You will be aware that we recently underwent a full Ofsted school inspection.
We are delighted to report that the inspection confirmed what we have known for some time – that Solway is a good school.
The inspection provided us with the opportunity to demonstrate the progress and improvements that have taken place at Solway over the last two years. We could not have been more proud of the students and staff for the commitment they showed during the inspection and the dedication and hard work they all – students and staff – put in every day.
We are delighted and proud that Ofsted has recognised and validated all the excellent work going on at Solway. However, everything we have done at our school has been because we believed it was the right thing to do to move the school forward. The changes we have made were the result of our own improvement agenda. We are constantly moving forward and always looking to get better at what we do. We will continue to focus on raising standards and make sure that our students are given the very best chances of success and a first class quality education.
The report and the judgement recognises that our values and vision are central to everything we do; we do the right thing for our students, even when that is difficult; we make what we believe are the right choices for the young people in our care.
I’d like to take this opportunity also to thank you all for your continued support and good will which is an important part of the school’s success.
Please find attached a copy of the full inspection report, which is also available on the school website. Please do contact us at school should you have any questions.
Digital Literacy Day
On Wednesday, 10th July, students from Solway Community School were taught by international photographer, Clive Booth, as part of issue raising, creative, photographic storytelling workshops organised by Canon, Sellafield and the Ideas Foundation, in partnership with the National Association for the Teaching of English.
The project was all putting young people at the heart of community activism.
This was part of a project involving 5 local schools in West Cumbria (Millom School, Whitehaven Academy, Solway Community School, Silloth Primary School and Beacon Hill Community School), participating between 8-12 July, 400 students aged 10-18 were challenged to create powerful visual campaigns bringing to life the issues captured within the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, giving particular focus to climate change and health. The students were given the tools and skills to do this through workshops run by Clive who is a Canon ambassador and professional photographer and filmmaker with clients including Louis Vuitton, Aston Martin and Birmingham Royal Ballet. Other workshops focused on using Adobe software and on writing skills.
After the workshops, students commented on their excitement at having the opportunity to taste careers they were interested in pursuing.
There has also been a positive drive to reduce single use plastics within the school and local the community. One of the initiatives is to reuse any plastics in the first instance through the DT and Art departments through a central crush hall collection.
In Science the following day, a group of year 10 students extended their presentations to include their scientific understanding of polymers and different types of plastics
This unique programme was been created by Canon, Sellafield and the Ideas Foundation, a charity that believes ideas don’t come from one place or one type of person and aims to move creative industries in a more diverse direction. The workshops were an opportunity to give young people voice, working to raise awareness of, and to solve, real life issues. Canon wants to give young people a voice and the power to talk about how issues are impacting their own community. They are group in society that is often over-looked when it comes to talking about community problems but can give unique and powerful insights into social and environmental problems.
Students from the workshops will be invited to showcase their work later in the year at The Beacon Museum in Whitehaven.
Mobile Phone Policy
Parents will be aware that we will be implementing a new Mobile Phone Policy from September. See our full policy for details.
A reminder of expectations regarding uniform from September.
Students are expected to wear black school shoes, not trainers; tailored trousers or skirts, not tight-fitting trousers or skirts, joggers or leggings. No facial piercings are allowed, including tongues; hair should be natural shades and makeup discrete and appropriate for a school environment. Jewellery and nail varnish and acrylics are also not allowed.
If you have any questions about what is appropriate uniform, please do not hesitate to contact school and we will be pleased to advise you.
Recently an intrepid group of year 9 students joined with students from Beacon Hill to explore the wonders of outer space – from the specialist space labs at Lakes College, Workington.
The REACT Foundation invited students to take part in a “Mission Control” day including guided group activities, virtual reality and engaging talks.
Students enjoyed visiting Tim Peake’s Samsung VR Bus – transporting them to space and back, experiencing Tim Peake’s incredible descent from the International Space Station. They then tried their hand at building a Cumbria Space Station, before hearing from a Squadron Leader on Cumbria’s own small part in the UK Space programme through the testing of Blue Streak at RAF Spadeadam in the late 1950’s. They also enjoyed a VR experience of being on a weather balloon, experiencing the curvature of the earth and the blackness of space, followed by a 40 minute tour of the Solar System and finally learning all about “starchaser”, Newtonian mechanics and even made their own rockets!
Theatre Trip – A Picture of Dorian Gray
A group of year 11 students took time out from their exam preparations (and their Easter holidays) for a cultural trip to see a professional theatre production this week. A Picture of Dorian Gray was performed at Theatre by the Lake in Keswick, so our year 11 students organised a trip to include a pre-show dinner before seeing the excellent performance. The group said “the staging was witty and dramatic, with an atmospheric set as well as an excellent dramatisation of a classic text”. Miss Firth added “we are lucky to have a world-renowned theatre so close to us, and look forward to continuing our regular visits to see productions and provide opportunities for our students to experience first-class drama”.
Geography Exam Preparations
This week our year 10s participated in an adventurous two day field trip as part of their geography exam preparations.
Day 1- The students had the opportunity to explore the great outdoors around Blencathra.
Their aim was to understand how the characteristics of a river changes from source to mouth. Students collected data on the width, depth and velocity of the river at different points. They were also asked to assess the human and physical causes in the environment around them.
Day 2- The focus on this day was the increase in human causes compared to the previous day. This means a new location, the great border city- Carlisle.
Students studied the inner city and the suburbs to compare the quality of life and changes in environment.
Overall a fantastic opportunity to our theory into practice and see Geography in action!
Our Skiers Return
Our intrepid students (and 4 teachers) have arrived home safely after a wonderful week of skiing and experiencing a different culture. So enthused were they about speaking another European language that the students are launching ‘let’s speak French’ lunchtime club after half term, supported by Mrs Woodman and Mrs Taylor. This means all our students have the opportunity to learn conversational French if they wish and our skiers can continue the excellent start they made while at Alpe d’Huez. This is in addition to the Spanish GCSE that many of them already study, so will be a great boost to their skills.
Taking iphone images out of the equation and instead developing their own photographs, 40 “West Cumbria Kids” were given film cameras and asked to record how the world looks from their point of view. Involving students from Solway Community School, pupils from Holme St Cuthberts and members of Silloth Youth Group, this exhibition is an honest, celebratory look at everyday life in Cumbria. In collaboration with Arts Council England, Rotary Club Silloth & S.O.S. Community Shop, the project was led by former Solway School student and Artist Zoe Forster. An exhibition of the photographs is open to the public at Caldew Hall, Silloth on 23rd February 2019.
Prizegiving – report from our School Council Media Committee
There was something of a glow, despite the bitter cold of the weather outside, within our school hall the night of our prize giving event. One could point to warmth of the Christmas tree, a stage full of festive decor, or the pride that comes with success and celebration of a hard fought academic year. Perhaps it was the hall itself – packed with students, teachers and seemingly the whole wider community. It may have been the earnestness with which the speakers celebrated Solway’s endeavours both within the school and throughout the town. Peter Thomas, chairman of the National Association of Teachers of English, summed up the feeling that our school has a quality that “sets the standards for schools both throughout Cumbria and the nation”. That quality, that glow, as he described it: “is beyond excellence”, because while every school seemingly has excellence as a value, our school goes further. Even from the perspective of an outsider, Peter described the students of our school, as a community of earnest and courageous teens that stand apart within a current political world of adults that should know better.
The evening began with an emotive speech from Headteacher Judith Schafer whose theme of a school moving through academic challenges, tragedy and great change to become a school recognised as making the fastest academic progress in Cumbria. This was followed by Peter Thomas’s speech and the prize-giving – in which whoops and cheers could be heard as nervous students took their hard won prizes. Concluding the evening, Head Boy and Girl, Max and Mollie, stood out with their final remarks. Most touching was Max’s story of how he came to Solway as a shy and quiet boy, and how he has grown into someone with the courage to deliver a speech to a packed room; with a clear vision of his future as a Royal Military Police Officer — someone who has had the chance to make a real difference throughout school life and within the community. It was a move that changed his life forever. This heart-felt speech makes one think — what other successful life changing stories will we be treated to next year?
We are delighted to announce that as of September 2018, Solway School is now part of Cumbria Futures Federation. We have also created a new Governing Body consisting of members of Solway and Beacon Hill’s Governors, and which will oversee both schools. The Federation’s aim is to deliver an excellent quality education for all students within the Solway Plain and beyond, to offer a broad and balanced curriculum that meets the needs of our students, and to enable our students to succeed and excel, whatever their abilities, aptitudes and interests.