Academic Update

Academic Update

Dear Parents / Carers,

The exam season started in earnest last week, and with it the usual mix of emotions amongst the students – joy about the right questions coming up (especially on the GCSE Chemistry paper it would seem!), relief that all controlled assessment and coursework has been completed, uncertainty about how they did on other questions and an inevitable degree of stress created by all of the pressures associated with this vital period in the students’ lives. High numbers of students at breakfast club and students on site studying privately or with their teachers until 6pm and beyond show that they really care about their results and are investing heavily in their futures.

Exam stress

It goes without saying that the vast majority of students will experience some form of stress during the exam period and often, students respond well to the right amount of pressure, pushing themselves further than they have done before. However, over the past few years, we have also had students who have been negatively affected by the extreme pressure they are putting on themselves to succeed. If you feel that your son or daughter fits into this category, then please encourage them to talk to the pastoral team. This recent article from the BBC website should also help you to support them:

On a number of occasions over the past week, I have heard students worrying about exams they have in two or three days’ time, or even the next week. Therefore, the piece of advice I have given the most often is for them to make sure they have a clear plan in place for the exam season, then focus on one thing at a time. After all, you can only revise for one thing at a time, so it is counterproductive to worry about anything else.

It has been good to see so many of the students using the revision techniques they have been taught so effectively around the Academy. Visiting lessons and the Sixth Form study areas, we have seen plenty of revision cards, an abundance of highlighters, students testing each other in groups, the use of apps such as Quizlet, Memrise and PiXL English (for learning quotes), diagnostic tools such as ‘Personalised Learning Checklists’ and students handing in exam question answers to their teachers for additional feedback.

If students are ever struggling with revision techniques for individual subjects, they should get in touch with their  teachers for some subject-specific advice as soon as possible. It is essential that they use the time they have left as smartly as possible.

Well done Year 10

Congratulations to Year 10, who completed their first full GCSE exams in RE this week. There was a definite sense amongst staff that the year group as a whole had sharpened their focus. This was clear to see on the Monday morning of their first exam, with 87 Year 10 students already working together in Food for Thought by 7.50am, a record number of students for that time. We also felt that the year group was strengthening its bonds, as we witnessed one of the girls giving her friends a team talk about positive thinking, and another group of students praying together just before the exams.

As Year 11 approaches fast, my strong advice to Year 10 now would be to show the focus in lessons that they intend to show in Year 11, complete all IL to the best of their ability (on the new 9-1 courses, the revision work students do outside the classroom is nearly as important as what they do in lessons), and if they are invited to the half-term 6 tutoring programme for English or Maths, ensure that they attend all sessions.

Year 9

Now would be a very good moment to remind your son / daughter that they are due to sit the full RE GCSE exam in May 2018, so in almost exactly one year’s time. For this reason,  it would be worth them making this subject a special focus of their revision for the end of year exams beginning on 20th June.

Years 7 and 8

For half-term 6, we are going to re-launch the paired reading programme for students who are below their expected reading age in Years 7 and 8. This will involve Key Stage 3 students meeting Year 12 students during Coaching Time once a week and reading carefully selected books together in the LRC. We will contact you individually to let you know if we think your child should participate, based on the data we have.

If you think your child should be involved in this programme, but you do not receive a letter by 9th June, please get in touch with me directly and we can discuss the programme in further detail and decide whether or not they should be included.

Year 7 curriculum information

If you wish to view the curriculum your son / daughter is following lesson by lesson across all subjects this term, please go to:

The latest ‘I can’ statements have been added in the last few days.

SAM Learning

I spoke to our account manager at SAM Learning last week and he said that their development teams are regularly updating the content, especially for the new 9-1 GCSE courses. Remember, students don’t have to wait to be set work by the teachers. From a French teacher’s perspective, I checked some of the new 9-1 content and it is excellent for revising reading and listening skills across the range of topics.

Centre ID: SW1CA

User ID: Your child’s date of birth, followed by their 2 initials in capital letters

Password: the same as their User ID

As I was advising Year 9 parents to do at last week’s Parents’ Consultation Evening, use these details to intermittently check how many activities your son / daughter is completing. You may also wish to provide extra encouragement by reminding them that we award a £10 Amazon voucher every half-term to the student who scores the most points on SAM Learning in each year group 7-11.

If you have questions about any of the above, please do not hesitate to contact me at

Thomas Cragg
Vice Principal – Curriculum

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.