As we work towards becoming fully co-educational from September 2023, we will be writing to you once a fortnight with an update on planning.
Parent information sessions
Thanks to all of you who attended the Parent Information Session over the past two weeks. We hope that you have found them useful. We have made a note of all of the points raised at the sessions, and we will be updating parents on the progress against all of the common topics and themes through these regular updates. You can continue to contact us with questions by writing to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will reply as quickly as possible.
Phoenix Rooms explained
As you will have seen from the FAQs, we are extending our provision of Phoenix Rooms as part of the enhancement of our pastoral provision, and we want to share a little more detail about the purpose of these rooms and how they benefit our students.
Our first Phoenix Room was introduced at SHS September 2021, as part of the wider Phoenix Project, which is a student-led wellbeing and resilience initiative (you can watch the information video from the original launch here). The Phoenix Room is a quiet space where students can retreat – individually or with a small group of friends – when they feel overwhelmed, and where they can be supported by a member of the pastoral staff. A programme of lunchtime activities designed to support wellbeing and resilience is run by a team of Phoenix Prefects, who have been trained in providing support by our counsellors and pastoral staff.
The Phoenix Rooms are equipped with a range of games and activities that students can engage with to help shift their focus away from things they may be anxious about. These include word games and board games, as well as construction sets of various kinds and tactile objects which can be therapeutic to handle.
Regardless of gender, we believe that all children and young people sometimes need a place of sanctuary, so we will be introducing a number of Phoenix Rooms from 2023 that all of our students can use and benefit from.
Student Support Managers
Some parents have been interested in hearing more detail about the new Student Support Managers, and how those roles will work. We have one Student Support Manager already, at SHS, who is a full time (during term time) non-teaching member of staff. Their role is to act as a first line of support for students who are in need of help – to give some examples, this can be anything from dealing with friendship issues, to working through anxiety or worries, or even practical help with lost belongings. The role has been transformational in how we support students: they have immediate access to support when they need it, rather than trying to track staff down or wait until they have finished teaching classes or meetings, or having to have that support cut short for the same reasons. In turn, teaching staff can invest more time in helping with those problems where they are needed most. We have seen huge benefits for students at SHS: many pastoral worries can be solved very quickly by giving the child a listening ear at the moment they need it, whereas they can fester and become a much larger issue without the same support.
From a parent perspective, the introduction of this role also allows for a much quicker response time to questions or concerns, because the SSM does not have the same level of fixed commitments as colleagues with teaching timetables.
From September 2023, we will be extending the programme to ensure each year group has its own dedicated SSM. These will be protected as full time pastoral roles, without any teaching load, so that they can be available to our students whenever they need support, and extend the total resources that we have in place to develop and enhance the overall pastoral programme.
In one of the parent information sessions, the Principal, Mr Will Phelan, made reference to research by Professor Alan Smithers into the difference between single sex and co-educational models, and promised to share the link. You can read that paper here: https://alansmithers.com/reports/Paradox27Jul2006.pdf
This week’s priorities
The primary focus for this term is on working with staff who are affected by the change. We have a process in place for that consultation process, and we are supporting all of the staff involved. This is one of the most important elements of the transition, and will run until the summer holidays. We will not be sharing details about the staff consultation process, but we will share our staff structure with you as soon as we are able to once the process is complete.
Planning for the transition will continue throughout the summer term. Our main priorities at this stage in the planning process are: completing the staff consultation process, supporting staff and finalising the INSET programme; finalising the full transition programme for pupils; and working on the plans for refurbishment and redevelopment. We are also in the process of finalising a timetable for key projects, which will be shared with you during the course of the next half term.
We will be writing to all parents with a project update every fortnight during term time during the transition period, and you can write to us at email@example.com. The next update will be issued on Thursday 16 June.