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Friday 27/11/2020

Well done to the Year 11 students whose attitude and conduct during the practice exams has been fantastic.   Mrs Arundel who runs the examination said “The Year 11’s attendance has been fantastic and the invigilators have commented on how polite the students are. I cannot fault this year group so far”.  Keep it up next week Year 11.

As we get ready to emerge from lockdown into tier 2 I am pleased to report that we have had no positive cases for nearly two weeks.

Thank you to the 44% of Year 8 parents who attended the video parents evening on Tuesday,  There were some technical issues as you would expect but on the whole it worked really well.  We can’t wait until we can welcome you back into the school in person but for now we will continue to operate this way.  Next parents evening is Year 11 on Thursday January 7th don’t be afraid of the technology it is really easy to use.  Massive thanks to Dawn Becton for organising the evening.

In the things we like section from the parent survey

Staff communication and humanity

The staff don’t think they are better than you and are down to earth people (This one was my favourite)

Communication to parents is very good

The most important improvement

Circumstances are difficult at the moment but adequate cover for absent staff so that teaching is not comprised

Staffing is at the heart of our improvement journey and we try very hard for consistency,  We have left the days of students having 18 Science teachers in 5 years as some students had in the past.  It is difficult at the moment and we use our cover supervisor and regular supply teachers to get consistency.  In school today learning about the school we have 4 new members of staff who will be starting in September.  Mrs Young the new Head of English, Mr Jenkinson in PE and Mrs Bradley in Art.  The fourth member of staff is Miss Hodgson who is our new academic mentor who will be doing 1 to 1 interventions with KS4 English students as part of our catch up programme.  These are all high quality appointments who will be an asset to the school.

Get out of special measures to attract a broad range of catchment kids

I agree!!  After three and a half years of relentless work and improvement we cannot wait for Ofsted to revisit the school.  We expect a visit in the New Year and our self-assessment is good.  We will need your support to make sure that this happens.

For those who listen to Radio York we have been school of the week this week.  Thanks to all who have appeared on the radio. 

Have a great weekend

Rod Sims


Friday 20/11/2020

Let me start by wishing the Year 11 students good luck in their practice exams over the next two weeks.  There remains uncertainty over the final exams which causes uncertainty for our students.  Our advice is to work hard and try your best.

50% of Year 8 parents are signed up to our first video parents evening. If you have not signed up because you are nervous about technology do not worry, it could not be more simple.  Still time for the other 50% to sign up.

Massive thank you to Nick Brignell Professional Beauty Systems Ltd for donating 4032 bottles of hand sanitizer to the school.  Thank you Nick and all at Professional Beauty Systems.

Only one positive case this week, best wishes to the Year 7’s who are isolating.

Another thank you to the 183 parents who completed the parent survey.  As always it is a real mix of views.  The chart above is with don’t knows removed.  Every category saw an improvement from the survey last October except for “York High school makes me aware of what my child will learn during the year” and unsurprisingly in this time of Covid restrictions “My child can take part in clubs and activities at York High School”.  

In order to not overload you with information in answer to making parents aware of what their child will learn I would like to draw your attention to the following.  

In the Curriculum area of the website there is a year group list. If you select the year group your child is in you will see a list of the subjects they study. By clicking on each one you can see the Learning Journeys which explain in detail what is being learned. 

The following is a link to the curriculum page:

https://www.yorkhighschool.co.uk/curriculum

Scroll down to the year group then pick a subject. We are currently in term 1b.

Here is an example from History for Year 9 in this half term:

In the things we like section from the parent survey:

The stamps system encourages good behaviour

The staff are approachable and deal with issues in a speedy manner

The commitment and enthusiasm of the teachers and the inclusive atmosphere of the school

The most important improvement:

We are working on the menu and should have it finalised for next week

We haven’t had a school report in a while:

We send out our attitude to learning reports at the end of every half term.  The more formal reports relating to progress are sent at Easter and the end of the school year in a normal year.  Year 11 will receive a report on their practice exams just after Christmas.

Should we go into another lockdown the work set should be a reasonable amount and explained in a lot more detail?  A lot of the work was very poorly explained on what was required.

Show My Homework (Satchel One) was great for homework but did not allow for interactive explanation.  This is the main reason we have switched to Google Classrooms, although that brings its own issues.  If we have another lockdown the majority of lessons will be a 20 minute interactive explanation from the teacher on Google Meet and then the teacher will be available to answer questions during the rest of the lesson.

Have a great weekend its December soon!

Rod Sims


Friday 13/11/2020

Hello everyone and I hope that you have had a good week!

We conducted training as a staff on Thursday so that we are ready for our first virtual Parents Evening on the 24th of November.  Year 8 Parents should have received an email informing them how to book your appointments and then how to access the appointments; it’s really easy and the app we use recommends using a smart phone. The appointments are available to book from Monday 16th November from 3pm.

We would rather meet face to face but this is better than not meeting at all.  It is the first time so please be patient if we have any technical issues.

We have had 4 positive Covid 19 cases this week and our best wishes go to the 29 Year 9’s and the 35 Year 7’s who are isolating for the next two weeks.

We have observed a minute's silence this week for Remembrance Day and are raising money for Children in Need through a non-uniform day today.  Guess which Headteacher forgot this morning and is in his usual suit, one of our students said to me this morning ‘are you not wearing non uniform because you don’t like children’!!

Thank you to all parents who have completed the parental survey and we will share this with you next week. I am going to start a weekly section to the updates sharing 3 of each.

Things you like about YHS:

The response back is always quick

We care for the students and have their best interests at heart

The Teachers

Which is the most important improvement you would like to see at York High:

More Communication between Parents and Teachers

From this week we will be emailing all parents with the weekly update as well as posting on facebook.  We send home postcards and many teachers make positive phonecalls.  I am really interested to know what communication you want as parents?  Please reply to: r.sims@yorkhigh.southbank.academy or comment/message on facebook.

PE brought back/Allow students to change out of uniform to do PE

Currently all students do PE in their uniform and are taking part in low impact activities.  Some our Year 10 and 11 GCSE students have been allowed to come to school in PE kit as it is part of their final course.  They then change after the lesson.  We were looking to offer other opportunities however we then went into the second lockdown where all community sport was put on hold.  The key issue is that we have to clean the changing rooms between each year group and we do not have the staff to do this.  One of the benefits at the moment is that hardly any students are bringing notes to avoid PE and participation levels and engagement are higher for all.  We do not feel that we would gain by allowing students to do high impact PE lessons which would lead to them sitting in a sweaty PE kit for the rest of the day.  When we can we will return to PE in uniform but at the moment the situation will remain the same.

I would like a priced copy of the school menu sending home or for individual prices to be shown on parentpay

We will publish an up to date price list on the website and advertise the prices on the facebook site.

Our answers will not please everyone but I hope everyone appreciates the honesty and openness that you get at YHS, this is another area where we communicate in a way that other schools do not.

However you are passing lockdown have a great weekend

Rod Sims


Friday 6/11/2020

Last year the weekly update was always full of information about trips that the students had been on or events that they had attended. At the moment we are delighted to still be open at the end of the week. Although it seems as though the situation in York is improving, until we see positive effects from the lockdown we are not surprised that we have had 4 more positive tests this week. Most of these cases did not involve contact tracing in school but unfortunately today we have had to ask 28 students in Year 11 to self-isolate for 14 days.

I want to use this example to repeat our message to our students that all we can do during this time is to try our best. In three weeks’ time we are due to have our practice exams for year 11; last year these were the main source of evidence for GCSE’s. The students involved will have their preparation for the exams disrupted but they do have an opportunity to revise thoroughly for the exams while at home. Lots of our students, in particular the Year 11’s and our teachers, are worried about what might happen this year. If at the end of the year we can look at ourselves in the mirror and say 'I tried my best' then we are all winners. That is all we can ask of ourselves and anyone else.

Free School Meals

For students who are isolating and qualify for free school meals they will receive a voucher at the end of the week. City of York have agreed to fund free school meals over the Christmas period.

Have a nice lockdown weekend and see you all next week.

Rod Sims


Welcome Back After Half Term

Looking forward to seeing everyone return tomorrow after the half term break.  The announcement over the weekend of a second lockdown starting from Thursday is very different from the first lockdown for York High School and all schools nationally.

It is business as usual from tomorrow; we will continue to minimise the risk to students and staff through the measures that we have in place.  Hand hygiene and the wearing of face coverings in all communal areas are vitally important in reducing the risk of infection.  Most importantly, if students have any of the symptoms of COVID 19 then they should not attend school.

The way that we identify contacts in school is by checking all of those who are identified as contacts from 48 hours before  a student develops symptoms or tests positive.  We have had 4 positive tests during the half term but none of these cases fit the criteria that would lead us to identify possible contacts.  In these cases track and trace are responsible for identifying contacts as it is more likely that the virus was transmitted out of school.

By working together we got through the last half term with minimal disruption, we can not say what next week will bring never mind in a month's time.  The only thing I can say with certainty is that the staff at YHS will be trying their absolute best to deliver top quality education in the safest way possible.

The way that YHS as a community of parents, students and staff have worked together has been our strength and we will need to continue to work together to get through this next half term.

All the best,

Rod Sims


Friday 23/10/2020

First half term of the year is now completed. The big issue have been contact tracing, face coverings and one way systems. I want to thank the staff who have been magnificent this half term and the purposeful 95% of our students who have been fantastic.

One piece of information is that the City of York Council has decided to fund free school meals over the half term. For all parents of students who receive free school meals the vouchers should be with you soon over e mail or text. I have included the link to FAQ on the Wonde site

http://help.wonde.com/.../3843162-faqs-for-parents...

Who knows what will happen on the run up to Christmas but we can guarantee that we will do our best for the students, parents and staff at York High.

Don’t forget that November 2nd is a training day.

All the best, see you all back at YHS on Tuesday November 3rd

Rod Sims


Week 6 Update Friday 16/10/2020

It’s a strange end to the week after the announcements yesterday. At the start of the term it felt very strange in school due to the measures we have in place to reduce the risk of Covid transmission and very normal outside of school. Now it feels the opposite, I know many of my Year 11 Maths students were finding it hard to understand why there are two totally different sets of rules in school and out of school. They will need all of our support to understand.

We have had no further positive cases at the time of writing and now have all of the students back from isolation. It has been a tough week as we have had 20% of our staff absent for many reasons such as self-isolation or where their children have been sent home from school as well as Non Covid illness. The position looks stronger next week but as always in these strange times let’s see what next week brings. We are planning for a variety of scenarios involving staff and student absence. The main reason we have moved from Satchel to Google Classrooms is so that if students have to stay at home as a whole year group then we will be able to have interactive live lessons. For example if it was one of my Maths classes I would “teach” for the first 20 minutes either through use of a webcam, a visualizer or a presentation and then be available for the next 30 minutes to answer questions. Let’s hope we do not get to that position.

Today we will be sending by email a letter from The South Bank Multi Academy Trust which outlines the plans to explore a merger with the South York Multi Academy Trust. Since joining the South Bank Trust they have been great at allowing us to retain our identity as York High School and we will seek to protect that identity in the future. There are however opportunities in further links with other schools.

Back to our main business, education! Our students and staff are working hard although both are starting to feel the effects of a long half term especially after school closure.

We sent out yesterday a link to the parent survey; your views are really important to us especially during these changing times.

On a positive note we raised over £500 for Mind last week, so well done again to Mr Walker and all involved.

To all the families who have supported us through the last 5 weeks thank you your support is totally appreciated. Best wishes to any of you whose jobs will be affected by the announcements, if we can help in any way we will, just contact us.

Enjoy the weekend as best you can.

Rod Sims


Week 5 Update Friday 9/10/2020

We have been fortunate again this week to have recorded no positive cases of Coronavirus.  Our measures to minimise risk are in place and students and staff are following the procedures.  After our initial worries over face coverings all students are now wearing face coverings in the corridors.  In a normal year I would use weekly update to talk about all the extra things that we would be doing in school. Due to the restrictions it feels like an achievement for everyone at YHS to get through the week without incident.

It is extremely unlikely that we will be able to hold  traditional parents evenings this year so this week we have researched and bought a programme which will allow us to host a virtual parents evening.  Parents will be able to book their own appointments and we will be able to have 1 to 1 video calls to discuss the students progress.  The only tech needed will be a smartphone or tablet/laptop.  Look forward to another new normal!

We have moved from SMHW (Satchel One) to Google classrooms so that if we have to close to a year group or for a period of time we will be able to deliver interactive lessons.  SMHW was unable to do this,  SMHW was however very good for Homework and currently we are aware that there are teething issues with homework on Google Classrooms.  Next week we will be sending out our parents survey please let us know what needs changing, what you need to know.

Lastly we do have something extra to a normal week to report.  Well done to all of the students and staff who have taken part in the Hello Yellow fundraising today.  Congratulations to all of those who have walked a mile and to those who found something yellow to wear.  Luckily for me my Leeds Rhinos shirt came in handy again.  Thank you to Mr Walker for organising the event in a covid secure way for very worthwhile cause.

Enjoy the weekend

Rod Sims


Week 3 Friday 25/09/2020

This has been a week of highs and lows at YHS. It has been disappointing and upsetting to have confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Year 8 and Year 9. Sadly I think that this could become just our normal way of working as we go forward. Our thoughts and best wishes are with the two students and I think it is worth mentioning at this point that no one wants to be ill or catch coronavirus, nobody is to blame.

I would like to also pass on our best wishes to the 40 plus students who have been identified as contacts who are having to self-isolate and will be staying at home this weekend. Thank you to the parents of this group who have been really understanding.

After two weeks of encouraging the students to wear face coverings we still only had a minority who were wearing face coverings in the corridors. After the news on Thursday we have made face coverings compulsory from today. We gave out nearly 150 masks today. We need your help now, can you make sure that your child has a face covering for school, it is from now part of the uniform and we will not be able to give away 150 masks everyday. If a student does not have a mask they will receive a comment in the planner. If there are medical reasons why your child can not wear a mask then please e mail staysafe@yorkhigh.southbank.academy.

This week we have been around school checking lessons and it has been an absolute privilege to see so many top quality lessons, teachers addressing the gaps from school closure in a way that leaves the students feeling confident about their progress. It can seem at the moment that a school revolves around coronavirus but I can reassure you that your children are getting a top quality education.

I want to finish this week by saying that the one thing that is certain is that we are trying our absolute best on your behalf. We are not medical professionals and we are following the advice that we are given absolutely. The staff at the school are working incredibly hard to make this work. We will not get everything right and some things are out of our control but we will not stop in our efforts to make sure that your children get the best education that they can in the safest way that they can.

Have a great weekend

Rod Sims


Week 2 Update Friday 18/09/2020

Only a brief one this week as it is late on a Friday evening and the school is been locked up around me. It has been closer to a normal week than last week as the students and staff have become more familiar with the timings of the school day and finding their way around school.

Although busy the last 2 weeks have reminded me why i love my job. The amount of times that our students make you smile and laugh during a day is priceless.

There are however two issues that i want to share with you.

Lates

As the week progressed we have about 10 – 20 students in each year group who are starting to arrive late on a morning this is a problem as it causes a mixing of the year groups which the staggered start times are designed to avoid. Here is a reminder about the times we expect the students to arrive in the morning.

Year 7 to arrive at school by 8.35 so they can wash hands and start the first lesson at 8.40

Year 8 to arrive at school by 8.40 so they can wash hands and start the first lesson at 8.45

Year 9 to arrive at school by 8.45 so they can wash hands and start the first lesson at 8.50

Year 10 to arrive at school by 8.50 so they can wash hands and start the first lesson at 8.55

Year 11 to arrive at school by 8.55 so they can wash hands and start the first lesson at 9.00

So far we have encouraged students who are late as they readjust to early mornings. However this is not having an effect on an increasing number of students so we will be returning to late detentions if students are not on time on a morning.

Face Coverings

Despite video assemblies at the start of the week and encouragement in the corridors and by the classroom teachers. We still have too small a number of students wearing face coverings in communal areas. As a way of encouraging students to wear face coverings, when classes leave at the end of a lesson students who are wearing face coverings are allowed to leave first. If students have a sunflower lanyard or a medical pass then they are also allowed to leave. The other students are not kept back for any length time they just leave slightly later. We are doing this to encourage our students to make the right decision and to wear the face coverings that you clearly are sending them to school with.

I have had several conversations today where parents were asking that face coverings in school were made compulsory and then there was no doubt. Parents who did not want their children to wear a face covering would be allowed to write to the school and opt out of wearing a face covering. I would be interested to hear people’s views on this subject. Please as always e mail at r.sims@yorkhigh.southbank.academy or use facebook messenger.

Thank you all for your ongoing support it is still great to be back.

Rod Sims


First Week Back 11/09/2020

It has been one of the best weeks in my teaching career to see the school come back to life this week. The staff at York High School have all been thrilled to meet the new Year 7 students and to welcome back Years 8 to 11.

Thank you to all of the parents who have sent the kids back so positively. The students have been fantastic in the way that they have followed the new arrangements. I have walked the school on many occasions this week and the atmosphere in the classrooms has been purposeful and focused.

The one way system is awkward and the new timetable is very complicated but everyone has tried their best this week to make the best of it. It's not perfect and we will look to modify and improve as we go forward.

The area that we must improve is in students wearing masks when they are walking round school. My feeling is that most parents are sending their kids to school with a mask but the students think it is too much trouble to put it on. Next week we will be delivering a stronger message about why it is strongly recommended that students should wear a mask. Please can you support this by encouraging students to wear a mask. If we had at least 90% of students wearing masks we could then modify the one way system to make it easier for students to access.

After nearly 6 months we are glad to be back doing what we do best.

Have a well deserved rest this weekend and see you all again next week

Rod Sims