This has been a very busy and eventful year:
- Swiss Cottage expanded, to incorporate the children from Jack Taylor School and others – from 161 children to 236 children, with a wider range of needs and going from 2-19;
- a new staffing structure, with over 100 new staff – from nearly 100 to nearly 200 staff;
- expanded health provision;
- a new school building.
The building is wonderful, and gives us lots of new facilities. Unfortunately it is still causing us a number of problems, but we hope that these will diminish over time. Whatever the problems, we are very lucky to have such a building.
Despite the horrible start to this school year, there have been, and continue to be, many successes:
- quality of teaching and learning is very high;
- relationships with parents are very good;
- our Teaching School is thriving;
- our Fund Raisers are very active, raising additional money to enable us to expand our out of school hours learning (OSHL);
- parent involvement in the school has increased greatly since we opened our doors last November;
- we are in a firm financial position for 2013-14;
- there have been a number of successes for individual/groups of students which Heads of School will detail in their letters to you – among these are Jahziah Williams from the Upper School. As a result of his recent performance at the London Youth Games Athletics, he has been selected to train with the National Development Squad. This is a fantastic opportunity for him – he will improve further over time, training and competing with the best nationally. He is an inspiration to others, all of whom did well and some of whom did exceptionally well – Ryan H and Nadim M – who both won their events in Shot Putt and Javelin. We are proud of everyone for taking part and doing well.
Some of our broad targets for next year are to further improve:
- the quality of teaching, learning and pupil progress;
- the quality of health provision in the school;
- pupil attendance;
- to expand our OSHL;
- the engagement of more parents in their children’s learning, both at home and at school.
- 1. Parent Council
Please think now if you would like to serve on the Parent Council. Responsibilities are two-fold:
- to work with your child’s teacher, to plan ways of getting all parents in the class into school to support their child’s learning;
- to attend half termly meetings with myself and all Parent Council reps, to help us think together about what we are doing at Swiss Cottage and how we can make it even better for your children and your families.
- 2. Pupil Attendance 2012-13
Our attendance figure is currently 89%. That is not good enough and we need to improve it to at least 92%. Last year it was 92% and our target was 94%. Why is it so low?
- poor start to the year affected attendance of some children;
- family holidays taken in term time;
- children absent through illness/hospital admissions;
We have many children who attend school regularly – 6 have 100%, 85 have 95% and above and they are to be commended. We have 4 who have less than 50% attendance and that is affecting our data.
- We want you, as parents, to work with us to get your child into school every day, provided:
- s/he is well enough to take part in learning;
- s/he does not have a contagious illness eg diarrohea; infection.
This also means taking family holidays during our holidays and not during term time. I understand why you sometimes do this, but no school is allowed to condone this, so please help us. I am attaching next year’s holiday dates to this letter so you can plan in advance.
- 3. Class groups for next year
We have been working hard on these and they are now agreed.
It is a difficult task every year as new pupils join us and old ones leave. We want the class group to work for each child. We take into consideration age, capability, boy:girl ratio, SEN, achievement levels, language.
You have been given this information, as well as the name of the class teacher, as these have been agreed. When we are allocating children and staff to groups, we take into account much information and we consult with all the relevant staff groups to help us get the match right.
We will soon be allocating TAs to class groups and again, this is a very complex task, because there are so many of them, with a wide range of skills which need to be matched to the needs of each class. Also we are still recruiting support staff, so you may not know who is allocated to your child’s class until the end of term – this is unavoidable.
- 4. Transport for September
Camden plan to take one bus off our rounds. I have not heard from them yet, but will follow up and will update you as soon as I hear. They cannot finalise their rounds until the pupil numbers for 2013-14 for Swiss Cottage are signed off.
- 5. Parent Communication
We are moving to using IT as our preferred way to communicate with you. A parent with an IT background, Barbara Katz-Levy, is working with Ed (IT) to develop access online for you to see your children’s work. We will offer more IT training, so don’t panic. We think you’ll be pleased with this development.
- 6. Forthcoming dates for parents
Tuesday 23 July: 3:30 pm – last day of term;
Thursday 5 September: 09:30 am- first day back for children;
Holiday dates for next year are on the website.
Lower School concert: Thursday 18 July at 11.00 am, main hall;
Middle School concert: Monday 15 July at 2.00 pm, main hall;
Upper School concert: Monday 22 July at 2.00 pm, main hall.
Finally I wish you well for the holidays. Thank you for your support over this “tricky” year. I look forward to next year and achieving wonderful things together. Don’t forget, please contact me on:
Phone: 020 7681 8080, or
if you have anything to ask/tell me.
With very best wishes for a safe and happy break,