The first week back in January always feels like the beginning of the journey back down the mountain after the long climb of the Autumn term. We are heading again towards the summer and of course, the public examinations for Year 11. The mocks this week will have been a good experience for them. We very much take the view that they are ‘formative assessment’. In other words, the students will learn from the experience how better to answer GCSE questions and how well their approach to revision has paid off in the examination hall.

Mocks are therefore an extremely important part of Year 11, providing a dress rehearsal for the real thing. As well as the preparation, marking and feedback that the staff do, there is also another team I would like to recognise. A number of our students qualify to have readers and I would like to thank the parents who volunteered to come in over the last week to help out in that capacity.

We also had another very interesting trip out to The Welding Institute last week. The name of the organisation may not be the most glamorous but what they do is fantastic. Their monthly lecture this time was on the Solar Orbiter which will be launched in just over a year’s time to fly closer to the sun than any man-made vehicle has ever flown before. A remarkable number of British scientists are working on the project and the students were privileged to hear more about it from one of the top scientists involved.

With such significant figures regularly speaking at TWI we will be making return visits and are particularly looking forward to the F35B Lightning jet talk on 16th May.

On a separate note, we began the week with a staff training day. Part of the day was given over to two new organisational initiatives. The first is to enhance our pastoral tracking using our current iSAMS system. A school is a complex place and your children have contact with many adults every day. In order for your child’s tutor to be quickly informed of any successes or concerns that may arise, we have introduced a new aspect of the system which allows all such information to be readily shared with the tutor. We are trialling the system at present and believe it will help us strengthen further our pastoral care.

Our second initiative is to trial an online homework system. In effect, it will allow parents to directly access what homework has been set for your child and when it is due. Whilst this could be seen as reducing the responsibility each pupil has for managing their own work schedule, it does make the whole process much more transparent and allows parents to better encourage and support their children in getting homework done fully and on time. The trial will launch shortly and you will receive further information about it then. When it is up and running we will seek your feedback too so that we can refine the system to be as effective as possible.