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Changes to the School Timetable - 2 week model

Dear Parent/Carer

As part of our continued journey to improve the learning experience at St Bede’s Catholic School and Sixth Form College, we will be adopting a two-week timetable model; effective from September 2019. The decision to organise the timetable over a two-week cycle has been taken after careful consideration and consultation, in order to ensure that all students continue to be provided with the opportunity to study a broad, balanced and compelling curriculum. There will be a week A and a week B and we are of the opinion,after careful research, that this will benefit students and enhance the quality of their education. For reassurance, the introduction of a two-week timetable will not change the length of the school day, so your transport arrangements will not be affected.

Currently we operate a one-week timetable of 25 lessons. This is a very traditional model and we believe it does not meet the changing nature of learning in 2019, nor help address the real challenges of new specifications at GCSE, which have made styles of assessment different and require deeper knowledge of all subjects. The majority of secondary schools across the country operate a two-week timetable. All GCSE subjects now require students to study knowledge and skills at a depth only previously studied at A level. Few subjects have coursework elements and even in these, there is a sharp reduction in coursework and a weighted focus on a final examination. Students are therefore assessed through longer and much more challenging terminal exams with no modular learning as experienced in previous years. In short, a two-week timetable provides greater flexibility for all subjects to enhance the amount of time to teach the content required by the new GCSE specifications.

Over 2 weeks — week A and week B — the flexibility of learning time over this period means that we can ensure students continue to have a very broad curriculum offer at KS3, GCSE and A level. Many schools are making decisions to reduce their subject offer and option choices at GCSE, removing subjects seen as ‘non-essential’ because of the difficulty factor represented by a final terminal examination. As a fully inclusive academy, we remain committed to providing 4 option choices for our young people. Furthermore, we believe it is essential that all students have access to high quality learning in music, PE, art, graphics, textiles, cooking, product design, business and Health and Social Care at KS4. We know that these subjects can inspire young people and provide appropriate career platforms along with the traditional academic subjects. We believe that students should remain in a position to choose subjects that they love at GSCE. This timetable model enables us to retain and enhance our vision of a broad and deep curriculum.

I do appreciate that students will need to remember lessons that may fall on different days during week A and B. Books and PE kit may need to be brought in on different days of the week for week A and week B. Breaks and lunch-times will remain the same each week with the same timings as this year. Regular reminders will occur in assemblies. The weeks will be clearly shown in Student Planners for week A and week B. Week A or B will be advertised on the school website and the school app. Digital screens and noticeboards around the school will also display week A or B. I am sure that, with the correct support,all of our students will soon adapt to this new model.

In conclusion, we have embraced the new qualification changes at St Bede’s and are aware of the challenges young people face. The new specifications represent better, deeper learning, so our models of teaching have to adapt so that we can ensure students are fully prepared and confident in meeting these challenges. A two-week model provides greater flexibility to timetable lessons, allows the provision of a broad range of subject choices to be retained and enhances the learning experience for all subjects.

I take pride from the great partnership that we have with our school community, and always welcome feedback from our stakeholders. In this regard, I welcome any comments or queries that you may have and can assure you that any concerns will be addressed sensitively and directly. I do feel this is an exciting development and allows the school to maintain a deep, broad and balanced curriculum.

Yours sincerely Mr N Harrison Headteacher

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