The Week Ahead 4th September 2020
It has been so good to see how quickly pupils have settled down into the new school year. The atmosphere in classrooms and across the school is purposeful and positive, with children actively engaged in their learning at all levels. I am sure that the news of the great IGCSE, AS and A level results has made an impact already. Achievement on this scale, with results rivalling those of the best schools in the world, creates a culture and dynamic all of its own in a community. Children of all ages can share in the successes of older Wellingtonians, whilst at the same time recognising that such results can also be their own in time, as long as they work with similar discipline and ambition.
Results such as those achieved this year are not just the result of hard work in the examined subjects, of course. Candidates for IGCSE, AS and A level examinations must be able to use language and technical vocabulary at the highest levels to succeed. After all, our pupils compete with native English speakers from across the UK and elsewhere in these examinations and there is no concession given to second language learners. It is a considerable achievement, therefore, for our pupils not only to be competitive in such exams but to outstrip the performance of all but a tiny handful of elite UK schools. It is in part, of course, a measure of the inherent academic quality of our pupils, but equally, it reflects on their confidence and fluency in the use of the English language. It is all the more remarkable, given that many of our pupils sitting their A levels exams this year have been in the school for less than three years, and within that time, they have been able to attain those outstanding grades.
We take the acquisition of English very seriously at Wellington. As you will see from Mrs Arden's piece below, our provision of language support for all pupils continues to develop. As we enter the year of the spoken word, it is oracy – the development of fluency and confidence in spoken English – that takes centre stage. Oracy is a schoolwide initiative, designed not only to accelerate the mastery of spoken English but to allow pupils to engage more fully in lessons and thereby achieve ever-better results in their subjects. In order to ensure whole school coverage of this measure, I have spoken to both the Junior and Senior Schools this week in their assemblies. I outlined the aims of our English language focus, and I was delighted to see such strong pupil endorsement of the need to speak more English across the school. In this way, with the support of the pupil, staff and parent communities, I see the year of the spoken word as providing a catalyst for an institutional change in the level of social English usage. I wanted to share my golden rules with parents so that we can present a united front, aligning the messages on this subject across home and school:
English is the language of the school – the language of instruction and the language of social communication. It is the language we use in communal areas as well as the classroom.
Oracy and the development of spoken fluency and confidence is a central goal for the whole school this year (we are in the year of the spoken word, after all).
One of our Wellington identities is 'inclusion' – and the use of English is specifically designed to include as many people in conversations and social engagement as possible. I want to use this chance so that all Wellingtonians can find their voice and use it to make the school a better one for all.
Enforcement is the responsibility of all – peers, prefects and staff (teaching and non-teaching). Enforcement is not the same as punishment; it is the consistent and regular application of our community's expectations. It does not have to be confrontational or antagonistic, but it does need to be applied by all of us.
I know parents will support us in this restatement of our goals for language acquisition. I have said many times in the past that pupil achievement lies at the heart of all that we do here at Wellington. The development of fluency and confidence in English is central to that vision. By working together in this, I am sure that we will continue to build on the success of our public examination candidates by fostering in all of our pupils a genuine and lasting love for English and its usage.
Parent briefings are held on Wednesday mornings usually from 0900hrs-1015hrs. Parents will have the chance to engage with the school in sessions that cover all aspects of your child's education, from the Early Years to A levels and university admissions.
This week, Mrs Jane Arden, the Head of English and ELA department, will share information about the vision for the year as well as providing details of our curriculum updates.
The year of the spoken word is a whole school initiative designed to support the two pillars of language acquisition: exposure and need. At Wellington, we promote English as the essential language of communication, thus exposing our pupils to a range of both academic and social situations. This, in turn, creates a need to acquire language to chat with a new friend or learn a new concept in a lesson.
This year, you will see pupils in key stages 1, 2 and 3 with oracy passports; a bespoke programme using the Bell Foundation assessment framework to guide every pupils' speaking and listening skills. Pupils will be able to work their way through carefully selected activities, and along with their teachers, they will be able to monitor their language acquisition. Parents will also be encouraged to support pupils with the language challenge page, situated at the back of each passport. In classrooms, our ELA teachers will be working alongside mainstream teachers to give carefully co-planned support to enable our immersion pupils to be in class with their friends accessing the same curriculum for a more significant percentage of the curriculum. This will again create the two pillars of language acquisition.
However, this is not all. For the first time LAMDA, a highly respected qualification used in many schools across the world will be offered across the college. At key stage 2, pupils can learn how to recite poetry and prose, at key stage 3, Shakespearean drama will be studied and performed and for pupils in key stages 4 and 5 (years 10-13), public speaking is taught through speech-making and debate. Each of these qualifications is graded, pupils receive medals, certificates and ultimately, even UCAS points are available to help with university entrance.
Our revamped library is home to a reading buddy scheme, encouraging older students to sit, talk and read books together with younger children. Such reading programmes have shown not only an ability to improve language acquisition, concentration, and self-esteem but also to foster a love and respect for reading as a lifelong pleasure.
Food Committees for the main building and the Nest have run for over two years. I would like to offer my thanks for the support from our parents, especially the food committee members who donated their time and were so deeply involved in the catering meetings, helping pursue continuous improvements for our catering services.
At the beginning of every new academic year, we would like to update the food committee member list. As the current practices, school will hold termly food committee meetings for the Nest and the main building (the Nest includes parents of pupils from Eaglets to year 1, whilst the main building committee is for parents of pupils from years 2 to 13).
If you are interested in joining us, please send an email to Amber Guo
(firstname.lastname@example.org) with your child’s full name, year group, nationality and a brief outline of your experience with nutrition or catering. We would like all responses by Wednesday 9th September 2020.