Passion for reading at Marlwood 2

Our "Concorde Crew" reading group made and sold cakes this week to contribute towards the costs of a guest author (Ali Sparkes) appearing at the Concorde Book Award in March.  Their cakes looked delicious and the excited group raised £64.10 towards the fund. 


They will be holding a book sale in February and will start to collect good condition books after the Christmas holidays.

Passion for reading at Marlwood School 1

Our 'Accelerated Reader' programme goes from strength to strength.

Key stage 3 readers in years 7-9 are doing brilliantly.  86% of all students have read a book and taken a quiz on its content in the past 30 days (actually 98% in year 7!) .  Students have taken staggering 2170 quizzes on books they have read since September.  Four students are now 'word millionaires' having read a million words this term.  Two of the year 7 English teaching groups have reached the 5 million word mark.  More certificates to be awarded, well done all, and keep it up over Christmas.


As we approach the end of this term I wanted to write on the issue of attendance.  Much is reported in the media, from detailed academic research, into the factors which will have the greatest impact on the ability of a student to achieve the best they can whilst at school.  There is no doubt that the most important of these factors is attendance.  Put simply, if a child is not at school it is very difficult to offer them a high quality education.  And in this regard it is the regular short term absence that can be the most damaging as it disrupts the learning over an extended period of time.  The figures are well publicised:

- one day off per week equates to an attendance figure of 80%.  Whilst this sounds an impressive number, over 5 years of education this would be the equivalent of one whole school year missed.

- one day off per fortnight equates to an attendance of 90%.  Again this is an impressive figure but over 5 years would be the equivalent of half a year missed.

In either of the scenarios outlined above it is easy to see how achieving academic excellence would be very hard for a child.

The national average for attendance is just above  94%.  As a school with a focus on excellence our aim is to beat this figure.  We have set ourselves the target of 95% for this academic year.

Now the good news.  Marlwood school has had great success this year in  regard to improving the attendance of individuals and consequently the whole community.  At the last count we were just short of our target and above the national average.  Most impressively this is a big increase on last year.

So a big well done to all those students who got themselves into school and continue to do so on a regular basis.  And a big thank you to the parents on providing the support that students sometimes need to get here when they are not feeling their best.

As we move through the winter months I hope we can continue 'Working together for excellence' in regard to attendance and keep those total figures as high as possible. 

Celebrating excellence at Marlwood School

As we approach the end of term there are two events that allow us to celebrate the success of students at Marlwood School. ' Speech Night' on Thursday 18th December is our traditional prize giving event. The hard work, contribution and success of Marlwood students in the academic year 2013-2014 will be celebrated. Those students just starting out on their journey at Marlwood to those who have now left us to pursue their chosen career will be applauded and rewarded. In total there are 226 prizes with certificates, gift cards and, in some cases, trophies presented to the students. There are additional prizes this year in recognition of the progress and attainment of students in all subjects in  academic years 7-10 last year. This allows us to involve a larger proportion of our students in this special event.

Following Speech Night on Friday 19th December, each House will have its own 'Celebration of Success' assembly. This is in recognition of the hard work, contribution and success of students in the current academic year. In total we will hand out 1601 certificates and 2457 awards.  A true reflection of the positive culture that is being developed at the school.

A huge well done to all of the students involved in these awards and a big thank you to all of the staff and parents who have supported them this term.

Children In Need

A well done to all in our community who dressed up, baked cake and ate cake for 'Children In Need'. Today we received notification, from Pudsey Bear, that we raised and donated an impressive £1130.13.

Parents' Discussion Forum

We are setting up a Parents’ Discussion Forum in order to gauge parents’ views on a number of school issues and some of the big projects we are planning for the future. Further details will also be available on the school website via the headteacher’s blog. We would welcome parents of students across the age range, and parents who might be long standing associates of the school as well as those who have a first child who joined this September. We ask that, if possible, you commit to three one hour evening sessions over the rest of this academic year. If you are interested in being a member, please make contact with the school’s Deputy Head, Mr C Reed, through his secretary - - in the new year. The proposed dates - to be confirmed - are as follows: Forum 1: Wednesday 28th January, 2015 7-8pm Forum 2: Wednesday 25th March, 2015 7-8pm Forum 3: Wednesday 24th June, 2015 7-8pm

Bugsy Malone

Yesterday Marlwood school extended a warm welcome to the community for the production of Bugsy Malone. There are few events in the school calendar that reflect our vision of 'working together for excellence' in quite the same way as a school production. Students and staff from across the school have combined to stage 'Bugsy' for your delight. Every aspect of the production, from the performers, music, costume and choreography through to the technical support, publicity, box office and even refreshments have involved the hard work, talent and leadership of our students. Yesterday saw a matinee performance to local primary schools, followed by a wonderful evening performance. If you were present at either I am sure that you will have thoroughly enjoyed the show, as did I. I know that you will join with me in offering congratulations to them all. If you missed it, I hope you are able to catch the last performance tonight.

Literacy at Marlwood School

An exciting two terms for our first ever set of Literacy Ambassadors. there are 64 students leading this exciting project to develop the literacy skills of all students. Literacy Ambassadors have been testing their own knowledge, through teaching staff how to punctuate accurately in after school sessions! They have also been sharing the Word of the Week (WOW) with their tutor group. Students are busy gearing up for Marlwood's first Spelling Bee on March 19th. The heats will be held in tutor groups and the best from each group will take part in the event. Family and friends will be able to come along, cheer and even join in. A music and lyrics competition will also be part of the evening. This will be led by the Music Department. Alongside all of this there will be a book sale to support Marlwood's continuing and successful involvement with the Concorde Book Award. The Poetry of Remembrance competition won by Fred Wakefield in Year 9 who became our first 'Poetry Star': I REMEMBER YOU I remember you I remember your soul Your happiness Your life, your everything Here you are not forgotten Your grave with secrets beneath A body of hope Your life shouldn’t have ended You should be here today Just remember we love you Do not be afraid We are still close By Fred Wakefield Year 9 Berkeley House B4. All prize winners will receive a book of their collected poems, which is illustrated by Art pupils. A longest sentence competition containing all the WOW words from Term 1 drew in some fantastic responses. there were a number of prize winners but the overall award went to: The optimism of the student was waning as the scarcely sonorous voice of the art teacher rang out; his far-from-abnormal penchant for leaving the class-room stood liminally teetering on the edge of his mind, his ambulance soon to be restored by the prudent and timid sound of the bell that could transfigure a class of well-behaved children into a pack of feral, wild beasts. By Ben Baldwin K4 Kingsley House All winners will receive a 'Sentence Star' badge at the end of term assembly.

Events as we approach Christmas

As you can imagine, school is very busy on the run up to the end of term and the Christmas break; there are musical events, drama performances, sports fixtures and, of course, our school Speech Night when prizes are awarded to our students for effort and attainment during 2013-2014. The Marlwood Singers and music exam groups joined singer Suzi Digby for a performance of the Messiah from ‘scratch’ at the Royal Albert Hall on 30th November, which was recorded for Classic FM and BBC Radio 3. In the REP faculty, we are introducing our ELP approach (Extended Learning Projects) to independent learning as a replacement for homework. We are extending this to all of KS3 this year, using the principle that in depth learning on a few aspects of the subject, is better in REP, than small discrete homework that only probe a topic so far. The task allows all pupils to take the study as far as they can, with a minimal expectation. This term Year 9 have been studying questions about the holocaust Year 7 will be researching festivals around the world; next term Year 8 will be studying the wisdom of ancient teachings. Each project lasts about 5 weeks, with weekly deadlines to monitor progress. Our staff are quite excited and looking forward to reviewing the outcomes with the participating students. Our congratulations to those who took part in the South Glos XC Championships at Blaise Castle in November. Many of the individuals who ran in the competition have been selected to represent South Glos at the Avon Championships in January. Particularly well done to the Junior Boys Team (years 8 and 9) who came first overall in the event

Marlwood School Christmas Concert 2014

It was an absolute pleasure to sit in St. Helen's Church in Alveston on the evening of Thursday 4th December. Students had been working hard and a full day of rehearsals was finished with a splendid Christmas Concert. The Church was full and the audience witnessed a range of festive and non-festive musical treats delivered by students from Year 7 to 13, either as individuals or groups. Everyone should be very pleased with their performance. The students were supported by a large group of dedicated staff. I lost count of the number of positive comments from the audience as they left at the end of the concert, an evening to feel festive and proud! Events such as these are a true representation of 'Working Together for Excellence'.

Year 11 - Preparation for Exams

A busy week for Year 11 students. On Wednesday 3rd December they received the results of their November Practice Examinations. The aim was to mimic the results day that they will experience in August 2015. Envelopes were handed out. The students opened their sheet and looked at the results carefully and of course they then compared their own results with those from other students. The message was simple - if you are pleased, fantastic. Now how do you make sure the same results or better are achieved next summer. If you are disappointed, what do you need to do in order to change the outcome next summer. The following day all year 11 students gathered in the Drama Hall for an inspirational message from the 'The Big Picture'. The message was serious but delivered with humour - your future, in your hands, you are the master of your own destiny BUT only if you take action. Large numbers of students report being inspired and we look forward to seeing how this impacts on their grades.

House Competitions

These have been running all year and students are taking part in the events that match their skill set.  The competition is very close with all four houses collecting similar amounts of points.  At the time of writing the House Bench competition has been judged with Kingsley winning with a catching leopard spot design.  
Students have got involved from the building of the flat-packed benches against the clock, creating a unique design to represent their house and finally the execution of the design in tough gloss paints.  All four of them are now installed around the school site for students to use.  Well done to all involved and watch out for an article in next week's Gazette!

Opera in a Day 2014

On Wednesday 19th November the great tradition of Marlwood students working together with those from New Siblands School continued.  With advice and guidance from the English Touring Opera Company, the students worked hard all day before presenting their piece to an audience in the early part of the evening.  The contribution made by our year 10 students was fantastic and everyone present had nothing but praise for all involved.

Rotary Chef Competition 2014

After school on Tuesday 18th November six KS4 students entered the Design Technology Kitchens to prepare their two course menus for the assembled judging panel.  The competition was fierce and all present commented on the quality of the food served.  Congratulations to all of the competitors.  Each one benefited from professional advice and the pressure of the competition. 

Governors Day

On Wednesday 26th November a groups of Governors joined us in school.  They were here to look at the work of the school, specifically in regard to the House System and the quality of work in Students Books.  They attended a House Assembly – with a presentation on the important work of Young Carers in our society.  They were impressed by the quality of the messages and the very respectful behaviour of our students.  They also went to a house tutor session and watched as different age students worked together to answer questions and solve problems.  They liked the way the students interacted and the way the activity prepared students for the day ahead.  The Governors then went on to a training session on how student exercise books can be used to find out how much progress is being made by students.  They found this task very revealing as they looked at the books of 29 students in year 8.  In the best examples students clearly showed progress as they corrected work in response to feedback from their teachers.
We finished the day with a full Governing Body meeting where we discussed the progress made by the school in its improvement planning.

The catering for the whole day was provided by KS4 students as part of their coursework requirement.  They provided a lovely lunch and an afternoon tea that was enjoyed by a large number of staff and governors.  Well done to them all.

Feedback and Communication

Many thanks for the numerous positive comments about the new school website.  As we strive to achieve excellence in our communications with our community we are delighted that you are finding the website so useful.  We are continuing to work on this to provide a range of functions so if some links are not ‘live’ please be patient.
As I create more blog posts and  I become familiar with the technology the updates will appear on a more regular basis.  In order for you to be informed straight away of any new content on the website, in this blog or for more general news about the school please follow us on Twitter -@marlwoodschool.  If you do not currently have a twitter account I would encourage you to set one up, this can be done quickly at  The key advantage to using twitter is that it enables you to receive information from the school (and other places) direct to your computer or mobile device through the twitter website or ‘APP’.  We are planning on a number of accounts within the Marlwood School brand that you can follow to receive information from across the school.

This term continues at quite a pace.  Students and staff continue to work hard together to achieve excellence in learning and student outcomes.  Year 11 and 13 are focused on their forthcoming exams.  They are reminded often that they are not very far away.  Year 11 students are receiving their mock exam results and a whole range of support and interventions are being put in place to ensure they achieve the best results they can.  A large number of students are contributing to our community on a daily basis, a big thank you to them all and to the staff who are supporting them.  Some highlights are identified below.  Please check the calendar carefully for all upcoming events. 

Marlwood Remembers

11th November – Armistice Day. At the 11th hour of the 11th day Marlwood School remembered them. At 10.55am all staff shared with students the memory of remembrance and the importance of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. At 11.00am Peter Stace stood in the School Quad and played the Last Post. There followed a beautifully observed 2 minutes silence as the school community reflected and remembered.  Peter then signalled the end of the Silence with 'The Reveille'.

Year 12/13 Parents Evening

       The Year 12/13 parent evening on 6th November  was a chance for parents and students in the Sixth Form to meet subject staff for advice and guidance on making the most of their sixth form experience.  If you missed this then please do not hesitate to contact the Sixth Form team or subject staff directly.

Maths Challenge

       Senior Maths Challenge 6th November - saw a number of our students compete in this national competition run by UKMT.  Maths is a real strength at Marlwood School and we expect great things from ALL of our students in this critical curriculum area.

Children in Need

      Children in Need . Students came into school in clothes in the colour of their house.  A £1 charge was made for this privilege and contributed to the fund raising activities throughout the day, including a staff ‘bake off’ to discover Marlwood’s baking talent.

Sixth Form Open Evening

      Sixth Form Open Evening last week was a chance for all Year 11 students to see what is on offer in the Sixth Form at Marlwood School.  A reminder that ALL students are expected to stay on in some form of education until they are 18.  We certainly expect it to be their aspiration that this will be to study with us and to join in the success that our students have in securing pathways into higher education.

Year 11 Examinations

      Year 11 Mock/practice examinations.  Students have been well prepared for these exams through skills sessions to improve study and revision technique .  This has been in addition to the specific subject preparation that each student will be receiving in each lesson.  The outcomes of these exams will be important for ALL students as this data will help to determine the next steps that they take in their education. 

A new channel of communication

In our drive to achieve ‘excellence’ in our communications with you we are in the process of developing and improving our website and social media presence.  This blog, which is the first of a regular update from myself and the school, will coincide with the launch of the new school website.  In order for you to receive update communications with as little effort as possible, I would urge you to follow us on twitter @marlwoodschool.  If you do not currently have a twitter account I would encourage you to set one up, this can be done quickly at  The key advantage to using twitter is that it enables you to receive information from the school (and other places) direct to your computer or mobile device through the twitter website or ‘APP’.  We are planning on a number of accounts within the Marlwood School brand that you can follow to receive information from across the school.
James Pope
Headteacher, Marlwood School