It was a pleasure to welcome Jade Faulkner to St John’s on Wednesday 7th July. As the former British Gymnastics Champion, as well as Commonwealth Games and 2012 Olympian Rhythmic Gymnast, Jade delighted students with a talk about the journey to the London Olympics, highlighting determination, perseverance and passion; as well as providing demonstrations and workshops to the younger children.
Junior Head Student Farley, presents a bouquet of flowers to Jade.
Jade has recently finished coaching at “Olympic Stars”, Doha, Qatar, teaching from Beginners to International Level and is awaiting travel clearance to take up a new post in New Zealand. We would all like to thank Jade for an inspirational talk, and an amazing Gymnastics workshop to end our school year. She’s a Champion in every sense of the word.
Football in the sunshine
As announced on Thursday 27th, our IES organisation has reached an agreement with world-famous Football Club Real Madrid in Spain, for aspiring footballers from 11 to 14 years of age to take part in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of training, competitive matches and cultural opportunities. Please see the letter sent out for specific details, or contact Mr Hurrell. Real Madrid is renowned for its coaching, professionalism, superb facilities and even sunshine! “Everything under the sun” as the Spanish Tourist Board marketing states!
At St John’s, we have long promoted Outdoor Education, intuitively knowing that most children obviously relate to it and benefit from being outside (particularly in this most challenging of Pandemic years). We would also suggest all children benefit from the fresh air, tranquillity along with the associated environmental understanding. So it was with great pleasure that we noticed that the New Scientist published an article on the benefits of Nature for families in their March 2021 edition, as outlined below:
While most schools place their website emphasis on exam grades, we, at St John’s, unashamedly promote wellbeing, happiness along with a nurturing family environment. As our exam results show, happy, well-balanced children learn, and the grades practically take care of themselves. But how do you measure wellbeing? A recent (March 2021) article in the New Scientist, discusses the importance of natural surroundings on wellbeing, and hence related mental and physical health. As the article points out, from the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to the orange gardens of Seville, urban planners down the ages have taken inspiration from nature, and of course the 20th Century “UK Garden City” programme of New Towns, is a case in point.
Here at St John’s, garden clubs have proliferated over the past two years, with our children now growing beans, peas, maize, potatoes, garlic, onions, lettuce, fennel, artichokes, tomatoes, courgettes, a variety of soft fruit, and have even just planted Apricot, Plum and Apple trees. We aim to cook and eat most of the produce ourselves in Food and Nutrition classes, as well as donate to the local Food bank; but equally importantly, enjoy the physical exercise and natural surroundings where we are planting. We are not alone in this thinking! A review in 2019 identified 28 nature-based interventions used in various countries to promote health and well being, from forest walking to birdwatching. On our grounds, we have identified over 20 species of birds, including a spectacular Tawny Owl and Great Spotted Woodpecker, 7 different species of butterfly along with our resident field mice, weasel, deer, hedgehog, foxes and badgers, not counting a wealth of insect life along our stream banks and in the woodland.
So what are the health and well-being advantages? Very obviously, ecological surroundings reduce exposure to pollutants, which evidence shows can affect the central nervous system. Socialising while digging and planting can reduce loneliness, anxiety, mood disorder and depression while in technical terms, the wide range of stimuli in our school woodlands, green spaces and fields, provide a restorative sensory environment that alleviates attention fatigue, so promoting concentration and focus. Other positive effects of accessing natural surroundings, according to recent studies, include improved sleep with its own intrinsic benefits, reduced stress, reduced negative emotions, positive social interactions and at the same time it helps generate a sense of meaning in life. If you look at the studies by American Educationalist Daniel Pink “A whole New Mind”, then Meaning emerges as one of the principal attributes for successful and contented career futures – we all need meaning in our lives.
They say the camera does not lie and these photographs simply radiate positivity, happiness, collegiality and you can have no doubt that St John’s children sleep well at nights! No nature deficit syndrome here, and we make the best of our privileged location and woodland campus with our extensive Outdoor Education programme.
2021/2022 Fees now available
St John’s is very pleased to inform all families that we have been able to maintain our highly competitive Boarding and Tuition fees for the forthcoming school year, while simultaneously improving our infrastructure and grounds. We really are “the small Devon School with a big heart” and far more accessible than you ever imagined (in location, ethos and now price). No wonder our numbers are growing quickly, along with our reputation in the community. Please come and meet us, (even virtually) as “seeing is believing”.
External Candidates for Cambridge and Edexcel Exams June 2021
We are very pleased to announce that we will continue to accept Cambridge and Edexcel GCSE/IGCSE/A Level external candidates for the June 2021 session. If you are having difficulty finding an exam centre, it should be possible to register here at St John’s Centre for a number of subjects.
Please contact Jon Gosse (Exams Officer) for further details.
St John’s appoints a new Head Teacher for August 2021
It is my great pleasure to inform you that IES has completed their extensive candidate search along with associated interviews, and have appointed Mr Bryan Kane to be the incoming Head Teacher of St John’s. Mr Kane will officially take over the School’s Leadership on 1st September 2021, but will be involved in a seamless transition including school visits with the opportunity to meet staff, families and students.
Mr. Kane brings a wealth of local and academic experience to St John’s as a Mathematics specialist, Academic Deputy Head as well as Acting Head Teacher (Perrott Hill School). Since 2007, he has also been a Team Inspector with ISI, (Independent Schools Inspectorate), which will be of great benefit to us as we prepare for our next inspection in 2022.
Mr Kane is married with three children and includes as his hobbies: music, reading and rambling. He has extensive experience of Day and Boarding schools and so will be an ideal person to oversee the reopening of the Boarding House in September 2021, as well as welcoming back our much-missed international students.
We wish Mr Kane every happiness and success at St John’s, and look forward to working with him during this transition period. My wife and I will greatly miss St John’s, Sidmouth and Devon, but retirement definitely calls! Thank you so much to the staff, families and local community who have made us so welcome, and please afford the same support to Mr Kane and his family.
(On behalf of St John’s and IES.)
Remote Learning Provision at St John’s, January 2021 and following
Remote education provision: information for parents
We received these two important documents from Devon County Council summarising the response to the current COVID 19 situation as well as a comparison chart for assessing COVID 19 infection as opposed to the common cold or Flu. Please read them carefully as without doubt, this is the clearest information that we have received so far and we would like to thank Devon CC for their proactive communication.
This information is intended to provide clarity and transparency to pupils and parents or carers about what to expect from St John’s remote education where national or local restrictions require entire cohorts (or bubbles) to remain at home.
For details of what to expect where individual pupils are self-isolating, please see the final section of this page.
The remote curriculum: what is taught to pupils at home
A pupil’s first day or two of being educated remotely might look different from our standard approach, while we take all necessary actions to prepare for a longer period of remote teaching.
What should my child expect from immediate remote education at St John’s in the first day or two of pupils being sent home?
What should my child expect from immediate remote education at St John’s in the first day or two of pupils being sent home?
- We will make every effort to transport the necessary text books, work books and materials for younger children to your homes by school transport, and notify you in advance for safe drop offs (for staff and yourselves)
- Zoom classes will introduce topics and catch up with students on a daily basis (Tutors and Class Teachers), while work will be submitted on Google Classroom ( Seniors), or Class Dojo / Atom Learning (Junior School)
- Normal Assemblies and normal class timetable will be followed by all pupils, and there will be Zoom or filmed PE, Art, Drama, PSHE and Music.
- Nursery, Key Worker and Vulnerable children according to DfE guidelines will be invited into school (where space and staff provision safely allow.
Following the first few days of remote education, will my child be taught broadly the same curriculum as they would if they were in school?
- We teach the same curriculum remotely as we do in school wherever possible and appropriate. However, we have needed to make some adaptations in some subjects given the need for specialist equipment in some subject areas like DT and Science. PE will consist more of fitness and skill sessions, while Art and DT will be based on materials available at home. We may change the order of curriculum topics, so that they lend themselves better to Remote Learning while delaying topics that require group field work until return to school.
Remote teaching and study time each day
How long can I expect work set by the school to take my child each day?
We expect that remote education (including remote teaching and independent work) will take pupils broadly the following number of hours each day:
|Key Stage 1||Study time will follow the normal school timetable, so effectively exactly the same time element. We envisage that some families might like to extend Research and progress at their own pace using Atom Learning topics.|
|Key Stage 2||Study time will follow the normal school timetable, so effectively exactly the same time element. We envisage that some families might like to extend Research and progress at their own pace using Atom Learning topics. This will allow additional “show and tell” by Zoom Assembly leading to normal “stars” and merit badge awards (sent by post when awarded)|
|Key Stage 3 and 4||Study time will follow the normal school timetable, so effectively exactly the same time element. Key Stage 4, will be expected to complete normal GCSE homework and submit it via Google Classroom, and naturally revise for our scheduled Mock Exams which will take place by Zoom if not face to face.|
Accessing remote education
How will my child access any online remote education you are providing?
A mixture of Zoom / Google Meet, email correspondence, Class Dojo, Atom Learning, Google Classroom and Sparx Mathematics will be used to facilitate our teaching. We will also suggest appropriate references for research, as well as Youtube links, BBC Bitesize, and Oak Learning materials. Some lessons will be recorded in advance and relayed.
We will send text books and other resources home if the children need them, along with resources for Art and DT classes, where relevant. Peripatetic Music classes will continue by Zoom or Skype, as preferred by the Instrument teacher.
If my child does not have digital or online access at home, how will you support them to access remote education?
We recognise that some pupils may not have suitable online access at home. We take the following approaches to support those pupils to access remote education:
If you do not have sufficient hardware for on line learning, then please contact us and we will lend you an iPad, for the duration of lockdown. We urge you to care for it as if it were your own. You may collect it (preferred), or we can send it to you via school transport. If we have no spare iPads for any reason, then we will invite you into school as a vulnerable student so that you can use PCs.
Should Internet access be an issue in remote areas, then we will invite you into school to maintain studies or possibly our IT Technician can visit with your permission, to improve internet speed and access.
Examination candidates can borrow school laptops, if they have no other access.
How will my child be taught remotely?
We use a combination of the following approaches to teach pupils remotely:
- live teaching (online lessons)
- recorded teaching (e.g. Oak National Academy lessons, video/audio recordings made by teachers)
- printed paper packs produced by teachers (e.g. workbooks, worksheets)
- textbooks and reading books pupils have at home
- Google classroom activities with power points and embedded video clips
- commercially available websites supporting the teaching of specific subjects or areas, including video clips or sequences
- Enquiries in Junior School will continue, allowing diversity of learning as well as submitted work, which may be by models, art work, design, iMovies, power point or Google equivalent or by song and verse.
- Individual intervention by Zoom
- Telephone calls / emails to Families to support, help with wellbeing and personal tutoring / coaching. Family support may be as necessary as pupil support.
Engagement and feedback
What are your expectations for my child’s engagement and the support that we as parents and carers should provide at home?
- Please insist that your child follows the normal school routine and if this becomes an issue or leads to anxiety, please contact the class teacher, tutor or Mrs Yeoman: email@example.com
- It is essential that Safeguarding is observed at all times, in terms of attire, location of study (not in bed), vocabulary and no use of mobile phones. Children must log on with their ies accounts, and only accept zooms from Teachers using iesmail accounts
- Normal standards of respect are expected in all Zoom group meets within and between the groups
- If children struggle to log on, or submit work, then please inform us immediately so that we can support you all
- We need to see your children at all times in Zoom meetings to know they are present. If they are self-conscious, a mask can be worn, but otherwise the head, shoulders but preferably the face with normal school smile should be seen!
- The curriculum is the same and set work will be the same as a normal lesson and must be submitted as per Teacher guidance.
How will you check whether my child is engaging with their work and how will I be informed if there are concerns?
- All work will be submitted by Class Dojo or Google Classroom, so we wll know who has completed work and who has not, for any reason
- Please inform us, as always, if your child cannot attend class for any reason, so that we know that the assignment will be late
- The Class Teacher or Tutor will contact you in the case of missing work, to see how best we can help you. This may escalate to Head of Section, or even Head of School in really complex situations.
How will you assess my child’s work and progress?
Feedback can take many forms and may not always mean extensive written comments for individual children. For example, whole-class feedback or quizzes marked automatically via digital platforms are also valid and effective methods, amongst many others. Our approach to feeding back on pupil work is as follows:
- Atom Learning and Sparx provide instant feedback
- G Classroom and Class Dojo allow for in-class dialogue marking as well as the answering of questions / concerns sent to Teachers
- In terms of project work, GCSE homeworks, marking time will be no longer than you would expect under normal class situations. If this is not the case then please contact the relevant Head of Section.
- Where learning is hindered or no progress is being made, we will attempt to provide individual support by Zoom, or find an available place in school as a “vulnerable student”
Additional support for pupils with particular needs
How will you work with me to help my child who needs additional support from adults at home to access remote education?
We recognise that some pupils, for example some pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), may not be able to access remote education without support from adults at home. We acknowledge the difficulties this may place on families, and we will work with parents and carers to support those pupils in the following ways:
- Our SENDCO will be in regular and timetabled contact, maintaining normal support classes
- Other assistance will be provided by individual intervention as and when needed (where resources and staff allow). Teaching assistants and Sendco will provide individual interventions as normal.
Remote education for self-isolating pupils
Where individual pupils need to self-isolate but the majority of their peer group remains in school, how remote education is provided will likely differ from the approach for whole groups. This is due to the challenges of teaching pupils both at home and in school.
If my child is not in school because they are self-isolating, how will their remote education differ from the approaches described above?
At the moment, we are teaching in class as well as remotely, and with few staff available, The teacher may Zoom everybody, and then set individual work, obviously with face to face support for those in the classroom. This same system would work if there were an individual child isolating. Alternatively, the work would be set on Google Classroom, with subsequent personal intervention by Zoom when the rest of the class are involved in individual work. The Tutor would also Zoom intervene.
Assemblies would always be Zoom as even without lockdown, Zoom is needed as bubbles are too big for just one classroom due to social distancing.
This report was compiled by Head of School, Graham Hurrell
January 25th 2021
St John’s Exam results 2020
Value Added: 93% of our students achieved their individual CAT 4 Target Grade or above! (up to 4 GCSE grades above statistical prediction!) 69% achieved between 1 and 4 grades improvement.
95% of all GCSE/ IGCSE grades achieved Grade 4 or above
There is still huge national debate about grade inflation, the discredited examination algorithm and to what extent grades are comparable from one year to another or even one school to another. There is no debate however, how hard our students worked right up to grade submission dates, both to achieve their deserved grades as well as to have a though preparation and platform for future A level and BTEC studies. We are so proud of them all in terms of their work ethic, adaptability, time-management, empathy for their classmates, as well as their resilience. The above results, particularly value added, have been the icing on the cake for us as explained below.
At St John’s, as in all schools, our Teaching staff laboured for days on fair and moderated grade submissions as well as complex rankings, which were all duly forwarded to CIE (International GCSE) as well as Pearson-Edexcel. We still feel that we know our students better than any algorithm, and that by ethical and realistic grade submission, we really were helping our students choose the correct courses for their futures – absolutely no grade inflation. As is generally known, Exam Boards eventually used CAGs (Centre or Teacher Assessed grades, moderated and submitted by the Head of Centre) in cases where grades were to be unrealistically down-graded. We have therefore used our own submitted grades in the calculations of our statistics, rather than the exam board generated data, which was actually much higher in several cases. While we are extremely proud of our overall exam results this year, we would like to stress how this “small Devon School with a big heart” has helped change students’ lives by massive value added in many cases, allowing students to attend their first choice 6th form and academic course, and follow their dreams. With small class sizes and dedicated staff, the value added is not surprising, but it was a challenging year. Value Added is the difference between the actual published GCSE score and that predicted at the beginning of Year 10 by a statistical test called the “CAT 4”; and as mentioned, some students achieved 4 complete grades over prediction! So congratulations to each and every one of our students, thanks to the professional staff body, and a huge thank you to our wonderful families who have supported us throughout, and believe in us.
If you would like more details about these results, or general information about Devon’s best kept secret, with an idyllic, spacious and woodland campus overlooking Sidmouth bay, then please do not hesitate in contacting firstname.lastname@example.org, Admissions’ Director.
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