is not possible to cover every class. Our priority is to avoid having to send year groups home.
Mobile Device Free Policy
Thank you to everyone who participated in the survey, advertised in the previous issue of Shimna News, on access to mobile devices in College. While almost half of respondents favour a full restriction on their use during the school day, we acknowledge the concerns of others about taking such a big step in one go.
As a result, the Board of Governors, which is ultimately responsible for ratifying College policy, have agreed to a Mobile Device Free Policy which allows students free access at lunchtime and gives staff the right to deploy them for learning purposes in the classroom.
Ultimately, our approach is designed to promote responsible use, inside and outside the classroom. Limiting the amount of screen time is, of course, about promoting well being and reducing the risk of online abuse. In an educational context, it is also about ensuring our students are not distracted in their learning; high levels of concentration lead to positive outcomes.
Students have been briefed in special assemblies this morning, with Form Teachers following up in registration before the end of the week. The policy will be enacted from Monday.
In keeping with our open-door policy, parents and guardians are welcome to come in after 3.30 pm on Friday to discuss any aspect of the policy.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request an appointment.
Most respondents asked for additional information and advice on safeguarding children online. In the next few days, we will be uploading the latest guidance on staying safe online, which we will advertise.
Pathways to the future
As we return, albeit gradually, to normal routines, we are planning to run Subject Fairs for students in Years 10 and 12 as, respectively, they consider their GCSE and Sixth Form options. The Subject Fairs, which will take place in the Sports Hall, will be an opportunity for students to find out more about the different subjects on offer at Shimna.
The Year 12 Subject Fair takes place on Monday 14 March between 3.30 and 4.30 pm.
The Year 10 Subject Fair takes place on Wednesday 16 March between 1.30 and 3.30 pm.
Nearer the time, we will confirm whether parents and guardians can attend.
Wednesday 16 March
Year 12 students will have individual post-mock interviews with a senior member of staff. This will be an opportunity to review progress and discuss options and future plans. Year 12 lessons will run as normal during the day.
The Sixth Form will be off timetable in the afternoon. Programme details will be issued to Year 13 and 14 students nearer the time but will include presentations by the PSNI and by Translink, as well as guidance on how to register to vote.
To facilitate these arrangements, Years 8, 9 and 11 are not required in school
on Wednesday 16 March and so will start the St. Patrick’s break a day early.
Solidarity with the people of Ukraine
Over the past few days, there has been a groundswell of support across the College for the people of Ukraine.
The Shimna community is rallying in support of relief efforts. We are seeking donations of clothing, toiletries, bedding or towels in good condition.
The Prince’s Trust students in Year 11 have organised morning drop-off points outside Room 121 or in Room C3. Supplies will be packaged up and taken to the local collection point at the Ark Community Gardens, starting this Friday.
In addition, we recently received 100 hygiene kits for Year 8 students from Newry, Mourne and Down District Council. The kits contain toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo and shower gel. If you would like to donate your child’s kit to the Ukraine relief effort, please email Mrs Caulfield at email@example.com.
We are also holding a non-uniform day on Friday 11 March. If affordable, we ask for a £1 donation per student, to be collected during registration. Staff and students are encouraged to wear blue and yellow on that day.