The Executive Headteacher's Blog:

Neil Gallagher, the PrincipalJanuary 14th, 2019

Well, the first week of lessons for 2019 is done and dusted, as they say! It is strange, but even after a prolonged couple of weeks of the fun and festivities, students and staff alike quickly settle back into school life; teaching and learning, straight to business as usual!
Life in school seems to be dominated by two main things at the moment, examinations and Les Miserables preparations. The year 10s are involved in mock exams this week, BTEC exams are dotted throughout the week, revision sessions are up and running. For year 11, revision timetables were issued to students at their Parents’ Evening on 20th December and we saw the launch of their ‘Passport to the Prom’. We urge all of our students to take advantage of the help and support available from their subject teachers.
For those involved in the Les Miserable musical, the live performances are just a couple of weeks away; 7th to 9th February. Preparations are going well and the excitement is building. There is a real buzz of anticipation around the school, as there is whenever we are reaching the pinnacle of weeks and months of hard work and practising. This week, staff and students begin building and painting the sets, and the costumes will be being ‘stitched and tweaked’. I would like to thank all the staff involved for giving up so much of their free time to ensure our students can participate and perform in shows like this. Believe me, it is not easy, they are an amazing group of colleagues. Good luck to everyone in the last couple of weeks of preparations. For tickets, please go to the website homepage where there is a link to different performance dates and times.
This week, I received a letter from our local MP, he had received a communication from a concerned local resident about students cycling to and from school. This time, it was not so much about the cycling proficiency of our students, but more about how difficult it was for drivers to see the cyclists on the dark and gloomy mornings and evenings that we experience at this time of year. I feel that he has raised a very important point, clothing and coats worn by the students are generally of a dark colour. For parents of those students who do cycle to school, please can I ask you to ensure that all bikes have front and rear lights and wherever possible reflectors are added to equipment and clothing. It may also be worth considering a place for your child on the next Bikeability course organised by Mr Blanes, in conjunction with Essex County Council, which takes place on 15th February.
Details of this course can be found within this week’s edition of Parent News alongside other articles, in particular, information on our new online school trips management system, EVOLVE. There are also some important key dates for the forthcoming spring term detailed, please add to your calendars where appropriate.
Neil Gallagher, Executive Headteacher

January 7th, 2019

Happy New Year to everyone, I wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2019.
I like the start of a new year, there seems to be a freshness and an eagerness in the air throughout the school community.
For our upper school students the serious business of revision and exam preparation will be at the forefront of their thoughts. The next few months will fly by and before they know it, the GCSE and A Level examinations will be upon us; 68 school days until the first practical exam and 72 school days until the first written exam, it really is that close! Although it is a very intense period in our children’s lives, from my own personal experience, life does return to normal post examinations.
For our students, remember that staff are on hand and fully prepared to offer all the support and study assistance they can; staff have been through this before, both as students themselves and then as teachers, they know and understand what it is like!
School life is quickly getting back to normal after the festivities, both academically and all the extra-curricular activities. The final rehearsals and preparations for our musical Les Miserable, will be happening over the next few weeks with the actual performances scheduled for 7th to 9th February. Auditions have already started for the next big show; School of Rock.
This week we see the launch of our Brilliant Club, where 20 selected students from Year 12 and Year 9 get to work with staff from Cambridge University. These visits to and from university representatives provide and invaluable experience for our students, culminating in a graduation ceremony later in the year.
The usual array of sporting fixtures are littered throughout the diary over the next few weeks as well as many other exciting events to suit the interests of everyone.
Our weekly edition of Parent News has articles and photos of life at CCHS.
Neil Gallagher, Executive Headteacher

December 21st, 2018

We have come to the end of the autumn term and without doubt, this time of year is an extremely exciting time for families.
Before I move onto ‘tidings of joy’, I thought I would let you know how the second half of the term has gone in regards to mobile phone use on the school site. Overall, there has been a very positive response from both parents and students. We have not quite achieved a mobile phone and headphone free zone yet, but there are very few phones visible around school and a lot more conversations happening at break and lunchtimes between students. Incidents resulting from social media issues have greatly reduced. When students are seen with their phones they are requested to turn them off and put them away, repeat ‘offenders’ or anyone refusing to comply with the request, are sanctioned in accordance with the Behaviour for Learning policy; an updated policy is available on the school website. As a result of such a positive response we have decided to continue with the current strategy and review again at Easter.
To tie in with the restrictions on mobile phones and to ensure that parents are able to contact students after school when clubs, activities and sanctions are in progress, we have extended our switchboard opening hours until 4.30pm.
I would also like to take this opportunity to remind you to be extremely vigilant in regards to safeguarding your child when they are online. At this time of year, many students will be delighted to receive for their Christmas presents, new electronic devices such as tablets and mobile phones. There has been a lot of media attention lately about online grooming; this is a real and present danger for our young people, and can happen to absolutely anyone. Watch out for whom your child is making friends with and which online forums and gaming platforms they are using. If you are uncertain about anything, there is plenty of advice and information to be found on our website, just look for the be-safe link.
Now to happier news, I am delighted to be able to inform you of the tremendous success of our annual Christmas Shoe Box Appeal. Each year, we collect non-perishable items and small treats to pack into shoeboxes ready to deliver to the residents of a sheltered housing complex in Clacton called Holly Court. With your support and generosity, this year, the school foyer was stacked full of wrapped shoeboxes, surrounding our Christmas tree, which were delivered by some of our students on Tuesday, 18th December. We filled over 100 shoeboxes; there was a present for everyone. The ladies and gentlemen are always so grateful to receive the gifts and to have our students deliver them. How much this means was brought home this year when one lady said that she was saving her gift for Christmas Day as she didn’t have any relatives to visit her or receive any gifts, so she liked to wake up on Christmas morning and open her shoebox filled with goodies. It really meant a lot to her. So on behalf of the residents, a massive thank you, to you and your children for such thoughtfulness, kindness and generosity, many cards and letters of thanks were received from them.
Our last day, Friday, 21st December was a non-uniform day, students were asked to wear a Christmas jumper, if they had one, in exchange for a small contribution. The fund raising was in aid of the Clacton Rotary Club to help to support their Christmas Day lunch for local lonely and vulnerable elderly people, held at CCHS. This is an extremely worthwhile cause. Each year, this dedicated team of volunteers give up their own family time on Christmas Day to provide sustenance and some comfort and joy to others less fortunate, they are an amazing group of people.
Finally, I would like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas, a healthy and prosperous New Year and I look forward to welcoming all our students back to school on Monday, 7th January 2019.
Neil Gallagher, Principal CCHS

December 17th, 2018

We are almost at the end of 2018 and time seems to have flown by since September, our Year 7's are now fully immersed into life at CCHS and our Year 11’s are focused on their GCSEs. Every year seems busier than before and 2018 has been no exception, we have covered so much already, with many more exciting things planned for the Spring and Summer terms including the return of the school musical; this year it is the epic, Les Miserables. I can’t wait for this, I am sure it will be truly spectacular!
I would like to thank all of our students and parents for their generosity and support with the annual Shoe Box Appeal. The school foyer is stacked with boxes, surrounding our Christmas tree, that are wrapped and ready for delivery to the elderly residents of Holly Court in Clacton. It has been a fantastic effort and I know that the presents will be very gratefully received.
The final day of term on Friday, 21st December will be a non-uniform day, students are asked to wear a Christmas jumper if they have one. We will be fundraising on this day, for the Clacton Rotary Club to help to support their Christmas Day lunch for local lonely and vulnerable elderly people, which is held at CCHS. This is an extremely worthwhile cause. Each year, this dedicated team of volunteers give up their own family time on Christmas Day to provide sustenance and some comfort and joy to others less fortunate; they are an amazing group of people. (Reminder that school finishes on Friday at 12.55pm.)
This week's Parent News has some very interesting articles to highlight just a few of the wide range of activities and events that form part of CCHS life. We had a fantastic REAL Day with a focus on careers, STEM experiments and a workshop on how to raise aspirations, increase self-belief and resilience, which included tips on revision and independent study skills. There was a visit from an innovative drama group called N-Act, to reinforce to our Year 8's the dangers of the Internet and how to stay safe online. We were also celebrating the success of our Year 10 footballers getting through to the next round of the Under 15's Essex Cup.
The week ahead is very busy and, despite it being one of the most distracting times of year, we remain focused on the business of teaching and learning, making sure our students are ready and prepared for their futures and examinations. With this in mind, on Thursday we have our Year 11 Parents' Evening, although very close to the end of term, this is a really important evening. Parents and students can discuss with subject teachers the outcomes of the recent mocks, identifying what needs to be done in the months ahead. There is also the launch of the Passport to the Prom and students will be able to collect a 'CCHS Revision Tote Bag', filled with useful information and resources, as well as some goodies and the chance to win prizes and rewards.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank our parents for all the support provided to the school and to our students for being such great young people, who are a credit to CCHS and their families, and finally to our hard working and dedicated staff, we are very lucky to have them.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone, we are looking forward to welcoming our students back fresh and rested on 7th January 2019.
Neil Gallagher, Principal CCHS

November 26th, 2018

When looking at this week's Parent News I am inspired by the kindness and generosity of young people that quite often goes unmentioned and unnoticed, not just locally but within society as a whole. There is a story about how one of our students gives up her time to spend it with elderly people at a local care home and how much this means to the residents. I am exceptionally proud that this young lady is a CCHS student and I can imagine how proud her parents must be of her too. There are many such wonderful young people, fund raising for charities, supporting worthy causes and giving up their time.
As we start to move towards the festive season, whilst most of us will be privileged to spend time with our families, enjoying many of the finer things, it is worth acknowledging that this will not be the case for everyone. As a school we try to give back a little by organising our annual Shoe Box Appeal; this has already begun and form groups are seeking to fill a record breaking amount of shoeboxes, full of non-perishable items, which we can wrap and deliver to residents living in local sheltered housing.
There will also be the Christmas Day dinner organised by the Rotary Club for those people who would otherwise be on their own, this is held in our Clouds dining hall. It takes a huge amount of logistical organisation and the selfless commitment of those who give up their own family time to make sure that an enjoyable day is provided for some of our lonely and vulnerable neighbours. This is truly commendable and, again, I am extremely proud of such community spirit.
My point of raising this, this week, is not only to acknowledge the kindness and efforts of others, but to remind everyone that we have amazing young people, working hard, aspiring and inspiring. Sometimes when we tune into the news it is easy to forget just how lucky we are to live within a society that is built upon the fundamental British values of respect, acceptance, democracy and the rule of law. There will always be bad things that happen and we can't stop that, but I, for one, believe we need to focus much more on the positives, praising and rewarding the overwhelming majority of good, decent young people.
The mock exams have now finished for our upper school students, and it has been a very busy time for all of them. The outcomes from these will help our students to identify their areas for focus in preparation for the final push towards their GCSE examinations in the summer term.
The week ahead includes a STEM event for Year 5 students from local Primary Schools, as well as a bike-ability course aimed at improving road awareness and the safety of our students who cycle to school.
Please take a look at the week's edition of the Parent News which has some great articles on the Mock Trial enrichment event at Ipswich Crown Court, the introduction of the Modern Foreign Languages Ambassadors and a full account the exciting football matches that took place at Clacton FC football ground.
A reminder that Friday 30th November is a non-pupil day.
Neil Gallagher, Principal CCHS

November 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