July 2014Dear Parents, Carers and Families
It’s hard to believe that another year has flown by. We have now been in the building since November 2012 – only 20 months. It seems much longer.
This year has been another very successful one for Swiss Cottage. Some achievements:
- we have recruited outstanding staff;
- we are oversubscribed with pupils;
- your children are making outstanding progress, in lots of different ways;
- we have developed new ways of sharing this with you;
- we have won many awards eg British Council International School 2013-16, Healthy Schools. Professional Development Quality Mark, Unicef Rights Respecting School;
- your children have taken part in a very rich learning experience – day trips; performances eg Albert Hall, Sadlers Wells; overseas trips; journeys; sports competitions eg London Youth Games;
- many parents have been actively involved in their children’s learning and in the life of the school generally;
- pupil attendance is improving – currently 92% (target 94%);
- 5th time outstanding “Ofsted” judgment making us one of only 11 schools in the country to have achieved that
There is much, much more – it is such a rich learning environment.
- 1. Staffing
We are fully staffed, with people who are, or aspire to be, and soon will be, outstanding. This is a great achievement and wonderful for your children. A number of staff have left, for a variety of reasons eg further training, relocation, personal. Clare Avant, who many of you will know through fundraising and parent groups, will be leaving us in August. Moira, Head of Middle School has also left. We wish her well. She has been at Swiss Cottage for over six years.
- 2. Class Groups
You will by now know which class your son/daughter will be in next year. Choosing class groups is a very time consuming process and involves a lot of staff – teachers, TAs, therapists and the leadership team. We want to put your child in a group best suited to him/her, within the constraints of the school. We want your child to be in a group which will foster his/her development.
These decisions are, of necessity, made by the school. We know how your child is in school, which is often very different from how s/he is at home, where the demands are very different. I would ask that you, as parents, respect these decisions and work alongside class teams to support your child’s place.
- 3. Parent Council next year
Thank you to all those class reps who have regularly attended our Parent Council meetings this year. We decided at our recent meeting to have Parent Councils attached to schools ie more than one Parent Council next year.
In addition, we will hold two whole school Parent Council events and one with our Governors to look together at whole school matters.
- 4. Uniform update
This is on hold at present. Some parents are in favour – others are not. We will keep this on hold until we get more clarity from you.
- 5. Halal food
I met with Camden and our caterers, Caterlink, to see what can be done. They are investigating how we might provide both halal and non-halal food. They will report back to me over the summer break, with costs, and I will let you know.
- 6. Playground Development
We have set aside just over £200,000 to further develop our outside spaces at ground level and on our terraces. This will take approximately five months. It will be done in stages, beginning over the summer break. It will result in much better facilities for your children.
- 7. Our Flat
Work continues to develop this facility. The plan was to offer short breaks to some of our families and others from beyond the school, beginning hopefully after the October half term. It is also to offer life skills training to our Upper School students.
- 8. Pathways post Swiss Cottage
We are working with Camden and other key partners, to develop personalised pathways for all of our students from 16 – 25 and beyond, as they leave Swiss Cottage.
Camden are currently developing provision for young people with the most complex needs, and this is due to open in September 2015. We are working closely with them on this development. We will continue to work to find solutions for all of your children.
- 9. Fundraising
We have a team, led by Saba Khan, to raise extra money for the school. We are a registered Charity – “Swiss Cottage School” and we are on our way to raising £1million in the first instance.
As you can imagine, it is hard work and we need your support. If you can spare any money, please go to www.justgiving.com/fscs to give it to the school. This money will go towards the cost of:
- running our flat;
- Upper School vocational and work experience programme
- after school activities
- school journeys
- specific developments eg music
- video facilities in all learning spaces, for staff development
Our next big fundraising event is called “A Perfect Day”. It will be held on Sunday 21 September in Avenue Road and the school grounds. It is a huge event, with much to do, celebrities to see, food to eat …
We aim to raise awareness of the school, and money for the school – between £50,000 – £100,000 on the day. Please put this day in your diary and bring family and friends. It’s our biggest fundraising event of the year.
- 10. A documentary on the school
A production company has asked us if they can make a documentary of the school next year, to raise awareness of children with special needs and their families, and to celebrate their achievements.
They have spoken to our Governors and our Parent Council, to Camden’s Children Schools and Families (CSF) Directorate and Camden’s Cabinet Member for CSF. They have yet to speak to staff and students, and are happy to speak to you, our parents too. We may have to fit these final meetings into September.
They are very approachable and friendly and I believe have integrity. They hope to screen the documentary on Channel 4. They won’t film anybody without permission – children or adults.
I have spoken to two other places who have been filmed by them and they were both very pleased with the process and the end result.
I hope you all have a safe and happy school holiday and I look forward to seeing you all again on Tuesday 2 September.
Very best wishes,
Dates for the diary:
Perfect Day: Sunday 21st September 2014
INSET (training) days – school closed:
Monday 1 September 2014
Friday 24th October 2014
Friday 13th February 2015
Monday 9th March 2015
Ond further day to be delivered over 6 twilight sessions – times to be agreed
Monday 1st September – Friday 19th December 2014
Half term: 27th – 31st October 2014
Monday 5th January – Thursday 2nd April 2015
Half term: 16th – 20th February 2015
Monday 20th April – Tuesday 21st July 2015
Half term: 25th – 29th May 2015