OUR SCHOOL

At Marden we put the learning and progress of students first. Our school motto is Carpe Diem – Seize The Day!

If you’re a Year 6 parent/carer in North Tyneside, then don’t miss our Open Evening on Thursday 25th September at 6:00pm. If you can’t make it then give us a call on 0191 2006357 to book a visit. We look forward to seeing you.

In the meantime take a look at this video to see our school in action.

Lesson 6 Create

We love learning so much at Marden that we’ve made an extra lesson at the end of the day!

Lesson 6 runs every week and aims to develop skills and talents in a wide variety of areas. All students are welcome to sign up for sessions and anyone interested should speak to Mrs Jackson, Mrs Eastlake, Ms Monks or Ms Stamp.

These images were taken from our Lesson 6: Create session which includes Drama, Music and Art. Pupils are currently hard at work analysing iconic images, composing soundtracks and performing their own dramatisations.

PE period 6

There will be a period 6 on Wednesdays for anyone who wants to take part in additional sporting opportunities.  Sessions will be available from this week (Wednesday 17th) and will cover the following:

Boys: rugby

Girls: dodgeball

If you would like to attend these sessions please get in touch with your PE teacher!

A Note from the Head: How to Choose A School (and you can choose any school you like!)

 

September is a crucial time for many parents because that’s when school choices are made.

It’s a tough decision. The days  of automatically going to the secondary school in your locality are long gone. For years now, you’ve been able to  choose any school you like – it doesn’t even have to be in your own local authority, let alone catchment area. Parental choice trumps everything and, if the school of your first choice has places, you can’t be turned away, no matter where it is.

At Marden, we’ve been aware of that for a long time and we’re glad to admit pupils from all over North Tyneside. In fact, for the first time this year, we’ve started admitting from Northumberland.

Not that free choice  makes it easier for parents to decide. With so many   schools available (and the secondary schools in North Tyneside are excellent), parents need to do their homework to make exactly the right choice for their child. Your decision can have a life changing effect on your children, so you’ve got to get it right.

And I have to confess that we were disappointed with the secondary school we chose for our children. Compared with their first and middle school experience, they were never truly happy at high school, although they did well academically. And,  before you ask, they didn’t go to North Tyneside schools.

What we learnt from that disappointment was that it’s vital to research a school carefully by consulting a range of evidence – not just what people say.

You can tell a lot from a school website: Is it up to date? Is it friendly and professional in tone? Does it convey a positive ethos which puts young people first?

You should also track down the latest OFSTED report. It won’t tell the whole story, but it should give you an idea of how the school compares with national standards.

But the real test is to ring a school and ask for a look round during the day when lessons are going on. (Looking back, I  wish that we’d done that.) How well this request is received is a good test of any school. If you’re made to feel unwelcome, there’s a problem somewhere.

And this would be true of the actual visit. A happy, confident school will allow you to see anything you want and the guide should take you in and out of lessons quite freely and speak with pride about the place. And even the little things can tell you a lot about what the school stands for. Is it clean and well presented? How much litter is there? Is there plenty of high quality display of photographs and work  which celebrates learning, achievement and a sense of togetherness?  Are senior leaders visible and on the corridors to maintain standards and support the staff? Also, and this is not a joke, what are the toilets like? Are they clean, free of graffiti and welcoming? Are they open or do pupils have to get a key from someone? My offspring refused to use their school  toilets preferring to dash to a nearby supermarket at lunchtime instead.

And what about the lessons? If you’re not allowed to see lessons, head for the door. Teaching and learning are the core purposes of any school and you need a view of what they’re like. If you’re not allowed in classrooms, the school is embarrassed about something.  And when you’re in a lesson switch on your radar. Are the students happy, on task and well behaved? Do the lessons seem active and engaging with the teachers fully involved and not checking their e-mails? Don’t forget that a silent classroom is not always a good classroom.

Oh,  another thing: make sure your son or daughter visits with you. They’ll tell you in five minutes if they think they’ll be happy in that school.

And ask the head, or their representative, about exam results so that you can see through the propaganda. To what extent are the figures flattered by entering students for courses which are equivalent to GCSE but which are easier to pass. What are the results like when you remove the equivalents? And are the 2014 grades first or best entry (see last week’s blog for an explanation).

Which brings me to the commercial break. If you’re in the process of choosing a school this year or at some time in the future, you can put all of the above to the test very soon.

Come along to our open evening at 6.00 pm on Thursday 25 September, 2014 and/or our open day on October 3, 2014. You’ll find full details on the website.

Or, if you prefer, ring me on 0191 2006357 and we’ll fix a time for me to show you round.

I’ll even show you the toilets.

A Note From the Head: Another Great Set of Results

A warm welcome to our new students. I hope that you’ve had a great first week. Your behaviour and uniform have been immaculate!

So let’s talk about results.

First of all , many thanks for the numerous messages of thanks and congratulations for yet another set of great GCSE grades.

You’ll know from the press that last July the exam regulatory authority, OFQUAL, issued a national warning that the 2014 results would be hit by “volatility” caused by last minute changes to the assessment system. I don’t want to harp on about this, but, in a nutshell, this government meddling was akin to changing the rules of the game at halftime. In other words,  teachers and students completed  courses in summer 2014 which were different from the ones they thought they’d started in autumn 2012.

Totally unfair.

Anyway, schools were warned not to build their hopes up. Fortunately, due to some painstaking and well judged decision making by staff in managing the difficult changes to regulations, our results have remained more or less stable. We scored 75% 5+ A*-C with English and maths which retains our place among the top performing non-selective schools in the north east. And this is in a context where many schools have seen a sharp drop in their outcomes because of the late alterations to how the exams were marked.

And, by the way, our results are what is now known as “first entry”.

The government has clamped down on schools repeatedly re-entering pupils for exams until they get the grades they want. They’ve done this by stipulating that league table figures must be based on the first and not the best attempt at the exams. The results we report on our website are the same as those you’ll see in the league tables next January. Many schools, and I can understand why, are reporting “best entry” results in their publicity.

I must also add that our figures stay the same when you remove grades for subjects which aren’t proper GCSEs. These qualifications are known as “equivalents”. Our curriculum is academic (you might even say traditional) because the bulk of our students go on to sixth form and then to university, so we don’t offer many vocational equivalents such as BTEC courses.

That’s not to say that we don’t modernise our subject offer. Under Joan Bloomfield’s curriculum leadership, we introduced three new subjects for 2014 with amazing success : electronics, engineering and full award religious education . All three gained 100% A*-C!

I’m also proud to say that  English and maths stayed rock solid at 83% A*-C and that we gained our best ever results in art, geography, food technology, chemistry, English literature and child development.

And one last boast…

We saw a significant increase in A*/A grades: 35% of year 11 gained at least three and 55% at least one. Thirteen students gained at least ten with Rachel Leedham scoring a stunning 13.

I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

Watch this space for updates on our new building, our desire for a sixth form and plenty more.

It promises to be another great year for Marden High.