I am writing to inform you of some changes we have been making at Alder over this term and to draw your attention to some key information and dates ahead.
At Christmas we will have some key changes to staffing in the SEND department. Mrs Bibby our SENDCo, will be leaving us after being at Alder for 17 years. She has taken up a new and exciting opportunity outside of a school setting, but still supporting students with SEND as is her passion. Mrs Bibby wants to say a huge thank you to the Alder community for all the support and we wish her well in her new role. Taking over from Mrs Bibby is Miss Huddleston who will join us as SENDCO from January. We have Miss Sloan who is joining us as Assistant headteacher for SEND and Inclusion.
Communication update: Class Charts
As you will already be aware, since September staff at Alder have been working with a new app called Class Charts that logs student attendance, achievements, behaviour, detentions, homework and key announcements. This is now set up and we are ready to begin a launch with parents and students.
We will be sending information about how to access the Class Charts app to your email next week, where we have a correct email address on our system. This will be sent to all parents/carers with Parental Responsibility, regardless of whether the child resides with that parent.
We hope that by using this single app (alongside Parent Pay) we will strengthen our home/school communication and our ability to work together to ensure students fully engage with school and achieve their best possible outcomes.
We will continue to use ParentPay for any payments to school but the School Gateway app will be replaced by Class Charts.
Unfortunately, the work we were expecting to start before Christmas on our new Reception area has been delayed. This delay is out of our hands, and we are continuing to work with Tameside LA to get this key project started asap. We are hoping it will begin early in the Spring term and will keep you posted as to the short-term changes we will need to make to accommodate access to the school once the work begins.
Term dates update
We would like to remind you that school will be closed to students on Friday, 1st December and Monday, 4th December. School will be open as normal on Tuesday, 5th December.
School closes for the Christmas break at 12.15pm on Thursday, 21st December 2023. There will be no lunch served that day but students who are entitled to a free school meal will be able to pick up a ‘grab bag’ from the canteen before they leave site on 21st December. We have made a request to the bus company for the school bus to be available at the earlier finish time. Students will return to school on Tuesday, 9th January 2024.
Term dates for the remainder of this academic year and also for next academic year can be found here https://aldercommunityhighschool.org.uk/termdates
This year our Christmas lunch will be served on Tuesday 12th December. On this day we will also invite students to wear a Christmas jumper with their uniform.
High expectations and high standards
Thank you to those parents who continue to support the culture of high expectations at Alder. We aspire for all members of our school to be ‘Outstanding in all we do’ and this includes following our school rules and displaying our Alder Values. Our school rules are simple and ensure that we have a positive and productive learning environment for our teachers to teach within and our students to learn within:
Attend every lesson on time.
Let others learn.
Dress in correct uniform and be fully equipped.
Excel in your own learning.
Respect everyone and everything in the school community.
Our Alder Values are used as guidelines to help our students to become the best versions of themselves and excel not only in their studies in school but also in their extra-curricular endeavours, the next stages of their education and outside of school.
Altruism – having a genuine and self-less concern for others.
Leadership – inspiring and empowering a community to achieve a shared vision by leading by example.
Diversity – accepting, respecting and celebrating that everyone is different both in school and in our community.
Excellence – striving to achieve your best in all that you do.
Resilience – turning challenges into something positive and never giving up.
We encourage students to use our rules and values to guide them each day and insist on the highest possible standards being met by all. For example, students must be in full school uniform every day. This includes no hoodies/zippies etc to be worn on school site. If these items are worn on school premises, they will be confiscated until the end of the day. Alder also has an optional plain black v neck school jumper that can be worn for extra warmth. A waterproof outdoor coat is encouraged as the weather in the northwest continues to get wetter and colder, but these should be removed as students enter the school building.
Mobile phones/headphones/smartwatches are NOT allowed at school. These devices present a distraction from learning and are counterproductive to academic progress being made. They can also cause issues around cyber bullying and GDPR (video and sound recording). It is for these reasons that we have a clear policy that if these devices are seen/heard/reported, they will be confiscated and a parents will need to come to school to collect them from the office. On very rare occasions, a teacher may ‘allow’ a student to access their mobile phone for teaching and learning purposes (for example year 10 and 11 photography). We realise that this can cause some confusion and are working with staff and ICT facilities to minimise this as far as possible. For avoidance of any doubt, unless instructed by a teacher, students are not to use their mobile phones for any purpose (including checking the time) in school. If they do, they risk confiscation and further sanctions depending on what the devices were being used for. If any student refuses to hand over their device, they will be sanctioned and may face suspension from school. Thank you in advance for your support of this policy.
Due to the demands of the school day and the volume of communications we receive, it is not always possible to respond to emails, telephone messages and written correspondence immediately. We will endeavour to respond to all communications within 48 hours of receipt within the working week, this therefore does not include weekends or the school holidays.
As you will already be aware, the relationship between home and school it vital to ensure the best possible experience and outcomes for all of our children and young people. Regrettably, we are finding that our staff are being spoken to and treated with disrespect by parents. Although we realise this may be out of frustration it is happening increasingly on a personal level, over the phone and in written communications as well as publicly on social media. Our staff have the right to come to work without being treated in this way and although we may not always agree on specifics, our staff really do have the very best interests of your children at the heart of all they do.
Thank you for your on-going understanding, support and patience as we continue to improve Alder and realise our vision to be ‘Outstanding in all we do’
Curriculum update: Relationships and Sex Education
In the spring and summer term, all students will take part in statutory Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) as part of the Personal Development curriculum.
As parents and carers you are entitled to view materials used. We will be hosting an RSE Forum on Friday 15th December 9am-10am. This will be hosted by Mr Eaton (Curriculum Leader for Personal Development) and will include the opportunity to view resources used and a consultation with parents about the existing school policy. Attendance is by booking only. If you would like to book a place on this, please contact email@example.com and title your email RSE Forum.
Should you wish to discuss the request for your child to be withdrawn from some or all of sex education delivered as part of statutory RSE please contact head teacher Michelle Critchlow in writing before the end of term.
We have a very busy few weeks ahead in school, but I look forward to sharing the WeAreAlder newsletter with you before the Christmas break, showcasing all the fabulous work that has been taking place in our classrooms and beyond.