Head's Blog

"Hi all..." - The weekly email from the Head of College to our students

Hi all
I hope that you’ve all had a good week. Next week is a well-deserved break for us all – note that Monday 26th February is an INSET day so you return on Tuesday 27th. It is a WEEK 2 when we come back.

Examinations – Help your child succeed evening
A date for the diaries of your parents – Thursday 1st March 2018. The ‘Help your child succeed evening’ is one that every parent of a year 13 student should attend – more details out before half-term but please make sure your parents are ‘saving the date’. It is 5.45pm for a 6pm start. Please see (and return) the attached letter.

Student Finance
New students should apply online at www.gov.uk/studentfinance.
Those of you who have applied to university for September 2018 should have already been notified that Student Finance applications have now opened as of Monday 12th February. We advise logging on and setting yourself up an account ASAP. The Student Finance process is relatively lengthy, so the sooner you complete and submit it, the sooner you will have secured your student funding ahead of September. Click on the link above to begin. Please see Faye with any queries.

Medicine – Year 12
WAMS are now happy to invite applications for 2018’s work experience programme. This year it will be held from Monday 23rd – Friday 27th July 2018 at the Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham.
This week is aimed at Year 12 students wanting to become doctors, who have struggled to find work experience thus far. The programme consists of a five day placement offering 24 students the opportunity to shadow a final year medical student from the University of Nottingham. The week includes a mixture of classroom based sessions, skills teaching and practical work experience, including time on the wards or in theatre.
Whilst competition is fierce, it is a fantastic programme that students in the past have found really enjoyable. Even if you don’t want to apply to Nottingham, it gives you that essential experience you need to apply to medical school. The programme is free of charge, although you will need to provide your own lunch, transport and smart clothes suitable for being on the wards (think of what you would expect a doctor to wear – they will provide details nearer the start of the programme).
Spaces will be allocated based on postcode, quality of application and a consideration regarding how much experience the student has already attained. You can expect to hear back after applications have closed.
If you are interested in this opportunity, mail me for an application form. These must be submitted by 5pm on Friday 16th March 2018 to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

University of Nottingham – Language Booster Sessions
Please find BELOW the programme for the Easter revision or intensive study sessions. Please return your forms ASAP (already sent by email to you) to book your place.
WEDS 11TH APRIL 09.30-16.30 A2 SPANISH

• All sessions are free of charge and you will be supported by university student ambassadors and taught by language experts.

• All pupils should bring lunch/money for lunch. Water will be provided at break times.

Love them or hate them, it’s hard to get away from exams. All that preparation before the big day, a race against the clock as you sit at the desk, and the aftermath that sometimes feels as stressful as the exam itself.

Effective technique goes beyond the exam hall. You’ll never be stress-free from the examination process, but you can limit it greatly by following these tips:
 Link relevant concepts together. You need to see the bigger picture, not isolated facts. Immersion in the subject itself is better than remembering individual facts.
 Don’t fuss about rewriting your notes again and again. Simply copying your notes out won’t help you revise effectively. Rewriting does help some people take in key concepts, so restrict it to writing the main point as an anchor rather than regurgitating everything.
 Use all your senses. Don’t just read; write out brief points that you want to solidify. Don’t just use your eyes; discuss key topics with other people in your classes.
 Revise in different locations to vary your intake. It also helps you recall later, because you’ll store different information at the different places. In the exam, you could recall more by picturing the different places you were and remembering what you studied in each place.
 Use pictures and diagrams in places you’d usually rely on words alone. If nothing creative is forthcoming, at least try setting out your ideas in a mind map of some sort.
 Don’t go to heavy on the memorising. Some detail does need to be in your head clearly and correctly, but much of what you study is about arguing and analysing a subject, as opposed to exact recall of specific points and quotations.
 Read (and attempt) past exam papers. This advice is often dished out, but many either don’t bother, or don’t take it seriously enough. When you do read through the papers, see how the questions are worded and try to grasp what is being asked of you. Look for any recurring themes across past papers so you have an idea of the kind of topics that crop up again and again.
 Time yourself at writing answers to essay topics. You may be confident that you’ve got the knowledge, but it’s no use when you know it’ll take four hours to write that knowledge in a two hour exam. Learn to gauge the time you have and get the important factors written out first.
 Understand the layout of the exam. Understand the logistics so you’re prepared on the day. I’m amazed at how infrequently this is done. I’ve known module handbooks handed out at the beginning of the year with the exam layout explained…yet some students haven’t bothered reading it. Guess what, they’re less prepared than everyone else….
 Focus on what you *don’t* know. You don’t need to waste time on what’s already firmly planted in your head. I’m sure you feel good going over that stuff, but it’s not actual revision.

Network Rail Apprenticeships
Caryn notes that they have moved their training base from near Portsmouth on the south coast to Coventry. I suspect this is because HS2 is on the horizon this will be a massive growth are for the region with lots of opportunities.

Management Degree Apprenticeships
You need to be predicted 104 to 112 UCAS points

And finally….
It looks like the Geography Department picked another good week to de-camp from BC6F for their annual holiday educational visit to Portugal.  Though clearly the local historical monuments provided the most educational benefit.  Follow their example…and have a good break.


Hi all
I hope that you’ve all had a good week. It has certainly been a busy time as we conduct our annual review of learning and teaching across the sixth-form. We have been pleased with what we have seen: lots of strong, guided marking in books to help you progress as well as excellent learning in lessons. The review is a vital part of our continual drive to improve everything we do so that your sixth-form is the best it can possibly be.

Examinations – Help your child succeed evening
A date for the diaries of your parents – Thursday 1st March 2018. The ‘Help your child succeed evening’ is one that every parent of a year 13 student should attend – more details out before half-term but please make sure your parents are ‘saving the date’. It is 5.45pm for a 6pm start.

Chinese Dumpling Cooking
It was really good to see our post-16 students working alongside younger students at the Dumpling Cooking class last night. Amazing lesson and amazing experience – I hope you all enjoyed it. Thanks to Karen B for supervising and Dave from Confucius for demonstrating.

Congratulations to the many students who have now received all of your offers from universities. Please remember to let Faye know if you are invited to interview as she can help you with preparation.

When I am planning a lesson I focus on one key thought: what knowledge will my students retain when they leave my class?
Recent research shows that learning is a product of thinking and that it is not related to training or the retention of information through rote practice. John Dewey’s famous quote is therefore apt: “We do not learn from mere experience, but from reflecting on it”.
Our role as teachers is to make complex ideas accessible to students. We therefore look to mimic the process of professionals in working life. For instance, readers make predictions, interpretations, observe connections. Historians consider different perspectives, reason with evidence and build explanations. Scientists observe closely, make and test hypotheses, build interpretations. Mathematicians look for patterns, conjecture, form generalisations and construct arguments.
Group work is closely linked to this approach to learning. Many researchers believe that students learn more effectively when they reveal their hypothesis, explanations or interpretations to their classmates. According to Vygotsky, when we learn something, we rely on models: we observe what and how others are doing things, and we imitate them. That’s how we learn to dance, to sing, and so on.
Moreover, it is through working with peers that students learn positive habits such as respect, as they listen to others’ points of view; cooperation, as they realise that no one alone is better than the group; resilience to keep on trying; and enquiry, since curiosity is what compels them to move on. If carried out systematically, group work even helps build self-confidence.
It has been really encouraging this week to see so much group work going on in lessons and to see the higher order questions that teachers are using to challenge your thinking. The questions that teachers ask and the way they listen to students’ answers that go on to provoke further thoughts really matter: “What makes you say that?” “I’m afraid I’m not following you. Can you explain what you were thinking in a different way?” “Can you tell me more about that?”

And finally….
I’ve only been skiing once (and even then managed to return on crutches) so I have no idea why I have any interest in the Winter Olympics which start today in South Korea. It is not even a political interest either with the North and South of Korea teaming up in sport. Nor my Scottish roots as I stay up until all hours watching the curling team attempt to get a gold. I think it is an interest based on the sheer madness of some of the events and – dare I say it – the expectation that there will be some sort of spectacular crash. Take the Skeleton for example. Here, you go racing face down on an overweight tea tray and with your nose just 3 inches from the ice hurtling down a bobsleigh track at speeds of up to 90mph. Of all the Olympic sports, this has to be the scariest. Though the Luge is also pretty scary – the only difference to the Skeleton is that you lie on your back. The one I have always wanted to try (yes, seriously) is ski-jumping. Ever since Eddie the Eagle at the 1988 Calgary Olympics, I’ve have had a soft spot for ski jumping. I think it probably takes an extraordinary amount of courage to race down the icy runway on extra-long 2.4m skis and take that leap of faith. Even if I did ever get to have a go, I am realistic enough to know that the most difficult thing is standing at the top and letting go. And that for all I’ve just said, I know that I wouldn’t.

Have a good weekend.