Friday 01 April 2022
Learning from each other
Dear Parents & Guardians,
As we approach the end of the Spring Term, I am pleased to update you with news and our plans for the future. Hopefully, you have been following the stories posted on our website and Facebook page.
Thankfully, as the impact of the pandemic recedes, absence levels continue to decline and there are more and more examples of College life getting back to normal. These include the resumption of weekly assemblies and educational trips. With the onset of better weather, it’s great to see our students making the most of our wonderful setting.
External examinations have commenced in a number of subjects. Inevitably, this requires some reorganisation of our timetable. To accommodate language orals and other assessment activities, Year 8 and Year 9 will not be required to attend on Monday 11 and Tuesday 12 April.
If this presents childcare issues for families of Year 8 or 9 students, we will provide supervised study in school on these days. To sign up, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Study Leave dates for the following year groups are now confirmed.
Years 12 & 13: from Monday 16 May
Year 14: from Monday 23 May
Year 13 return to school on Monday 13 June for preparatory A2 work, UCAS and careers planning
Given the amount of lost learning over the past two years, CCEA’s decision to return to examination halls this summer is presenting challenges for schools right across Northern Ireland. Our advice to students is to continue working closely with their teachers. One-to-one interviews have now been conducted with students in Years 12, 13 and 14, with one of the main messages being the importance of carefully planned revision over the coming weeks and months.
For further information, CCEA has produced a useful student guide here.
As part of changes to the results service, the Department of Education has introduced a Unique Learner Number (ULN) for students aged 14 and above. Your child will shortly be issued with their own unique ten-digit ULN number. This will provide a verified online record of individual achievements and qualifications which they can access throughout their education and career.
GCSE and Sixth Form Subject Choices
Following on from the very successful Subject Fairs, Year 12 students have now been interviewed about their intentions for next year, with appropriate guidance given about the next steps. Year 10 students will have their own interviews about GCSE options next week.
Also next week, students in Year 10 and 12 will receive an online link to complete their subject choices, which should be submitted by 4.00 pm on Tuesday 12 April.
Mobile Device Free Policy
The introduction of the new policy has been a success. There has been far less disruption to learning in the classroom, which can only be good for concentration levels and student outcomes. In registration, at break and between lessons there has been a positive difference. I have had the opportunity to speak with many parents and guardians about the policy and am grateful for the overwhelming support we have received.
At the same time, we are under no illusion about the challenge of helping our young people to exercise self-restraint. Although they are few in number, we continue to deal with instances of improper use. While mobile technology has transformed our lives, the potential pitfalls for young people cannot be ignored. For these reasons, the policy will necessarily remain under review.
Two key elements in promoting responsible use are education and the partnership between school and parents and guardians. With these in mind, the attached presentation produced by Mrs Harrison from our Safeguarding team is particularly informative and helpful, as is the NSPCC’s guidance on keeping children safe online - https://www.nspcc.org.uk/keeping-children-safe/online-safety/
You will be aware that we relaxed our expectations around school uniform during the pandemic to accommodate the impact of restrictions on our students. Now, with restrictions eased, warmer weather and a return to normal routines, it’s time to re-set our standards of uniform. This is important for a number of reasons. For example, a small number of students are attending in non-Shimna items.
We have a fantastic uniform and it is time for it to be worn uniformly. Students may continue to wear their PE kit on PE lesson days; plain navy blue or black leggings may be worn in place of skorts.
We ask for your support in re-setting uniform from the start of next term.
We recognise, however, getting back to normal is not an overnight process as some students may have outgrown certain items. The Board of Governors, which sets College policy, is mindful of rises in the cost of living and remains committed to supporting families facing financial hardship.
We retain a stock of items, which are in excellent condition, and will arrange for these to be available to those who need them. We are opening up a weekly store for parents and guardians, beginning on Thursday 7 April and continuing next term.
We would also welcome donations of uniform and kit that are in good condition so we can pass them on to others. This supports our commitment to sustainability.
Please contact the College if you foresee any difficulties with your child returning to school in Shimna uniform on Monday 25 April.
College policies, including the one for uniform, can be found on our website - https://www.shimnaintegratedcollege.org/policies
Our decision to provide free breakfasts has been a worthwhile investment and we will continue this service next term. Thank you to Year 13 students for their feedback on the menu; we are now introducing new vegan and vegetarian options.
Dates for 2022-23
Please click on the link to see the dates for the next academic year.
Preparations are ramping up ahead of the start date in June. The construction of our new school will take place in stages, thereby limiting disruption as far as possible. The project is due for completion in November 2024. We will, of course, keep you updated.
We are looking forward to Easter. Next week, our assemblies will be led by Revd Myrtle Morrison, Rector of St John’s Church. I wish you and your family a happy and restful break.