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High School: Welcome to High School 1.2

It’s Week 9, and the last week of our longest ever half-term - our first in the new High School. It has been a great eight weeks so far, with the students and teachers feeling more at home in their new learning environment every week.

Last week Ms Jen, Mr Keith, Mr Andrew, Mr Will and I observed all the new teachers, and it is great to see both the relationships that they have with their classes and their understanding of What makes a Great St Andrews lesson.

I am really looking forward to welcoming everyone back after half-term when the new High School will be even better, with a number of improvements planned over half-term break and in the month ahead:

  • The building work is now complete in our new Theatre, which will begin being used for Drama lessons after half-term, with the first big Drama performances taking place in this fantastic new space being the House Drama Competition, in early December. This will also be a great venue for Parents’ Information Evenings, beginning with the Year 9 Options and Year 11 IB Information Evenings taking place soon after half-term. Parents of students in Years 9 and 11 will receive more information about these soon from, Ms Wendy and Mr Will respectively.

  • In November our new Snack/Coffee Corner will be built at the Gold Building end of the Canteen, which will extend the choice of snacks available before and after school and at break and lunchtime. We will also be rearranging the furniture in the Canteen and adding some additional outdoor eating spaces for those students who bring packed lunches.

  • These changes in the Canteen and additional outdoor eating spaces will mean that students will no longer be eating in the Shared Spaces in the Gold Building, so that these spaces can be used for both independent work, both individually and in small groups and, just as importantly, for students to spend time talking to each other, strengthening our Great St Andrews Community.

 

During the last eight weeks we have noticed that some students have struggled to use their mobile phones appropriately during break and lunch times. Our ICT in the Curriculum Guidelines, written in February 2014 and available in the High School Parents' Handbook on Moodle, state that “we recognize the importance of developing all of our students as mature and confident users of ICT, both for their future learning and their lives beyond school” and aim “to develop the students as ‘digitally literate citizens’”, with Moodle, the school’s Facebook page and standrews.ac.th e-mail accounts being “very valuable in giving students a carefully monitored introduction to the sensible use of social media and e-mail”.

We still very much believe in these aims, but a lot has changed since February 2014, with more and more students now having having smartphones, unlimited data and social media accounts, and more and more research on the negative effects of social media on both individual’s self-esteem and our St Andrews Community. Ms Simone and I spoke about this at a PTG Coffee Morning in June and another Parents' Workshop on Social Media and your Teen took place three weeks ago. I have also been discussing this with the Student Leadership Team since March, and it was very interesting to see that mobile phone “addiction” was such a significant feature of the Year 9 Drama lesson I observed on Thursday (see photos above).

If you would like to read more about this, the resources from the PTG Coffee Morning in June are still available in the High School Parents' Handbook on Moodle, and the following more recent articles and radio show, based on the work of psychologist Jean Twenge, are interesting:

The Atlantic: Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?

The Guardian: Are smartphones really making our children sad?

BBC World Service - Business Daily, Children: Slaves to the Smartphone?

For these reasons, we have made the difficult decision that in the second half of this term we will trial a mobile phone “Breathing Space” policy, with all students keeping their phones in their lockers between the beginning of Registration, at 7:45, and the end of lessons, at 2:30, each day. During the second half of term we will discuss this with all students, beginning in PSHE on Friday 10th November, with the Student Leadership Team and with parents, working out how we can all best work together to ensure that our students can learn to use ICT appropriately, but not allow this to detract from either our “safe, happy, supportive” environment or our Great St Andrews Community.

Have a great half-term, and I look forward to seeing you all in the second half of term,

 

Roo Stenning
Head of High School

 

P.S. Also coming soon, our first International Day in the new High School. We will share more details in the first Newsletter after half-term, but will be working with the school’s Sustainability Group and the House Leaders to plan an evolution of International Day, with the PTG providing the same great International Food Hall at lunchtime.

High School Calendar: Term 1

Friday 20th October

Memorial Assembly for the Late King Rama IX

Friday 20th October

Year 11 and 13 Grade Reports published

Monday 23rd - Friday 27th October

Half-Term

Tuesday 31st October

Year 9 Options: Parents’ Information Evening

Thursday 2nd November

Year 13 Parent/Student/Teacher Meetings

Tuesday 7th November

Year 11 IB Information Evening / Parent/Student/Teacher Meetings

Friday 17th November

High School International Day

Friday 24th November

Year 7, 8 and 9 Grade Reports published

Tuesday 28th November

Year 7 Parent/Student/Teacher Meetings

Thursday 30th November

Year 8 Parent/Student/Teacher Meetings

Tuesday 5th December

Father’s Day: School Closed

Thursday 7th December

Year 9 Parent/Student/Teacher Meetings

Monday 11th December

Constitution Day: School Closed

Friday 15th December

Year 10 and 12 Grade Reports published

Friday 15th December

End of Term 1

 

The full High School Calendar is available on the school’s website.

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