The Principal's Blog:

Neil Gallagher, the PrincipalNovember 5th, 2018

Following directly after the release of our recent Ofsted report, we received the latest DfE Progress 8 league tables. I am extremely pleased to be able to inform you that CCHS remains one of the top non-selective schools in Essex in terms of the progress our students make during their time with us from year 7 until the end of their GCSEs. This year, our Progress 8 outcome was +0.25, this means that on average, our students achieved a quarter of a GCSE grade higher, compared against the national average of those students with a similar starting point. Since the Progress 8 tables were introduced, we have consistently been one of the top schools in Essex, but additionally our outcomes have stood up very well against the national figures.
I would like to thank all of the staff at CCHS for their hard work, commitment and support and we will continue to put our students at the forefront of everything we do to ensure that as individuals they have the opportunity to fulfil their potential.
We are now in the second half of the autumn term and unbelievably, the festive season will come along very quickly. As I was informed the other day by a local supermarket, 'just 55 sleeps until Christmas'! There is so much going on in school, staff and students, are being kept extremely busy, with mock exams for Years 10 and 11 continuing, as well as many extra-curricular events and clubs.
As you will have heard in the media, this year on 11th November, it will be 100 years since the end of the 'war to end all wars'; World War I. There will be many national tributes of remembrance to the lives lost in conflict and at CCHS we are holding our very own Peace Party on Tuesday, 6th November. The event begins at 5pm in the main hall, where there will be performances and poetry readings by our students, to acknowledge the sacrifices made by our forebears. Students and staff have been asked to bring in any accounts and /or photos from family archives to contribute towards our PROUD remembrance board. It is quite profound, when we begin to delve into our personal family histories, that there is barely a family that would have been untouched by loss in this terrible war. The week culminates on Friday with a two-minute silence at 11.00am as a mark of respect for those fallen and lost, and a small group of Year 8 History students will walk to the seafront to lay a wreath at the memorial in the gardens.
This coming Thursday is also a very important day for our current Year 11 students; it is the Sixth Form Taster Day. The day is designed so that students can really get a feel for what it is like to be a member of our sixth form college. Students can dress out of uniform, experience sixth form tutorials across a range of subjects, follow the daily schedule of a typical sixth former as well have the opportunity to attend an in-house subject fair. Staff will be on hand to give advice and guidance on the entry requirements for different courses and there will also be post-18 information to help students really focus on the best subjects and course level to support their future aspirations. Some of our students will also be heading off to the Colchester Institute to see the courses available there, which broadens the subject and course level selection. There really is a post-16 pathway on offer to suit the needs and abilities of all students.
Alongside these important events, the rest of the week is equally busy. A group of students embark on the Firebreak course, working alongside firefighters from Clacton Fire Station; with a passing out parade on Friday, there is an inter-form PE competition, a girls' football enhancement tournament at Colchester United, a schools' District Cross-country event, on Saturday a group of upper school students visit Ipswich Crown Court to participate in a Mock Trial Competition and, as I said before, the important mock exams continue.
Finally, massive congratulations to James Poynter, our Technology technician, who during the half term break was announced as the Pearson Teaching Assistant of the year at a glitzy, televised event in central London. This is an extremely prestigious national award and James is an exceptionally worthy winner, we are very proud of him and very lucky to have such a committed and hardworking member of staff.
Neil Gallagher, Principal CCHS

October 15th, 2018

The first half of the autumn term is almost complete, with the October half term just on the horizon. It has been a very busy start to the 2018-19 academic year with a lot going on; we have hosted our annual open evening, parents' evenings, sixth form open evening, awards evening, tours of the school, not to mention a full Ofsted inspection, alongside the excellent teaching and learning happening each day.
It may seem that we have only just moved on from the examinations of last summer, which is true, but we are ready to start again; such is the circle of school life. Next week our Year 10 students will start the process off with mock English literature exams, followed by some mocks for Year 11's in both science and computer science. These will happen in the main hall and will emulate real exam conditions, in preparation for the GCSE examinations next summer.
A full programme of mock exams begins after half term. We want our students to be as exam resilient as possible, so that when they are faced with the pressures of the exam season, they are not daunted by the prospect. A schedule of exams and events can be found on our exams information page by following this link.
Outside of examinations, there is still time for some fun activities and some exciting opportunities. The extra-curricular clubs are now definitely up and running, and the sporting fixtures calendar is very full at the moment. Science seems to dominate the theme this week with the Sigma Faraday Challenge at CCHS; a visit to the London Cruise Terminal to see how chemistry is so important to the development of business and to highlight the range of exciting career opportunities that arise from studying this subject, and the Quadcopter Challenge continues with a group of STEM students heading off for a further event at the Passmores School in Harlow.
In English, we are delighted to welcome an author and journalist to our school; Vanessa Altin, in a 'meet the author' event. Vanessa has written a booked called The Pomegranate Tree, based on her real life experiences and the true, moving and sometimes shocking stories, of the young people she met as a journalist whilst covering the war in Syria. Our students have been preparing for her visit and I am certain she will encourage and inspire some budding journalists or writers hidden in our midst!
The week culminates on Friday with a very special charity event being organised by our sixth form students. We are having a Pink and Purple Day; pink for Breast Cancer Research and purple to support a young local boy suffering from Wiskott Aldrich Syndrome. I am sure that there will be some innovative ideas put forward to raise money for such worthy causes, which will be well supported, as usual by our school community.
Can I just thank parents for their overwhelming support of the changes we will be putting into place after half term in regards to the mobile phone protocol. A reminder that between October and Christmas, students will be warned to put their phones away. In the new year, students with phones out, at anytime during the school day, maybe issued with a sanction in accordance with the Behaviour for Learning Policy.
Good luck to our mock 'examinees' next week and to all the students taking part in fixtures and challenges. I hope everyone enjoys a restful mid-term break, remember the clocks go back overnight on Saturday/Sunday, 27th /28th October and when we return on Monday, 29th October, with an extra hours sleep on our side, it really will be darker nights, which inevitably means the build up to Christmas!
Neil Gallagher, Principal CCHS

September 24th, 2018

Last week, on Wednesday and Thursday (19th and 20th September), we welcomed five Ofsted inspectors to our school for a Section 5 inspection. It is always a pleasure to ‘showcase’ to visitors what we do at CCHS day in and day out. The inspectors met with many, many students and visited a wide range of lessons across all of the different subject areas to see the great teaching and learning that goes on at our school.
It will be some weeks before we receive the official outcome and the report is published. I am sure that the report will reflect the improvements we have made at CCHS since our last full inspection in March 2013. When I receive the official notification from Ofsted, I will let you know straightaway.
On Thursday, 13th September, we held our annual awards evening to celebrate the success of our 2017-18 cohort of GCSE and Year 13 students. The evening did not just celebrate the high achievers, but also those students who worked incredibly hard, attained some real personal achievements and made exceptional progress during their time with us. It was a wonderful evening for the students and their parents, and provided an opportunity for us to wish many of them a fond farewell and every success as they move on to the next exciting chapter of their lives.
As ever school life moves at a very fast pace and it is difficult to believe that we have only been back at school following the summer holidays for just three weeks. The school calendar is already very full of a range of activities and events. This week, on Tuesday, we are hosting “Sir Linkalot”; a Year 7 and 8 literacy event, with assemblies, workshops and activities throughout the day and an invitation has been sent to some parents to participate in the visit.
In addition, next week, Mr Blanes has organised the first Bikeability course of the year. It is vital that our students know how to cycle safely, have an awareness of other road users and pedestrians, and how to maintain their bikes to ensure they are of a roadworthy standard.
Sports fixtures are up and running, with our football and netball teams off to Manningtree, and we have the European Day of Languages, with students participating in the Great European Bake-off. On Friday, after school on the field, we are holding our Year 7 Colour Run. This is such a great event and an opportunity for students of all levels of sporting ability to get together and get to know each other whilst having a lot of fun.
A reminder for everyone that on Thursday, 27th, the school closes at 12.55pm to allow us to prepare for our annual open evening, when we welcome Year 6 students and their parents to take a look at CCHS, participate in some lesson activities and gather information, to help make an informed choice about which secondary school to attend next September.
Finally, on the reverse of this week’s Parent News, we printed a list of all of the extra-curricular clubs, currently available in school. There are so many different things going on and I am sure that there will be something available to suit the interests of most students. However, we are open to suggestions, and if you or your child has an idea for a club or activity, please do not hesitate to put this forward via form tutors. Extra-curricular activities are a very important part of school life and our community, they promote confidence, broaden interests and widen friendship groups, please encourage your child to take part in as many clubs as possible.
Neil Gallagher, Principal CCHS

September 10th, 2018

Welcome back, I hope everyone has enjoyed a lovely summer holiday and we have all had a good rest and are ready and prepared for the 2018-19 academic year.
During August, last year’s Year 11 and 13 cohorts received their exam results. At GCSE, there were some stunning individual outcomes and amazing stories of success that have enabled all our students to progress onto apprenticeships, sixth form or further education. Year 13’s were also celebrating and I am very pleased to say that most students managed to get into their first choice university. Parent News this week has a full report on the students celebrating success.
Despite significant changes to the exam specifications (the new 9-1 grades were rolled out across all subject areas, except the technologies), our students embraced the new exam formats and worked very hard. I am very proud of their determination to do well and I cannot praise the staff here at CCHS more highly for their commitment and dedication to our students.
With week one completed, the new Year 7’s are beginning to settle into secondary school life already. They are finding their way around the school and making new friendships, some of which will last a lifetime. Very soon, the list of all the extra-curricular clubs will be released and there really will be something of interest for everyone; I hope that many students will take the opportunity to go along and enjoy the activities that happen outside of lessons.
Coming up this week on Thursday, 13th September we have a very special awards evening, to celebrate 2017-18 successes. The evening takes place very soon into the academic year, but this is to capture the Year 13’s before they head off to university and pastures new. We also have our first school trip of the academic year with a STEM group adventure to Harlow participating in a Quadcopter Build Day, sounds very exciting!
A reminder for all parents that we have our annual Open Evening on Thursday, 27th September, for the current Year 6 students to come and look around and see what we do at CCHS. On this day, school closes at 12.55pm.
In next week’s blog, I will let you know how the awards evening went and watch out for information on a very important initiative coming soon, PROUD Pledges.
Neil Gallagher, Principal CCHS